Oct 18, 2021  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog

Earth Science Major; B.A. degree option

Degree and Major Requirements

The Department of Geology and Environmental Science   offers a B.S. and a B.A. degree. Earth science majors earn the B.A. degree. 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 major 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.

Major in Earth Science

The major in Earth science is designed to integrate all the Earth sciences in a systems approach to understanding the Earth. This includes incorporating and integrating subjects such as oceanography, meteorology and astronomy. The emphasis is on the preparation of individuals to work in a wide range of professional public sector service careers where preparation in Earth science and communication of science to non-scientific audiences is a requirement or an asset.

Teaching Licensure

Students interested in becoming teachers must meet specific curriculum requirements in their major as part of the undergraduate academic degree. The major in Earth science includes state course requirements in astronomy, meteorology and oceanography, to total no less than 32 hours in the Earth sciences (including geology) and a minimum of 16 hours total in physics, chemistry and biology.

In addition to the general education and academic major requirements, Earth science majors desiring secondary teacher licensure must be admitted to the pre-professional program in secondary education at the undergraduate level and complete the graduate level Master of Arts in Teaching degree.

It is critical that students seeking teaching licensure consult regularly with both their education adviser and their major adviser to support their progression through the programs.

For a full description of the program in secondary teaching, refer to the Department of Middle, Secondary and Mathematics Education , in addition to the College of Education .

Degree Requirements

Required Courses

  • General Education  41 Credit Hours 1
  • Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required) 0-14 Credit Hours 2
  • Philosophy course(s) (in addition to General Education  courses) 3 Credit Hours 3
  • Major requirements (listed below including cognate sciences and math) 59-63 Credit Hours
  • General Electives 0-17 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 foreign language requirement may be satisfied by successful completion of the second semester of the intermediate level of the student's chosen language (typically 232), or by placing out of that language through the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Cultures' placement exam.
3 100, 200, 300 or 400-level course acceptable or consult the list of courses satisfying B.A. degree requirements at http://www/jmu.edu/registrar.

Major Requirements

Earth science students are expected to complete CHEM 131 -CHEM 131L  before enrolling in geology courses numbered 300 and higher.

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: 37-41 Credit Hours

Cognate Science and Mathematics Area

The B.A. degree option requires that each student complete at least 16 hours of cognate science credit hours with at least one course from biology, physics and chemistry chosen from:

Math: 3-4 Credit Hours

The B.A. option requires that each student complete at least six credit hours of mathematics, including one of the following:

Total: 20-22 Credit Hours

Recommended Minors for the Major in Earth Science

The  Earth science major recommends (but does not require) that students complete a minor in a complementary program, suitable toward the career goals of the student.

Students may also propose a minor that is not listed above to their adviser for approval.


Approved minors include:


1 Credit hours for courses in the minor that are already required courses for the Earth Science major have been subtracted from the total hours listed here.

Recommended Schedule for the Earth Science Major

Total: 27-30 Credit Hours

Foreign language courses 1-8 Credit Hours

Total: 27-34 Credit Hours


1 Foreign language at the intermediate level.

Third Year

Total: 25-28 Credit Hours

Fourth Year

Choose one from the following: 2-6 Credit Hours

Total: 24-39 Credit Hours