2019-2020 SDSM&T Academic Catalog
Geology and Geological Engineering Department
Dr. Laurie Anderson, Department Head
Department of Geology and Geological Engineering
Mineral Industries 303
Geological Engineering Faculty
Professor Stetler; Associate Professors Katzenstein and Sawyer; Assistant Professor Li; Professors Emeritus Davis and Rahn.
Geology and Paleontology Faculty
Professors L. Anderson, Duke, Masterlark, M. Price, and Uzunlar; Associate Professor Pagnac; Assistant Professors Baran, Keenan, Ustunisik, and Ward; Lecturer C. Price; Professors Emeritus Fox, Martin, and Paterson.
M. Anderson, Benton, and Valder.
Research Scientist Nielsen and Roggenthen; Energy Resources Initiative Director Soeder; Coordinator and Instructor Pellowski; Museum of Geology Associate Director and Instructor Shelton; Museum Preparator and Instructor Johnson.
For information on the Mining Engineering and Management Department, visit their Graduate Programs page.
Graduate Programs in Geology and Geological Engineering
The Department of Geology and Geological Engineering offers advanced study in three degree programs:
MS degree in Paleontology
MS degree in Geology and Geological Engineering (thesis option)
MS degree in Geology and Geological Engineering (non-thesis option)*
PhD degree in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering
Also available are:
Certificate in Geospatial Technology
Certificate in Petroleum Systems
Accelerated MS Option
*There is no direct admission into the non-thesis option and it is only available under exceptional circumstances and at the discretion of the department head. See below for additional information.
The available coursework and current faculty expertise in Geology and Geological Engineering support the following areas of concentration.
- Energy Resources
- GIS, Geoinformatics, and Remote Sensing
- Groundwater and Environment
- Petrology and Mineral Resources
- Structure, Tectonics, and Geodynamics
Additional information is available on the Department’s Research Page.
The Department of Geology and Geological Engineering has laboratory facilities that include a groundwater laboratory with digital and analytical modeling capabilities, a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory, the Petrel suite of programs for petroleum systems, a petrophysics lab, an experimental petrology lab, an InSAR laboratory, a van-mounted Geoprobe unit, a geotechnics laboratory, 3D photogrammetric camera systems, a ground-based LIDAR camera, an operational well field with data loggers and transducers, a geochemistry and geomicrobiology lab, and labs for paleontology sample preparation and imaging. Instrumentation includes geophysical equipment, ground-probing radar, a hydrologic analysis system, a portable wind tunnel, and a mobile drilling rig.
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing Laboratory is a facility for generating and analyzing spatially-referenced digital information, including maps and remotely-sensed data. Computing facilities, including a computational geodynamics lab and a computational seismology lab, are continually updated and contain high-speed computers with GIS and other analytical capabilities. Computer programs are available for digital modeling of groundwater flow and contaminant migration, petroleum engineering, slope stability, geophysical applications, and geochemical modeling.
For information on research in the Mining Engineering and Management Department, visit their Graduate Programs page .
The Department of Geology and Geological Engineering offers advanced study in three degree programs: a MS degree in Paleontology, a MS degree in Geology and Geological Engineering, and a PhD degree in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering.
Also available are a Certificate in Geospatial Technology, a Certificate in Petroleum Systems, and an Accelerated MS option.
The MS in Paleontology has a strong emphasis on field-based research as well as courses in museum studies. Resources available to graduate students in paleontology include the extensive collections of the Museum of Geology.
The MS in Geology and Geological Engineering offers two specializations: one in geology and one in geological engineering, with different background and curricular requirements.
The PhD in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering offers three specializations, in geology, in geological engineering, and in mining engineering, with different background and curricular requirements. The mining engineering specialization in the PhD program is administered by the Mining Engineering and Management Department , and the other two specializations are administered by the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering. Students wishing to focus on paleontology at the doctoral level enter the Geology specialization.
Accelerated MS option
Both MS programs (in Paleontology and in Geology and Geological Engineering) offer an accelerated MS track open to students enrolled in the BS in Geology or BS in Geological Engineering at SD Mines. The accelerated MS option is designed to permit qualified students to shorten the expected time to an MS degree by counting approved courses towards both the BS and MS degrees. Students entering the accelerated MS option must satisfy all requirements expected of traditional MS students, including writing and defending a thesis. The accelerated MS option is governed by campus-wide policies as stated in graduate education policy GEP IV.2. Accelerated Master’s Programs . The following additional guidelines and policies pertain to the accelerated options for the MS in Geology and Geological Engineering and the MS in Paleontology.
- The requirement that all graduate applicants take the GRE exam is waived for students applying to the Accelerated MS option. However, the GRE is often used for student grant proposals, so all students are strongly encouraged to take the GRE in their senior year.
- One letter of reference in the graduate application must be written by a department faculty member who agrees to become the student’s major professor if the student is admitted to the MS program. This agreement must be stated plainly in the letter of reference.
- Up to nine credits of approved courses may be double-counted. To be double-counted, the courses must be GEOL or GEOE courses taken at the graduate level, which includes 400/500-level courses taken at the 500-level, or 600-level courses.
- Accelerated students are not eligible to hold teaching assistantship (TA) or research assistantship (RA) appointments until after they have completed the BS degree. Only students who have taken the GRE are eligible for TA/RA appointments.
- If the final cumulative GPA for the BS degree and the cumulative graduate GPA both fall below 3.0 at the time of completion of the BS degree, the department reserves the right to drop the student from the accelerated MS option. In this case, the student may make a new application to be admitted to the regular MS program, but no double-counted courses will be permitted.
Additional policies concerning accelerated MS degrees can be found in the requirements and policies applied to all graduate degrees by the Council of Graduate Education.
Department-wide expectations for Geology and Geological Engineering graduate programs are designed to target the following program outcomes in the context of the GGE Strategic Plan and greater professional community:
GGE Graduate Program Outcomes
|| Students will have technical expertise.
|| Students will be effective communicators.
|| Students will engage in meaningful professional service.
|| Students will impact the profession.
For information on outcome for the Mining Engineering and Management Department, visit their Graduate Programs page .
A limited number of fellowships and assistantships are available to qualified students. All applicants admitted are automatically considered for assistantships and fellowships.
Background expected for Geology Specialization and Paleontology (MS and PhD)
Although a particular baccalaureate degree is not required for admission, incoming students are expected to have substantial preparation in general science, math, and geological science. Successful applicants will ideally have completed the subjects listed below. The student’s graduate committee may require that deficiencies important to the student’s area of interest be remedied by taking additional undergraduate courses that will not count towards the graduate degree credit requirements.
- Calculus I and II
- General Chemistry I and II
- General Physics I and II, or General Biology I and II
- Structural Geology
- Field Geology
Background expected for Geological Engineering Specialization (MS and PhD)
Although a particular baccalaureate degree is not required for admission, incoming students are expected to have substantial preparation in science, math, geological science, and engineering. Successful applicants will ideally have completed the subjects listed below. The student’s graduate committee may require that deficiencies important to the student’s area of interest be remedied by taking additional undergraduate courses that will not count towards the graduate degree credit requirements.
- Calculus I, II, and III
- Differential Equations
- General Chemistry I and II
- General Physics I and II
- Structural Geology
- Mechanics of Materials
- Fluid Mechanics, or Rock Mechanics
For information on the background requirements for the Mining Engineering and Management Department graduate programs, visit their Graduate Programs page .
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required of all applicants, as are three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. The TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE exam is required for students whose native language is not English.
Many factors contribute to the success of an application, including the statement of purpose, previous coursework, grades, test scores, work experience, recommendations, and availability of a faculty member in the student’s anticipated research area. In general, a GPA of 3.0 or above and GRE scores greater than the 50th percentile are preferred. Different specializations have different background coursework requirements, as described above.
Admission to the PhD program is normally limited to qualified students who have already earned an MS degree in geology, geological engineering, paleontology, mining engineering, or a related field. Students holding an MS but with extensive undergraduate deficiencies may be placed into the MS program until these deficiencies are remedied. Students with a BS degree who apply to the PhD program will be admitted to the MS program until they have accumulated sufficient course credits for an MS degree, after which they may convert to the PhD program. Geology and Geological Engineering, Paleontology, or Mining Engineering MS students in good standing may convert to the Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering PhD program by submitting a standard application for the PhD program to be reviewed by the Geology and Geological Engineering or Mining Engineering faculty. The applicant is required to submit at least one recommendation letter from the current MS advisor and the future PhD advisor (if they are different). Accepted students will follow PhD requirements and submit an Intent to Transfer form to the Office of Graduate Education; see graduate education policy GEP IV.3 and IV.4 and IV.4 for additional information.
Policies for transferring credits from outside institutions can be found in the requirements and policies applied to all graduate degrees by the Council of Graduate Education. All transfers are subject to approval by the student’s advisor or advisory committee.
Certificate in Geospatial Technology
Geospatial technology is a career field that measures, visualizes, and analyzes features on the earth’s surface. It includes diverse applications such as mapping and cartography, aerial photography and satellite remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), global positional systems (GPS), geostatistics, LIDAR, photogrammetry, and geolocation. It forms an integral part of government services and industries, including natural resources management, environmental protection, architecture, urban planning, insurance, retail, marketing, agriculture, forestry, mining, petroleum, water resources, transportation, utilities, and more. It is an actively growing field with high demand for trained workers.
This certificate is designed to enhance an individual’s existing work or academic training by building specific geospatial competencies required in the workplace. The ideal career preparation is to combine this certificate with a degree or work experience in one of the fields listed above. It is strongly recommended that persons wishing to pursue this certificate already have a bachelor’s degree. Before enrolling in any classes for this certificate, the candidate must have strong computer skills including the Windows operating system, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, Internet, e-mail, and file management. Training in statistics is also recommended.
Complete information on requirements is given at Geospatial Technology- Graduate Certificate .
Certificate in Petroleum Systems
The world depends on energy resources to keep its people and economies thriving, and a skilled workforce is essential to meet those energy needs. The Petroleum Systems Certificate has a geoscience focus and is available to both graduate students at SD Mines and to outside professionals with relevant BA/BS degrees in engineering and/or science who are looking to expand their skill sets in petroleum and related fields, or who are looking to retool and retrain for a new career.
Some of the courses listed for the certificate have prerequisites, and students wishing to enroll must either have these prerequisites or obtain the permission of the instructor to take the course. Complete information on requirements is given at Petroleum Systems Certificate .
Non-Thesis Option Guidelines
The non-thesis option includes 32 credits of coursework and is available to students at the discretion of the department head.
The department considers the thesis option to be its primary degree and strongly prefers that all MS students complete a thesis. However, in some cases a non-thesis degree may be granted to accommodate special circumstances. Central to the decision is the judgment whether the student constitutes a quality graduate of the program as compared to other graduates, despite the lack of a completed thesis.
Students considering the non-thesis option are strongly encouraged to discuss it with their committee prior to making a request. The request must be made in writing to the department head with a justification as to why the non-thesis option is being requested. The department head will provide the letter to the student’s graduate committee and ask for a written recommendation regarding the request. Both the student and committee letters will be provided to the department Graduate Committee, which will also consider the request and write a recommendation. These recommendations may include conditions that must be completed before the degree may be awarded. The department head will make the decision guided by the input from these two committees, and inform the student of the decision, including any conditions that may be attached to completing the non-thesis option.
The following conditions must be met by the student to be eligible to apply for the non-thesis option:
- The student should have a graduate GPA of 3.5 or higher.
- The student must have been continuously registered in the program or on a formally approved leave of absence since the first semester in residence to be eligible for a non-thesis option.
- The student must have been actively working towards a thesis project with regular communication with the advisor during the months prior to the non-thesis request.
- The student must complete a significant project and write up the results in a project report, in lieu of a formal thesis. The student’s committee will make the determination whether the student’s work may be deemed a significant contribution to the profession. This requirement may include content-appropriate work performed for an employer.
- If the student has received research funding, he or she is obligated to work with the faculty member who provided the funds to establish a written plan to fulfill any outstanding obligations to the research effort, which shall be submitted with the non-thesis request. Should they not be able to agree on the plan, the matter will be referred to the department Graduate Committee for resolution.
The following circumstances should be considered when deciding whether the non-thesis option is appropriate.
- Has the student encountered external circumstances that would make the completion of the thesis unreasonably difficult or time-consuming?
- Does the student have outstanding obligations to a funded or important project that might not otherwise be completed?