Interim Department Head: Dr. David Burkey
Advising Coordinator: JoAnn Chandler
College Website: College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
BS – Geoscience (PDF will open in a new tab)
Minor – Geoscience (PDF will open in a new tab)
Majors and Minors
The Bachelor of Science in Geoscience prepares undergraduate students for entry-level positions in the environmental, engineering, or energy resource industries, or for entry into graduate-level geology degree programs. Degree requirements include foundational math, chemistry, physics, a broad core of geology courses that include an intensive summer field camp, and upper-level electives. Geoscience majors are encouraged to engage in undergraduate research and internships with private industry and government agencies.
The Geoscience minor is designed for students who wish to earn a geoscience credential while majoring in another field. Students minoring in geoscience often major in biology, chemistry, math, or engineering.
What can you do with a degree in Geoscience?
Here are a few examples of the many career paths open to geoscientists.
- Economic geologists work in the mining industry to locate and extract precious metal resources such as copper, gold, and silver.
- Engineering geologists advise civil and environmental engineers on major construction projects, environmental cleanup, and natural hazard mitigation.
- Environmental geologists work for government offices and private companies to prevent or mitigate environmental contamination. They help select safe sites for new landfills, mines, nuclear power plants, and other facilities that could potentially harm the environment. They also design soil and water quality monitoring plans for selected sites.
- Geochemists study the chemistry of ground water, surface water, rocks, minerals, and soils.
- Geophysicists use the principles of physics to learn about the Earth’s surface and interior. They also study the properties of Earth’s magnetic, electric, and gravitational fields.
- Geoscience educators teach geology in secondary and post-secondary schools
- Hydrogeologists study the quality and movement of groundwater and work to protect groundwater resources from overuse and contamination
- Meteorologists study the weather and climate and use sophisticated computer models to forecast future weather patterns
- Oceanographers explore the motion and circulation of ocean waters, the physical and chemical properties of the oceans, and how these properties affect coastal areas, climate, and weather.
- Paleoclimatologists reconstruct earth’s climate hundreds, thousands, or even millions of years ago using climate “proxies” such as pollen and plant fossils in soils and lake beds and stable isotopic compositions of glacial ice.
- Paleontologists investigate animal and plant fossils in order to understand the history and evolution of life on earth.
- Petroleum geologists analyze the formation, migration, and accumulation of oil and gas deposits using a combination of field work and computer modeling. They explore for new deposits and evaluate the size and quality of newly discovered deposits.
- Seismologists study the location, size, and frequency of earthquakes. They seek to understand why earthquakes occur and develop techniques to forecast future earthquakes.
Websites for Career Research
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - Geoscience (Link will open in a new tab)
- American Geosciences Institute Career Resources (Link will open in a new tab)
- Geological Society of America Career Resources (Link will open in a new tab)
- Career Cornerstone Center - Geosciences (Link will open in a new tab)
- Discover Arkansas (Link will open in a new tab)
- O*NET Resource Center (Link will open in a new tab)
- What Can I Do with this Major? (Link will open in a new tab)
- (The student self-registration Access Code is: numa.) (Link will open in a new tab)
Why should you choose to major in Geoscience?
- You love working outdoors and like the idea of taking field trips to study interesting geologic features
- You like trying to figure out how things work
- You’re curious about how the earth and life on earth has changed through time
- You’d like to know more about mountains ranges, canyons, rivers, earthquakes, volcanoes, fossils, minerals, soil, weather, and climate
- You want to help manage and protect natural resources like water, soil, and air from waste and degradation by anthropogenic activities
- You’re interested in energy resources and would like to play a role in current efforts to develop viable alternatives to fossil fuels
- You want to help find ways to prevent or minimize the impacts of natural hazards like floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, landslides, and sinkholes
- You’re fascinated by natural deposits of minerals and metals and want to help locate and mine these deposits with minimal environmental impact
- Springboard to other careers in business, medicine, and law
Undergraduate Research Opportunities
Examples of recent undergraduate research projects:
- Paleolimnological study of heavy metals in a sediment core from Wells Lake, Sebastian County, Arkansas, Pedro Gutierrez (in progress)
- Building an affordable desktop shake table for earthquake education and outreach, Michael Gatewood, 2016
- Analysis of heavy metals in Fort Smith soils via atomic absorption spectrometry, Quinn Little, 2014
- Comparison of methods used in undergraduate geology laboratory exercises on mineral cleavage, Bradley Hancock and Stephanie Duboise, 2013
Academic Clubs, Organizations, and Honor Societies
- Geology Club – contact Dr. Austin Boyd for information
- Fort Smith Geological Society