Geoscience is at the core of the grand challenges of the 21st Century, such as how to provide food and water for 8+ billion people, how to mitigate the impacts of global climate change, and how to provide the materials for a low carbon future without causing greater environmental harm.

Geoscience is the study of Earth as an integrated system including its evolution, environment, and sustainable future. Access to clean air and water, global climate change, biodiversity and extinction, and the availability of natural resources are critical geoscience challenges of the 21st Century. Geoscientists apply the basic sciences to real-world problems to improve our understanding and stewardship of a rapidly changing environment.

An undergraduate degree in Geoscience offers an incredible array of career opportunities and nearly 90% of our students go on to graduate school or immediate employment in a degree-related job.

Why Iowa?

Iowa’s Geoscience program has world-class faculty committed to undergraduate education and training. The Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences can also provide financial support for eligible undergraduate students to participate in field trips, attend conferences, and present their own research.

Geoscience majors conduct their own research projects with mentorship from faculty and are encouraged to publish their work as the first author in peer-reviewed journals. Geoscience students interested in immediate employment can be supported through departmental internship programs with local and national industries, agencies, and foundations.

The Geoscience curriculum includes a range of classroom, laboratory, and field trip opportunities. The Ashton Prairie Living Laboratory is a 10-acre space on campus where students build hands-on, real-world skills for their future careers. Seven major field trips are run each year to locations across the country and internationally where students get to apply their classroom learning to the natural environment.

In addition to your Geoscience major, you may choose to double major with Environmental Sciences, pursue K-12 teaching licensure through the combined B.A. + M.A.T. in Education, or earn a certificate in Sustainability, GIS, or Museum Studies.

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. 

Students with a Geoscience degree from Iowa go on to careers in a range of fields including environmental conservation, environmental consulting, environmental engineering, environmental law, hydrology, river restoration, soil science, and watershed management. Iowa Geoscience students pursuing graduate study go on to programs in agronomy, climatology, education, environmental management, environmental science, geoscience, natural resource management, oceanography, and paleontology.

Decades of sustained growth in the job market has left a deficit of more than 100,000 trained geoscientists nationwide. A Geoscience degree is one of the most sought-after credentials for immediate employment throughout the environmental job market.

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. Most Geoscience students at Iowa participate in research directly with faculty in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Student organizations of special interest to Geoscience students include the Environmental Sciences Club, Women in STEM (WISE), and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS).


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. Both degree programs prepare students for jobs or graduate education in a wide range of fields. BA and BS students take a common core of classes with BS students taking additional math and science requirements as well as a larger number of advanced Geoscience courses.

The BA in geoscience offers students a basic background in Earth Science and related science disciplines, and it is ideal for students who want to pursue careers in education, law, public policy, or management. The smaller course load and greater flexibility are ideal for students who wish to double major in any of the other sciences. Students frequently pair this degree with a second major in Environmental Policy and Planning, Environmental Sciences, or certificates in Museum Studies, Sustainability, or GIS.

The BS in geoscience offers students a comprehensive science background and the geoscience coursework to apply those skills to 21st Century challenges. The degree is designed to prepare students for a career in any environmental field and prepare students for future graduate study. Students gain extensive field, laboratory, and analytical training, and apply those skills through integrated classroom and outdoor activities.

Students in both programs take required field-based courses to apply their classroom and laboratory education and training in the real world. Options for field-based courses include Field Methods, Field Analysis, Spring Break Field Trip, National Parks Field Trip, courses at the on-campus Ashton Prairie Living Laboratory or Iowa Lakeside Laboratory, and a series of leveled field courses designed for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th year of the major.

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, Geoscience students are strongly encouraged to conduct their own research project with a faculty mentor. Most Geoscience students participate in undergraduate research, and many formally publish their findings in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

View 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

Students majoring in Geoscience who are interested in teaching in secondary schools must complete the College of Education’s Teacher Education Program. BA students who are interested in teaching may enter the joint degree program and earn your Geoscience BA and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) as a five-year 4+1 program.