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
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 are encouraged to meet with a departmental advisor once every semester to discuss alignment with their individual goals. Note additional MTH (or STA) and PHY (or CMH) courses strongly recommended for students who plan to go to graduate school. A minor is encouraged but not required.
Total: 66-71 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. Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: One of: GEL 100; or GEL 101, 102; or GEL 130QR.
An introduction to methods of geologic investigation in the field including geographic positioning, observations, measurements, sampling, data processing, and geologic map-making. Field trip fee required. Prerequisite: Math Competency. Pre/Co-requisite: GEL 201. Recommended: MTH 132.
Research and Communication Skills in Geosciences
A focus on effective scientific research and communication skills necessary to succeed in geoscience careers. Prerequisites: Oral Competency; ENG 101; one of: GEL 100; or GEL 101, 102; or GEL 102, 105; or GEL 130QR.
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 130.
Introductory Mineralogy and Petrology
Introduction to mineral science and rock-forming processes. Characterization, identification, and classification of minerals, igneous rocks, and metamorphic rocks. Earth materials in context of plate tectonics. Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 101, 102; or GEL 100; or GEL 130QR. Pre/corequisites: GEL 270, 280; CHM 131.
Stratigraphy and Sedimentology
Production, transport, and deposition of sediments. Emphasis on fundamentals of fluid flow, transport, mineral processes, physical properties, formation of sedimentary structures, and depositional environments. Field trip fee required. Pre/Co-requisites: One of: GEL 310; or GEL 320; or ENS 307.
Theoretical and applied study of structures developed by deformation of the Earth’s crust and their tectonic environment. Field trip fee required. May be offered as Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: GEL 277. Pre/Co-requisites: GEL 340.
GEL 409/ENS 409
Professional Development in the Fields of Environmental Science and Geoscience
Preparation for entry into the fields of Environmental Science and Geoscience. Identical to ENS 409. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses. Pre/Co-requisite: ENS 401 or GEL 370.
Geology Field Camp
Capstone field experience including geologic mapping and interpreting the tectonic history of complex terrains based on geographic, structural, and lithological data. Field camp fee required by external institution. Must receive a C- or better or the equivalent to transfer to CMU. Prerequisites: GEL 340, 370; approval of geology advisor. Recommended: GEL 523.
Required Courses I
General Chemistry I
Introductory course covering fundamental concepts of chemistry including atoms, properties of matter, reactions and stoichiometry, electronic structure, chemical bonding, molecular structure, thermochemistry, gas laws. 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 Mathematical Sciences)
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 Mathematical Science)
Climatology & Climate Change
A study of major climate types, their controls, distribution patterns and significance. Examination of the causes and implications of climatic change. Prerequisites: ENS 101 or MET 101 or MET 140 or MET 260 or GEL 201 or GEO 201.
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 107, 109; or MTH 130. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
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)
Required Courses II
Select one of the following options:
Required Courses III
Select one of the following courses:
Note: In addition, students interested in pursuing graduate school are strongly recommended to take both options listed under Required Courses II and Required Courses III.
Techniques of integration, applications of definite integrals, improper integrals, elementary differential equations, infinite series, Taylor series, and polar coordinates. Prerequisite: MTH 132 or placement.
Elementary Statistical Analysis
An introduction to statistical analysis. Topics will include descriptive statistics, probability, sampling distributions, statistical inference, and regression. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses: STA 282, STA 382, STA 392. Quantitative Reasoning. Recommended: MTH 130 or 132 or 133. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Select four or more of the following courses for a total of 12 hours. Six (6) hours of WI courses are recommended:
Additional courses that may be offered as Writing Intensive are: GEL 385 , 397, and 523. Check Course Search and Registration for WI sections.
Only one of GEO 303 or GEO 308 or HNS 425 may be counted as an elective.
ENS 389/GEL 389
Well Construction and Design
Protocols for design and construction of groundwater monitoring and production wells in accordance with ASTM standards and national guidelines. Identical to GEL 389. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses. Prerequisite: GEL 380WI.
GEL 205/GEO 205
Introduction to the properties and movements of ocean waters; to marine life, the ocean floors, and the effects of the oceans on humans. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Identical to GEO 205, credit may not be earned in both courses. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
Application of geologic processes and quantitative methods to analyze engineering problems involving soils, rocks, surface water and groundwater. Prerequisites: One of: GEL 280 or ENS 401 or junior standing with a signed major in EGR; PHY 145QR. Recommended: PHY 146.
Water Resources and Hydrologic Processes
Study of water on Earth; includes atmosphere, surface, and subsurface. Explore interactions between the hydrosphere, biosphere, earth system, and human processes. Prerequisites: GEL 101 or 105 or 100 or 130 or MET 140 or MET 260 or ENS 101; MTH 105 or higher; Recommended: GEL 280; familiarity with spreadsheet software (i.e., Microsoft Excel or similar) is expected.
Introduction to Geophysics
Students learn about geophysical techniques used to study physical properties and structure of the Earth. Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 280 or ENS 401; PHY 145QR. Recommended: PHY 146.
Special Problems in Geology
Various special topics in geology that are not included in existing courses. Specific topic will be listed on student’s transcript. Repeatable up to 6 credits when content previously studied is not duplicated. Prerequisite: See course search and registration.
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. Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: One of: GEL 100; or GEL 101, 102; or GEL 130; or ENS 101; 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. May be offered as Writing Intensive. Pre/Co-requisites: GEL 340 or 380WI.
Self-directed students explore special topics and/or conduct a research project with instructor’s guidance. Laboratory and/or field safety training may be required. May be offered as Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: GEL 277 and permission of instructor.
The student conducts a senior-level research project, writes a thesis, and gives an oral presentation with guidance from a thesis advisor. Typically completed within 3 hours per semester. Repeatable up to 6 hours to finalize proposed outcomes. Only 3 hours may be credited towards the writing intensive requirement. Writing Intensive.
Geologic approach to geomorphology with emphasis on quantitative analysis, dynamics of landform evolution, and use of geomorphology in solving geologic problems. Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 310 or 320; MTH 132. Recommended: GEL 280.
Application of geostatistical methods to various scientific and engineering domains. Emphasis on analyzing and interpreting spatial data. Kriging, variography and simulation methods. Prerequisites: GEL 270, 280; GEO 203QR. Recommended: GEO 303 or 308; MTH 223; STA 382.
Preparation for ASBOG Fundamentals of Geology Exam
Review and preparation for the Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) Fundamentals of Geology (FG) Examination. ASBOG exam fee required. Pre/co-requisites: GEL 340, GEL 370; Prerequisite: senior standing. Recommended: GEL 450.
Geochemistry of Natural Waters
Geochemical processes governing the chemistry of water, with a focus on the distribution of natural and anthropogenic chemical species. Prerequisite: BIO 132 or 141; or graduate standing. Pre/Co-requisite: BIO 320 or CHM 351 or GEL 340 or ENS 323 or EGR 305; or graduate standing.
Applied Hydrologic Modeling
Design, construction, calibration, history matching, and verification of hydrologic models including rivers and watersheds, groundwater, and lakes. Prerequisites: GEL 380WI and 308 with a C or better; or EGR 408 with a C or better; or Graduate Standing in a CSE program.
Stable Isotope Geochemistry
Isotope geochemistry applied to geological and environmental problems, including the use of non-traditional isotopes to understand low and high temperature geochemical processes. Prerequisite: CHM 132 or 141; or graduate standing. Pre/Co-requisite: BIO 320 or CHM 351 or GEL 340 or ENS 323 or EGR 305; or graduate standing.
Igneous and metamorphic processes revealed from textural, mineralogical, and quantitative-geochemistry characteristics. Physicochemical-evolution paths of magmas and metamorphic assemblages through quantitative methods. Field trip fee required. May be offered as Writing Intensive. Prerequisite: GEL 310 or graduate standing; Pre/Co-requisite: CHM 132 or PHY 146 or graduate standing.
Metallic and nonmetallic ore deposits, including critical mineral resources, and their tectonic settings; principles of resource exploration in context of responsible environmental stewardship. Prerequisite: GEL 310 or 320 or graduate standing. Recommended: GEL 523.
Special Topics in Geosciences
Special topics and recent developments in geosciences that are not included in existing courses. Specific topic will be listed on student’s transcript. Repeatable up to 6 credits when content previously studied is not duplicated. Prerequisite: See Course Search and Registration.
Advanced Independent Study
Self-directed students conduct an advanced research project with instructor’s guidance. An EAS Independent Study proposal form must be completed and signed by student and instructor at the time of enrolling. Laboratory and/or field safety training may be required. Prerequisites: At least 27 credits of geology courses or graduate standing; permission of instructor.
Geographic Information Systems
Concepts and applications of geographic information systems (GIS). Acquiring, organizing, managing, and analyzing geographic data; visualizing and communicating geographic information. Prerequisite: GEO 203QR.
Fundamentals of Remote Sensing
Introduction to the fundamental principles and applications of remote sensing of the Earth. Prerequisite: GEO 203QR. Recommended: One of: GEO 105, 120QR, ENS 101QR, GEL 130.
Hazardous Materials Technology
Characterization of hazardous materials at waste or emergency sites and related health, safety, and regulatory issues for persons conducting, supervising, and managing field activities. Prerequisites: CHM 120 or 131; ENS 307 or HSC 352 or IET 327; 55 credit hours completed.