Stephen F. Austin State University


The goal of geology is to understand the past, present and future behavior of the whole Earth system. From the environments where life evolves on the surface, to the interaction between the ocean and atmosphere, this interest extends to the Earth's core. A major challenge is to use this understanding to maintain an environment in which human kind and all forms of life can flourish.

The science of geology is essential to meeting the followingsocietal challenges:

1. provide sufficient resources-e.g., water, minerals and fuels;

2. cope with hazards-e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, landslides, tsunamis and floods;

3. avoid the results of the perturbation of geological environments- e.g., soil erosion, water contamination, improper mining practices and waste disposal; and

4. learn how to anticipate and adjust to environmental and global changes.

In order to prepare students to achieve the goals of the discipline of geology and to meet society's challenges to geologists, the Department of Geology has designed a curriculum for the Bachelor of Science in geology that: (1) provides a sound background in the fundamentals of geology by requiring a group of 10 core courses that cover all basic aspects of geology, and (2) allows students to choose an "option" relevant to a particular field of specialization in geology. The two options are:

1. Environmental Geology - geologic hazards such as flooding and erosion, and also environmental pollution, waste disposal and urban development.

2. General Geology, including:

(a) Petroleum geology - the search for oil and natural gas.

(b)Economic geology - mining, the exploration for profitable materials

Majors & Minors

Geology majors are required to take a minor, consisting of six courses, in another discipline. As geology is holistic science that integrates principles of all other sciences, students are encouraged to minor in biology, chemistry, mathematics, or physics. Geologists are, in addition to being scientists, also involved in professional work that impacts many other facets of society including business, economics, medicine, sociology and geography, to name just a few. Therefore, minors in subjects related to the broader societal issues beyond science also are encouraged. Students work closely with faculty advisers to plan a curriculum that best suits the students' interests and goals.

The Master of Science degree in geology is designed to allow graduate students to specialize in one of the two options mentioned above. The curriculum followed by graduate students is tailored, in consultation with the graduate adviser, to their special interests and talents to provide them the training needed to pursue a career consistent with their long-term life objectives.

The department is well equipped to train students in microscopy, chemical analyses of rocks, minerals and fluids, and data acquisition in the field. Our inventory includes optical microscopes, a cathodoluminescence unit, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, gamma ray spectrometer, X-ray diffraction and fluorescence instrumentation, and a cesium magnetometer, ground conductivity meter, and ground penetrating radar used for environmental assessment studies. A full complement of computing equipment is available for student use.

The department has graduated many successful B.S. and M.S. geologists who have made major contributions to the geology profession in the petroleum industry, in environmental geology and in the teaching profession in primary and secondary schools and on the college level. Many of these graduates reside in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, but a fair number are now spread throughout the nation and in several foreign countries.

Student Organizations & Scholarships

Students may participate in the following student organizations: Geology Student Association (GSA), American Association of Petroleum Geologists Club (AAPG), and Sigma Gamma Epsilon National HonorSociety (SGE).

Several departmental scholarships are awarded every year to geology majors. These scholarships range from the payment of tuition and fees for one year to awards from $300 to $500 per semester to students with high grades and potential for success as geologists. The Shreveport and Houston Geological Societies offer scholarships of $1,000 to students rated as the best in the department. Several of our students are awarded these scholarships each semester.

For more information, contact the Department of Geology at or 936.468.3701.