What's your excuse for not being a major?

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The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences offers a BS and BA in Geology, as well as a BS in Environmental Science, and many specialty concentrations.  We do not have a graduate program, which allows our faculty to concentrate on teaching and research with undergraduates.

If you are interested in becoming a major, contact our Office Manager Lauri Miller (RSW 033), who will assign you an academic advisor.


Geology (BS) 244A:  This standard geology degree produces a well-rounded graduate who is prepared to go to graduate school or directly into industry.  This degree track is the department's most flexible track, but still requires considerable external coursework in calculus, chemistry, and calculus-based physics, as well as an intensive summer field course in geology.

Geology (BA) 244A: Students pursuing this degree option take all the same classes the the BS in Geology (above) but must also declare a minor field of study as well as satisfy a foreign language requirement.  Students who are double majoring in a BA-granting degree track typically use this degree track.

Geology with Concentrations

Geology (BS) - Environmental Geology 259C:  This concentration provides graduates with the ability to apply geological principles to the solution of environmental problems. Graduates with this degree track will study modern earth processes and use analytical techniques that are applicable to measuring active systems, and learn the hands-on skill set needed to go straight into the environmental industry upon graduation.  A summer field course is encouraged, but not required for this track.

Geology (BS) - Paleontology 259D: This program builds off the BS in Geology and targets the dedicated undergraduate interested in pursuing a career in paleontology or the petroleum industry by providing a strong interdisciplinary background rooted in geology and biology, opportunities for student research in paleontology, and a program of study designed to facilitate entry to graduate school.  

Geology (BS) - Quantitative Geoscience 259E: This concentration is for students who are interested in the mathematical side of geology. The added mathematical and technical background will provide graduates with the technical skills that they need to succeed at the graduate level, especially for those interested in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology, structural geology, engineering geology, environmental geology and geophysics.

Geology (BS) - Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education 259F: Earth Science is taught in all North Carolina public schools at the secondary level. A concentration in secondary education prepares graduates for public school teaching. Graduates are Highly Qualified as defined by the regulations set forth by the federal government and No Child Left Behind. Upon graduation, students with this degree qualify for double licensure in Earth Science and Comprehensive Science in the state of NC.

Environmental Science

Environmental Science (BS) 121A: This degree is for students desiring a broad and interdisciplinary approach to studies in the environmental sciences and capitalizes on the cross-disciplinary expertise available at Appalachian.  A summer field course is not required.

Environmental Science (BS) - Environmental Professional 121B: Students pursuing this degree option are interested in the policy and regulatory aspects of environmental science.  A summer field course is not required.

There are so many environmental degree tracks at Appalachian!  How do you choose?  What is the difference between them all?

  • BS in Geology with an Environmental Geology concentration is designed to provide students with the hands-on, field-based training in demand by the environmental industry. Moreover, students in the Geology (BS) - Environmental Geology track will have the background to begin the licensure process to become a Professional Geologist (PG), which is a necessary licensure for career advancement in the environmental industry. Students in our program are encouraged to take Part I of the Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) licensure exam their senior year. Students in this program receive considerable field-based training as well as GIS coursework, and typically find employment in the environmental industry immediately upon graduation. For students who wish to go on to graduate school in the environmental geosciences rather than directly into industry, we recommend the BS in Geology with a Quantitative Geoscience concentration.
  • The coursework required for the BS in Environmental Science provides a rigorous, interdisciplinary overview of the associated environmental sciences from a purely academic perspective. The coursework in the Environmental Science degree track does not cover all the geoscience topics necessary for licensure, but instead provides a cross-disciplinary background that will allow students to go continue their graduate education in interdisciplinary environmental fields.
  • Students who are interested in working in environmental policy while desiring a strong science background typically choose the BS in Environmental Science - Environmental Professional.  These students will be prepared for regulatory rather than technical jobs in the environmental fields, but will still receive intense training in the natural sciences.

There are also several environmentally focused programs outside the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences:

  • For those with an interest in the environment from a biological perspective, the BS in Biology with an Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology concentration is the degree track for you.  Upon graduation, students in this degree track typically work with state and local governments or go into graduate programs.
  • Other students are interested in concentrating on the chemistry side of the environmental sciences; for these students, the BS in Chemistry with an Environmental Chemistry concentration is the degree track for you.  Students in this program typically go on to graduate school or directly into laboratory positions within industry or government.
  • Students who are more interested in physics can get a BS in Applied Physics with an emphasis area in Environmental Physics.  Students in this program typically go on to graduate school or are employed in industry laboratories upon graduation.
  • Students who wish to study the environment from a social justice angle may be better served by the BS in Sustainable Development: Environmental Studies Concentration, where students are prepared for careers that help build connections between environmental scientists, policy makers, and the general public.  Graduates of this program tend to look for work with non-profit environmental organizations, advocacy groups, some government agencies, and private businesses, but are not typically employed by environmental consulting firms in technical or regulatory positions.
  • For those who are interested in the role that business practices and economics plays on the environment, a BA in Economics with a concentration in Environmental Economics and Policy may be what you are looking for. Students who go into this program typically find work with government or non-profits with a focus on environmental issues. 
  • Some students know they want to major in something associated with the environment but prefer a more hands-on degree involving sustainable building systems and sustainable technologies rather than studying the natural sciences. These students typically major in programs within the Department of Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment.

Requirements for graduating with a degree in the Geosciences from Appalachian:

In addition to completing the necessary coursework, all Geology students (except for those receiving a B.S. in Geology with an Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education concentration, or a B.S. in the Environmental Science tracks) must take and achieve a satisfactory score on a comprehensive examination covering theoretical and practical aspects of areas of geology during their senior year.

Students who are unsuccessful on any portion or all of the examination may retake the appropriate portion(s) up to two additional times before graduation. Students receiving their B.S. in Geology with an Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education concentration must take the Praxis II subject area exam: Earth/Space Science (0571) portion.

Additional, detailed information can be found in the Geology Student Handbook or in individual degree track links on the website.

Other useful information:

Independent Research - One of the benefits of majoring in Geology at Appalachian is the opportunity to conduct independent research with one or more faculty members in the department.  Independent study forms can be found here.

Student Handbook [PDF - 1.2M] includes information on Academic Courses and Requirements, Financial Aid, Scholarships, Field Camp, and much more.

Scholarships and Funding Opportunities

Internships and Summer Employment

Honors Program Requirements

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