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Geoscience Curriculum, University of Texas at El Paso

Information for this profile was provided by Diane Doser in 2009.

Illustration of the UTEP geoscience curriculum, constructed by Monica Bruckner, based on information provided by Diane Doser. Click on the image to see a larger version.
University of Texas at El Paso is a university with graduate programs, including doctoral programs .

Overview and Context

We have recently adapted our curriculum to a state mandated 120 hour degree plan. We did this by eliminating the requirement for minors, thus allowing students more freedom in the choice of electives to round out their degrees.
This is our curriculum for geoscience majors. We also offer an undergraduate major in geophysics.

Program Design

This was designed to meet the limitations of a 120 credit degree (with a required 33 hours of core courses outside of the major and supporting science/math courses).

Goals and Assessment

The Department of Geological Science seeks to

  • instill core knowledge in the geosciences in non-major undergraduate students, including those seeking a degree that leads to teaching and the primary and secondary levels.
  • equip geoscience major undergraduate students with the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary for them to become successful professionals and leaders in the local to national arena.
  • develop graduate students into professionals that can be employed in industry, academia, and government and have outstanding careers.

Central to this mission is an active research program that involves students at all levels and serves as a focal point for geoscience, environmental, and materials expertise for our region, the state of Texas, and beyond to national and international venues.

We have pre/post tests and surveys administered in our intro courses, mineralogy, and sedimentology courses. Student field notebooks and projects are assessed in the field geology series. Our annual department research colloquium that highlights undergraduate/graduate student research provides input from outside judges on the quality of our students' research and presentation skills.

Courses and Sequencing

Entry into the program

  • Physical/Historical Geology sequence
  • Earth Sciences I/II sequence

Occasionally a student from engineering will enter with the Geology for Engineers course.

Core courses

  • Mineralogy
  • Geoscience Processes
  • Igneous/Metamorphic Petrology (Prerequisite: Mineralogy)
  • Structural Geology (Prerequisite: Geoscience Processes)
  • Sedimentology (Prerequisite: Mineralogy)
  • Paleontology


Students are required to take 24 hours (at least 3 in geology) of electives, selected from the following list:
  • Geology of El Paso
  • Oceanography
  • Hydrology
  • Nuclear Waste Disposal
  • Introduction to GIS
  • Senior Thesis
  • Exploration Geophysics: Seismic Methods
  • Exploration Geophysics: Non-seismic Methods
  • Introduction to Remote Sensing
  • Weather and Climate
  • Special Topics

Other required courses

  • General Chemistry I and II + labs
  • Calculus I and II
  • Physics (Introductory Mechanics, Fields and Waves, Thermal and Fluid Physics)


  • Two 3-credit courses in field geology serve as our capstone courses.

Additional Materials

details on sequencing (Microsoft Word 25kB May9 09)

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