Why study geology at CMU?
The geology program at CMU offers the training that students need to get started in this exciting field. Program course work, modern learning resources, and required fieldwork and research experiences prepare students for graduate school and geology-related careers. Consider these key features distinguishing this program at CMU:
- An undergraduate-only department that facilitates small class sizes and significant student-faculty interaction
- Opportunities to conduct original research with faculty mentors
- Field trips to local, regional, and international locations, such as sites throughout the Great Lakes region, Virginia, New York, Ireland, Australia, and more
- Professional development, resources, and contacts through student organizations such as CMU Geology Club and Sigma Gamma Epsilon Earth Science Honor Society
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, for all occupations through the year 2014:
- Employment of environmental scientists is expected to grow about nine to 17 percent and employment of hydrologists should grow 18 to 26 percent.
- Job opportunities will be spurred by a continued awareness regarding the need to monitor the quality of the environment, to interpret the impact of human actions on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and to develop strategies for restoring ecosystems.
- Graduates with a master's degree may have the best opportunities for careers in the geosciences.
Graduates of the geology program at CMU will find a variety of career opportunities. Some of these may require additional education.
- Elementary or Secondary Teacher
- Engineering Geologist
- Environmental Scientist
- Museum Scientist
- Science Policy Advisor
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.)
This major requires that students complete a minor. Students are encouraged to meet with a Geology program advisor to discuss choosing a minor that is in alignment with their individual academic goals. Students choose between this major or a Geology major with a hydrogeology/environmental concentration. With an appropriate minor, this curriculum will adequately prepare a student for graduate school or a career in the geological or environmental sciences.
Total: 53-54 semester hours
Core Courses I
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, 101, 105, 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.
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.
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.
Required Courses I
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 110, 218.
Required Courses II
Select one of the following:
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 flow, well hydraulics, groundwater quality and pollution and resource exploration, evaluation, and management. Field trip fee required. Prerequisites: GEL 101 or GEL 105, and GEL 102; or GEL 100 or GEL 130; MTH 106 or higher; junior standing.
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.
Required Cognate Courses III
Note: Choose only one of PHY 130 OR 145.
Introduction to Chemistry I
Fundamental concepts of chemistry including stoichiometry, gas laws, thermochemistry, and molecular structure. CHM 131 and 132 are recommended to constitute the standard one-year course for science majors. Recommended: High school Algebra II or MTH 107 (preferably with a B or better); high school chemistry or CHM 120. (University Program Group II-B)
Introduction to 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.
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)
College Physics I
Mechanics, heat, kinetic theory, and sound. The mathematics used is algebra and trigonometry. The sequences PHY 130-131, PHY 170-171 satisfy minimum requirements for medical and dental schools. Recommended: MTH 106. (University Program Group II-B)
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. Pre/Co-Requisite: MTH 132. (University Program Group II-B)
Select approved 300-level or above GEL electives excluding GEL 301, 304, and 320.