Initial Publication Date: February 10, 2014

BA Geology - Geosciences Option, Humboldt State University

Information for this profile was provided by Brandon Schwab, Humboldt State University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


The Geosciences Option is a relatively new program (started AY 10/11) within the department. It was born from a redesign of a Geoscience Education major that never achieved sustainable enrollment. The new option was designed to both increase number of majors, which we were directed to do, as well as to appeal to students who may not be interested in traditional "geology" jobs. An additional goal was to diversify the student body by attracting non-traditional and URM students to the new major.

Strengths of this program
The program offers a solid foundation in the Earth sciences that will prepare students for a broad range of careers that students do not consider as possible "geology" jobs.

Types of students served
While the majority of our majors are white and male, our student demographics (across the department) are changing, reflecting that of the HSU campus. As of Fall 2013, HSU is eligible to be recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution. Hispanic/Latino/a Geology majors have increased from 9% in Fall 2010 and 2011, to 12% in Fall 2012, to 17% in Fall 2013. The majority of our majors transfer in from two-year colleges, although we are making concerted efforts to recruit from introductory classes. Approximately one-half of the Fall 2013 freshman class were first-generation. Nearly half of all freshman required remediation in Math and/or English.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:
Students who graduate with a BA Geology-Geosciences Option are prepared with a thorough Earth science background especially suited for application in hazard and resource management and planning, environmental science and policy, public communication and education.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:
We felt that there was an unmet need for fundamental Earth science training that was lacking in the environmental science program on campus.

How program goals are assessed
We are still in the early stages of graduating students from the program and also recently revised program Student Learning Outcomes and are revising our assessment process.

Design features that allow goals to be met:
The Geosciences Capstone course is the culminating experience for the students and provides an opportunity for formal summative assessment.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate
Majors are increasing from 2 in AY 10/11 to 7 AY 11/12 to 13 in AY 12/13. We have had only six students graduate from the program to date.

Careers pursued by our alumni
Two students are pursuing secondary teaching credentials. One is working as an interpreter/educator for a State park. One is working in emergency management. We do not have current data for the other two students. For those alumni that we have information, the reality aligns with the goals of the program.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

Entry into the degree
General Geology
Earthquake Country (with supplemental Gen Geol Lab)

Core Courses
General Geology
Field Methods I & II
Field Geology of the Western US
Earth Materials
Sedimentary Geology
Geology of California
Earth Resources & Global Environmental Change
Fossils, Life and Evolution
Natural Disasters
Structural Geology
Professional Development
Geosciences Senior Project
Chemistry - 1 semester
Calculus - 1 semester
Physics - 1 semester
Introductory GIS

Elective courses and Requirements
8-9 units of electives (2-3 courses)

Geosciences Senior Project

Supporting Science and Math Courses
Chemistry - 1 semester
Calculus - 1 semester
Physics - 1 semester
Introductory GIS

Other key features of this program:

Supporting Materials

Humbolt State University Catalog 2013-14 (Acrobat (PDF) 62kB Feb10 14)
Flow Chart, Geology B.A. - Geosciences Option HSU (Acrobat (PDF) 268kB Feb10 14)