Geophysics - BS

Graduates with a BS in Geophysics go on to careers in the energy and environmental industries, and advanced study at top-ranked graduate programs. The first two years are similar to the BS in Geology, providing students with the fundamentals of geology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Courses 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. Students are also encouraged to become involved in research problems with faculty members and can receive course credit for this activity through GEOP 291 and GEOP 491.

While 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 preferred 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.

To remain in satisfactory academic standing, students must maintain a 2.0 or better GPA 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. 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 404 and PETE 311. Qualified students may also take related graduate courses during the senior year, including GEOP 629, GEOP 631 and GEOP 620. Students interested in seismic theory may take additional math classes, such as MATH 417, MATH 407 and MATH 414.

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallSemester Credit Hours
GEOL 150 Introduction to the Solid Earth 4
GEOL 180 Introduction to Geology and Geophysics 1
CHEM 107
CHEM 117
General Chemistry for Engineering Students
and General Chemistry for Engineering Students Laboratory
ENGL 104 Composition and Rhetoric 3
MATH 151 Engineering Mathematics I 4
 Semester Credit Hours16
GEOL 152 History of the Earth 4
MATH 152 Engineering Mathematics II 4
Select one of the following: 3
Communication elective 3
 Semester Credit Hours14
Second Year
GEOL 203 Mineralogy 4
GEOL 210 Geological Communication 3
MATH 251 Engineering Mathematics III 3
PHYS 206 Newtonian Mechanics for Engineering and Science 3
PHYS 226 Physics of Motion Laboratory for the Sciences 1
 Semester Credit Hours14
GEOL 304 Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology 4
GEOL 250 Geological Field Methods 4
MATH 308 Differential Equations 3
PHYS 207 Electricity and Magnetism for Engineering and Science 3
PHYS 227 Electricity and Magnetism Laboratory for the Sciences 1
 Semester Credit Hours15
Third Year
GEOP 341 Fundamentals of Geophysics 3
GEOL 306 Sedimentology and Stratigraphy 4
MATH 311 Topics in Applied Mathematics I 3
PHYS 221 Optics and Thermal Physics 3
Select one of the following: 3
 Semester Credit Hours16
GEOL 312 Structural Geology and Tectonics 4
GEOP 313 Geophysical Field Methods 4
GEOP 361 Geophysical Signal Processing 3
Select one of the following: 3
Technical elective 1 3
 Semester Credit Hours17
Fourth Year
GEOP 421 Seismology 4
GEOP 413 Near-surface Geophysics 3
GEOL 450 Geology Senior Project 3
Language, philosophy and culture elective 2 3
 Semester Credit Hours13
Select one of the following: 3
Creative arts elective 2 3
Social and behavioral science elective 2 3
Geophysics elective 3 3
Technical electives 1 3
 Semester Credit Hours15
 Total Semester Credit Hours120