Geophysics - BS

The first two years of the BS in Geophysics are similar to the BS in Geology, providing students with the fundamentals of geology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and computer science. Courses in geophysics during the junior and senior years emphasize knowledge transfer from the fields of math and physics to techniques and problems in both theoretical and applied geophysics. Technical electives allow students to focus on specific career objectives. The Environmental and Petroleum tracks prepare students for the most common career paths for geophysicists. Students are also encouraged to become involved in research problems with faculty members and can receive course credit for this activity through research hours (GEOP 291 and GEOP 491).

Whereas graduates from the Geophysics program will have employment opportunities in industry, the rigor of this degree is designed to prepare students for advanced study. The MS degree is generally considered to be the entry degree for professionals in the petroleum industry. Students interested in teaching in a university or research in an academic, government or industrial laboratory should seek the PhD.

Students must pass two Writing Intensive courses within their major. This requirement is described on page 24 of this catalog. GEOL 311 and any geology or geophysics class with a 9xx section number meet the requirement. To remain in satisfactory academic standing, students must maintain a 2.0 or better GPR in all technical courses (geology, geophysics, chemistry, math and physics). Some courses in geophysics require field trips. Students must pay expenses incurred on such trips.

Geophysicists contribute to the field of environmental science by working on traditional and emerging methods used for hydrogeological, structural and stratigraphic characterization of the uppermost 100 meters, with applications to shallow resource and groundwater assessment and the solution of environmental and engineering problems.. Environmental geophysicists typically work as independent environmental consultants or with industrial corporation or government agencies.  GEOP 413 and GEOP 435 provide the necessary grounding in seismic, electromagnetic, radar and other techniques used in environmental geophysics. Other recommended classes include GEOL 410, GEOL 420 and GEOL 440.

Many geophysics find eventual employment in the petroleum industry, in which reflection seismology is the primary subsurface exploration tool. Students aiming for this field will supplement their background in seismic theory with electives that focus on subsurface structures and processes and industry techniques. These students will be prepared for graduate study, as well as service jobs in the oil and gas industry between their undergraduate and graduate education. Additional recommended classes include GEOL 306, GEOL 400, GEOL 404 and PETE 311. Qualified students may also take related graduate courses during the senior year, including GEOP 629 and GEOP 620. Students interested in seismic theory may take additional math classes, such as MATH 417, MATH 407 and MATH 414.

First Year
FallSemester Credit Hours
CHEM 107
CHEM 117
General Chemistry for Engineering Students
and General Chemistry for Engineering Students Laboratory
4
ENGL 104Composition and Rhetoric 3
GEOL 104Physical Geology 4
MATH 151Engineering Mathematics I 4
 Term Semester Credit Hours15
Spring
GEOL 106Historical Geology 4
MATH 152Engineering Mathematics II 4
Select one of the following: 3
American history
Government/Political science
Communication elective 3
 Term Semester Credit Hours14
Second Year
Fall
GEOL 203Mineralogy 4
GEOP 341Global Geophysics 3
MATH 251Engineering Mathematics III 3
PHYS 218Mechanics 4
 Term Semester Credit Hours14
Spring
GEOL 302Introduction to Petrology 4
GEOL 309Introduction to Geological Field Methods 3
MATH 308Differential Equations 3
PHYS 208Electricity and Optics 4
 Term Semester Credit Hours14
Third Year
Fall
GEOP 435Methods of Geophysical Exploration 4
PHYS 221Optics and Thermal Physics 3
Select one of the following: 3
American history
Government/Political science
Computer science 14
Creative arts elective 33
 Term Semester Credit Hours17
Spring
GEOL 311Principles of Geological Writing 1
GEOL 312Structural Geology and Tectonics 4
GEOP 413Near-surface Geophysics 3
MATH 311Topics in Applied Mathematics I 3
Select one of the following: 3
American history
Government/Political science
Social and behavioral science elective 33
 Term Semester Credit Hours17
Fourth Year
Fall
GEOP 421Petroleum Seismology I 4
MATH 412Theory of Partial Differential Equations 3
Language, philosophy and culture elective 33
Technical electives 25
 Term Semester Credit Hours15
Spring
GEOP 470Computational Geophysics 3
Select one of the following: 3
American history
Government/Political science
Technical electives 28
 Term Semester Credit Hours14
 Total Semester Credit Hours: 120
1

Computer science course must entail programming with a high-level language.

2

Any science, math or engineering course that augments the degree with the approval of the advisor.

3

Six hours must be selected from courses that also satisfy the International and Cultural diversity requirement.