Prospective Students

Geology Program

What is geology?

A Volcano EruptingGeology, in the widest sense of the term, is the study of the Earth, synonymous to Earth- or Geoscience. Commonly, geology refers to the study of processes in the subsurface and at the Earth's surface. Such processes include the flow of groundwater, the formation of oil and gas accumulations, the rupture of earthquakes, eruptions of volcanoes, or mountain building, just to name a few. Some related disciplines are geophysics, geochemistry, hydrogeology, geobiology, paleontology, engineering and environmental geology, marine geology, and planetary geology. Most geoscientists start their career with a geology or geoscience degree, although some enter the field with their major college degrees in physics, chemistry, mathematics, or biology.

What skills do geologists learn?

A Topas CrystalA geology degree provides you with a broad background in the natural sciences, typically with an equal foundation in physics, chemistry, mathematics, and biology, in addition to the geology-specific courses. For this reason, geologists are often hired for positions that require a broad science background such as science journalism and science education. Unique skills of geologists are their capabilities to apply a variety of analytical and numerical methods to solve applied problems and to reconstruct processes that have occurred in the past. Unlike experimental physics and chemistry, but similar to forensic scientists, geologists frequently study and reconstruct processes over which they have no or little experimental control--processes that may have occurred millions of years ago or that occur only infrequently, like earthquakes and floods. Another skill that geologists train for is in three-dimensional visualization and conceptualization on a large range of scales in both space and time

What special talents do I need to be successful as a geologist?

Rock ClimberNone, really, other than a genuine interest in natural sciences, some inborn curiosity to figure "things" out, and, as in any technical profession, a good portion of perseverance and motivation. Many geologists like the outdoors, but a lot of geoscience is done in the lab, on the computer, on board of a ship, or using remotely operated tools such as satellites and the rovers on planet Mars. Because science is also about effective communication, it helps to have a certain talent for technical writing and public speaking.

Why study geology at TAMU-CC?

Students studying rocks on a field trip

We offer a comprehensive program that combines the traditional core courses, such as mineralogy and structural geology, with electives in topics of current relevance such as environmental geology.

Because we are a small program we can offer closer interaction in- and outside the classroom than many larger programs. Last but not least, you will find that the geology faculty at TAMU-CC is highly motivated and enthusiastic about the subject.

What career options does it provide?

Apollo 11 MoonwalkThe career options for geologists are as wide as the field of geology itself. Many geologists work for the oil and gas industry, locating new energy reserves and advising engineers in their production. Other geologists work for environmental protection, either through private or public agencies, for non-profits, for mining companies, insurance companies, and for publishers and news organizations. Geologists have walked the moon (Harrison 'Jack' Schmitt, Apollo 17), flown missions on the Space Shuttle (James F. Reilly II) and to the International Space Station (Mike Fincke), and lived on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (Herbert and Lou Hoover). Lastly, because a geology degree provides you with a broad background in sciences and general skills in problem assessment and solving, many geologists find themselves in higher administrative and managing positions.

What are my job prospects as a geologist and how much money can I expect to earn?

Gold NuggetGeology graduates can expect good pay and good job prospects. Fast Company, a business magazine, places Geosciences among its 25 top job picks for 2005-2009! According to the College Majors Handbook (2nd edition 2004, Jist Publishing), geologists with a bachelor degree earn on average $ 58,400, that is 8% higher than the average salary of college graduates with a bachelor degree. According to the same source, demand for geologists and Earth scientists is expected to grow by 20% by 2010. Salaries are generally higher in private industry than with public agencies. According to the most recent salary survey by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, which reflects salaries preferentially in the private oil and gas industry, starting salaries for geology graduates are $60,000 for B.S. and $65,000 for M.S. degrees (figures of 2003).

Would you like to learn more?

The best way to learn more about the program is by visiting us during Island Days. These are open-house days held throughout the year. If you can't make it on one of these days, don't hesitate to contact Dr. Tania Anders, Geology Program Coordinator, or any other geology faculty member, in person, e-mail, or by phone.

For more information about geology as a profession, go to the Geoscience Career website of the American Geological Institute, which includes more information on employment statistics, and to the US Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.