Undergraduate Program

Geological Science Degrees

The study of earth’s dynamic systems is a field that has seen major advances over the last few decades. Geologists investigate diverse systems that play a large role in controlling the environment at the earth’s surface. Examples include earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers, landslides, rivers, and shorelines. Earth processes play a critical role in making our planet habitable, and geologists are constantly in demand to guide communities and nations in their search for clean drinking water and extractable energy and minerals, for example, or in decisions regarding development in fragile coastal regions or in seismically active areas.

Geological Sciences at UNC–Chapel Hill provides students with a solid training in earth science so that they can advance in highly satisfying careers as professional geologists.

Geological Sciences offers two undergraduate degree programs: a B.A. in earth systems and a B.S. in geology with a concentration in traditional geology, environmental geology, geochemistry, geophysics, or paleobiology. Most students planning to do graduate work or to become professional geologists should follow the B.S. program. However, the flexibility of the B.A. program may be advantageous to students with interests in, for example, environmental studies, education, or law.

Degree Requirements

Requirements for each degree can be found in the UNC Catalog by clicking the links below.

Geological Sciences Major, B.A.- Earth Science Concentration

Geological Sciences Major, B.S.- Earth Science Concentration

Geological Sciences Major, B.S.- Environmental Geoscience Concentration

Geological Sciences Minor


Marine Science Minor

Marine Sciences has offered an exciting undergraduate minor since 1990. Once completed the marine science minor will leave an undergraduate with a basic knowledge in all areas of marine science and advanced knowledge in specific areas of their choice. Our students often write research based senior honors theses and publish their results in professional journals. Others have won undergraduate research fellowships that have allowed them to take time off from their regular studies to pursue individual projects, sometimes in exotic locations (e.g., the Great Barrier Reef off Australia). The minor gives a student the opportunity to work with faculty and/or staff scientists in the laboratory and field settings. 

Most undergraduate minors are science majors who go on to pursue advanced degrees. However, non-science majors can use the minor as a way to explore the relationship between marine sciences and their respective major fields. Journalists interested in covering the environment or working for scientific publications, political scientists wanting to study marine policy/law, or aspiring public school teachers who may one day teach oceanography are among the many of those who can benefit from the program.

All interested undergraduates, regardless of whether they plan to carry a minor, are encouraged to take introductory marine sciences courses and to participate in faculty-directed laboratory and field activities whenever possible. Opportunities may be found both on campus and at the coast. Summer internships at the Institute of Marine Sciences in Morehead City are especially popular.

UNDERGRADUATE MINOR COURSEWORK

Marine Sciences provides instruction and conducts research in biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanography. Introductory courses are offered for all undergraduates, regardless of major, who are interested in marine sciences. These courses are available through the regular University, Continuing Studies, and the Summer School.

Advising for minors and approval of equivalent courses is provided through the Department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Marc Alperin (962-5184). Other faculty in the department can provide additional advice to minors and help arrange and supervise practical experiences.

More Information in the UNC Catalog

Recommended Courses for Science Majors

  • Oceanography (MASC 401/BIOL 350/GEOL 403/ENVR 417)
  • Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science (MASC 470/ENEC 222)
  • Biological Oceanography (MASC 504/BIOL 657/ENVR 520)
  • Marine Ecology (MASC 440/ BIOL 462)
  • Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL 475)
  • Marine Biology (MASC 442/BIOL 457)
  • Ecology and Population Biology (BIOL 201)
  • Comparative Biomechanics (BIOL 551)
  • One other Oceanography course depending on interest, i.e., Physical, Chemical, or Geological Oceanography (MASC 506, 505, and 503, respectively)
  • Allied courses should include Organic Chemistry (CHEM 261, 262), Physics (PHYS 104, 105) and MATH 231, 232.

  • Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science (MASC 470/ENEC 222)
  • Oceanography (MASC 401/BIOL 350/GEOL 403/ENVR 417)
  • Analytical Research Techniques (CHEM 441, 442)
  • Biochemistry (BIOC 100/BIOL 107/CHEM 430)
  • Chemical Oceanography (MASC 505/ENVR 418/GEOL 505)
  • Organic Geochemistry (MASC 552/GEOL 552)
  • Biogeochemical Cycling (MASC 550/GEOL 550)
  • Geochemistry (MASC 553/GEOL 512)
  • Earth Processes in Environmental Systems (MASC 410/ENEC 410/GEOL 410)

  • Oceanography (MASC 401/BIOL 350/GEOL 403/ENVR 417)
  • Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science (MASC 470/ENEC 222)
  • Marine Geology (MASC 503/GEOL 503)
  • Earth Processes in Environmental Systems (MASC 410/ENEC 410/GEOL 410)
  • Geologic and Oceanographic Applications of Geographical Information Systems (MASC 483/GEOL 483).
  • One other Oceanography course depending on interest, i.e., Physical, Chemical, or Geological Oceanography (MASC 506, 505, and 503, respectively)
  • One or more of the following: GEOL 57 (Stratigraphy), GEOL 133 (Micropaleontology), GEOL 138 (Geomorphology), GEOL 142 (Geo-physics), GEOL 151 (Geodynamics)

  • Oceanography (MASC 401/BIOL 350/GEOL 403/ENVR 417)
  • Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science (MASC 470/ENEC 222)
  • Physical Oceanography (MASC 506/GEOL 506)
  • Fluid Dynamics ( MASC 560/ENVR 452/PHYS 660/GEOL560)
  • Environmental Systems Modeling (MASC 415/ENVR 461/GEOL415)
  • Marine Modeling (MASC 480/ENVR 460/GEOL 480)
  • Time Series and Spatial Data Analysis (MASC 561)
  • Turbulent Boundary Layers (MASC 562).
  • Descriptive Physical Oceanography (MASC 563/GEOL 563)
  • The students’ mathematics training should lean toward applied mathematics courses (e.g., MATH 524, 528, 529, etc.)