Academic Programs

Academic Units: Department of Geology and Environmental Science

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Mission Statement
The principal mission of geology’s instructional program is to serve two vital needs of the JMU students. First, the major in geology presents a high quality program 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. Fundamental to 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, it is committed to enhancing general education 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.
  Goals
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.
  • To teach science as science is practiced. Since the advancement of scientific knowledge often occurs within a social context – collaboration among scientists, conferences, workshops – 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 will probe the philosophy of science and the history of geologic thought. These courses will incorporate critical thinking and an appreciation of the human environment.
Back to top of page Career Opportunities and Marketable Skills
  • Earth Science Teacher
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geomorphologist
  • Hydrologist
  • Mineral Curator
  • Paleontologist
  • Petroleum Geologist
  • Soil Scientist
Back to top of page Degree and Major Requirements
  Bachelor of Arts in Earth Science
The B.A. in Earth Science degree is designed to integrate all the Earth sciences in a systems approach to understanding the Earth. This includes incorporating and integrating subjects which are seldom selected elective opportunities in the B.S. degree in geology, 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 nonscientific audiences is a requirement or an asset.
Degree Requirements
 
Credit Hours
General Education1
41
Foreign Language classes (intermediate level required)
0-14
Philosophy course(s) (in addition to General Education courses) (May be met by taking GEOL 167)
3
Major requirements (listed below) and electives
60-71

120
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.
Major Requirements
B.A. degree students are expected to complete CHEM 131-131L before enrolling in required geology courses numbered 300 and higher.

The following are core courses required for B.A. degree students:

Core Requirements
Credit Hours
GEOL 110. Physical Geology
4
GEOL 167. History & Philosophy of the Geosciences
3
GEOL 211. Introduction to Oceanography
3
GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth
4
GEOL 320. Meteorology
3
GEOL 367. Genesis of Solid Earth Material
4
GEOL 377. Earth Surface Processes
3
GEOL 467. Stratigraphy, Structure and Tectonics
4
GEOL 477. Contemporary Issues in the Geosciences
3
PHYS 220. Astronomy
3
Choose one from the following:
3
GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research  
GEOL 494. Internship in Geology  
GEOL 497. Problems in Geology  
GEOL 499. Honors in Geology  

31-34
The B.A. degree option requires that each student complete at least 16-17 hours of cognate science credit hours chosen from:
Biology
BIO/ GEOL 350. Invertebrate Paleontology Or BIO 114. Organisms
4
Chemistry
CHEM 131-131L. General Chemistry I
4
CHEM 132-132L. General Chemistry II
4
Physics
PHYS 140-140L. College Physics I
4
PHYS 150-150L. College Physics II or GEOL 440 Geophysics
3-4
Mathematics
Total of 6-8 hours, including one of the following:
MATH 205. Introductory Calculus I
3
MATH 232. Calculus with Functions II
4
MATH 235. Calculus I
4
Cognate Science + Mathematics
22-25

Total Degree Hours
59-62
Back to top of page Bachelor of Science in Geology
Degree Requirements
 
Credit Hours
General Education1
41
Quantitative requirement (in addition to General Education)
3
Scientific Literacy requirement (in addition to General Education)
3-4
Major requirements (listed below) and electives
70-74

120
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.
Major Requirements
The following are core courses required for B.S. degree students:
Core Requirements
Credit Hours
GEOL 110. Physical Geology
4
GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth
4
GEOL 280. Mineralogy
4
GEOL 300. Introduction to Petrology
3
GEOL 364. Stratigraphy and Basin Analysis
4
GEOL 365. Structural Geology
3
GEOL 399. Field Geology
6
Choose one from the following:
3-6
GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research
3
GEOL 494. Internship in Geology
GEOL 497. Problems in Geology
GEOL 499. Honors in Geology  

31-34
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.
CHEM 131-131L; 132-132L. General Chemistry I-II
Choose one of the following:
MATH 231-232. Calculus with Functions I-II
MATH 235-236. Calculus I-II
Choose one of the following:
PHYS 140-140L; PHYS 150-150L. College Physics I-II with Laboratories
PHYS 240-140L; PHYS 250-150L. University Physics I-II with Laboratories
Students planning graduate study in some areas of the geosciences should consider additional courses in mathematics, physics or chemistry beyond those required for the B.S. Major
The B.A. and B.S. degree options require that each student complete at least 12-13 credit hours chosen from the following courses except for GEOL 211 or GEOL 320.
GEOL 220. Genetic Mineralogy
GEOL 340. Soils and Land Use
GEOL 350. Invertebrate Paleontology
GEOL 355. Geochemistry of Natural Waters
GEOL 385. Geomorphology
GEOL 405. Vertebrate Paleontology
GEOL 410. Engineering Geology
GEOL 415. Geological Evolution of North America
GEOL 460. Geohydrology
GEOL 489. Quantitative Methods in Geology
GEOL 493. Geophysics
Earth Science Education
GEOL 211. Introduction to Oceanography
GEOL 320. Meteorology
GEOL 340. Soils and Land Use
GEOL 385. Geomorphology
Back to top of page Recommended Schedule for Majors
B.A. Degree
First Year
Credit Hours
Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century
9-12
GEOL 110. Physical Geology
4
GEOL 167. History & Philosophy of the Geosciences
3
GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth
4
MATH 205. Introductory Calculus I
3
CHEM 131-131L. General Chemistry I
4

27-30
 
Second Year
Credit Hours
GEOL 211. Oceanography
3
GEOL 320. Meteorology
3
GEOL 367. Genesis of Solid Earth Materials
4
GEOL 377. Surface Processes
3
Foreign Language courses1
1-8
General Education courses
12

25-32
 
Third Year
Credit Hours
GEOL 467. Stratigraphy, Structure & Tectonics
4
PHYS 220. Astronomy
3
Cognate Science & Mathematics
9-12
General Education courses
9

25-28
 
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
GEOL 477. Contemporary Issues in the Geosciences
3
Cognate Science
3-4
Choose one from the following:
3
GEOL 491. Geological Research Literature
GEOL 494. Internship
GEOL 497. Problems in Geology
GEOL 499. Honors in Geology
Geology electives
3-6
Electives
12-20

24-36
1 Foreign language at the intermediate level.
B.S. Degree
First Year
Credit Hours
CHEM 131-131L; 132-132L. General Chemistry I-II
8
GEOL 110. Physical Geology
4
GEOL 230. Evolution of Earth
4
Choose one of the following:
6-8
MATH 231-232. Introductory Calculus (six credits)
MATH 235-236. Analytic Geometry and Calculus (eight credits)
Cluster One: Skills for the 21st Century
9-12

31-36
 
Second Year
Credit Hours
GEOL 280. Mineralogy
4
GEOL 364. Stratigraphy: Depositional Systems
4
Geology elective
3
Choose one of the following:
8
PHYS 140-140L; PHYS 150-150L. College Physics I-II with Laboratories
PHYS 240-140L; PHYS 250-150L. University Physics I-II with Laboratories
General Education courses
12

31
 
Third Year
Credit Hours
GEOL 300. Introduction to Petrology
3
GEOL 365. Structural Geology
3
GEOL 399. Field Geology (May session)
6
Geology electives
8
General Education courses
9
Electives
3

29
 
Fourth Year
Credit Hours
Choose from the following:
3-6
GEOL 491. Geological Literature Research (3 credits)
GEOL 494. Internship (3 credits)
GEOL 497. Problems in Geology (3 credits)
GEOL 499. Honors (6 credits)
Electives
9-20

12-26
Back to top of page Minor Requirements
Geology Minor
The requirement for a minor in geology is a minimum of 18 credit hours of geology approved by the student’s geology adviser.
Back to top of page Teaching Licensure
Geology Minor
Licensure in secondary earth science teaching also requires courses 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 fulfillment of the requirements of the Virginia Department of Education requirements. It is necessary to be admitted to the JMU Teacher Education program (Education minor plus Master of Arts in Teaching) prior to enrolling in professional education courses at by the College of Education. For a full description of professional education requirements and a listing of specific certificate requirements in earth sciences, refer to the College of Education.