*Not a baccalaureate degree program
The Department of Geology offers an up-to-date curriculum designed to train students to be employable earth and environmental scientists. Most courses comprise both lecture and laboratory environments, where students have hands-on access to geological specimens and state-of-the-art analytical tools to study them. Opportunities for practical field experience exist throughout the curriculum, from 200 level to 400 level, and required coursework is capped by electives in specialized topics and a recommended four-week-long summertime field course that takes place in the western US.
Upon successful completion of all requirements, the student will have knowledge of:
- Understanding basic scientific principles and concepts, including the importance of geology in society, geologic time, and geologic history, as well as rudiments of mathematics, chemistry, physics and statistics with applications to geology.
- Laboratory and field practice in identifying minerals, rocks, soils, structures, stratigraphy and fossils, and using best practices to design and implement tests using modern methods and techniques.
- Developing approaches for collection and analysis of information.
- Critical thinking, hypothesis formulation and testing; i.e., demonstrating use of the scientific method independently and collaboratively, with hypothesis formulation, testing, analysis, interpretation and evaluation of observations.
- Demonstrating skill in scientific communication — oral, written and technological.
- Graduates will have the depth of knowledge and skill to interpret and create geologic products.
Courses in the Department of Geology are focused on the latest concepts in Earth and environmental science with the goal of training the next generation. Introductory courses are typically in large lecture settings with an independent, smaller laboratory course. All remaining class sizes range from 20 to 50 students, most of which involve a hands-on laboratory component. Field trips occur commonly in laboratory periods and/or during weekends. The capstone course is a 4-week-long field-skills class that takes place in the western US in the early summer of students’ junior or senior years. Many geology students have opportunities to work in a hands-on research environment supervised by faculty and graduate students.
A variety of teaching and research equipment is available to students enrolled in the geology program. A computer facility within the departmental space is used during many laboratory sections. Our earth materials classroom contains modular student work spaces with state-of-the-art microscopes and other equipment commonly used for mineralogy, petrology and geological specimen preparation, and a sedimentary laboratory is fully stocked with research-grade equipment for analyzing a variety of material properties. A variety of field equipment is available for student use on class field trips and at the summer field school. An abundance of research-grade equipment in faculty labs is available to students working closely with faculty and graduate students.
There are 14 full-time faculty members and usually one or two part-time instructors in the department. We also have numerous adjunct, research and emeritus professors. Faculty members have extensive research experience and well-established international reputations. Dr. Charles E. Mitchell received the Milton Plesur Teaching Award, which is presented by the UB Student Association and he has also received the rank of SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor.
Please visit the Geology department faculty page for additional information about our faculty.
About 22 percent of geoscientists were employed in architectural, engineering, and related services and 19 percent worked for oil and gas extraction companies. State agencies such as state geological surveys and state departments of conservation employed another 9 percent of geoscientists. Eight percent worked for the federal government, including geologists, geophysicists and oceanographers, mostly within the U.S. Department of the Interior for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and within the U.S. Department of Defense.
Employment projections suggest a 10% increase in all geoscience jobs between 2014 and 2024. Due to the relatively low number of qualified geoscience graduates and the large number of expected retirements, opportunities are expected in most areas of geoscience. Demand will also be spurred by a continuing emphasis on the need for energy, environmental protection, responsible land management and water-related issues.
Academic advising is typically handled by a designated faculty member who maintains an open door policy. A popular feature of the department’s academic advising strategy is Advisement Week when the advisor meets with every student in the department just prior to registration for the following term. During these appointments, student success factors, student records, courses completed and yet-to-complete are discussed, as well as upcoming internship and research opportunities.
The Department of Geology has two funds for awards to graduating seniors, one fund that gives a scholarship to a continuing geology student, and another that makes multiple awards to students attending our summer field course (GLY 407). In addition, there is a fund to which student may apply for partial support to attend conferences, workshops and short courses. Details about these awards can be found on the Geology department awards website.