Why study geology?

Because its leadership role among geoscience programs advances higher learning and serves society through the discovery, dissemination, and application of knowledge.

Undergraduate Admission

Admission to KU

All students applying for admission must send high school and college transcripts to the Office of Admissions. Unless they are college transfer students with at least 24 hours of credit, prospective students must send ACT or SAT scores to the Office of Admissions. Prospective first-year students should be aware that KU has qualified admission requirements that all new first-year students must meet to be admitted. Consult the Office of Admissions for application deadlines and specific admission requirements.

Visit the Office of International Student and Scholar Services for information about international admissions.

Students considering transferring to KU may see how their college-level course work will transfer on the Office of Admissions website.

Admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Admission to the College is a different process from admission to a major field. Some CLAS departments have admission requirements. See individual department/program sections for departmental admission requirements.

Geology Programs

The B.A. program allows many free electives for background courses in the sciences or liberal arts. The program permits study of traditional geology (with emphasis on the solid earth, the earth’s surface, or environmental geology and natural resources), environmental geology (with emphasis on water or urban environmental geology), or an individually tailored program.

Degree requirements may be altered to suit particular needs of a student upon petition to the undergraduate studies committee and in consultation with a geology faculty advisor. Special consideration is given to students with strong backgrounds in supporting sciences and students with superior records who decide to major in geology late in their programs.

First- and Second-Year Preparation

Students interested in geology should see a department advisor as soon as possible. They should enroll in mathematics, chemistry, and English in addition to Introduction to Geology and electives. Students should take GEOL 360 as soon as possible.


Developing a strong relationship with a faculty advisor helps students get the most out of their educational programs in the shortest time. Most courses for majors are offered in only one semester each year. Advisors can guide the student through complexities of the curriculum or into a specialized program.

Requirements for the B.A. Major

Geology Major Course Requirements

Geology Prerequisite or Co-requisite Knowledge (24-27)
Majors must complete courses as specified in each of the following areas. Majors are advised to take honors courses when eligible. These hours do not contribute to the minimum number of hours required for the major.
Calculus I. Satisfied by:
MATH 115Calculus I (or equivalent)3
or MATH 121 Calculus I
Foundations of Chemistry I. Satisfied by:
CHEM 130General Chemistry I5
Physics. Satisfied by one of the following:
PHSX 111Introductory Physics3
PHSX 114College Physics I1-4
PHSX 211
PHSX 216
General Physics I
and General Physics I Laboratory
Biology. Satisfied by:
BIOL 100
BIOL 102
Principles of Biology
and Principles of Biology Laboratory (or higher level biology course)
Information Technology. Satisfied by:
EECS 138Introduction to Computing: _____3
Geology Core Knowledge and Skills (24)
Majors must complete the following core courses:
Introduction to Geology. Satisfied by:
GEOL 101The Way The Earth Works3
Geology Fundamentals Laboratory. Satisfied by:
GEOL 103Geology Fundamentals Laboratory2
Mineralogy and Structure of the Earth. Satisfied by:
GEOL 311Mineralogy and Structure of the Earth3
Sedimentology and Stratigraphy. Satisfied by:
GEOL 331Sedimentology and Stratigraphy4
Field Investigation. Satisfied by:
GEOL 360Field Investigation2
Paleontology. Satisfied by:
GEOL 521Paleontology3
Introductory Field Geology. Satisfied by:
GEOL 560Introductory Field Geology3
Structural Geology. Satisfied by:
GEOL 562Structural Geology4
Geology Required Electives (15)
Majors must complete a minimum of 15 hours in geology or related courses. Several possible tracks of upper-level course work are given below.15

General Geology Options

Concentrate on traditional geology with emphasis on the solid earth and the earth’s interior, earth surface processes, or environmental geology and natural resources.

Solid Earth (15)
GEOL 312Mineral Structures and Equilibria Laboratory1
GEOL 512Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology3
GEOL 513Petrology Laboratory1
GEOL 532Stratigraphy4
GEOL 572Geophysics3
GEOL 573Geodynamics and Plate Tectonics3
Surface Earth (17)
GEOL 171Earthquakes and Natural Disasters3
GEOL 351Environmental Geology3
GEOL 532Stratigraphy4
GEOL 541Geomorphology4
GEOL 722Paleoecology3
Geology and Natural Resources (14-19)
GEOL 351Environmental Geology3
GEOL 391Special Studies in Geology1-6
GEOL 541Geomorphology4
GEOL 572Geophysics3
EVRN 332Environmental Law (prerequisite: EVRN 148)3

Environmental Geology Options

Concentrate on environmental geology with emphasis on water and the environment or urban environmental geology.

Water, Geology, and the Environment (24-29)
GEOL 302Oceanography4
GEOL 351Environmental Geology3
GEOL 391Special Studies in Geology1-6
GEOL 541Geomorphology4
GEOL 552Introduction to Hydrogeology3
ATMO 515Energy and Water Balance3
CE 477Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science3
BIOL 661Ecology of Rivers and Lakes3
Urban Environmental Geology (12)
GEOL 351Environmental Geology3
ATMO 525Air Pollution Meteorology3
CE 477Introduction to Environmental Engineering and Science3
GEOG 304Environmental Conservation3
Other Elective Courses (16)
GEOL 532Stratigraphy4
ATMO 105Introductory Meteorology5
BIOL 414Principles of Ecology3
GEOG 558Intermediate Geographical Information Systems4

Major Hours & Major GPA

While completing all required courses, majors must also meet each of the following hour and grade-point average minimum standards:

Major Hours
Satisfied by 30 hours of major courses.

Major Hours in Residence
Satisfied by a minimum of 15 hours of KU resident credit in the major. 

Major Junior/Senior Hours
Satisfied by a minimum of 12 hours from junior/senior courses (300+) in the major.

Major Junior/Senior Graduation GPA
Satisfied by a minimum of a 2.0 KU GPA in junior/senior courses (300+) in the major. GPA calculations include all junior/senior courses in the field of study including F’s and repeated courses. See the Semester/Cumulative GPA Calculator.

Sample 4-year plans for the BA degree in Geology with the following concentrations can be found here: General Geology and Environmental Geology, or by using the left-side navigation.

Sample 4-year plans for the  BS degree in Geology can be found using the left-side navigation.

Departmental Honors

Pursuit of departmental honors in Geology is by invitation from the Department of Geology honors coordinator.
Requirements include:
3.25 or higher KU GPA at graduation.
3.50 or higher KU geology-courses GPA at graduation.
Completion of at least 2 credit hours of GEOL 399.

Completion and successful defense of an honor's thesis.
Additional requirements and more information may be obtained from the Department of Geology honors coordinator and web site.