The geology major at CMU emphasizes mastery of the basics required for success as a geoscientist. You’ll acquire a strong foundation of geologic knowledge and skills related to observation, field and laboratory projects, critical thinking, computer use, and technical writing. CMU’s comprehensive course of study in the geology major also serves as excellent preparation for graduate school.
Points of Pride
- CMU’s Biological Station on Beaver Island offers marshes, coastal wetlands and beachfront research opportunities for studying geology. CMU is the only university in Michigan and one of two in the Midwest to operate an island research station.
- You can gain professional development, resources and contacts through student organizations such as CMU Geology Club and Sigma Gamma Epsilon Earth Science Honor Society.
Put Your Degree to Work
Graduates of the geology program at CMU will be prepared for a variety of career opportunities such as an elementary or secondary teacher, engineering geologist, environmental scientist, geochemist, hydrologist, mineralogist, museum scientist, or science policy adviser.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sample data
|Job||Median Pay||Job Growth through 2022|
|Geological/petroleum technician||$53,700 per year||15% (2,400 more jobs)|
|Mining/geological engineer||$84,320 per year||12% (1,000 more jobs)|
|Geoscientist||$90,890 per year||16% (6,000 more jobs)|
The course listings below are a representation of what this academic program requires. For a full review of this program in detail please see our official online academic bulletin AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the General Education courses required for all majors and may not include some program specific information, such as admissions, retention, and termination standards.
(Click on the course name or number for a complete course description.)
Students choose between this major or a Geology major with a
hydrogeology/environmental concentration. Students are encouraged to
meet with a departmental advisor to discuss the concentration that is in
alignment with their individual goals. Note additional MTH and PHY
courses strongly recommended for students who plan to go to graduate
school. A minor is encouraged but not required.
Total: 67-68 semester hours
Core Courses I
Introduction to the Geosciences
Select one of the following options:
Core Courses II
The Earth's history as revealed in the rock record. Geologic processes
and concepts are applied to the evolution of North America and life
through geologic time. Prerequisites: One of: GEL 100; or GEL 101, 102;
or GEL 105, 102; or GEL 130.
Required Courses II
Required Courses III
Select two of the following courses:
Special Problems in Geology
A study of special topics presented on demand when sufficient students
and interested faculty are available.
Students learn to solve geoscience-specific problems through application
of quantitative methods, graphs, and spreadsheets. Prerequisites: MTH
132; One of: GEL 100 or GEL 101, 102 or GEL 105, 102 or GEL 130.
Introduction to Geologic Investigation
An introduction to methods of geologic research and investigation.
Topics include information gathering (library, Internet), field methods
(observations, measurements, sampling, map-making), and report writing.
Prerequisites: GEL 101 or GEL 105, and GEL 102; or GEL 100 or GEL 130.
Introduction to crystallography. Physical and chemical properties, and
descriptions of basic groups and classifications of minerals. Field
trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 101 or 105, and 102; or GEL 100
or 130. Pre/Co-requisites: CHM 131; GEL 280.
Theoretical and applied study of structures developed by deformation of
the Earth's crust and their tectonic environment. Field trip fee
required. Prerequisites: GEL 201, 280, 290.
Stratigraphy and Sedimentology
Stratigraphy is concerned with the study of layered rocks and their
interrelationships. Sedimentology considers properties of sedimentary
rocks that allow interpretations of depositional processes. Field trip
fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 201, 290; GEL 310 or GEL 320.
Geology Field Camp
Actual field experience in mapping and interpreting various terrains.
Student will construct a map and write a report based on observations.
Field trip fee required. Prerequisite: GEL 320 or GEL 321; GEL 370,
440, and permission of department chair.
Our Changing Climate
Scientific causes of climate change and its potential impact. Past,
current, and future climates with emphasis on how scientists measure and
interpret climate variation. Quantitative Reasoning. (University Program
Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
Required Courses I
Note: In addition, students interested in pursuing graduate
school are strongly recommended to take MTH 133 - Calculus II (4 hours)
and PHY 146 - University Physics II (4 hours).
General Chemistry I
Fundamental concepts of chemistry including stoichiometry, gas laws,
thermochemistry, and molecular structure. CHM 131 is a first course for
science majors. Satisfies University Program Group II laboratory
requirement. Recommended: High school algebra or MTH 107; high school
chemistry or CHM 120. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and
General Chemistry II
Continuation of CHM 131 including solutions, kinetics, equilibrium, weak
acids and bases, thermodynamics, and electrochemistry. Prerequisite:
CHM 131. Recommended: a grade of C or better in CHM 131.
GEL 250/MET 250
Geoscience Mapping and Resource Evaluation
This course explores applications that aid in the analysis of geoscience
data. Integration of various geospatial data sources and analysis
pertinent to geoscientists. Identical to MET 250; credit may not be
earned in both of these courses. Prerequisites: GEO 203; One of: MET 101
or MET 140 or MET 260 or GEL 100 or GEL 101, 102 or GEL 105, 102 or GEL
Introduction to Geographic Information Science
Fundamentals of geographic information science - including spatial data
gathering, measurement, classification, analysis, display and map
interpretation. Current computer mapping technologies are used in
laboratory. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format.
Quantitative Reasoning. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and
Limits, continuity, interpretations of the derivative, differentiation
of elementary functions, applications of derivatives, antiderivatives,
Riemann sums, definite integrals, fundamental theorem of calculus. This
course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Recommended: MTH
106, 107; or MTH 130. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and
University Physics I
Normally the first physics course for majors and minors. Mechanics of
single and many-particle systems, conservation laws, statistical
concepts, and gravitational interaction. Quantitative Reasoning. Pre/Co-
Requisite: MTH 132.
University Physics Laboratory I
Laboratory experience for PHY 145. Introduction to experimental
techniques and the treatment of experimental data. Satisfies University
Program Group II laboratory requirement. Pre/Co-requisite: PHY 145.
(University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Genesis and evolution of igneous and metamorphic rocks. Identification,
description of hand samples and thin-sections emphasizing petrogenesis.
Optical mineralogy of common rock-forming minerals. Field trip fee
required. Prerequisites: GEL 290, 310; Pre/Co-requisite: CHM 132.
A general survey of the taxonomy, phylogeny, identification,
stratigraphy, and paleoecology of the major fossil invertebrate groups.
Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 201. Recommended: BIO
Introduction to Geophysics
A survey of the physical properties and structure of the earth, and the
basic geophysical techniques by which they are known. Field trip fee
required. Prerequisites: GEL 280; PHY 145.
Introduction to the study of groundwater: groundwater occurrence and
flow, groundwater in the hydrological cycle, groundwater quality and
pollution, groundwater exploration, evaluation, and management. Field
Trip Fee Required. May be offered as Writing Intensive. Prerequisites:
GEL 101 or 105, and GEL 102; or GEL 100 or 130; MTH 132 with a C- or
better. Recommended: GEL 280.
Introductory Petroleum Geology
Petroleum deposits of the earth: location, origin, and occurrence.
Technical aspects of exploration and production, emphasizing petroleum
and natural gas formations of Michigan. Prerequisite: GEL 201.
Application of geostatistical methods to various scientific and
engineering domains. Emphasis on analyzing and interpreting spatial
data. Kriging, variography and simulation methods. Prerequisites: GEL
280, 290; GEL/MET 250. Recommended: MTH 223; STA 382.
Basic principles of geochemistry, involving distribution and
significance of elements in natural systems, as well as processes which
affect this distribution. Prerequisites: one semester of chemistry.
Pre/Co-Requisites: GEL 320 or GEL 321; CHM 131 or CHM 120 and 127.
Metallic and nonmetallic ore deposits, fossil fuels, and their tectonic
settings; general principles of exploration for natural resources within
the context of responsible environmental stewardship. Prerequisite: GEL
320 or 321 or graduate status in the College of Science and Technology.
Select one or more of the following courses for a total of 3 credits:
OR choose any course from Required Courses III listed above,
without double counting.
Mineral, energy, water, and soil resources, including geological origin,
location, extraction, and environmental consequences of their usage.
Prerequisites: GEL 101 or 105, and GEL 102; or GEL 100 or 130.
Application of geologic processes and quantitative methods to analyze
engineering problems involving soils, rocks, surface water and
groundwater. Prerequisites: GEL 201; MTH 130; PHY 130 or 145.
Recommended: MTH 132.
Introduction to Hydrologic Systems
Study of Earth as a hydrologic system, including quantification of
surface, subsurface, and atmospheric flows, interactions between
compartments of the hydrologic cycle, and hydrologic hazards.
Prerequisites: GEL 101 or 105, and 102; or GEL 100 or 130; or MET 240;
MTH 105. Recommended: GEL 280.
Glacial Morphology and Landforms
Patterns and processes in the formation and distribution of selected
Prerequisite: GEL 290
Qualified self-directed students may explore topics of special interest
with faculty guidance. Prerequisites: One GEL course at 200 level or
above; and permission of instructor.
Senior level research project approved by the geology faculty. Results
of the research project must be presented in a written thesis and oral
report. Prerequisite: Senior standing; permission of both instructor
and department chairperson.
Geologic approach to geomorphology with emphasis on quantitative
analysis, dynamics of landform evolution, and use of geomorphology in
solving geologic problems. Prerequisites: GEL 320 or GEL 321; ESC 210
and STA 282 recommended.
Biogeochemical processes governing the chemistry of water, with a focus
on the distribution of natural and anthropogenic chemical species.
Prerequisites: CHM 132; BIO 208 or CHM 211 or GEL 310; or graduate
status in a CST program. Recommended: GEL 380.
Examines the fundamental mechanisms microorganisms use to drive the
geochemical cycling of Earth's major elements and contaminants in
various environments. Prerequisites: GEL 310 or 320; CHM 132; or
graduate Status in a CST program.
Environmental Soil Chemistry
Explores chemical and physical properties of soils, such as soil
mineralogy, natural organic matter, redox reactions,
precipitation/dissolution, and ion sorption. Prerequisites: GEL 310 or
320; CHM 132; or graduate status in a CST program.
Qualified self-directed students may explore topics of special interest
with faculty guidance. More than 3 credits permitted only rarely.
Prerequisites: department chairperson and instructor approval.