May 26, 2019  
2013-2014 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2013-2014 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology, B.S.

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Contact Information

Dr. Laurie Anderson
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
(605) 394-2461


Professors Anderson, Duke, Paterson, Price and Uzunlar;  Associate Professor Masterlark;  Assistant Professors Belanger, Oner and Pagnac;  Professors Emeritus Fox, Lisenbee, Martin and Redden;  Haslem Post-doctoral Fellow Boyd.

Supporting Faculty

Professors Davis and Stetler;  Assistant Professors Katzenstein and Sawyer;  Professor Emeritus Rahn;  Adjunct Professors Benton and McCormick; Adjunct Assistant Professor Bapst.

Geology and Paleontology

Geologists study geologic processes shaping Earth today and through its history to find natural resources, protect the environment, and mitigate geologic hazards. The geology (GEOL) program provides a strong background in the basic sciences and geosciences with an emphasis on technical training, research opportunities, and a broad range of field experiences. Courses use the magnificent geologic setting of the Black Hills and adjacent Badlands, and the extensive fossil and mineral specimens in the Museum of Geology. The GEOL degree includes both a geology field mapping course and a two-semester senior research experience. Students majoring in GEOL will earn a BS degree in Geology. GEOL students train for careers in the geosciences including in environmental applications, mineral and petroleum exploration, governmental agencies, museums, academic fields, teaching, and entrepreneurship.

Choosing a career focus

Many different career opportunities are open to students in the geosciences. Students complete a core of geology courses to solidly prepare them for careers in the geosciences. Additional electives are chosen to focus on a particular career path and best prepare the student for employment or graduate school. Students may focus in one of four career paths or select electives from two or more foci, depending on their career interests.

GEOL focus areas include:

  • Resource Geology:  exploration and development of petroleum and minerals.  Graduates may explore for oil or mineral resources, assist with extracting these resources, or develop new types of resources such as coal bed methane or oil shales.
  • Paleontology:  study of ancient organisms and environments.  Graduates in this focus area will often attend graduate school to develop research and teaching careers, but career opportunities also are available in museums, governmental agencies, or with consulting firms that survey and preserve fossil resources.
  • Environmental Geology:  protection and management of natural resources.  Graduates may work for environmental firms, or could do environemntal work for petroleum and mineral companies.  Many government agencies also hire graduates with these skills.
  • Geospatial Technology:  managing spatial data using GIS, GPS, and remote sensing.  Graduates may work in traditional petroleum, mining, or environmental companies, for government agencies, or within the geospatial industry that provides and manages maps and imagery to the world.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor in selecting a focus area and electives.

Recommended Electives

Environmental Geology

Recommended electives for environmental geology include:

Geospatial Technology

Recommended electives for geospatial technology include:

Professional Development

The senior year culminates in an individual research project (GEOL 464, GEOL 465) in which the student practices the professional accomplishments of project planning, organization, time management, and oral/written communication.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in professional societies active on campus, including the Tech Geological Association, the Society of Economic Geologists and the Paleontology Club.  Students interested in paleontology and mineralogy may have opportunities to volunteer or work on collections, archives, educational outreadh and/or research projects through the Museum of Geology.  Internships in industry and government are commonly available and highly recommended.

Advanced Degrees

The B.S. in Geology can provide a pathway to professional careers in teaching, law, or medicine.  For careers in science education, students shuld consult teaching programs at other colleges for auxiliary education courses that would be needed for teacher certification.  With some adaptation, this degree can provide a foundation for professional graduate degrees such as in medicine or law.

Graduate programs, both master’s and doctoral, are available and involve additional specialization in geology or paleontology and incorporate original research leading to the completion and defence of a thesis or dissertation.  Completion of graduate degrees leads to higher-level professional employment including college-level instruction.

Geology/Paleontology Curriculum/Checklist

It is the student‘s responsibility to check with his or her advisor for any program modifications that may occur after the publication of this catalog. When planning coursework, students are advised that the courses GEOL 212/212L , GEOL 341/341L , GEOL 322/322L  and GEOL 410  form a critical sequence that must be taken in the order listed.

Freshman Year

First Semester

Total: 17

Second Semester

Total: 16

Sophomore Year

First Semester

One of: 3-4 Credits

Total 15-16

Second Semester

Total: 15

Junior Year

Total: 13

Second Semester

Total: 13


Senior Year

First Semester

  • GEOL 464 Senior Research I Credits: (0-1) 1
  • Geology Electives Credits: 6 4
  • Free Elective(s) Credits: 3 3
  • Humanities/Social Science electives Credits: 3
Total: 13

Second Semester

Total: 11-12

120 credits required for graduation

Curriculum Notes

** Course offered in alternate years.

1 Transfer students may substitute 2 credits of free electives for IS 110 .

2 Students must complete 27 credits of the general education core in their first 64 credit hours, including 6 credits of science, 3 cr math, 6 cr English/Technical Communication, 6 cr humanities, and 6 cr social science. ENGL 289  yields an addition 3 general education credits, for a total of 30.

3 Students should consult an advisor when choosing math courses.

4 Sophomore and Geology electives must be selected from the approved lists. At least 9 credits must be taken from 400-level courses. Substitutions must be approved by the department head.

5 Students may substitute GEOL 471/571  for GEOL 403/503  ; the extra credit is a geology elective.

6 Under exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the department head to substitute geology electives for senior research.

Sophomore Electives

Geology Electives

Fall-even Electives

Spring-odd Electives

Summer Electives


 * Calc III prerequisite
# Students must take at least one of these two courses.  If both are taken, the second may serve as a geology elective.

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