Undergraduate Geoscience Programs at Boise State University
Program Design & Assessment
The Department of Geosciences at Boise State University offers bachelor of science degrees in geoscience and geophysics. Students in the geoscience major choose an emphasis in geology, hydrology, or secondary education.
Strengths of this program
After taking an introductory geoscience course, our undergraduate programs allow students to explore the fields of geology, hydrology, and geophysics through a "sophomore core" of classes that emphasize the process of science, the integration of different branches of geoscience, and the introduction and practice of field and laboratory techniques. The courses help students self-assess their interests and see how the rest of the courses in the curriculum connect to each other. Since the introduction of the "sophomore core" and a centralized advising system we have seen a significant increase in student retention and graduation rates.
Types of students servedOur undergraduate programs serve a wide variety of students including those preparing to teach Earth science in middle or high school, students preparing to enter graduate school, and students looking for careers in geology, hydrology, geophysics, consulting, resource management, and others.
The goals of this program are as follows:
BS Geoscience Learning Goals (geology and hydrology emphases):
- Graduates will be able to describe the fundamental concepts of geoscience including the origin, composition, and evolution of the Earth, how the Earth system responds to internal and external forces, including the forces of humans, and principles linking the geosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and atmosphere.
- Graduates will be able to apply physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics, as appropriate, to understand Earth science processes.
- Graduates will be able to apply geoscience knowledge and critical thinking skills to identify and address a range of Earth science problems.
- Graduates will understand data collection techniques and instrument capabilities, and will be able to collect, analyze, and interpret geoscience data through the use of computers, field and laboratory equipment, software, and instrumentation appropriate to the geosciences.
- Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific concepts or the results of scientific research in both written and oral form. Graduates will be familiar with sources of scientific information and be able to utilize scientific literature in geology and important allied fields.
B.S Geophysics learning goals:
- Graduates will have learned the fundamentals of geophysics, including the mathematics and physics of potential field theory (gravity, magnetics, thermal), seismic and electromagnetic wave propagation, electronics (AC and DC circuits), and signal processing. Graduates will also be able to apply physics, chemistry, and mathematics, as appropriate, to understand Earth processes and properties.
- Graduates will be able to apply geophysical knowledge and critical thinking skills to design and collect geophysical surveys that will address a range of Earth science problems.
- Graduates will be able to analyze and interpret geophysical data through the use of computers, field and laboratory equipment, software, and instrumentation appropriate to the field of geophysics.
- Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific concepts or the results of scientific research in both written and oral form. Graduates will be familiar with sources of scientific information and be able to utilize scientific literature in geophysics and important allied fields.
The learning goals were informed by the following resources:
The learning goals were developed by the faculty based on consideration of faculty expertise and department resources, student needs as they look for employment or apply to graduate school, conversations with potential employers, and conversations with alumni.
How program goals are assessed
Our department is planning to re-evaluate our undergraduate learning goals and assessment strategies this summer. Currently we use faculty feedback on the preparation of students as they move vertically through the curriculum, senior portfolios and a senior survey and exit interview.
In the future, we are planning to collect more information via course-specific assignments and exam questions that will be asked in classes throughout the curriculum and then again as part of an exit exam.
Graduation rate (BS)
Careers pursued by our alumni
A few of our graduates each year enter MS or PhD programs. Many of our geology emphasis students find jobs with mining companies, as do some of the hydrology and geophysics students. Geophysics, hydrology and geology students also find jobs with local consulting or government agencies such as the USGS, the BLM, and the Forest Service. Our secondary education students have been successful finding jobs teaching Earth science in Idaho, where all students are required to take a full year of Earth science in either 8th or 9th grade.