Jul 18, 2024  
2017-2018 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2017-2018 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
E-mail: Laurie.Anderson@sdsmt.edu

GEOL Flowchart  


Professors Anderson, Duke, Masterlark, Price and Uzunlar; Associate Professor Pagnac; Assistant Professors Baran and Ustunisik;  Professors Emeritus Fox, Lisenbee, Martin, Paterson, and Redden.

Supporting Faculty

Professor Stetler; Associate Professors Katzenstein and Sawyer; Assistant Professor Li; Professors Emeritus Davis and Rahn;  Adjunct Faculty M. Anderson, Benton, Iles, McCormick, Roggenthen, and Valder.

Geology Program (includes Paleontology)

Geologists study processes shaping Earth today and through its history to learn how it formed, how it has developed over time, and how life has evolved through time in response to tectonic and climatic changes.  In their careers, geologists may seek to understand the formation of natural resources like minerals or petroleum, protect water and soil resources, or mitigate against geologic hazards like earthquakes and volcanoes.  The GEOL program at SD Mines takes advantage of the proximity of the Black Hills through a rigorous field-based education that provides students a unique blend of hands-on experiences with strong theoretical foundations.  Students have the opportunity to take electives in five focus areas including Energy and Mineral Resources, Environmental Geology, Geomathematics, Geospatial Technology, and Paleontology. 

Geology Program Outcomes

A graduate with a BS in Geology is expected to:

•             Apply scientific and mathematical knowledge to problems in the geosciences

•             Analyze and interpret geological and other scientific data

•             Work professionally with a team

•             Collect geological data (from the literature, field, or laboratory) to answer a scientific question

•             Follow the ethical standards of the geoscience profession

•             Communicate effectively in oral and written form

•             Apply geological knowledge to global systems and human societies

•             Investigate geological problems using appropriate technology

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 five career paths or select electives from two or more career paths, depending on their interests.

GEOL focus areas include:

  • Energy and Mineral Resources:  exploration and development of energy and mineral resources. Graduate may explore for and assist with extracting these resources.
  • Environmental Geology:  protection and management of natural resources.  Graduates may work for environmental firms, or could do environmental work for petroleum and mineral companies.  Many government agencies also hire graduates with these skills.
  • Geomathematics: applications of mathematics, statistics, and numerical methods to quantify geologic phenomena. Prepares students for graduate studies. These skills are in high demand for employment in academic, industrial, and government research sectors.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisor in selecting a career path and electives.

Recommended Electives

Geospatial Technology

Recommended electives for geospatial technology include:


Recommended electives for geomathematics 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, scientific research, time management, and oral/written communication.

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in professional societies active on campus, including the AAPG Student Chapter, 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 outreach 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 should 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 defense 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

Total: 13

Note: Some students may need preparatory math in the first semester, such as MATH 102  or MATH 120 .

Second Semester

Total: 14

Sophomore Year

First Semester

Second Semester

One of: 3-4 Credits

Total: 16

Junior Year

First Semester

Total: 15

Second Semester

One of: 3 Credits

Total: 15


Total: 6

Senior Year

First Semester

  • 2   Credits: (0-1) 1
  • 4 Program Elective(s) Credits: 6
  • Free Elective(s) Credits: 3
  • Humanities/Social Science elective(s) Credits: 3
Total: 13

Second Semester

Total: 12-14

120 credits required for graduation

Curriculum Notes

* Course offered in alternate years.

# Students must take at least one of these two courses (GEOE 324/324L , GEOE 482/482L/582/582L  ). If both are taken, the second may serve as a program elective.

1 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.

2 A grade of “C” or better is required in these courses for graduation with a Geology B.S.

3 Students should consult an advisor when choosing math courses.

4 Program electives must have a GEOL or GEOE prefix. At least 9 credits must be taken from 400-level courses. Substitutions must be approved by the department head.

5 Under exceptional circumstances, a student may petition the department head to substitute program electives for GEOL 465 .

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