Programs & Degrees

The scientific study of the Earth has never been as important a concern as it is today. In this decade, the geoscientist has focused attention on protection of the environment, groundwater resources, natural hazards and a declining supply of natural resources. The goal of the Department is to provide majors with a strong background in all phases of the geosciences that will prepare them for graduate studies or industry/government careers. This is achieved primarily by a faculty committed to excellence in teaching and by providing each student with a wide range of experiences typically found at larger institutions or graduate programs, while maintaining small student- faculty ratios and close interaction between students and their professors. In addition to traditional course work, the geology program includes extensive field and research experiences. The Department offers weekend field trips within the southeast U.S. and extended trips to various locations throughout the country, such as the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, Yellowstone National Park, volcanoes of the Cascade Mountains, Arches National Park, Canyonlands of Utah, and folds and faults of the central Appalachian Mountains (see our Geology Club/Field Trips link).

Our geology students also complete a Senior Research Project, where they work one-on-one with faculty in a selected subdiscipline of Geology. Past projects have investigated a wide variety of topics within Geology, from work in the reefs of the Florida Keys, to the mountains of Puerto Rico, the Canadian Boundary Waters Wilderness area, and the Blue Ridge Mountains and Coastal Plain of Georgia.

The Department offers two academic scholarships to geology majors. Both the Arden Scholarship and the Geology Club Scholarship are awarded based on grade point average (minimum GPA must be 3.5 or 3.0, respectively).

The Geology and Physics Department's B.S. Degree in Geology: Traditional Option (A)is recommended for students who plan to pursue geology as a profession. The B.S. in Geology - Traditional Option requires completion of the core requirements and the following courses:  Environmental Geology, Mineralogy, Invertebrate Paleobiology, Geomorphology, Structural Geology,  Sedimentary Geology, Introduction to GIS, Igneous/Metamorphic Petrology, Introduction to Geophysics, Field Methods, Senior Thesis I&II, Senior Seminar, and 1 elective in Geology (see Curriculum Sheet).  In addition, we have a second option B.S. Degree in Geology: Earth and Environmental Science Education Option (B) that allows the student to get a strong geology and science core along with 18 hours of undergraduate education courses, helping to prepare the student for Teacher Alternative Preparation Programs (TAPP) for middle and high school science teaching. (Important Note: This is not a teacher certification program, see Curriculum Sheet).  A Geology Minor is also available (Admission into the Geology Minor program must be approved by the Department Chair; see Minor Curriculum Sheet)

We also offer an Engineering Dual Degree program of study jointly with the Engineering School at the Georgia Institute of Technology. There are also opportunities to participate with informal Co-Op programs with some local industries and government agencies while pursuing a degree in geology. In addition, many of our majors are employed part-time as lab assistants in the introductory courses as part of their educational experience.

The Engineering Dual Degree Program   allows a student to study for about three years at Georgia Southwestern State University, followed by about two years of study in an engineering field of the student's choice at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The successful student in this program is awarded a bachelor of science degree from GSW in mathematics or a science area relevant to the chosen engineering field, and a B.S. degree in a specific branch of Engineering from Georgia Tech.