Apr 24, 2024  
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology, General Geology Concentration, B.S.

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Dr. Stephen A. Leslie, Department Head

Phone: (540) 568-6130                                                                 
Email: lesliesa@jmu.edu
Location: Memorial Hall, Room 7335                                           

S. Baedke, L. Eaton, L. Fichter, L. Kearns, S. Leslie, E. Pyle, K. St. John, S. Ulanski, S. Whitmeyer

Associate Professors
J. Haynes, E. Johnson

Assistant Professors
Y. Admassu, R. McGary

C. Kearns, S. Whitmeyer


Our mission is to serve two vital needs of the JMU students. First, the majors in geology present high-quality programs of specialized study focusing on Earth materials, internal and external Earth processes, analysis of Earth history and application of geology to environmental and engineering issues. In support of this mission is a commitment to foster the ability to think analytically and to communicate both within the discipline and with non-scientists. Course work and research experiences prepare the student for postgraduate study or professional careers that are subject to rapidly changing societal needs. Second, our department strives to enhance the university’s general education program by offering timely and challenging courses that provide insight into Earth processes and human-environment interactions. These courses promote life-long liberal learning by fostering critical thinking and an awareness of natural science.


Provide a stimulating, intellectual environment for students in geology and environmental science that will generate interest and enthusiasm for learning and will provide a solid foundation for graduate work and careers in geology and environmental science.

Teach science as science is practiced. Since the advancement of scientific knowledge often occurs within a social context – collaboration among scientists, conferences, seminars – the goal is to develop a similar mode of operation for the geology program.

Provide high-quality, relevant general studies courses within the discipline that focus on the fundamental science in the societal context (e.g., environmental change, climate change, hazards). These courses will incorporate critical thinking and an appreciation of human-environment interactions.

Career Opportunities

  • Earth Science Teacher
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Environmental Scientist/Specialist
  • Geochemist
  • Government or Industry Geologist
  • Geological Oceanographer
  • Geomorphologist
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Meteorologist
  • Science Museum Curator
  • Paleoclimatologist/paleoceanographer
  • Paleontologist
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Soil Scientist

Co-curricular Activities and Organization

The department encourages majors and minors to participate in the student Geology Club, which sponsors field trips, camping excursions, and hosts educational activities for elementary school students. Geology majors are encouraged to apply to be laboratory teaching assistants and research assistants for faculty in the department. Majors and minors are also strongly encouraged to become members of one or more of the following geoscience organizations and to present their research at the affiliated regional or national meetings:

  • Geological Society of America (GSA)
  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)
  • American Geophysical Union (AGU)
  • National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT)

Degree and Major Requirements

There are two bachelor degrees offered in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science , a B.S. in geology and a B.A. in Earth science. Both degree options have a research requirement that includes a formal presentation. The B.S. degree has two concentrations: a general geology concentration designed for students who want to take a wider range of geology elective courses and an environmental and engineering geology concentration designed for students who want to focus their geology electives toward applied environmental science.

The B.A. in Earth science prepares individuals to work in a wide range of professional public sector service careers where preparation in Earth science and communication of science to nonscientific audiences is a requirement or an asset. This includes the preparation of Earth science teachers.

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education  41 Credit Hours 1
  • Quantitative requirement (in addition to General Education ) 3 Credit Hours 2
  • Scientific Literacy requirement (in addition to General Education 3-4 Credit Hours 2
  • Major requirements (listed below) 68-76 Credit Hours
  • General Electives 2-11 Credit Hours

Total: 120 Credit Hours


1 The General Education  program contains a set of requirements each student must fulfill. The number of credit hours necessary to fulfill these requirements may vary.
2 The quantitative and scientific literacy requirements are met by courses required by the major.

Major Requirements

Research Requirements: 2-6 Credit Hours

In addition to GEOL 291 , choose from the following to complete the research requirement. All majors must complete a minimum of two credits. Students conducting research with faculty should select GEOL 497 ; Honors students doing research with faculty must complete a minimum of six credits in GEOL 499A /GEOL 499B /GEOL 499C . All students must give a formal presentation to fulfill this requirement.

Total: 33-37 Credit Hours


The B.S. degree in geology is designed for students who plan to obtain professional employment in geology or enter graduate school upon graduation. It is recommended that incoming B.S. degree students complete the following courses prior to enrolling in required geology courses numbered 300 and higher.

Choose one of the following two sequences: 8 Credit Hours

Total: 23-26 Credit Hours

Additional Information

Students planning graduate study in some areas of the geosciences should consider courses in mathematics, physics or chemistry beyond those required for the B.S. major.


The B.S. degree option requires that each student complete at least 12 credit hours chosen from one of the two concentrations.

Recommended Schedule for B.S. Degree in Geology

Total: 34-36 Credit Hours

Choose one of the following: 8 Credit Hours

Total: 31 Credit Hours

Third Year

Total: 34 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

  • Electives 9-20 Credit Hours

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