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 Study at 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.

You'll 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.

Course Work

Students majoring in geoscience earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree.

The BA program provides a varied background in geology and is good preparation for secondary school teaching (completing the minimum requirements for the BA may not adequately prepare you for an entry-level professional job in geoscience).

The BS program prepares students for employment and graduate study in geoscience.

BA students take these courses:

  • Ten or more geoscience courses
  • Three or more mathematics courses
  • Chemistry I–II

BS students take these courses:

  • Eleven or more geoscience courses
  • Two calculus courses and one computer science, mathematics, or statistics course
  • Chemistry I–II
  • Physics I–II
  • One biology course with a laboratory

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.

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 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.

Minor in Geoscience

See Geoscience in the UI General Catalog to learn more.

Admission Requirements

Geoscience majors need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to having more than 600 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Study Abroad Programs and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Faculty, Facilities, and Resources

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences faculty members work in many specialized areas, including earth surface processes, geochemistry, geochronology, geomorphology, glacial geology, hydrogeology, paleoclimatology, paleoecology, paleontology, petrology, planetary geology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural geology, tectonics, and volcanology.

Highlights of the department’s research facilities include its clean laboratory, alpha and gamma spectrometers, SEM, computer facilities, ICP-MS, and world-class paleontology collection.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and 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.

A BA or BS degree in geoscience provides solid preparation for graduate study in law, business, environmental studies, engineering, archaeology, science education, and oceanography.


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

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Geoscience (BA)
Geoscience (BS)
Teaching Licensure
in Earth Science
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan