Geology, Major

Liberal Arts (Code 160-204)

University Requirements

Credit Requirements
Minimum total for graduation 1120
Upper division credits (courses numbered 300 and higher)39
Liberal Education Core36
Academic Concentrations
Grade Point Requirements 2
Total2.00 average
Resident2.00 average
Major2.00 average
Minor2.00 average
Certificate2.00 average
University Residency Requirements
Minimum total30
Senior year23
Major, Standard, upper division in residence12
Major, Comprehensive, upper division in residence21
Certificate25 percent of credits
Procedures Required for Graduation
Obtain admission to the degree program and/or the College offering it.
Apply for graduation on CampS.

Certain programs exceed this minimum.


See special requirements in each College.

Applicability of Credits Toward Graduation

Junior College or Two-Year College Credits. A maximum of 72 semester credits earned in a junior college or two-year college will be accepted as degree credits at UW-Eau Claire.

Extension Credits. Credits earned in credit outreach courses offered by UW-Eau Claire are treated as resident credits. Credits earned in extension courses offered by other units of the University of Wisconsin System are treated as transfer credits. All other (non-UW) extension and correspondence credits are normally limited to one-fourth of the total required for graduation from any curriculum.

WTCS Credits. A maximum of 72 semester credits earned in college parallel programs at Madison Area Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College, Nicolet Area Technical College, or Chippewa Valley Technical College may be accepted as degree credits at UW-Eau Claire. A set number of general education courses will be accepted from other technical schools. Occupational and technical courses may also be considered for transfer if the quality and content of the course work from the technical college is judged to be comparable to course work at UW-Eau Claire. Refer to the Transfer Credit Wizard or contact the UW-Eau Claire Admissions Office for information about the current transfer policy.

USAFI Credit. UW-Eau Claire will accept up to 32 semester credits for work done through the United States Armed Forces Institute, under the provision for non-UW correspondence credit (see Extension Credits above).

Activity Credit (band, chorus, drama, KINS 100-184 courses) Students may count toward graduation no more than one credit of KINS 110-184 courses. Students may count toward graduation no more than four credits earned in any single activity course and no more than 12 credits resulting from any combination of activity courses (excluding KINS 110-184 courses). 

Other Restricted Credits. For other University restrictions, see the following: Cooperative Education; Credit by Examination; Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Registration; Transfer of Credits. College or departmental restrictions may also be placed on Independent Study (399-499 courses), Directed Study (395-495), and other types of credits.

Total degree creditmaximum 12
Major, Standardmaximum 1 course
Major, Comprehensivemaximum 2 courses
Minormaximum 1 course
Credit by Examination
Total degree creditmaximum ¼ of total
Major or minormaximum ½ of total
Two-Year College Credits
Total degree creditmaximum 72 credits
Activity credit (band, chorus, drama, KINS 100-184)
Total KINS 100-184maximum 1 credit
Total Band, chorus, dramamaximum 12 credits
Single course band, chorus, dramamaximum 4 credits
Extension credits
UW-Systemno maximum
Other extension/correspondencemaximum ¼ of total
USAFImaximum 32 credits

Liberal Education Core

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire measures learning outcomes to ensure that its graduates have achieved a liberal education and prepared themselves to contribute to a complex society. Upon graduation, each undergraduate will have met the five learning goals of our liberal education core and the 12 learning outcomes they comprise. 

Knowledge Goal
Knowledge Outcome 1 (K1): Natural SciencesTwo (2) learning experiences
One experience in laboratory science must be selected from either K1 or K2.
Knowledge Outcome 2 (K2): Social SciencesTwo (2) learning experiences
One experience in laboratory science must be selected from either K1 or K2.
Knowledge Outcome 3 (K3): HumanitiesTwo (2) learning experiences
Knowledge Outcome 4 (K4): Fine ArtsOne (1) learning experience
Skills Goal
Skills Outcome 1 (S1): Written and Oral CommunicationTwo (2) learning experiences
Skills Outcome 2 (S2): MathematicsOne (1) learning experience
Skills Outcome 3 (S3): CreativityOne (1) learning experience
Responsibility Goal
Responsibility Outcome 1 (R1): Equity, Diversity, and InclusivityTwo (2) learning experiences
Responsibility Outcome 2 (R2): Global PerspectivesOne (1) learning experience
Responsibility Outcome 3 (R3): Civic and Environmental IssuesOne (1) learning experience
Integration Goal
Integration Outcome 1 (I1): IntegrationTwo (2) learning experiences
Service-Learning Goal
Service-Learning30 hours

College Degree Requirements

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degree (B.A./B.S.)

University Graduation Requirements. All candidates for degrees must fulfill the requirements for credits, curriculum, GPA, and University residency as specified in the section of this catalog titled University Graduation Requirements.

College Graduation Requirements: Grade Point Averages. All candidates for degrees in the College of Arts and Sciences must earn minimum resident and total GPAs of 2.00 in the major, the minor, and the certificate. The resident and total GPAs for the major are computed using all attempted credits applicable to the major including those offered by departments other than the major department. The resident and total GPAs for the minor and the certificate are computed similarly.

Major-Minor and Major-Certificate Requirements. A standard major (a minimum of 36 credits) must be supplemented by a minor (a minimum of 24 credits) or by a certificate (12 to 18 credits) to meet graduation requirements for completing a first and second degree program. No minor or certificate is required with a Comprehensive Major (60 or more credits) or with two majors of 36 or more credits each.

Certain degree programs, which include Comprehensive Majors, may require more than the minimum of 120 credits for graduation.

Acceptable academic program combinations are determined at the college level. A major and a minor or a major and certificate or two majors (if available) may not be elected in the same department or program, except in the approved combinations listed here.

College Credits. Earn at least 90 credits in courses offered by the College of Arts and Sciences.

Bachelor of Arts Degree in the College of Arts and Sciences (B.A.)

Fulfillment of all University Graduation Requirements (which includes the Liberal Education Core); all College-level degree requirements (major and minor/certificate emphases, GPAs, earning at least 90 credits in Arts and Sciences course work); foreign language competency at the 102 level.  Foreign language competency may be met in one of two ways:  (1) Achieve a score on the foreign language placement test that qualifies the student to enter the 201-level course in a foreign language.  (2) Earn a grade of at least C (not C-) or a mark of S in a 102-level foreign language course (or AIS 112 or AIS 122 / LANG 122 or CSD 103).

Bachelor of Science Degree in the College of Arts and Sciences (B.S.)

Fulfillment of all University Graduation Requirements (which includes the Liberal Education Core); all College-level degree requirements (major and minor/certificate emphases, GPAs, earning at least 90 credits in Arts and Sciences course work); mathematics competency at the MATH 111, MATH 112 or MATH 113 level.  Mathematics competency can be met in one of three ways:  (1) Achieve a score on the mathematics placement test that qualifies the student to enter MATH 114.  (2) Earn a grade of at least C (not C-) or a mark of S in MATH 111, MATH 112, or MATH 113.  (3) Achieve a satisfactory score on the MATH 112 competency test.  This test may be attempted no more than two times.

Major Requirements

Liberal Arts (Code 160-204)

The Liberal Arts major in geology emphasizes broad training in general science; the relationship between earth science and other sciences; and the flexibility and creativity in program design for meeting an individual student’s interest and employment needs. This major requires completion of the Core liberal arts program plus elective credits. This non-comprehensive major also requires completion of a minor or a second major in another department.

Core Requirements for the Geology Major

Minimum 36 semester credits, including:
Required Courses (27-29 credits)
Select one of the following:4
Earth Science
Physical Geology
Environmental Geology
Societal Issues in Earth Science
GEOL 312Mineralogy and Petrology I5
GEOL 320Sedimentology and Stratigraphy4
GEOL 418Earth History4
GEOL 468Computers in Geology1
GEOL 470Field Geology I3
CHEM 115Chemical Principles (or equivalent)6
Capstone experience 10-2
Plus electives to total at least 36 credits selected from any geology course numbered 300 or higher.

Each major is required to complete a capstone experience which may include: GEOL 395 (for a minimum of two credits) or GEOL 471. The capstone will consist of student selection of one of the following options: faculty/student collaborative research, preparation and presentation of a department seminar, internship, field experiences, or other approved experiences. Students working with their adviser will submit a proposal to the department faculty outlining their choice of the capstone experience and explicitly stating how the capstone fits into their personal career goals. The proposal for a capstone experience must be submitted to the Chair of the Department no later than the second week of the first semester of the senior year.

 NOTE 1: No degree credit may be earned under the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory option in any required courses in a geology major or minor.

NOTE 2: Communication classes, both written and oral, are strongly recommended to fulfill liberal education requirements in any of the emphases.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students completing this program will be expected to meet the following learning outcomes:

  • Explain Earth processes. 
  • Use mathematics and computational methods to analyze scientific and geological data. 
  • Read, write, and critically evaluate geological papers. 
  • Construct an internally consistent geological map utilizing field data, topographic maps, geological maps, air photos, geographic information systems (GIS) data, and geological cross sections. 
  • Evaluate a geological field site and produce a professional report. 

Sample Degree Plan

Geology, Major, B.S.

The following is a sample degree plan, based on the 2023-2024 catalog. It is based on the 120-credit graduation requirement and assumes no transferred credits, no requirements waived by placement tests, no courses taken in the summer or winter, no repeated courses, and no remedial courses that may be required. This sample degree plan is intended for first-year students entering UW-Eau Claire in the fall semester. Your own degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). UW-Eau Claire cannot guarantee all courses will be offered as shown, but will provide a range of courses that may enable prepared students to fulfill their requirements in a timely period. This sample degree plan is just a guide. Please consult your advisor, your degree audit, and the catalog to create your own degree plan. Note: In order to earn the required minimum of 120 credits for the degree in four years, you should plan to take 15 credits each semester or 30 credits each year.

To earn a degree, students must fulfill all University Graduation Requirements, including the Liberal Education (LE) Core.  LE Core course work in the following sample degree plan uses abbreviations such as LE-K1, LE-S2, LE-R3, and LE-I1 to represent the learning outcomes students will meet via completion of their liberal education course work.  Please click here for a description of the Liberal Education Core outcomes and requirements.  Note that the LE Core may be completed through both course and non-course experiences.

Students in this major have the option to pursue either a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.  The degrees are distinguished by foreign language competency for the B.A. and a higher level of mathematics competency for the B.S.

GEOL 106Earth Science (LE-I1, LE-K1, LE-K1L)4
Physical Geology (LE-I1, LE-K1, LE-K1L)
Environmental Geology (LE-K1, LE-K1L, LE-R3)
Societal Issues in Earth Science (LE-I1, LE-K1, LE-K1L)
MATH 1XX - appropriate MATH class to meet University Math requirement4
CHEM 105General Chemistry I Lecture3
CHEM 106General Chemistry I Laboratory2
LE Option: Knowledge 3 (LE-K3) Humanities and LE Option: Responsibility 1 (LE-R1, DDIV) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity with Design for Diversity 13
CHEM 109General Chemistry II with Lab4
WRIT 114Intensive Blugold Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing (LE-S1)5
Blugold Seminar in Critical Reading and Writing (LE-S1)
GEOL 301Earth Resources and Sustainability (LE-K1, LE-R3) 23
Water Resources (LE-K1, LE-R3) 2
Minor Elective 33
GEOL 312Mineralogy and Petrology I5
GEOL 491Advanced Special Topics1
GEOL 320Sedimentology and Stratigraphy4
GEOG 335Geographic Information Systems I (strongly recommended) 43
LE Option: Knowledge 4 (LE-K4) Fine Arts3
GEOL elective3
Minor electives9-10
LE Option: Knowledge 2 (LE-K2) Social Sciences +/- LE Option: Skills 1 (LE-S1) Written and Oral Communication3
GEOL 418Earth History4
GEOL 468Computers in Geology 41
GEOL elective - choose from GEOL 313, 315, 345, 365 or 4163-4
LE Option: Knowledge 2 (LE-K2) Social Sciences +/- LE Option: Responsibility 1 (LE-R1) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity3
Minor electives9
LE Option: Knowledge 3 (LE-K3) Humanities +/- LE Option: Responsibility 2 (LE-R2) Global Perspectives3
Electives 56
GEOL 470Field Geology I (LE-S3, LE-I1)3
GEOL 471Field Geology II (Elective) 63
GEOL Elective - Upper-division, if necessary 2, 53-4
Minor electives 53
LE Option: Integration (LE-I1) 73

Minimum total for the baccalaureate degree = 120 credits


Many geological issues involve working with people from other cultures. Liberal education electives can help broaden students’ perspectives. Potential courses that would count toward this requirement and R1 and Design for Diversity (DD) include AIS 101, AIS 243, and AIS 322/GEOG 322. Many other courses such as HIST 114 and HIST 115 also fulfill the same requirements.


Electives to total at least 36 credits selected from any geology course numbered 300 or higher.


This major either requires a minor (24 credits) or a certificate with at least 12 unique credits. Consult with your advisor to select appropriate classes.


GEOL 468 prepares students for GEOL 470 offered during Winterim. GEOG 335 is recommended prior to GEOL 468.


Electives must be selected to ensure that a student’s degree comprises at least 39 credits of upper-division courses (300-400 level). Students are encouraged to take additional courses in chemistry, ecology, physics, math, GIS, and written and oral communication, but electives can be selected from any discipline as long as the course prerequisites are met. The degree also must have 120 credits.


GEOL 471 meets the Geology capstone requirement, but GEOL 470 does not. Students not taking GEOL 471 (which has GEOL 330 as a prerequisite) must submit a capstone proposal to the chair. Another possible capstone experience is GEOL 395. Please consult with your Geology faculty advisor.


GEOL 470 (required) provides one out of two required I1 experiences. A geology major might have satisfied the entire I1 requirement by also taking GEOL 102, GEOL 106, GEOL 118, or GEOL 122.

Note:  All students must complete the 30-hour Service-Learning Requirement via a non-credit or credit option (see University Graduation Requirements).

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire encourages all students to participate in High Impact Practices. The following information identifies any specific recommendations that faculty in this major have concerning which HIPs might be most beneficial to students, and any recommendations about when those HIPs best fit into the degree plan. Students should also consult their faculty advisor for information on HIPs. There are many additional high impact opportunities available. Talk to your academic advisor for more information about incorporating HIPs like Study Abroad, Intercultural Immersion, Internship, and/or Student/Faculty Collaborative Research into your time at UW-Eau Claire.

Liberal Education (LE) Core Guidance

Liberal Education Core (LE Core) 

The LE Core comprises 17 learning experiences across 11 learning outcomes. Students must complete a minimum of 36 credits in courses approved for the LE Core. 

  • K1 – Natural Sciences; two experiences (one lab science experience is required in K1 or K2). 

  • K2 – Social Sciences; two experiences (one lab science experience is required in K1 or K2). 

  • K3 – Humanities; two experiences. 

  • K4 – Fine Arts; one experience. 

  • S1 – Written and Oral Communication; two experiences (one experience must satisfy the University writing requirement). 

  • S2 – Mathematics; one experience (must satisfy the University math competency requirement). 

  • S3 – Creativity; one experience (can be fulfilled in a student’s major). 

  • R1 – Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity; two experiences (one experience must meet the UW System Design for Diversity (DD) requirement). 

  • R2 – Global Perspectives; one experience. 

  • R3 – Civic and Environmental Issues; one experience. 

  • I1 – Integration; two experiences (one experience can be fulfilled in a student’s major). 

  • SL—Service Learning; 30 hours 

Additional LE Core Information 

  • Most LE Core learning experiences are course based, and many courses meet more than one learning outcome (e.g., K3 and R2 or K1 and R3). 

  • Some learning experiences can also be met outside of a traditional course (e.g., undergraduate research (S3), study abroad (I1)). 

  • S1 – An English placement score that fulfills the University writing requirement fulfills one S1 experience. 

  • S1 – A foreign Language placement score that qualifies the student to enter the 102 level satisfies one S1 experience. 

  • S1, R2 – A foreign language placement score that qualifies the student to enter the 202 level satisfies one experience in S1 and the R2 experience. 

  • S2 – A math placement score that qualifies the student to enter Math 111, 112, 113 or 114 fulfills the S2 experience. 

  • S3 – Completion of two credits from any approved music ensemble fulfills the S3 experience. 

  • I1 – Any semester long study abroad program can fulfill one I1 experience.