Integrate > Workshops and Webinars > Geoscience and the 21st Century Workforce > Program Descriptions > Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University

Geology and Geophysics at Texas A&M University

Information for this profile was provided by Kate Miller, Geology and Geophysics, Texas A & M University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment

Overview

The B.S. and B.A. programs in Geology and Geophysics emphasizes the development of sound scientific skills, including the ability to think, observe, analyze, classify, describe, and interpret data, and the application of these skills to the study of rocks, minerals, fossils, structures, landforms, and other geologic phenomena. The curriculum also emphasizes the practical aspects of geology, including its applications to petroleum and mineral exploration, environmental management, and structural engineering.

Strengths of this program

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program provides the student a broad foundation in geology with a specialization in at least one other field through the minors program. The minor chosen by the student requires a minimum of 15 credit hours in one discipline. The B.A. program offers additional opportunities for the student to diversify through geology and technical electives.

The B.A. degree offers more flexibility than the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program in terms of allowing a program of study that combines geology with subject areas such as geophysics, history, journalism, political science, mathematics, biology, business, computer science, education, medicine, physics, or other areas. In addition, the mathematics and physics requirements are less rigorous than the B.S. degree program. The B.A. program meets the needs of many students who plan to use geology as a basis for careers in law (environmental, oil, gas, etc.), medicine, technical writing, teaching at pre-college level, environmental journalism, resource-related sales and marketing, to name only a few possibilities. With a judicious selection of electives, the B.A. degree may conceivably be a starting point for further graduate education in geology or geophysics.

The B. S. undergraduate curriculum in geology emphasizes the development of sound scientific skills, including the ability to think, observe, analyze, classify, describe, and interpret data, and the application of these skills to the study of rocks, minerals, fossils, structures, landforms, and other geologic phenomena. The undergraduate curriculum also emphasizes the practical aspects of geology, including its applications to petroleum and mineral exploration, environmental management, and siting of man-made structures.

The first two years of the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) program in Geology, which are identical to the B.S. in Geophysics, provide students with the basics of geology and geophysics and the allied fields of chemistry, physics, mathematics, and computer science. The junior and senior years involve more advanced study in the field of geology, including the opportunity to concentrate study in specific disciplines such as petroleum geology and geophysics, environmental and engineering geology, hydrogeology, and others. Students are also encouraged to become involved in research problems with faculty members during their undergraduate studies, which can be accomplished through classes in Directed Studies (GEOL 285 and 485).

Types of students served

  • Geology and geophysics students preparing for graduate school and careers in petroleum geology and geophysics, environmental and engineering geology, hydrogeology and others
  • Liberal arts students preparing for a wide range of careers
  • Engineering students working in the fields of civil, petroleum and mechanical engineering disciplines
  • Education majors working toward a teaching certificate
  • Architecture students preparing to work in environmental design, landscape architecture and construction science
  • Students preparing to work in the environmental and policy areas

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

Students completing the geology and geophysics degree program will acquire knowledge of:

  • Earth Systems: Understand the physical, chemical, and biological principles governing the evolution of Earth systems
  • Methods, Tools, and Technology: Understand and use appropriate field and laboratory methods, tools, and technologies to analyze Earth systems
Students completing the geology and geophysics degree program will demonstrate proficiency in:
  • Communication: Students will write and speak clearly about complex problems in Earth science for a variety of formal and informal audiences.
  • Collaboration: Students will work effectively in interdisciplinary groups.
  • Leadership: Students will think innovatively and entrepreneurially about problems in Earth science and effectively advance their ideas.

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

Learning outcomes were developed in consultation with the departments an external advisory board that is comprised of representatives from academe and industry. Outcomes were informed by reports published by various national and professional organizations, as well as expected University-level learning outcomes.

How program goals are assessed

Assessments include high-level evaluations of student learning outcomes applied at the end of required major courses and exit interviews with graduating students. Specifically:

  • Graduates will acquire mastery of geologic fundamentals and be able to apply these to geological problems.
    • Students will complete exercises and write an analysis of data in projects for the following courses: GEOL 306, GEOL 312, and GEOP 341. A selection of these reports will be evaluated by a panel of faculty, using a rubric, to determine whether the student achieve satisfactory progress.
  • Graduates will be able to effectively communicate in writing and oral presentation to a wide range of audiences.
    • Students will complete exercises and write an analysis of data in projects for the following courses: GEOL 306, GEOL 312, and GEOP 341. A selection of these reports will be evaluated by a panel of faculty, using a rubric, to determine whether the student achieve satisfactory progress.
    • Students' papers and reports prepared in the GEOL 311 Principles of Geologic Writing course will be submitted to the university-wide Writing Assessment Program, or will be evaluated internally by a faculty panel.
  • Graduates will be able to employ critical thinking and apply the scientific method to accurately analyze data and frame testable predictions.
    • Students will gather and evaluate data needed to resolve a geological problem and present an interpretation of the solution that can be tested in course GEOL 300 Field Camp. A selection of the reports will be evaluated by a panel of faculty members using a rubric to determine whether the students achieve satisfactory progress with regards to data analysis.
  • Individual research experience
    • The department will encourage an increase in the number of undergraduates participating in research projects.
  • Graduates will be prepared for success in further study and in professional employment.
    • University Graduation Survey data will be used to determine student career plans, experiences, and satisfaction with the program.

Design features that allow goals to be met

Group projects emphasizing authentic professional activities and communication skills are embedded in many required major courses. Many of our students participate in research with faculty members and present results in Departmental, College, and University research events.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

2011—67; 2012—46

Careers pursued by our alumni

For the most part graduates enter graduate programs or find jobs in the petroleum, or environmental sectors.

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements



Supporting Materials

Texas A&M Geology and Geophysics Curriculum Description (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 1MB May20 13)