For you, it’s not enough to know that a mountain, ocean, or crater exists. You have to know why the Earth’s physical features are where they are, and how they came to be. If you’re fascinated by the Earth’s physical structures and processes, and you want to do some of your learning outdoors and on location, UMW’s geology major may be your niche. Here — beside the Rappahannock River and just a short drive from the Chesapeake Bay or the Shenandoah Valley — you’ll get one-on-one time with our master teachers, and you’ll take a range of courses that will help you find your passion. Our strong liberal arts program will help you develop the critical-thinking, problem-solving, and communications skills you’ll need to begin your geology career or pursue an advanced degree.
Students majoring in Geology who complete all requirements earn the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Environmental Science and Geology.
Areas of Study
Geology majors build on the principles of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics in their quest to understand our planet. Major course offerings include paleontology, oceanography, mineralogy, petrology, fluvial geomorphology, plate tectonics, structural geology, and climate history and reorganizations through time.
Job opportunities for geoscientists are increasing, with an expected growth between 2012 and 2022 of 16 percent. In 2012, median pay in the field was $90,890.
Forbes Magazine ranks geology among the most valuable college majors through 2020, based on projected starting salary, mid-career pay, and BLS hiring forecasts.
In recent years, UMW geology and other environmental sciences majors have served internships with the City of Fredericksburg, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, Friends of the Rappahannock, Marstel-Day LLC, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Greenpeace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and more.
Students with a 3.0 overall grade-point average and a 3.25 average in geology courses may pursue honors in geology or environmental geology by completing an independent research project and writing and defending a thesis.
The geology major requires 36 credits including core geology courses and upper-level geology electives. With advisor approval, certain chemistry or environmental sciences classes may count toward the major.