Jun 23, 2024  
2019-2020 Undergraduate Catalog 

Geology Major - Bachelor of Science (BS)

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Please see the UNLV College of Sciences, Geoscience department web page at http://www.unlv.edu/degree/bs-geology for information about department programs, faculty and facilities. Degree worksheets and 4/5 year plan for the major are available at https://www.unlv.edu/degree/bs-geology

Please see advising information at the UNLV College of Science Advising at www.unlv.edu/sciences/advising.


Institution - Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities www.nwccu.org

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the Geology program students will be:

  1. Identify common rock-forming minerals in hand specimen and thin section, major rock types and will be able to describe the conditions under which each of them formed. This will include being able to describe the chemical characteristics of various types of rocks, geologic influences on environmental pollutants, and the use of stable and radiogenic isotopes as environmental tracers and tools in dating rocks and water.
  2. Identify the common types of invertebrate and vertebrate fossils, their approximate age, and the environments in which they lived, and have a grounding in the historical development of the field of geology.
  3. Recognize, in the field, various types of geologic structures, and be able to use these to reconstruct the structural history of a region.
  4. Describe the major processes that determine the characteristics of the earth’s surface, and be able to examine a landscape and interpret its geomorphic history.
  5. Describe the plate-tectonic history of the earth (when various supercontinents assembled and fragmented), the relationship between plate tectonic processes and mountain building, and the types of data that are used to reconstruct the position of a particular plate in the geologic past.
  6. Describe the regional stratigraphic framework of the Southern Nevada region; they will also be able to go into a new region that has a well-exposed stratigraphic record, and reconstruct the sedimentological history of the region.
  7. Be facile in computer applications in geology including spatial and imagery analysis applications, quantitative skills, and express themselves well in oral and written reports.
  8. Apply the techniques of at least two specializations within the field of geology (e.g., geophysics, hydrogeology, GIS, geochronology, petroleum geology) to the solution of appropriate research or applied problems.
  9. Able to demonstrate the ability to function independently, collaboratively, and ethically with others in the profession as colleagues and supervisors.
  10. Demonstrate the ability to enter a new field area, construct a geologic map on a topographic base, interpret the geologic history of the area, and write a professional quality report on the geology of the area. This learning objective comprises the Capstone experience for this degree program and is fulfilled through the summer field geology course. It also includes the ability to recognize, formulate, employ, and interpret the scientific methodology, and employ critical thinking skills. Many other learning outcomes for this degree program are also reinforced through this capstone experience (For instance, outcomes 1-5, and 9).

University Graduation Requirements

Geology Degree Requirements - Total: 120 Credits

To develop a level of geologic competency in our graduates so they are equipped to compete successfully for entry-level jobs in the geological job market and/or for admission to graduate programs offered by accredited universities and colleges. To accomplish the above:

  1. The B.S. in Geology degree is intended to recognize, formulate, employ, and interpret the scientific methodology that is appropriate to geological research.
  2. All students will graduate with competency in correctly identifying the properties, characteristics, and behavior of earth materials.
  3. Graduating students will be proficient in the production and interpretation of geologic maps.
  4. All graduates will have a working knowledge of those scientific disciplines ancillary to the science of geology: chemistry, physics, and mathematics.
  5. All students will have the ability to function independently, collaboratively, and ethically with others in the profession.
  6. Each graduate will demonstrate the written and verbal communications skills required to convey the results of scientific research.

General Education Requirements - Subtotal 33-36 Credits

First-Year Seminar - Credits: 2-3

  1. It is strongly recommended that students take SCI 101 to satisfy the First Year Seminar requirement.

English Composition - Credits: 6

Second-Year Seminar - Credits: 3

Constitutions - Credits: 4-6


Distribution Requirement - Credits: 18

Please see Distribution Requirement  for more information.

  • Humanities and Fine Arts: 9 Credits
    • Two courses 3 credits each from two different humanities areas - 6 credits
    • One course in fine arts- 3 credits
  • Social Science: 9 Credits
    • One course each from three different fields.
  • Life and Physical Sciences and Analytical Thinking:
    • Automatically satisfied by Major requirements

Multicultural and International

(see note 2 below)

Multicultural, one 3 credit course required
International, one 3 credit course required

These courses may overlap with general education and major requirements.  A single course may not meet the multicultural and international requirements simultaneously. For the list of approved multicultural and international courses, go to: http://facultysenate.unlv.edu/students

Electives - Credits: 28

Additional Electives in Geology and other topics (at least 9 must be 300 level or above in GEOL.)

Total Credits: 120


  1. It is strongly recommended that students take SCI 101 to satisfy the First Year Seminar requirement.
  2. Students must complete 40 upper-division credits (satisfied by the degree requirements in the major).


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