Geology Degree

Geology Degree Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Geology On-campus

About the Geology Degree

Prepare for a career as a geologist in energy, resource and environmental sectors

A Geology degree at PennWest California is a wide-ranging, exciting field of study that is much more than the traditional study of rocks and minerals. Undergraduates who pursue a Bachelor of Science in Geology quickly discover that geologists provide problem-solving and pragmatic approaches to address the complex challenges of energy, resource and environmental issues.

The geology degree program provides opportunities to learn geological principles and historical perspectives, become familiar with methods of geological research, acquire lab and field experience, and obtain analytical skills necessary to work independently or as part of a team. Students are prepared for careers working at geological field sites related to resource extraction or environmental remediation, or in geological and engineering laboratories and businesses. While part-time students may take longer, full-time students should expect to complete the program in four years.  

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's emphasis on hands-on experience.

Geologists are critical to the identification, mapping and extraction of both energy and mineral resources. Geologist work in a variety of environmental roles, including regulatory and research agencies, and private consulting firms. They are also integral to developing remediation strategies for impacted lands and water, as well as land development for new construction.

The goal of the geology program at PennWest California is to develop conscientious, analytical and professional geologists who are ready for entry-level positions in environmental, energy or engineering fields or for admission into a graduate program in geology. Students take classes from a broad range of sub-disciplines in order to prepare for professional licensure and a diversity of potential career paths.


Learning in the field: PennWest California's geology degree curriculum focuses on the Earth and its development, as well as how humans interact with our environment. To complement classroom experience, students participate in field trips and field courses. Faculty members conduct one- to three-week excursion-based courses that have taken students to such diverse sites as the Great Smoky Mountains, the Outer Banks, the Adirondack Mountains and the coast of New England, as well as distant locations such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks, and the Cascade Range. Geology students also travel with professors to  research institutions, conferences and governmental agency headquarters. 

Professional development: The Bachelor of Science in Geology program has a distinct focus on professional development and an emphasis on learning foundational skills throughout the curriculum. PennWest California is the only program in the region that offers the Professional Development for Geologists course, a dedicated professional development course specific to the geologic disciplines and career paths. The program uses a strategy of student development and progress-checking that continues to assess student growth in technical writing, critical reading and quantitative skills. This strategy, based on input from industry professionals, alumni and hiring managers, has identified common strengths and weaknesses in recent graduates from across our region. Through this comprehensive approach, PennWest California geology students have been successful in developing strong resumes and demonstrating desired skills necessary for a lifetime of career growth.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in geology, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

The geology degree curriculum is uniquely designed to prepare students for the workforce with a bachelor's degree. The course schedule prepares students for potential licensure in Pennsylvania and most other U.S. states. In addition to the traditional coursework and close working relationships with faculty advisers, PennWest California geology students can choose from a variety of research paths. Independent or small-group research is done under faculty supervision, with faculty serving as research advisers and offering editorial support. Past students have completed projects on a wide variety of topics, including soil permeability and adsorption, structural orientation of joints in a local sandstone, stratigraphic correlation of incised channels, abandoned mine impacts to streams, and precipitation influence on shallow groundwater. Students also may enhance their degree with a minor that tailors coursework to their chosen career. The geology program includes minors in hydrology and environmental geosciences; geology students also have chosen to minor in GIS, mathematics or chemistry.


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Graduate Outcomes

The job outlook for geologists and environmental geoscientists is positive, with the American Geoscientists Institute projecting a growth rate of about 14% for geoscience-related employment through 2022. There is a projected shortage of geoscientists as those in the Baby Boom generation move into retirement along with the large wave of geologists who entered the workforce in response to the energy crisis of the late 1970s and early '80s. Some employers of recent PennWest California graduates include Moody's and Associates Inc., GAI Consultants Inc., MarkWest Energy, and ARM Group Inc. Starting positions for graduates typically include geologist, environmental field technician, geology technician, project specialist and environmental specialist. Over the last 10 years, PennWest California geology graduates have gone on to graduate schools across the country, including West Virginia University, Idaho State University, University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, University of Akron, Kent University, University of Houston and University of Alaska-Fairbanks.


Curriculum and Related Programs

The geology program offers a greater understanding of the Earth and its development and human interactions with our environment. We boast a distinctive focus on dedicated professional development specific to geologic disciplines and career paths.

Curriculum - Bachelor's Degree

Course Credits
General Education Courses 40 or 41
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Public Speaking Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 281  Calculus I
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
GIS 311  Introduction to GIS
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
GLG 150  Introduction to Geology
Social Sciences
Any Social Science Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 217  Science and Tech Writing  OR  ENG 102  Composition II
  • General Education Courses (two courses)
Required Major Courses 33
GLG 200  Historical Geology 4
GLG 230  Earth Resources 3
GLG 301  Professional Development for Geologists 1
GLG 303  Hydrology 3
GLG 331  Mineralogy 4
GLG 332  Petrology 4
GLG 343  Geomorphology 3
GLG 423  Sedimentology/Stratigraphy 4
GLG 425  Structural Geology 4
GLG 437  Field Methods in Geology 3
Required Related Courses 22
MAT 282  Calculus II 3
MAT 215  Statistics  OR  MAT 381  Calculus III 3
PHY 121  General Physics I  OR  PHY 101  College Physics I 4
PHY 122  General Physics II  OR  PHY 202  College Physics II 4
CHE 101  General Chemistry I 4
CHE 102  General Chemistry II 4
Recommended Free Electives 24-25
The following are recommended free electives to select from:
  • GLG 210  Intro to Soils
  • GLG 250  Volcanology
  • GLG 290  Planetary Geology
  • GLG 333  Geochemistry
  • GLG 355  Geophysics
  • GLG 402  Groundwater Hydrology
  • GLG 427  Tectonics
  • GLG 429  Petroleum Geology
  • GLG 438  Computer Apps. in EAS
  • GLG 441  Advanced Env Geology
  • GLG 448  Watershed Evaluation
  • GIS 350  Remote Sensing of Env
  • GIS 413  Env Applications in GIS
  • GEO 479  Internship (variable)
  • Other Adviser-Approved Courses
24 or 25
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): GLG 391, 392, 393, 492 or GEO 479
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): GLG 427, 438, 441, 448
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): GLG 150 Introduction to Geology

Program Note: 42 credits of advanced coursework at 300 or 400 level are required.

Curriculum - Minor

Course Credits
Required Courses 11
GLG 150  Introduction to Geology
GLG 200  Historical Geology 4
Select only one of the following:  
GLG 210  Introduction to Soils
GLG 230  Earth Resources 3
GLG 303  Hydrology 3
Electives 12
Select two or three from the following:
GLG 331  Mineralogy 3
GLG 332  Petrology 3
GLG 333  Geochemistry 3
GLG 343  Geomorphology 3
GLG 423  Sedimentology/Stratigraphy 4
GLG 425  Structural Geology 3
GLG 427  Tectonics 3
Select one or two from the following:  
GLG 402  Groundwater Hydrology 3
GLG 437  Geological Field Methods
GLG 438  Computer Applications in EAS 3
GLG 441  Adv. Environmental Geology 3
GLG 448  Watershed Evaluation 3
Any Geological Field Course from: GLG 391, 392, 393, 492, 496 3
Total 23
Related Programs



Thomas Mueller teaches a geography class.

Top Facilities

PennWest California's geology program offers several lab spaces to ensure active learning environments for our students. A large collection of rocks, minerals and fossils is available for students to study. The computer lab has multiple suites of important geology-specific software, unique to our level of institution. Students get experience with computational modeling, data analysis and three-dimensional visual software that many geologists don't see until their first job. The rock preparation lab allows students to cut and shape rocks and prepare them for optical analyses in the optical mineralogy/geochemistry lab. The wet lab facility has numerous meters for water-quality testing and two research-grade flow meters for measuring streams in the area for classes and research. The SAI Farm facility at PennWest California is also important to the geology program. In addition to the natural setting and local streams bisecting the property, the Pittsburgh Geological Society has drilled nine ground water wells on the property. These wells are available for class visits and have also provided an opportunity for student research.

Students lean geology in field course.

Summer Courses

A significant highlight of the program is the opportunity for summer geology field courses. Each year, faculty and students travel to distant parts of the country to conduct regional surveys of the geology that makes that area unique. Students do hands-on activities, especially involving geologic mapping, to get a sense of how landscapes, geologic structure and climate are interdependent.  Past students often reflect on how much these trips have contributed to shaping their future careers.  

Students pose on geology rock formation.

Vital Resources

The Geology Club is an active student organization that sponsors numerous activities for majors and non-majors. The club offers two or three field trips per year to such places as Shenandoah National Park and Niagara Falls, as well as trips closer to home. The club sponsors student travel to conferences, including the national meetings of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America. The club also offers several social outings throughout the year, including movie nights, the annual trivia night, a bi-annual Adopt-A-Highway cleanup and barbecue, hiking trips and trips to Pittsburgh for rock climbing, arcades and theaters. The geology program is well-integrated into the Pittsburgh Geological Society, cultivating networking and career connection opportunities through their membership. PennWest California also has active chapters of the Association for Environmental and Engineering Geologists and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.

Geology Faculty

Dr. Kyle C. Fredrick

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Dr. Daniel Harris
Associate Professor

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