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Geosciences prepares students to excel in earth-related careers in public service, the private sector, and education. Job demand is high with the prevalence of long-term issues such as climate change, dwindling natural resources, transitioning to renewable energy supplies, and hazard mitigation. MTSU has one of the Southeast's largest undergraduate programs, but a student-faculty ratio of 10 to 1 allows personal attention. The department offers a major in Geoscience with concentrations in Geology and Physical Geography, a major in Environmental Science, and a master’s program in geosciences are available.


What We're Doing

Inflating Blimp

GIS lab, faculty offer undergrads research opportunities

Dr. Jeremy Aber is among MTSU faculty working with Geosciences majors to utilize the university’s geographic information system (GIS) lab. Aber has a blimp and kites to take aerial photography in addition to the UAS capacity of the university in the Aerospace program. Other research includes using geotagged Tweets to map social media in Tennessee and air and water quality testing in the Murfreesboro area to investigate the potential impacts of the nearby landfill. His geosciences research taps into the variety of available technology—from lab resources to cell phones, GPS, Twitter, and even videogames. MTSU’s GIS lab is comparable to major research institutions with equipment, technology and software for all kinds of projects, Aber says. Named in honor of retired department chair Ralph Fullerton, the lab has projects ranging from historical to remote sensing to satellite imaging. Since moving to the newly-renovated Davis Science Building, the Geosciences department’s geospatial technology capacity has gained more space and capacity to support students.

Student in the mountains

Geosciences majors learn through field experiences

Field trips are an essential part of the learning process in the Department of Geosciences. Faculty regularly lead students on weekend field trips throughout the southeastern United States. During these trips, students study the geologic history of their field areas and learn important field skills such as geoscience data collection and interpretation, synthesizing geological histories, report writing, and geologic mapping. In addition to weekend field trips, the department offers extended summer field courses in Colorado, the Appalachian Mountains, and the Pacific Northwest. Field trips are a favorite part of the Geoscience undergraduate experience, allowing opportunities for students to build life-long friendships in scenic and spectacular settings. During most field trips, "home" is a campground from which students embark on daily excursions on which they apply classroom-learned concepts to the "real world." Many students turn their field-trip experiences into faculty-directed research projects, leading to student-authored research publications and conference presentations.


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The global demand for geoscientists in areas such as environmental consulting, renewable energy, mining, and the rapidly expanding field of geographic information systems (GIS) far exceeds the current supply.

Graduates also go on to earn master's and doctoral degrees at some of the nation's most prestigious research universities or work in geoscience-related professions such as park service, science journalism, and science education.

Employers of MTSU alumni include

  • ARCADIS
  • Arnold Air Force Base
  • ATC Associates
  • Bauer Foundation Corp.
  • Chesapeake Energy
  • Doe Run Mining
  • Middle schools and high schools
  • Murfreesboro Planning Department
  • Notre Dame University
  • Nyrstar Mining
  • Rutherford County Planning Commission
  • Signal Hill Petroleum
  • Smyrna Planning Department
  • Southwestern Energy
  • St. John Engineering
  • Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Tennessee State Parks
  • Texas Christian University
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • University of Memphis
  • University of Oklahoma
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wiser Co.

The MTSU Department of Geosciences offers Bachelor of Science degrees in Geosciences and Environmental Science. Geosciences majors choose a concentration in either Geology or Physical Geography.

  • Geology students choose from three career tracks: Geology, Earth Science, and Earth Science Education.
  • Physical Geography students choose between two career tracks: Physical Geography and Geospatial Analysis.
  • Environmental Science students follow a single career track.
  • Minors are offered in Geology/Earth Science, Physical Geography, Remote Sensing, and Environmental Science (see requirements below).

The department also offers a Master of Science in Geosciences. Students in this program choose among three tracks: Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Environmental Geosystems, and General Geosciences. All graduate students are required to complete either a pre-professional internship or a research-based thesis.

For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS button to the right.

Requirements for minors

Geology/Earth Science

Required Courses (8 hours)

Electives (10-14 hours)

  •  10-14 hours at the 3000 level or above

Physical Geography

The minor in Physical Geography requires 18 hours (all in courses with a PGEO designation) to be selected by the student and approved by a member of the faculty assigned as advisor. The minor will be specific enough to support the student’s career plans.

Remote Sensing

Required Courses (18 hours)

Environmental Science

The minor in Environmental Science and Technology consists of 15 semester hours of courses chosen from the concentrations including EST 2810. At least 9 hours must be at the upper-division level.

Required Course (3 hours)

Elective (12 hours)

  • 12 hours of courses chosen from the various concentrations; at least 9 hours must be upper-division

 

Physical Geography

Geospatial Analysis

Earth Science for Teachers

Earth Science

Geology Career

 

Geography

PGEO 1030 - Physical Geography
4 credit hours

The physical earth as the home of humans. The global earth in space, tools of the discipline, the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, and the biosphere. Field trips may be required. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

PGEO 3000 - Maps and Mapping
3 credit hours

Introduces the art of making maps. Examines the cartographic process of effective symbolization, generalization, and interpretive processes that produce effective visualization of geographic data.

PGEO 3401 - Field Studies in Physical Geography
4 credit hours

Supervised study in some geographical area, preceded by classroom preview and concluded by a time of evaluation. Emphasis on natural and cultural elements of the environment with special attention directed toward the pattern of human occupancy. For fees and specific credit, consult the instructor.

PGEO 4000 - Climatology and Climate Change
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PGEO 1030 or GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041. Non-mathematical introduction to the causes and patterns of global climates and in-depth analysis of climate change, including paleoclimatology and recent global cooling and warming trends, their natural and human-induced causes, potential future trends, human and environmental adaptation, and mitigation including geoengineering.

PGEO 4010 - Biogeography
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PGEO 1030 or GEOL 1030/ GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040 GEOL 1041. Examines the science of biogeography, geographic principles, and foundations of biogeography. Topics include patterns of biodiversity, ecological biogeography, specialization and extinction forces, and the frontiers of biogeography.

PGEO 4020 - Environmental Issues, Impacts, and Sustainability
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: PGEO 1030 or GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041. Examines the geographic aspects of how locations affect such modern issues of air and water pollution, hazardous waste, climate change, and food production. Provides an overview of the modern environmental concerns, their causes, consequences, and factors needing to be examined in order to gain an understanding of these problems.

PGEO 4280 - Special Topics and Problems in Physical Geography
1 to 6 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of department. Research participation or guided readings in a particular area or topic appropriate to the student's interest and professional objectives.

PGEO 4380 - Cartography
4 credit hours

General knowledge of the field including familiarity with the techniques and tools of professional cartography and graphics. Selected lectures, class discussions, and a series of map construction assignments. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

PGEO 4490 - Remote Sensing
4 credit hours

The various aspects of remote sensing such as radar, satellite imagery, and infrared data. Use of data in preparation of maps and application to land use and environmental problems examined. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

PGEO 4510 - Laboratory Problems in Remote Sensing
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: PGEO 4490. Computer processing of selected satellite imagery. Laboratory will provide practical experience through design, execution, and completion of an applied remote sensing project.

PGEO 4511 - Advanced Remote Sensing
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PGEO 4490. Advanced topics in remote sensing including, but not limited to, active sensors (LiDAR and RADAR), hyperspectral, and spectroscopy. Three hours lecture/laboratory per week.

PGEO 4520 - Image Interpretation
4 credit hours

Principles, methods, and techniques of image interpretation, including maps, satellite data, and aerial photos. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

PGEO 4530 - Geographic Information Systems
3 credit hours

Lecture and laboratory work relative to computer-manipulated geographic data base. Laboratory work will involve experience in practical application of a geographic information system (GIS) to problem solving.

PGEO 4560 - Intermediate Geographic Information Systems
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PGEO 4530. Lecture and laboratory work related to the principles and applications of geographic information (GIS). Continued training in GIS analysis including raster analysis, spatial analysis, network analysis, and geocoding. Examines data management including data editing and geodatabase design and creation. Other topics include resource management, demographic, and civic applications.

PGEO 4570 - Advanced Geographic Information Systems
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: PGEO 4560; coursework in statistics and computer programming recommended. Advanced course in spatial analysis. Using spatial statistics, Visual Basic programming, and databases to solve problems involving proximity, density, clustering, the cost of travel paths, etc. Other major topics include environmental modeling and error analysis.

PGEO 4571 - Internship in Physical Geography
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: Permission of department; major or minor in geography. Practical experience for students in a professional setting relating to geographic work. Counted as a free elective, not part of major or minor requirements. After completion of one internship, 4571 or GEOG 4572, the other may be taken (total of 6 credits).

Geology

GEOL 1030 - Introduction to Earth Science
3 credit hours

Corequisite: GEOL 1031. The earth and its relationship to its space and environment emphasized. Forces and processes which combine to mold the face of the earth and its atmosphere, as well as the internal constitution of the earth. Three hours lecture. Together, GEOL 1030 and GEOL 1031 satisfy 4 hours of the Natural Sciences portion of the General Education requirement.

GEOL 1031 - Introduction to Earth Science Lab
1 credit hour

Laboratory to accompany GEOL 1030.

GEOL 1040 - Physical Geology
4 credit hours

Corequisite: GEOL 1041. The origin, composition, and structure of the solid earth: rock-forming minerals; igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks; earthquakes and plate tectonics; surface processes; geologic time. Identification and description of minerals and rocks in hand sample. Use of topographic and geologic maps. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 1041 - Physical Geology Lab
0 credit hours

Corequisite: GEOL 1040.

GEOL 1050 - Historical Geology
4 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041. The major divisions of geologic time with emphasis on earth movements, sea fluctuations, life of the time, and the effect these have had on our present environment. Close attention to the development of the physiographic regions of North America, which are correlated with chronologically similar events in other parts of the world. Topographic maps, geologic maps, and fossil animals and plants. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 3000 - Mineralogy
5 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 or permission of instructor. Crystallography and crystal chemistry. Physical and chemical properties of silicate and non-silicate mineral groups. Examination of the common rock-forming minerals in hand sample and thin section. Four hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 3010 - Oceanography
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 or PGEO 1030. Physiography, structures, and sediments of the ocean floor; coastal and oceanic environments; and the nature of sea water, currents, waves, and tides. Geological processes, geophysical studies, and oceanographic instrumentation discussed.

GEOL 3030 - Geoscience of Energy Resources
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 or PGEO 1030. Geoscience aspects of energy resources and their impact on the environment. Topics include occurrence, exploration, development, and reclamation, as well as historical trends. Three hours lecture per week.  

GEOL 3050 - Field Methods in Geology
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041; GEOL 1050 and knowledge of trigonometry recommended. An introduction to learning geoscience in the field with an emphasis on those aspects of rock formations relevant to environmental, hazard, natural resources, and energy applications. Topics include use of GPS, the Brunton Pocket transit, smartphone and tablet apps, and the Jacob's staff. Students prepare a map and report. Two hours lecture/two hours fieldwork per work

GEOL 3060 - Computer Methods in Geology
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 and GEOL 1050; major or minor in Geology/Earth Science. Extensive use of personal computers for processing field data, map contouring, geologic reports and illustrations, lettering and cartography, image processing, geologic databases, and digital maps. Brief treatment of classical cartography. Four to five hours lecture/laboratory per week.

GEOL 3160 - Geologic Literature and Report Writing
2 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041; GEOL 1050 and GEOL 3000; 8 semester hours of upper-division GEOL courses. Acquisition and presentation of geological data from traditional and database sources. Preparation of geologic field and laboratory reports in addition to professional reports and papers.

GEOL 3401 - Field Course
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of department. Supervised study in some geological area preceded by classroom preview and concluded by a time of evaluation. Emphasis on the natural and physical elements of the environment, with special attention directed toward the geomorphology and geology of specific areas. For fees and specific credit, consult the director, division of geology.

GEOL 3402 - Field Course
4 credit hours

Prerequisite: Permission of department. Supervised study in some geological area preceded by classroom preview and concluded by a time of evaluation. Emphasis on the natural and physical elements of the environment, with special attention directed toward the geomorphology and geology of specific areas. For fees and specific credit, consult the director, division of geology.

GEOL 4000 - Petrology and Petrography
5 credit hours

Prerequisite: GEOL 3000. Igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks. Theories of formation and evolution based upon mineralogical and geochemical evidence. Examination and classification of rocks in hand sample and thin section. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4020 - Geomorphic Regions of the United States
4 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041. Origin, regional distribution, and geomorphic features and history of landforms of the United States. Students will be required to analyze maps, structure sections, and aerial photography to determine geomorphic forms and the forces and processes that produced these forms. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4030 - Invertebrate Paleontology
5 credit hours

Prerequisite: GEOL 1050. Invertebrate and microscopic animal life of the past, including recently preserved representatives and their ancient fossilized ancestors. Numerous field trips to local fossil-collecting sites. Designed to aid in the preparation of earth science teachers, geologists, and biologists. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4040 - Engineering Geology
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 or equivalent; MATH 1710 and MATH 1720 or MATH 1730 or equivalent. Principles and applications of geology in engineering practice. Engineering geology exploration, behavior of soils and rocks for engineering projects, application of engineering geology to the solution of construction and environmental problems.

GEOL 4050 - Meteorology
3 credit hours

A general, non-mathematical introduction to the atmosphere. Emphasis on main elements such as temperature, precipitation, clouds, and humidity. In-depth analysis of storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes and human alteration of the atmosphere such as the ozone hole. Weather forecasting and climate change.

GEOL 4070 - Sedimentation and Stratigraphy
5 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1050 and GEOL 3000 or consent of instructor. Sedimentary rocks, the process of sedimentation, the alteration of sediments through time, and examination of resulting stratigraphic units. Designed for geoscience majors and those with interests in soil mechanics and civil engineering. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4080 - Structural Geology
5 credit hours

Prerequisites: MATH 1720 or  MATH 1730; GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041; GEOL 1050. Orientation and deformation of rock. Geometric, analytical, and statistical solutions to structural problems. Emphasis on three-dimensional visualization, geological map interpretation, and the mechanics of deformation. Three hours lecture and three hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4090 - Problems in Geology
1 to 6 credit hours

Prerequisites: A minimum of 12 semester hours of geology (excluding GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031) at least 6 hours of which must be upper division; consent of instructor. A problem-solving course. Includes an independent research-oriented project commensurate with the student's interests and qualifications. May be repeated up to a maximum of 6 hours.

GEOL 4100 - Geophysical Prospecting
4 credit hours

Prerequisites: MATH 1910; PHYS 2010/PHYS 2011 or PHYS 2110/PHYS 2111. (PHYS 2020/PHYS 2021 or PHYS 2120/PHYS 2121, GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041, and MATH 1920 also recommended.) Survey of seismic, gravimetric, and magnetic/electrical exploration methods. An applied course covering some elementary theory, basic field practice, computation fundamentals, interpretation techniques. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4120 - Environmental Geology
4 credit hours

Prerequisites: GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041 or PGEO 1030 or consent of instructor. Application of geologic information to minimize possible environmental degradation and maximize utilization of resources in the natural and modified environment; local examples and field trips. Topics include engineering properties of earth materials, natural hazard prediction and reduction, water supply, solid and hazardous wastes, mineral resources, global change, land-use planning, environmental impact analysis. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4130 - Hydrogeology
5 credit hours

Prerequisites: MATH 1720 or MATH 1730; GEOL 1030/GEOL 1031 or GEOL 1040/GEOL 1041. Basic processes and measurement of the hydrologic cycle, including precipitation, evaporation, surface runoff, stream flow, soil moisture, and ground water. Emphasis on ground water including geology of occurrence, principles of flow, conceptual models of regional flow, chemistry and quality, well hydraulics, aquifer characteristics, resource development, detection of pollutants, and contaminant transport. Three hours lecture and two hours laboratory per week.

GEOL 4140 - Inorganic Geochemistry
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: GEOL 3000. Principles of inorganic geochemistry. Geochemistry of the earth and solar system, isotopic geochronometers, thermodynamics and rates of geochemical processes, chemical weathering, chemical compositions of surface and groundwater. Three hours lecture per week.

GEOL 4150 - Environmental Applications of Hydrogeology
3 credit hours

Prerequisite: GEOL 4130. An advanced course in hydrogeology that emphasizes applied methods for assessing hazardous and solid waste facilities and contaminated ground water remediation techniques. Included will be site characterization methods, ground water sampling procedures, and monitoring well installation techniques. Three hours lecture per week.

GEOL 4571 - Internship in Geology
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: Major or minor in geology; 15 hours of geology/geography with junior or senior standing; permission of employer and department. Practical experience for students in a professional setting relating to geologic work. After completion of one internship, 4571 or GEOL 4572, the other may be taken (total of six credits).

GEOL 4572 - Internship in Geology
3 credit hours

Prerequisites: Major or minor in geology; 15 hours of geology/geography with junior or senior standing; permission of employer and department. Practical experience for students in a professional setting relating to geologic work. After completion of one internship, GEOL 4571 or 4572, the other may be taken (total of six credits).

GEOL 4580 - Seminar in Geology
1 credit hour

Prerequisite: Senior standing in geology. A reading and discussion seminar in which current topics in the geological sciences are examined to broaden the major's knowledge of the scope and literature of the discipline.

GEOL 4740 - Research Methods
3 credit hours

(Same as ABAS/BIOL/CHEM/PHYS/MATH 4740.) Prerequisites: YOED 3520 and BIOL 3250/BIOL 3251. Provides secondary science and mathematics teacher candidates with the tools that scientists use to solve scientific problems. Students will use these tools in a laboratory setting, communicate findings, and understand how scientists develop new knowledge.

Contact Information

Karen Wolfe
karen.wolfe@mtsu.edu

Phone | 615-898-2726

Who is My Advisor?

Irina Novozhilova
Irina.Novozhilova@mtsu.edu
615-898-5087 | DSB 120

Mailing Address

Department of Geosciences
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 9
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro TN 37132

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