Initial Publication Date: May 10, 2013

B.S. Geology: General, B.S. Geology: Environmental, B.S.Ed. Unified Science Earth Science at Missouri State University

Information for this profile was provided by C. Renee Rohs, Natural Sciences, Northwest Missouri State University. Information is also available on the program website. Students in this program are pursuing a bachelors degree.

Program Design & Assessment


Northwest Missouri State University is the place to study geology in the state of Missouri focused on the undergraduate experience. The availability of instrumentation and mapping software along with faculty expertise allows us to train our undergraduate students using the latest technology. Our student-focused curriculum, rigorous laboratories, field studies, and opportunities for undergraduate research provide valuable hands-on experience to undergraduates.

We have a large number of geology majors relative to the number of faculty in the geology programs. According to the 2009 American Geological Institute report on trends in geosciences at 4-year colleges and universities, the average geoscience department includes 6.6 full-time faculty serving 49 undergraduate geology majors. At Northwest, 4.5 full-time faculty members serve approximately 75 undergraduate geology majors.

Strengths of this program

The geology program at Northwest has a long history of providing field experiences to enrich undergraduate education. Our field opportunities are designed to pique interest by going to cool places and seeing awesome geology. Field-based educational experiences range from day trips to look at local fossils to three-week international field courses that retrace the steps of James Hutton along the east coast of Scotland.

Our faculty values undergraduate research experience as a critical aspect of baccalaureate education at Northwest. Faculty work closely with undergraduates pursuing original research projects in geosciences. In many cases students apply for Undergraduate Research Funding (UGR) from the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Completed projects are presented at local, regional, and national conferences. Research of exceptional quality has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, with undergraduate students serving as the primary author.

Types of students served

  • Traditional full-time mostly
  • Some non-trad
  • A few part time

Program Goals

The goals of this program are as follows:

Two primary goals have been identified for the geology program at Northwest

  1. Prepare students for employment as professionals in geology and related fields.
  2. Prepare students for graduate studies in geology and related disciplines.
The following learning outcomes are designed to address the primary goals of geologic studies at Northwest.
  1. Students are able to communicate (both written and oral) understanding of scientific processes within the framework of geologic time including ...
    1. Development and alteration of the crust, mantle, and core
    2. Formation of minerals and rocks
    3. Influence of plate tectonics on the resulting surface features
    4. Evolution of the fossil record
  2. Students can critically evaluate geologic information from peer-review literature or secondary sources
    1. Students are able to demonstrate an understanding of Earth systems as series of processes that impact one another
    2. Students are able to identify areas where our geologic understanding is lacking and recognize scientific problems
    3. Students are able to work as a team (supporting or leading) to address and solve scientific problems

The learning goals were informed by the following resources:

  • National reports
  • Advisory Council
  • Similar departments
  • Alumni
  • Students

How program goals are assessed

  • Field camp grades for students
  • Success in job placement
  • Success in graduate school placement

Design features that allow goals to be met

As our program has grown over the past 5-6 years we continue to build on a model of cyclical learning. This cyclical model starts with some knowledge in the classroom setting. That knowledge is then applied and expanded in a laboratory setting. The next step expands those experiences and draws on that knowledge in the field setting where the bigger picture becomes clearer and new pieces of information arise. That additional information is then taken back into the classroom, but now, the students are able to link a personal experience to the knowledge and that promotes a sense of relevancy. Not only does this new knowledge come back with the students but it gets added to the course through the use of photos or samples to improve the course the following year.

Alumni Careers

Graduation rate

Approximately 10-15

Careers pursued by our alumni

Our undergraduate placement rate, in jobs in the field or in graduate school, within 6 months of graduation is annually at 100% among those graduates actively seeking employment. On average 30% of our graduates attend graduate school. Most of those attending graduate school in the last 10 years have done so at minimal cost receiving both tuition waivers and teaching or research assistantships.

Employers that have hired Geology graduates from Northwest Missouri State University:

  • Terracon
  • Burns and McDonnell
  • Black and Veatch
  • Resolution Copper Mining
  • Freeport McMoran Copper and Gold
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources
  • U.S. Geological Survey
  • National Park Service
  • EPA
  • Alpha Natural Resources
  • Baker Hughes Inteq
  • URS Corporation
  • Rio Tinto
  • EOG Resources
  • Numerous Environmental Consulting Companies

Courses and Sequencing

Diagram of course sequencing and requirements

Supporting Materials

Essays for InTeGrate NWMSU (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 212kB May3 13)