Degree Tracks for Majors

The Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences offers a BS and BA in Geology, as well as a BS in Environmental Science, and many specialty concentrations. We do not have a graduate program, which allows our faculty to concentrate on teaching and research with undergraduates.

If you are interested in becoming a major, contact our Office Manager Lauri Miller (RSW 033), who will assign you a departmental academic advisor.  

Before you declare, please read through a description of our degree tracks (below) and go over our What should I major in? page with your University College pre-major advisor to make sure that you find a degree track and academic program that is right for you.



Geology (BS) 244A:  This standard geology degree produces a well-rounded graduate who is prepared to go to graduate school or directly into industry.  This degree track is the department's most flexible option for students (you can tailor it to your interests and career goals), but still requires considerable external coursework in calculus, chemistry, and calculus-based physics, as well as an intensive summer field course in geology.

Geology (BA) 119A: Students pursuing this degree option take all the same classes the the BS in Geology (above) but must also declare a minor field of study as well as satisfy a foreign language requirement.  Students who are double majoring in a BA-granting degree track typically use this degree track.

Geology with Concentrations

Geology (BS) - Environmental Geology 259C:  This concentration provides graduates with the ability to apply geological principles to the solution of environmental problems. Graduates with this degree track will study modern earth processes and use analytical techniques that are applicable to measuring active systems, and learn the hands-on skill set needed to go straight into the environmental industry upon graduation.  A summer field course is  not required for this track.

Geology (BS) - Paleontology 259D: This program builds off the BS in Geology and targets the dedicated undergraduate interested in pursuing a career in paleontology or the petroleum industry by providing a strong interdisciplinary background rooted in geology and biology, opportunities for student research in paleontology and museum studies, and a program of study designed to facilitate entry to graduate school.  

Geology (BS) - Quantitative Geoscience 259E: This concentration is for students who are interested in the mathematical and computational side of geology. This track provides graduates with the technical skills that they need to succeed at the graduate level, especially for those interested in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology, structural geology, engineering geology, environmental geology and geophysics.

Geology (BS) - Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education 259G: Earth Science is taught in all North Carolina public schools at the secondary level. A concentration in secondary education prepares graduates for public school teaching. Graduates are Highly Qualified as defined by the regulations set forth by the federal government. Upon graduation, students with this degree qualify for double licensure in Earth Science and Comprehensive Science in the state of NC.

Environmental Science

Environmental Science (BS) 121B - Life Science degree track: The Life Science degree track is a flexible, interdisciplinary track that spans the intersection of the earth sciences and life  sciences.

Environmental Science (BS) 121C - Earth System Science degree track: The Earth System Science degree track is a flexible, interdisciplinary earth sciences track that concentrates on the intersection of the geosciences and physical sciences with the life sciences.

Professional Licensure Opportunities

  • Professional licensure (Professional Geologist or Professional Engineer) is necessary to move up the career ladder in the environmental industry. Students who complete specific coursework within the BS/BA Geology (all concentrations except for the Secondary Education Track) and the BS Environmental Science - Earth System Science degree tracks will have completed a majority of the requirements necessary to become a Geologist in Training, which is the first step in gaining  Professional Geologist (PG) licensure in North Carolina. Note that in many states, you can only get PG licensure with a Geology degree. This list (open only to those logged in with an account) provides the requirements for PG licensure in each state. Therefore, if you are planning to eventually get PG licensure, we recommend that you major in Geology rather than in Environmental Science.
  • Students who complete the BS Environmental Science - Life Science degree track will have completed a majority of the requirements necessary to become a Wetland Professional in Training (WPIT), which is the first step in gaining PWS (Professional Wetland Scientist) certification.  
  • Upon graduation, students with a BS in Geology - Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education degree qualify for double licensure in Earth Science and Comprehensive Science in the state of NC.

Requirements for graduating with a degree in the Geosciences from Appalachian

In addition to completing the necessary coursework, all Geology students (except for those receiving a B.S. in Geology with an Earth/Environmental Science Secondary Education concentration, or a B.S. in the Environmental Science tracks) must take and achieve a satisfactory score on a series of comprehensive examinations covering theoretical and practical aspects of areas of geology during their senior year (aka "Senior Exams").  Information about these exams is provided here. Environmental Science students are not required (at this time) to complete these exams.

Other useful information