Geology at Fort Hays State University

Information for this profile was provided by John Heinrichs, Geosciences, Fort Hays State University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


In broad perspective, the BS Geology program at FHSU meets the needs of Kansas and particularly the FHSU service area for geology-related professionals and preparation of students for further academic study.

Strengths of this program

This program has a very strong science core and relevant concentrations (petroleum geology, paleontology, environmental geology, technology, and traditional geology). The facilities for the program are very modern and comprehensive. An associated museum, the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, offers many strengths particularly in paleontology.

Types of students served

Mainly geology students preparing for jobs in the petroleum industry and environmental consulting. In addition, we serve students interested in paleontology and preparing for graduate school and subsequent work in museums or as researchers.

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

Upon completion of the program, students will:

  1. Apply the scientific method, critical thinking, and quantitative analytical skills
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the basic properties and processes of matter and energy at scales
  3. Perform essential geological field and laboratory skills, including rock and mineral identification, preparation of mineral or paleontological samples, interpretation of topographic maps and aerial imagery, constructing stratigraphic sections and using geologic tools and equipment
  4. Demonstrate understanding of the origin and history of the Earth, including the evolution of life
  5. Demonstrate knowledge of the composition of the Earth and understanding of the origin of rocks and minerals
  6. Demonstrate knowledge of structures on and below the Earth's surface and understanding of the processes that produce those structures
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the history of geology as a discipline, including key events, ideas, and individuals as well as careers available to geologists
  8. Demonstrate understanding of the connection between humans and the Earth, including causes of environmental issues, characteristics of geologic hazards, and the nature and exploitation of geologic resources
  9. Work effectively in a professional environment, including oral and written communication, personal organization, use of computer hardware and software, and applying appropriate ethical standards
  10. Develop appropriate knowledge and skills in one of the subfields of geology

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

Learning outcomes from similar departments and discussions with employers

How program goals are assessed

I believe the program is meeting its educational goals fairly well. Our assessment (a pre- and post- test) shows generally good learning. Numbers of majors are increasing, however not as rapidly as desired, and the number of majors who do not complete the program is too high.

Design features that allow goals to be met

A very strong science core and a thorough list of relevant courses

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

FY 2008 3
FY 2009 6
FY 2010 1
FY 2011 5
FY 2012 11

Careers pursued by our alumni

Generally they find employment in independent oil and gas companies or environmental consulting companies. Many also work in state agencies. Some go on to graduate school, particularly those in paleontology.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements