Lisa Heidlauf teaching geology lab at Wheaton College
Dr. Jeffrey Greenberg


Why Study Geology?

Geology courses offer a general knowledge of the earth, its structure, composition, internal and external processes, and past history. Emphasis is placed upon field and laboratory investigation directed towards the development of useful skills and a grasp of basic theoretical and working concepts.  

At Wheaton, we prepare geoscientists and community leaders for a world of expanding knowledge, diminishing natural resources, and rapid environmental change. You will be equipped for graduate studies in earth and environmental sciences or entry-level employment in related fields including resource development, environmental management and missions/development. Most of all, we are motivated by our passion for what God has created and our commitment to biblical principles of creation care. Our graduates become grounded in sound scientific and theological thinking, enabling them to contribute to constructive dialog on faith and science issues in church and secular communities.

degree options
department faculty

Why Study Geology at Wheaton?

Our campus is home to well-equipped teaching laboratories with modern instrumentation for the study of earth materials and geological processes in the Meyer Science Center.

A Wheaton geology education includes travel to areas of special scientific interest. Most courses feature day-long or weekend trips to Great Lakes and mid-continent region geological sites. Special field trips are planned to other regions of the country or abroad for course credit or extra-course experience.

The Wheaton College Science Station in the Black Hills of South Dakota provides a wide variety of opportunities for exploring and studying geology. Studies are not limited to the Black Hills, however. Field trips into Wyoming include visits to the Bighorn Mountains, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Park.

All of our faculty are published authors, with numerous articles published in peer-reviewed journals, contributions to national scientific conferences, and book chapters. Faculty-student mentor relationships often result in productive and distinguished scholarship and student growth including research collaborations, frequent field experiences beyond the classroom, and trips to professional conferences.

Wheaton’s founder, Jonathan Blanchard, realized that a working knowledge of the earth is an integral part of Christian education, so Wheaton's first students in the 1860s were required to take introductory courses in geology and mineralogy. The continuation of this early commitment has made Wheaton the oldest and most prominent undergraduate geology program among the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).

Learning to conduct research begins in the classroom and laboratory. Many courses require students to create and complete a research project, scaled to the level of the course. Students are encouraged to gain further experience in more advanced geoscience research, which may involve collaboration with Wheaton College faculty or scientists at other institutions. There are many ways to accomplish this: 

  • Independent or collaborative study projects with faculty for credit
  • Research during a summer internship at Wheaton College or another university or research institution (museum, national park, state or federal government lab or agency, etc.) often with financial stipend
  • Participation in a global studies program, such as Wheaton's Human Needs and Global Resources (HNGR)

Every year geology majors participate in national geoscience conferences to share their research projects and connect with scholars, professionals, and students at other institutions. You'll have access to our robust network of alumni and friends of the department in the professional geoscience and global development communities.


  • Summer Research Internships: Many students pursue summer research internships at major research universities and government laboratories (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) or through the Wheaton College Summer Researcher program. Includes stipend and typically housing.
  • Teaching Assistant: Assist professor or instructors in lab sections of introductory or major courses (paid).
  • Clubs: Many geology majors are involved in Geoclub to plan events for geology majors or the creation care group A Rocha. Others have participated in the annual student spring break trip to Honduras to install gravity-fed water systems for rural community development.
  • Study Abroad: International study programs involve a semester or summer at a university or research site. Although programs for geology study are limited, students have completed semesters in New Zealand, England and Germany. Geology majors may apply to participate in the Human Needs and Global Resources certificate with a summer plus semester international experiential and research project internship.

What Will I Learn?

  • The Bachelor of Science in Geology prepares you for graduate studies in the geosciences and many entry-level geoscience or missions/development jobs. Graduate schools typically require an additional eight credit hours of courses in chemistry, physics or mathematics. Requirements: 36 credit hours in the major plus 16 credit hours in supporting courses from mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
  • The Bachelor of Arts in Geology is typically chosen by students who have a second major and cannot complete them both in four years or by students who intend to pursue advanced degrees in another field, such as law.
  • The Bachelor of Arts with Teacher Certification leads teacher certification 6-12 in Physical Science with an emphasis in Geology.

Students take a Geology minor if they are interested in the geosciences and choose courses that interest them or enhance vocational interests.

Consult the course catalog for full listing of current courses available in this field.

Geology News and Stories

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Possible Careers for Geology Majors

Employment of geoscientists is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wheaton’s Center for Vocation and Career will be happy to partner with you as you explore the many career options available to you with this flexible degree.

  • American Association of Petroleum Geologists
  • BHP Billiton
  • Colleges and universities
  • ENVIRON International Corporation
  • J.P. Morgan Chase
  • Invenergy LLC
  • Lytle WaterSolutions, LLC
  • Marathon Oil Corporation
  • Noble Energy
  • Schlumberger
  • Shell Oil Corporation
  • State geological surveys
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

All of our students have been accepted by the graduate school of their choice, going on to pursue the following degrees:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
The most recent graduate school placements pursued:
  • University of Arizona
  • Arizona State University
  • University of British Columbia (Canada)
  • University of California Davis
  • Clemson University
  • Colorado School of Mines
  • University of Colorado
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of Kentucky
  • New Mexico Tech University
  • Oklahoma State University
  • Southern Illinois University
  • Stanford University
  • University of Texas Austin
  • Texas A&M University
  • University of Utah
  • Utah State University
Field trips are the best part of every course; they solidify concepts from the classroom. Discussions of faith and science have helped me to grow stronger in my Christian faith and to better understand other viewpoints. — Benjamin Hess '19, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
My summer internship at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory offered me a unique experience to conduct research on Mercury’s early stratigraphic formation and crustal evolution with a leading scientist in planetary geology, then present my results at several conferences. I look forward to pursuing planetary science further during graduate school, but I wouldn’t have even known about it if not for the internship! — Jeff Leeburn '18, Raleigh, North Carolina
The quality of classes, opportunities for experiential learning, positive interactions with professors, and intellectual discourse that I experienced at Wheaton prepared me for the challenges of graduate school. — Anna Chovanes Ryken '16