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Undergraduate Catalog

2008 - 2009

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Geological Sciences

Scott M. Ritter, Chair
S-389 ESC, (801) 422-3918

College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences Advisement Center
N-179 ESC, (801) 422-6270
1112 TMCB, (801) 422-4214

Admission to Degree Program

All degree programs in the Department of Geological Sciences are open enrollment. However, special limitations apply for teaching majors.

The Discipline

Geological sciences consist of a number of disciplines aimed at understanding the Earth's origin and development and the natural processes that have operated upon it and within it from the time of formation of the solar system. With the development of remote sensing technology and the exploration of the solar system by spacecraft, geological sciences have become increasingly important for understanding not only the Earth but the Moon, other planets and their moons, and small bodies that orbit the Sun.

Understanding the dynamic processes of Earth and other planets is relevant to many societal needs, such as assessment and forecasting of natural hazards, environmental change, and discovery of energy and mineral resources. Some of the diverse disciplines that can be studied in this department include general geology, plate tectonics, volcanology, geochemistry, geophysics, paleontology, environmental geology, petroleum geology, hydrogeology, paleoclimatology, and planetary geology.

Career Opportunities

Graduates have the opportunity to work both outdoors and in the laboratory, pursuing careers in energy, mineral, and water resources or in environmental evaluation with industry, government, or consulting firms. The substantial preparation in basic sciences and mathematics also leads to a broad spectrum of teaching opportunities. Some scholarship money is available for those who pursue a geological sciences degree as a prelaw track. The most marketable terminal degree in geological sciences is the MS. Starting salaries for this degree are often very competitive with those of other disciplines.

Graduation Requirements

To receive a BYU bachelor's degree a student must complete, in addition to all requirements for a specific major, the following university requirements:

  • The university core, consisting of requirements in general and religious education. (See University Core for details. For a complete listing of courses that meet university core requirements, see the current class schedule.)
  • A minimum of 30 credit hours in residence
  • A minimum of 120 credit hours
  • A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • Be in good standing with the Honor Code Office

Undergraduate Programs and Degrees

Graduate Programs and Degrees

Global Geology Program

Each year the department provides opportunities for advanced undergraduates and graduate students to examine rocks and geological processes at some premier localities around the world. These one- to two-week field trips allow students to do mentored research projects and develop field expertise rarely available to undergraduate students. Programs that are run every four to five years include:

  1. Active volcanism of Hawaii.
  2. Carbonate formation in Florida and the Bahamas.
  3. Tectonism and plutonism in the northeast Appalachians.

Trips to more distant localities (e.g., Italy, Great Britain, Alaska) are interspersed with these recurring trips. Scholarships are available that greatly reduce the cost to students.

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