Initial Publication Date: June 11, 2015

Geology, Gustavus Adolphus College

Information for this page has been provided by James Welsh in 2009. Information is also available on the program website. Gustavus Adolphus College is a private four-year institution, primarily undergraduate . Students in this program are pursuing a BS degree.

Program Design & Assessment


This is our only curriculum for the geology major. We also have an earth science teaching major (which includes education courses, and in which the geology major is embedded). GAC offers a geology major and minor.

Strengths of this program

The program was designed to minimize the number of required courses (a general college goal), and give some flexibility to majors especially in light of the fact that most geology students choose geology after the first year. In the past we had a more prescribed curriculum that included a full year of physics, and second semesters of calculus and chemistry. Certainly those courses deterred some students who were less confident of their quantitative abilities, but more importantly the larger number of requirements deterred some students from choosing geology in the sophomore or junior years (because of the difficulties, either real or perceived, in being able to finish the degree requirements in four years). Allowing some of those cognates to serve as electives also makes it easier for a student to major in geology after having already taken any of those courses.

Types of students served

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

Our goals are primarily to prepare students for careers in the geosciences, focusing on preparation for graduate school. We try to develop research skills, as those skills (including problem solving and other forms of critical thinking, writing, etc.) are also transferable to most other professions. For those students not majoring in geology, our goals are to introduce students to problem solving skills using the earth as a learning vehicle, to develop an understanding of basic earth processes, to foster an awareness of human impact on the planet, and to foster an aesthetic appreciation of the earth.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

How program goals are assessed

As we will soon have an essentially new faculty on board, we plan to do a thorough review of our curriculum (as the current curriculum has been in place for some time). Our assessment will specifically focus on skill development, and where in our curriculum these skills are being developed. Assessment will include input from current and past students, including the results of our recent self study conducted as part of an external review.

Design features that allow goals to be met

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

Careers pursued by our alumni

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

Entry into the program

  • Principles of Geology (= physical geology)

Core courses

  • Evolution of the Earth (= historical geology)
  • Geomorphology
  • Mineralogy
  • Petrology (Prerequisite: Mineralogy)
  • Structural Geology
  • Junior Research
  • Senior Research (Prerequisite: Junior Research)


Students are required to take three elective courses, selected from the following list:
  • Sedimentology-Stratigraphy
  • Paleontology
  • Global Climate Change
  • Earth Resources
  • Hydrogeology (Prerequisite: Calc I)
  • Calculus II
  • Organic Chemistry I
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Classical Physics I
  • Classical Physics II
  • Geographical Information Systems

Other required courses

  • Calculus I
  • General Chemistry


  • Senior Research (= thesis)

Other key features of this program:

other key features

Supporting Materials