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Geology Curriculum, University of Cincinnati

Information for this profile was provided by Barry Maynard in 2009. Information is also available on the program website.

University of Cincinnati is a university with graduate programs, including doctoral programs .

Overview and Context

Illustration of the University of Cincinnati geology curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Barry Maynard. Click on the image to see a larger version.
The bachelor of science/art in geology is designed for undergraduates who wish to pursue careers in geology and the Earth sciences generally, including industrial geology, petroleum geology, hydrology, environmental studies, marine geology and geo-engineering, as well as secondary school, university and museum education and research. The program provides a broad overview of Earth's internal and surficial processes and systems, as well the history of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. It teaches skills in identifying, measuring and mapping minerals, rocks, fossils, soils and all variety of surface features, including glaciers and glacial landforms, landslides and other hazards, and the geology related to water resources. Students acquire skills in using a variety of instruments and laboratory equipment; using computers; and collecting and analyzing geological data. The BS in geology has a strong field component. Field trips are an essential part of many courses, and the department offers several stand-alone field-trip courses to local, regional, national and international locations.

The purpose of this degree is to enable students to acquire knowledge and skills across the spectrum of the geological sciences, as well as a background in mathematics and auxiliary sciences, including chemistry, physics and biology. This program provides solid training for those who will pursue further graduate study in earth sciences; a majority of majors will go on to pursue further study at the master's or doctoral level.

Students are interested in a variety of Earth science disciplines relevant to traditional geology, such as mineralogy and petrology, as well as critical areas, such as environmental resources and global change. There is a strong component of surficial geology, hydrogeology, glacial geology and geomorphology, all of which have strong practical applications in environmental science. In addition, the Department of Geology offers a series of courses in paleobiology, paleoecology, ancient environments and evolution, which provide a unique background for students whose interests lie in the areas of paleontology, marine biology, historical biology or geobiology.

We have two main tracks, one for BA and one for BS. Within the BS there are possbile specialty tracks at the senior level, but the descriptions given apply to all tracks.

Program Design

This program was heavily modified about 5 years ago to make the curriculum dominantly experiential. We have pulled back from that somewhat to concentrate the research-intensive part of the curriculum more in the junior and senior year.

Goals and Assessment

The Department of Geology has 3 goals for its undergraduate program:
  1. To train geoscientists capable of solving scientific and societal problems.
  2. To help students develop intellectual capabilities to conceptualize, abstract, and analyze geologic problems.
  3. To develop in students an appreciation for scientific methods.

We use student course evaluations, employer feedback, and alumni surveys to assess our program's effectiveness.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • Freshman Seminar Series I, II, III
  • Earth and Life History - Earth's Record of Deep Time
  • Hard Rocks, Tall Mountains - How the Earth Works
  • Natural Hazards, Human Engineers - Environmental Earth Science
  • Introductory Geology with Lab I, II, III
  • Environmental Geology (no lab)

Core courses

Second Year
  • Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
  • Mineralogy
  • Geomorphic Processes
  • Structural Geology
  • Paleontology and Paleoenvironments
  • Sedimentary Geology and Earth History

Third Year
  • Earth Surface Processes (Field Project)
  • Electives (see below)

Fourth Year
  • Electives (see below)
  • Capstone (field course or equivalent)


Students are required to take 12-18 quarter credits (about 4-6 courses) of electives, selected from the lists below:

Physical Geology Group
  • Igneous Petrology
  • Sedimentary Petrology
  • Tectonic Environments and Crystalline Rocks
  • Volcanoes and Planetary Interiors
  • Fluid Dynamics
  • Solution Geochemistry
Geobiology Group
  • Advanced Invertebrate Paleontology 1
  • Advanced Invertebrate Paleontology 2
  • Vertebrate Paleontology
  • Global Biodiversity
  • Geology and Biology of Coral Reefs
  • Sedimentology
  • Stratigraphy
Surface Processes/Glacial Group
  • Groundwater Geology
  • Groundwater Modeling
  • Glacial Geology
  • Glacial Field Methods
  • Geochemistry of Natural Waters
  • Organic Compounds in Natural Waters
  • Quaternary Geochronology
  • Geology of the Himalaya

Other required courses

  • Mathematics
  • Chemistry
  • Physics (for the BS)


  • Field Camp OR Special Project

Additional comments

Many of the courses are field-based and require group research projects.

Additional Materials

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