Twenty national parks and monuments are located within a 5 hour drive from Southern Utah University making it the ideal location to major in geology. SUU’s undergraduate geology program takes advantage of some of the most diverse geology in North America. Students will study nearly 2 billion years of geologic history within a 100 mile radius of campus. These resources provide SUU geology students an opportunity to be involved in a variety of cutting edge research projects, greatly enhancing future career and educational opportunities.
The SUU Geology department trains students for professional, academic, governmental or teaching careers in the Earth Sciences. The geology major is research-oriented with strong lab and field components. SUU has a scanning electron microscope, x-ray analysis facilities, a complete sample laboratory and a state-of-the-art GIS lab to be used for individual research, class work and group projects.
Grant Shimer, assistant professor of geology, offers these five reasons why you should study geology.
- Experiential and Applied Learning
Students who major in geology at SUU get significant hands on experience in the natural laboratory that is southern Utah. Students take advantage of SUU’s unique access to some of the most impressive and famous exposures of rock in the world to study geologic processes and gain an appreciation for the scale of geologic time. The opportunity to apply classroom knowledge to real world examples, instead of textbook images and exercises, gives an SUU geology major a step up in competition for high-paying geology careers. Furthermore, courses are designed to give students experience with scientific writing and oral communication, so they are well-prepared for internship, graduate school and job applications.
2. Internship and Career Potential
A degree in geology allows for a wide variety of career paths, many of which involve high-paying jobs right out of college or exciting internships while students are still at SUU. Active geology majors can apply for internships with partner institutions in state and federal government. Careers range from mining and oil industry positions, to environmental monitoring and consulting, outdoor resource management and recreation and Earth science education. The possibilities are endless, as a background in geology is a solid foundation for many disciplines.
3. Funding Opportunities
In addition to internship opportunities, geology majors are eligible for a wide range of scholarships and grants from academic organizations like the Geological Society of America or the Association for Women Geoscientists, or honor societies like Sigma Gamma Epsilon. These funding sources can open doors to research opportunities, or simply reward students for their hard work and help offset the cost of tuition.
4. Research Opportunities
Geology majors have a multitude of opportunities to engage in research while at SUU. The unparalleled access to the incredible rocks of southern Utah, along with courses designed to stimulate research proposals, give students plenty of time to develop unique research projects. Geology majors present their findings at both local and national meetings and have a good record of publication in peer-reviewed journals, a rarity in undergraduate education. These experiences open doors for students as they apply for internships, graduate schools, and jobs, as both academic and industry positions highly value project-based learning.
5. Field Trips
SUU geology class field trips take advantage of the excellent local geology. Students in lab courses often spend several afternoons out in the field at locations within a 30 minute drive of campus, measuring faults and folds, describing stratigraphy, identifying minerals, measuring stream flow, or searching for fossils and dinosaur footprints. In upper level classes, the practical, applied experience of field geology gets incorporated into semester-long projects, some of which may end up as published research papers in undergraduate science journals or talks at professional meetings. Other courses schedule day-long weekend field trips to visit places like Bryce and Zion National Parks. The program also offers a 2000/4000 level field trip course each semester. These field trip classes usually last 2-3 days, often involve camping, and have a different destination each time.
SUU offers a unique setting to learn about geology in the world’s best backyard with state of the art equipment and unparalleled access to professors and industry experts. SUU’s degree in geology can provide a challenging and rewarding experience. To receive more information about the geology program at SUU, click here.