Department of Geological Sciences

Undergraduate Degrees:

BA Geology

BS Geology

BS Geophysics

BS Geology – Secondary Education Minor – 7-12 Science Certification

BS Environmental Science - Biology Concentration

BS Environmental Science - Chemistry Concentration

BS Environmental Science - Geoscience Concentration

BS Environmental Science - Hydroscience Concentration

BS Environmental Science – Secondary Education Minor – 7 – 12 Science Concentration


Fast Track Programs:

BS Geology to MS Geology

BS Geology to MBA


Graduate Certificate Programs:

Geospatial Information Science and Technology - GIST


Graduate Programs:

MS Geology

MS Geophysics

MS Environmental Science

PhD Geology



BA in Geology:

The Bachelor of Arts in Geology can provide a foundation in geology for students who are planning a career as a geologist. The degree contains the fundamental classes that are needed to pursue a professional career or graduate study, however, the ancillary classes in Math and physics are fewer and may need to be augmented before attending graduate school. This program also provides a basis for science-related careers, such as environmental law, pre-college teaching, science journalism, and resource management and marketing. The department offers a compressed class schedule allows for timely graduation for transfer students.  Graduates will supplement their curriculum in geology with a minor designed around their career goals. The minor requires a minimum of 15 credit hours in one discipline, to be chosen in consultation with an advisor. 

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BS Geology:

The BS in Geology is a professional degree in geology. Graduates will be prepared for careers in the diverse careers available to geologists, including the mining, energy, environmental industries and government Our students often pursue graduate degrees at top-ranked graduate programs, including UTEP. A compressed class schedule allows for timely graduation for transfer students.  The BS program in Geology provides students with a strong eduction in the fundamentals of geology and the supporting fields of chemistry, physics and mathematics. The capstone classes are two three-week field courses where students solve real problems and produce professional reports. Students are encouraged to become involved in research problems with faculty members and can receive course credit for this activity through research or internship hours. A wide variety of electives from GIS to bio-geochemistry are available to focus students’ interests.

Students with Bachelor’s degrees either work in government, the environmental industry, or other industries. MS graduates obtain the highest salaries and work in Students planning a research or university teaching career should pursue a PhD degree. 

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Secondary Education Concentration with 7-12 Science Certification:
The Secondary Education Concentration is for Geology majors wishing to pursue a secondary education certification while they obtain the BS degree.  Students with secondary education degrees work as teachers in grades 8-12.  This option requires a minor in Secondary Education and passing scores on state-administered science and teaching examinations. 

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BS Geophysics:

The bachelors in geophysics includes the fundamentals of geology as well as specialized courses in Geophysics. Additional courses in math and physics provide a strong background in these supporting fields. Geophysics is the science of understanding the earth through its physical properties and Geophysicists study earthquakes and volcanoes and analyze the interior of the earth using electrical and seismic methods.  The B.S. degree in Geophysics provides a strong quantitative
background that provide entry into a broad range of careers. Graduates pursue MS and PhD degrees and work for government and a wide variety of industries.

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BS Environmental Science – Biology Concentration:

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary academic field that integrates physical, biological and information sciences (including ecology, biology, physics, chemistry, zoology, mineralogy, oceanology, limnology, soil science, geology, atmospheric science, and geodesy) to the study of the environment. The major in Environmental Biology offers a rigorous program of study in science related to the environment. This major is designed to provide students with a foundation in population, whole organism, evolutionary biology and environmental science as well as in chemistry and mathematics.

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BS Environmental Science – Chemistry Concentration:

Environmental chemistry is the scientific study of the chemical and biochemical phenomena that occur in natural places. It should not be confused with green chemistry, which seeks to reduce potential pollution at its source. 

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BS Environmental Science – Geoscience Concentration:

Environmental geology includes managing geological and hydrogeological resources such as fossil fuels, minerals, water (surface and ground water), and land use, studying the earth's surface through the disciplines of geomorphology, and edaphology; defining and mitigating exposure of natural hazards on humans.   Petroleum geologists (a type of geoscientist) search for oil and gas deposits that are suitable for commercial extraction. Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future. 

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BS Environmental Science – Hydroscience Concentration:

The Environmental Hydroscience Track provides the essential skills for entry-level positions that require a basic understanding of geologic principles and a working knowledge of hydrogeology and hydrogeochemistry.  This track produces scientists capable of tackling environmental problems that emphasize hydrogeologic systems and for which greater knowledge of hydrogeology and water chemistry are essential.  It also lays a strong foundation for graduate education in hydrogeology, hydrology, geochemistry, and aqueous chemistry. 

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BS Environmental Science – Secondary Education Minor – 7 – 12 Science Certification:

The Secondary Education Concentration is for Environmental Science majors wishing to achieve secondary education certification as they complete the BS degree.  This option requires a minor in Secondary Education that follows the certification track for 7 – 12 Science... Adequate scores on state-administered examinations after completion of all.

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Fast Track from BS Geology to MS in Geology:

This program allows students who are within 30 hours of graduating and have an overall GPA of at least 3.5 to complete 15 hours of graduate courses and have them count toward their undergraduate degree and toward their master’s degree if they plan to pursue a master’s degree. 

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Fast Track from BS Geology to MBA:

This program allows students who are within 30 hours of graduating and have an overall GPA of at least 3.3 to complete 15 hours of graduate courses and have them count toward their undergraduate degree and toward their master’s degree if they plan to pursue a master’s degree. 

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Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Science Technology (GIST):

Geospatial Information Science and Technology (GIST) is a collective term used to describe geographic information systems, remote sensing, global positioning, internet mapping, and other approaches for collecting, managing, analyzing, and visualizing data with spatial attributes. This field, which emerged in the 1960s and became fully developed as a recognized discipline in the 1990s, has expanded greatly over the past decade as GIST has become a common and expected part of our everyday lives.  Deceptively simple applications such as Google maps and mobile navigation are backed up by a vast array of science and technology that enables those applications.  Geospatial technologies are also transforming the way in which many fields of study conduct their work.  This crosscutting field has impacted many areas of research.  For example, in Earth, Ecology and Environmental Science geospatial technologies are used to model the earth’s subsurface; model and analyze climate change impacts on surface processes; quantify the extent and spatial arrangement of natural resources and land cover types; monitor disasters in real time; and map hostile environments – including the deep ocean and Mars.  In Health and Biomedical, geospatial technologies enable tracking the emergence and spread of disease; investigation of environmental correlates of chronic health issues; and analysis of health disparities due to location of medical facilities.  In National Defense and Border Security geospatial technologies are used to track the movement of persons, weapons, and other contraband (i.e., drugs, radiological materials, etc.); monitor foreign military operations across the full-spectrum of warfare; map the spread of adversarial propaganda and disinformation on Twitter; and identify the location of terrorist events, particularly the use of improvised explosive devices.  In Global Enterprise and Border Studies geospatial technologies are used to analyze site suitability for facilities; analyze collaboration/competition/innovation networks; develop transportation and delivery plans; track shipments; and analyze market gaps.  With respect to Education for the 21st Century Demographic, the National Academy of Sciences has identified spatial thinking as a key skill that should be taught at all levels of education.  It is spatial thinking—the powerful combination of concepts of space, tools for representation, and the process of reasoning—that is at the heart of the success of geospatial technologies.  The tools themselves are only as useful as the skills and expertise of the people who employ them.

The proposed 15 credit hour GIST Graduate Certificate Program will provide an educational pathway for UTEP students from any discipline to gain knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for employing GIST in their field of expertise.  The program combines training in core GIST concepts with exposure to how GIST is being applied in their discipline.  To accomplish this, two required courses and one technical elective will provide background and training on the science and technology behind GIST, while also exposing students to a range of applications.  One elective will be chosen from courses focused on disciplinary applications of GIST, developed in departments across campus.  The final elective may be taken from either the technical core or the applied courses.  The program is intentionally flexible to meet the needs of students from any college or department.    

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MS in Geology:

Geological Sciences at UTSA offers graduate research programs leading to the Master of Science degree in Geology. Geological Sciences is the multidisciplinary department of the College of Sciences, and our research uses mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, statistics, and computer modeling to address some of the most challenging interdisciplinary questions about the past, present and future state of the earth system. Our department is equipped with computer and laboratory facilities for calculation, visualization, and experimentation. A good number of our students are funded by graduate assistant or research assistantships, or teaching assistantships.


MS in Geophysics:

Geophysics applies mathematical and physical principles to the study of the Earth and planets. The curriculum introduces the global properties of the Earth (gravity, magnetic field, crustal motions, and interior dynamics) and the determination of near-surface and interior properties through the use of seismology, electromagnetics, potential fields, remote sensing, geodesy and GPS. The curriculum provides a broad grounding in physical and mathematical fundamentals useful for future graduate study or for work in energy, natural resource or engineering industries. Students will gain experience in the integrated application of geologic observations and geophysical measurements to the analysis of Earth science and related engineering problems using current, industry-standard computational and GIS tools.


MS in Environmental Science:

The environmental science master's degree program prepares students to develop innovative solutions to pressing environmental issues. Grounded in rigorous scientific research and analysis with a multidisciplinary examination of the natural sciences, the MS in environmental science also delves into the politics, policies, and economics of environmental concerns.

Students are encouraged to gain practical field experience through an internship at one or more of the many public and private environmental organizations in the US. Students have opportunities to conduct research with faculty in the department, associated and affiliated faculty at UTEP or at one of the many renowned research institutions in the US.

Graduates will be prepared to engage in high-level, environmental problem solving. Typical positions our graduates hold are with the Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and National Science Foundation, although some move on to PhD programs in environmental science.


PhD in Geology:

Geology Ph.D. students at the University enjoy access to state-of-the-art field instrumentation and laboratories for geologic, seismic, gravity, magnetic, electrical and rock properties studies. The Department of Geological Sciences also collaborates with faculty from the one of the largest digitally recorded seismic networks around the US.

Potential areas of specialization within the program include:

  • Earthquakes and neotectonics
  • Geologic hazards
  • Geomorphology
  • Global change
  • Igneous petrology and volcanology
  • Metamorphic geochemistry
  • Mineral exploration and ore genesis
  • Paleoseismology
  • Planetary geology
  • Quaternary sciences
  • Regional geology
  • Seismology and seismic hazards