Did you search for fossils or collect rocks as a child? Did you enjoy earth sciences in school? Have these interests evolved into curiosity about the workings of earth’s natural systems and geological time?

If so, consider a major in geoscience. You’ll learn about Earth and prepare for a career working with the earth’s materials and the processes that shape them.

Why Iowa?

Iowa’s geoscience program is nationally ranked, recognized for its enthusiastic faculty, state-of-the-art equipment, and abundant opportunities for undergraduate research projects.

The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences emphasizes a unique combination of field and analytical approaches to its research and teaching.

You'll study the earth’s origin, appearance, and internal and surface characteristics; its evolution through geologic time; location of mineral and energy resources; and how humans are affecting the earth and its climate.

Students spend time in the field. The curriculum includes many courses with field trips to the region around Iowa City and other areas of North America. Geoscience majors commonly visit local outcrops for hands-on study of the rich sedimentary and evolutionary history recorded here.

You'll also gain a broad understanding of the earth and its processes by conducting fieldwork in locations such as the Rocky Mountains of southwest Montana; California’s Death Valley and Mojave Desert; the Grand Canyon; and Hawaii. Recent international excursions have included the Dominican Republic and China.

In addition to your geoscience major, you may choose to earn a certificate in Sustainability or Museum Studies, broadening your horizons for employment or graduate study.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


  Teaching Licensure
in Earth Science
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our  Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs. 

Career opportunities are readily available for geoscience graduates. Professional geologists work in resource companies, environmental corporations, educational institutions, conservation agencies, urban planning, state and federal geological surveys, and government resource and research organizations. Companies such as ExxonMobil routinely recruit Iowa graduates on campus.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 student organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 study abroad  programs and multiple undergraduate research opportunities


The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college. 

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.


Students majoring in geoscience earn a BA or a BS degree.

The BA in geoscience offers students a background in the Earth sciences and related scientific disciplines, and is designed for flexibility in potential career paths. The department focuses training in the areas of environmental geology, geochemistry, geophysics, paleontology, stratigraphy, tectonics, basin analysis, surficial processes, petrology, and volcanology. Students gain field experience along with classroom learning. The BA program is good preparation for secondary school teaching. 

The BS in geoscience offers students an extensive and comprehensive background in the Earth sciences and related scientific disciplines, and is geared toward a career in the geosciences. Strengths of the department include environmental geology, geochemistry, geophysics, paleontology, stratigraphy, tectonics, basin analysis, surficial processes, petrology, and volcanology. Students gain extensive field experience and training, and are able to integrate field studies and analytical research, with knowledge gained in the classroom. Opportunities are provided for local, regional, and international field experiences as well as for individual research projects. The BS program prepares students for employment and graduate study in geoscience.

Students in both programs take required field-mapping courses. Field trip courses include Geology Field Trip (during spring break), selected National Parks, and Natural Science Session at Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.

Geoscience majors also must complete the requirements of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences GE CLAS Core

While earning a BA or a BS, you will have the option to conduct independent research. You'll work on a current departmental research project or a project of your own, and your work will be guided by an established researcher in the department.

See Geoscience in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the course requirements for the major or minor and graduating with honors.

Teaching Licensure in Earth Science

If you are interested in teaching earth science at the secondary level, you will need to complete the College of Education’s Teacher Education Program in addition to the geoscience degree.