McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences


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Geology has undergone a revolution in the past decade, becoming an interdisciplinary science that emphasizes the study of major Earth systems — the solid Earth, the Earth’s surface, the hydrosphere, atmosphere and cryosphere (ice!), and the ancient and modern biosphere. Geology majors learn how these systems work and how they are connected. Geology majors integrate knowledge of Earth materials, the processes that have shaped them and the deep chronology of Earth history to understand global change through time. For example, geology majors learn how the collision of continents and the creation of mountains affect sea level, climate and the diversity of marine organisms. 

Geology majors work in the field and go on field trips as part of their regular course work. Geology majors become skilled in working in the field; making and working with maps; collecting, processing and presenting data and images with computers; and identifying and analyzing materials using up-to-date instrumentation. The Department of Geology is close-knit and personable.


Quick Info

Program Code


Real-World Learning Components

Optional internship(s), Research


4 years

Admission Criteria



Main Campus

Freshman Class Profile for this Major

3.044 - 3.660 (4 pt. scale)
21.0 - 26.0
980 - 1180


McMicken College of Arts and Sciences


500 Geology/Physics
PO Box 210013
Cincinnati,OH  45221-0013
Carl Brett
Phone: 513-556-3732

Student Success Factors

Geology provides many opportunities for travel and fieldwork. Students who enjoy hiking and camping and can learn by examining samples of minerals, rocks, fossils, soils and other geologic materials will be ready to succeed in geology. Map reading and the ability to visualize in three dimensions helps enormously in “seeing” landscapes and the geometry of rock formations. Geology includes quantitative analysis of a variety of data, and ability in mathematics can be indispensable. Geology integrates aspects of chemistry, physics and biology, and students attracted to science in general will succeed.

Career Possibilities

There are positions for graduates with a BS in geology in environmental engineering and environmental consulting, as well as other fields. Graduates with a BS in geology are well-prepared for graduate study, which is generally required for a professional position in geology, and about three-quarters of UC geology majors go directly to graduate school for the MS or PhD degree. The skills that geology majors learn in observation, data analysis, field mapping, surveying, computing and communicating make them well-prepared for a wide variety of employment. Career possibilities include:

  • Environmental engineer
  • Environmental consultant   
  • Environmental Protection Agency employee
  • Petroleum geologist     
  • Employee of state geological surveys
  • Park naturalist   
  • Museum curator
  • University professor      
  • Employee of the U.S. Geological Survey
  • Book editor        
  • Computer analyst
  • Public policy consultant

Additional career options are listed on the Center for Exploratory Studies website.

Major Details

The bachelor of science in geology is designed for undergraduates who wish to pursue careers in geology and the Earth sciences generally, including industrial geology, petroleum geology, hydrology, environmental studies, marine geology and geo-engineering, as well as secondary school, university and museum education and research. 

The BS program provides a broad overview of Earth’s internal and surficial processes and systems, as well the history of the lithosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. It teaches skills in identifying, measuring and mapping minerals, rocks, fossils, soils and all variety of surface features, including glaciers and glacial landforms, landslides and other hazards, and the geology related to water resources. Students acquire skills in using a variety of instruments and laboratory equipment; using computers; and collecting and analyzing geological data. The BS in geology has a strong field component. Field trips are an essential part of many courses, and the department offers several stand-alone field-trip courses to local, regional, national and international locations.

The purpose of this degree is to enable students to acquire knowledge and skills across the spectrum of the geological sciences, as well as a background in mathematics and auxiliary sciences, including chemistry, physics and biology. This program provides solid training for those who will pursue further graduate study in earth sciences; a majority of majors will go on to pursue further study at the master's or doctoral level. 

Students are interested in a variety of Earth science disciplines relevant to traditional geology, such as mineralogy and petrology, as well as critical areas, such as environmental resources and global change. There is a strong component of surficial geology, hydrogeology, glacial geology and geomorphology, all of which have strong practical applications in environmental science. In addition, the Department of Geology offers a series of courses in paleobiology, paleoecology, ancient environments and evolution, which provide a unique background for students whose interests lie in the areas of paleontology, marine biology, historical biology or geobiology.

Bachelor of Arts in Geology
Students who want to learn about a broad spectrum of the geological sciences without full auxiliary sciences may be interested in the geology BA degree.

The UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) offers flexible degree requirements allowing for and highly encouraging multiple areas of study. Free electives allow for enough credits for students to pursue a minor, certificate program or even complete a second major. Some of the most common pairings are listed below.

  • Anthropology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Mathematical sciences
  • Physics

Minor Details

Important advances in our understanding of Earth materials, processes and history are being made by integrating different branches of geology. More than ever before, earth scientists from different subdisciplines are collaborating to establish links among different Earth systems (for example, erosion and the geomorphic evolution of the Himalayas has helped govern its tectonic and metamorphic evolution). To this end, the Geology Department welcomes students from all other disciplines to pursue a minor in geology.

In addition, even students with primary interest in such fields as political science would benefit from expertise in geology because of the public policy ramifications.

The UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences requires 33-35 credits for completion of a minor.

Click here to declare the minor online


These tools assist students to identify course requirements and individual progress toward completion of academic programs. It is important to utilize these resources with personalized guidance from a UC academic advisor regularly to ensure timely graduation..

My Degree Audit - for confirmed and current students

My Transfer Course Equivalencies - for students considering transfer to UC

UC Schedule of Classes - search course availability and descriptions

Curriculum Guide Versions:

Geology (BS) Curriculum Guide

Predominant Program

    Fall (Year 1)
    • GEOL1001C, Freshmen Seminar I: Geology and Paleontology, NS, 3
    • CHEM1040, General Chemistry I, NS, 4
    • CHEM1040L, General Chemistry Laboratory I, NS, 1
    • XXXXxxxx, Social Science (SS) Course, SS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Choose from BIOL, PHYS Group below, 4 - 5
    Spring (Year 1)
    • GEOL1002C, Freshman Seminar II: Earth Surface Processes and Environmental Issues, NS, 3
    • CHEM1041, General Chemistry II, NS, 4
    • CHEM1041L, General Chemistry Laboratory II, NS, 1
    • ENGL1001, English Composition, EC, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Choose from BIOL, PHYS Group below, 4 - 5
    Summer (Year 1)
    • N/A
    Fall (Year 2)
    • GEOL2001C, Mineralogy and Igneous Petrology, NS, 3
    • GEOL2003C, Paleontology and Evolution, NS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Choose from MATH/STAT Group, QR, 3 - 4
    • XXXXxxxx, Foreign Language (in sequence), 5
    Spring (Year 2)
    • GEOL2002C, Petrology and Structural Geology, QR, NS, 3
    • GEOL2004C, Sedimentary Geology and Earth History, NS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Choose from MATH/STAT Group, QR, 3 - 4
    • XXXXxxxx, Foreign Language (same sequence), 5
    Summer (Year 2)
    • N/A
    Fall (Year 3)
    • GEOL2005C, Geomorphology and Surface Hazards, QR, NS, 3
    • GEOL6xxx, Choose a 6000-level course, 3
    • ENGL2089, Intermediate Composition, EC, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Humanities (HU) Course, HU, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Historical Perspectives (HP) Course, HP, 3
    Spring (Year 3)
    • GEOL2xxx, Additional 2000-level Course from group below, 3
    • GEOL6xxx, Choose a 6000-level course, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Social Science (SS) Course (in different discipline from first), SS, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Humanities (HU) or Fine Arts (FA) Course, HU, FA, 3
    • HISTxxxx, HIST Course, 3
    Summer (Year 3)
    • GEOL5010, Geology Capstone, 3 - 6
    Fall (Year 4)
    • GEOL6xxx, Choose a 6000-level course, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Social & Ethical Issues (SE) or Technology & Innovation (TI) Course (may double count), SE, TI, 0 - 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Free Electives, 6 - 9
    Spring (Year 4)
    • GEOL6xxx, Choose a 6000-level course, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Interdisciplinary Course, 3
    • XXXXxxxx, Free Electives (to meet 120 hr. min.), 6 - 9
    Summer (Year 4)
    • N/A
    BIOL, PHYS Group
    • BIOL1081, Biology I: Molecules, Cells, and the Foundation of Life, NS, 3
    • BIOL1081L, Biology I Laboratory, NS, 1
    • BIOL1082, Biology II: Evolution, Physiology, and Ecology, NS, 3
    • BIOL1082L, Biology II Laboratory, NS, 1
    • PHYS1051, General Physics I (Algebra-based), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS1051L, General Physics Lab I (Algebra-based), QR, NS, 1
    • PHYS1052, General Physics II (Algebra-based), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS1052L, General Physics Lab II (Algebra-based), QR, NS, 1
    • PHYS2001, College Physics I (Calculus-based), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS2001L, College Physics Lab I (Calculus-based), QR, NS, 1
    • PHYS2002, College Physics II (Calculus-based), QR, NS, 4
    • PHYS2002L, College Physics Lab II (Calculus-based), QR, NS, 1
    2000-level Courses
    • GEOL2006C, Climate Change and Human Impact, NS, 3
    • GEOL2025, Hydrology and Biogeochemistry, NS, 3
    6000-level Courses
    • GEOL6xxx, 6000 level course(s), 12
    1000-level Courses
    • GEOL1001C, Freshmen Seminar I: Geology and Paleontology, NS, 3
    • GEOL1002C, Freshman Seminar II: Earth Surface Processes and Environmental Issues, NS, 3
    • GEOL1003, Physical Geology, NS, 3
    • GEOL1003L, Physical Geology Laboratory, NS, 1
    • GEOL1004, Historical Geology, NS, 3
    • GEOL1004L, Historical Geology Laboratory, NS, 1
    MATH, STAT Group
    • MATH1044, Applied Calculus I, QR, 3
    • MATH1045, Applied Calculus II, QR, 3
    • MATH1061, Calculus I, QR, 4
    • MATH1062, Calculus II, QR, 4
    • STAT1034, Elementary Statistics I, QR, 3
    • STAT1035, Elementary Statistics II, QR, 3

UC Advantages and Special Opportunities

Students in the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences enjoy many benefits afforded through study at a research-intensive institution ranked among the nation's top 25 public research universities. UC's urban, Tristate location offers exciting opportunities for global education, research and service learning, while its student-centered focus includes an 11:1 student-faculty ratio, a nationally recognized Center for Exploratory Studies and a highly successful First Year Experience program that teaches critical skills for first-year students and provides connections with important campus resources.

Special Programs

Field Study
The Department of Geology provides majors the special combination of emphasizing field study that is local, regional and international in scope, encouraging majors to pursue their own interests and supporting independent student research projects all in a student-friendly atmosphere. Field- and lab-based courses and field trips are an essential part of the undergraduate program. Field trips are regularly taken to Alaska, Iceland and the Himalaya of northern India. Most majors attend summer field camp, and the department provides scholarships to help support their expenses. Students have recently attended camps in Alaska, Italy, Nevada, California and Hawaii. Working as assistants to department graduate students in their field and laboratory research is an additional opportunity for majors.

Each senior is required to complete a "capstone experience" that involves: a) hands-on integration of knowledge, b) analytical and problem-solving aspects, c) written and oral documentation and d) demonstration of some aspect of social relevance. There is considerable flexibility in this requirement. Geology students have two major options: a) field course/camp experience (recommended for most students) or b) individualized training and research projects. Students should work with the undergraduate advisor to determine which option is the most appropriate.

I. Field course option: The primary means for completing the capstone experience will involve "traditional" geology field camps (typically four to six weeks mapping).

II. Individualized study option: Alternatively, students may propose an individualized program of rigorous study and research. This program must involve a field component (it might include, for example mapping a quadrangle under supervision of a faculty member, together with a report; it might also include a project that involves the collection and analysis of field samples).

Admission Requirements

Freshmen applicants, please visit the Admission Requirements page for more information.

Transferring to UC Requirements

Admission to A&S is generally available for any off-campus student who was admissible directly from high school and has cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in the most recent institution.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • 24 semester (36 quarter) hours earned
  • at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 at most recent institution
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC Math Placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

University transfer scholarships are available to those who meet specific requirements and ANY admitted A&S transfer student might qualify for an A&S transfer scholarship. Deadlines and eligibility criteria are online via the previous links.

Changing Majors Within UC

Admission to A&S is generally available for University of Cincinnati students enrolled in other colleges if they were admissible directly from high school, have a cumulative 2.0 GPA and a 2.0 in their most recent UC college.

Students who were not admissible directly from high school must have:

  • at least a 2.0 GPA in all college-level courses (both at UC and at other institutions)
  • successfully completed one semester of English composition or its equivalent
  • successfully completed one semester of math with a grade of C- or higher that minimally meets on of the following:
    • Mathematical Literacy (MATH 0029)
    • Intermediate Algebra (MATH 0034)
    • Algebra for College (MATH 0039)
    • Students may also take the UC Math Placement exam, but must score an MPT of 420 or higher

Graduation Requirements

To graduate from the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, students must:


  • Earn at least 120 credits. This can include transfer credit, AP credit and free electives, but does not include preparatory coursework. Students who have met all other degree requirements must continue earning credit until the total number of their earned hours comes to at least 120.
  • Attain a 2.0 grade point average for all courses taken at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Be in good academic standing, that is, not on either academic probation or disciplinary probation or suspension.
  • Complete the residency requirement by earning at least 30 credits after matriculating into the college.
  • Complete all of the requirements of at least one major (see major requirements above).
  • Complete the College Core Requirements.
  • Submit an application for graduation to the registrar's office by their posted deadline.

Application Deadlines

While midyear admission is possible, fall semester is generally the best time to enter the college, since many course sequences begin in that semester. Applicants to the UC McMicken College of Arts and Sciences who are enrolled or who were previously enrolled as degree-seeking students in A&S or in other UC colleges should apply for admission directly to A&S (in French West, 2nd Floor). All other applicants who wish to earn an undergraduate degree from A&S should apply through the Office of Admissions (3rd Floor, University Pavilion).


The University of Cincinnati and all regional campuses are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.