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Geological Sciences

  • Available as major (B.S. degree) and minor 

    Study the Earth, its composition, structure and physical elements. Discover more about the Earth’s past and present, and make predictions about its future. Become a professional in the field of geology.

  • Your love for the beauty and wonder of our natural world may be drawing you to the field of geology. Study God’s natural creation, including rocks, minerals, water, fossils, economic resources, caves, oceans and the atmosphere. Almost any subject related to our planet Earth connects with geology.

    Your degree program in Geological Sciences at Olivet is a balance of theory, laboratory skills and techniques, extensive field experiences and research. A wide background of study prepares you for a variety of careers in industry, government and education.

    Olivet is one of only three Christian universities offering a recognized major in geological sciences.

    Find everything you need for classroom learning and research at Olivet.

    • rock lab
    • excellent collections of rocks, minerals and fossils 
    • extensive map and library holdings

    Equipment available for you to use in your studies includes: 

    • various microscopes
    • exploration seismograph
    • electrical resistivity apparatus
    • X-ray power diffractometer
    • spatial digitizer
    • computerized surveying laser
    • high-tech GPS units
    • computer mapping with GIS
    • hydrological equipment
    • microcomputer
    • geologic software collection
    • mobile environmental chemistry field kit
    • 12-inch reflecting telescope
    • solar telescope
    • computerized weather system

    At Olivet, you can:    

    • Study physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, computer science and engineering, and find out how they relate to geology.
    • Learn about the processes that formed — and continue to change — the Earth’s surface and interior.
    • Explore the structure and origin of the universe using the resources of Strickler Planetarium and the Observatory at Reed Hall of Science.
    • Go on a field trip to study the fossil record of life on earth.
    • Grow in your knowledge and use of geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS).
    • Sharpen your skills in the techniques of microscopy.
    • Develop your writing, research and data analysis skills.
    • Practice oral communication as you give presentations of your research.
    • Work individually and in collaboration with other students and faculty.
    • and so much more!

    Field work is key in geological sciences. The best geologists are those who have seen the most diverse geological settings. At Olivet, you will have many opportunities for discovery and learning in the field. Most of our courses include multi-day field trips to geologically important regions, such as Canada, the Appalachian Mountains and locations in Illinois and adjacent states. Two-week field trips to locations in the Southwest provide a variety of sites for additional learning.


    Most courses also include a significant lab component using our excellent collections of rocks, minerals, fossils and maps.

    Putting knowledge to work

    ACCA (Associated Colleges of the Chicago Areas) Student Symposium: Design and do an independent research project, prepare an abstract and then give an oral presentation of your results at this annual symposium.

    Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program with the National Science Foundation (NSF): Active research opportunities at major universities for undergraduate students in any of the areas of research funded by NSF. REU projects involve students in meaningful ways in ongoing research programs or in research projects specifically designed for the REU program. Recently, Olivet students participated in research experiences at Vanderbilt University and Baylor University.

    Two research options offered by Olivet for science and mathematics students:


    • Pence-Boyce Research Program Fellowships — Named to honor two Olivet professors, Elbert Pence (physics) and Fannie Boyce (mathematics), and funded by alumni and friends of Olivet
    • Olivet Research Associates Program – Set up to fund research in science and mathematics. Work with a faculty member on a forward-looking, 10-week research project during the summer. Projects may be theoretical, lab or field studies. Receive a stipend so you can work full time on your project.

    Olivet Geological Society: Established in 1995, this group provides you and other geological sciences students with activities that have a geological and Christian emphasis. Be part of field trips to state parks in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri, and the prairie restoration project at nearby Perry Farm.

    GeoCorps America: This is a program of The Geological Society of America, in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and National Park Service. It offers paid short-term geoscience positions in some of the most beautiful natural areas in the world. Project areas include: geology, hydrology, paleontology, mapping and GIS, minerals, soils, glaciology, geo-hazards, karst, education, interpretation and more. Positions are divided into three major categories: Standard, Guest Scientist and Diversity Internships.


    A career in geological sciences might be right for you, if you:

    • Are interested in studying earth processes, materials and history
    • Prepare reports easily
    • Do calculations for relaxation
    • Are adept at using computers and other technology
    • Appreciate natural events, like earthquakes and tsunamis
    • Look forward to travel and being away from home for periods of time
    • Are analytical and inquisitive
    • Love the outdoors and doesn’t mind getting dirty or wet
    • Consider yourself a hands-on person
    • Have an independent streak
    • Are concerned about “big issue” problems facing our world

    Demand for geologists continues to be strong and will grow stronger as the economy improves. Increasing environmental concerns; government regulations; and crises in energy, water, natural hazards and mineral resources are driving the demand for geology professionals.

    Be prepared to interface with a variety of industries and businesses, such as insurance companies, real estate firms, sales companies, manufacturers and many more. They will value your expertise in analysis and knowledge about the Earth.

    Possible careers include: consultant, professor, paleontologist, mineralogist, hydrogeologist, hydrologist, marine geologist, oceanographer, paleoecologist, petroleum geologist, planetary geologist, sedimentologist, soil scientist, stratigrapher, structural geologist, volcanologist, research geologist, seismologist, exploration geologist, atmospheric scientist, economic geologist, environmental geologist, geochemist, geochronologist, geologist, geomorphologist, geophysicist, glacial geologist, museum scientist, attorney

    Possible employers include: environmental service companies; water resource development companies; engineering firms; oil, gas and mining companies; federal and state government agencies; private consulting companies; museums; state and national parks; public and private schools; universities and colleges

    Geological Sciences is part of the Department of Chemistry and Geoscience within the College of Arts and Sciences. 

  • Geological Science Right Image
    Olivet is one of only three Christian universities offering a recognized major in geological sciences.