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Geology Degree

Program Offerings

• Bachelor of Science in Geology, BS
• Accelerated master’s in Geology and Geological Engineering, MS (earn your bachelor’s and master’s in as little as five years)
• Accelerated master’s in Paleontology, MS (earn your bachelor’s and master’s in as little as five years)
• Master of science degree in Geology and Geological Engineering, MS
• Master of science degree in Paleontology, MS
• Doctor of philosophy degree in Geology, Geological Engineering, and Mining Engineering, PhD
• Minors: Geology, Geospatial Technology, and Geospacial Technology (undergraduate), Petroleum Systems

What is Geology?

Geology is the study of the structure, evolution, and history of Earth and its mineral and energy resources.

Geology students at South Dakota Mines take advantage of the rich geological and paleontological resources of the region. They also can access the extensive fossil and mineral collections of the Museum of Geology, which is located on campus. Students have an opportunity to work at the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF), model earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, and other geologic hazards, reconstruct the early history of the solar system through experimental petrology, study environmental issues from geothermal energy to water protection, and excavate and prepare fossils ranging from dinosaurs to saber-tooth cats.

What does a geologist do?

Geologists analyze the processes that have shaped the Earth, using rocks, minerals, and fossils to reconstruct that history. They study how the Earth was formed, how it has developed, and how life has evolved in reaction to tectonic and climatic changes.

The geology program at South Dakota Mines takes advantage of the proximity of the Black Hills through a rigorous field and laboratory-based education that provides students a unique blend of hands-on experiences with strong theoretical foundations.

Courses for this Degree

• Physical Geology
• Mineralogy and Crystallography
• Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
• Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
• Structural Geology
• Aqueous Geochemistry
• Invertebrate Paleontology
• Petroleum Geology
• Orogenic Systems
• Global Geophysics

Course Curriculum

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Internships and Co-ops

At South Dakota Mines, 77% of students land internships and co-ops in their field, earning an average salary of $20.00/hour. Geology students have interned with such companies and agencies as:
• Wyoming Dinosaur Center
• South Dakota Department of Transportation
• Coeur in Alaska
• OceanaGold Haile Gold Mines
• Rapid City GIS Department
• Badlands National Park

They've worked with faculty who've discovered new fossil species and conducted fieldwork spanning continents, from Turkey to Death Valley.

Career Outlook

The average starting salary for 2020-21 South Dakota Mines geology graduates was $44,400. For the 2020-21, Mines geology graduates had a placement rate of 100%.

Careers

With a geology degree from South Dakota Mines, you have your choice of a wide range of careers, including:

• Mineral exploration
• Petroleum exploration
• Water resource and environmental firms
• Paleontology resource management
• Museum management
• Research lab employees
• Geospatial technology
• Geochemist
• Geophysicist
• Graduate education in these areas

Employers

South Dakota Mines geology graduates work for a variety of employers, including:

• American Engineering & Testing
• Apex Systems
• Barrick Gold
• The Mammoth Site
• US Geological Survey
• Freeport McMoRan
• Coeur Mining
• Bureau of Indian Affairs
• Haliburton
• Braun Intertec

Geology Research

At South Dakota Mines, you won’t have to wait for graduate school to engage in research. Geology faculty and students from undergrad to graduate level conduct research on a wide variety of topics from day one.

Areas of research includes:

• Energy and mineral resources
• Geomechanics
• Groundwater and environment
• Paleontology
• Petrology and Mineralogy
• Structure and Tectonics

For more information please visit our research page.

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