If trekking mountain and valley terrain looking for clues to the earth’s past, present and future sounds intriguing, the Wilkes University geology major can open a variety of career options to you.
Geoscientists explore the history of the planet, look for ways to responsibly use its resources, and restore and reclaim degraded lands.
Wilkes University’s curriculum, which leads to a bachelor of science degree, combines fundamentals of a traditional geology program with modern elements desired by industry. The program prepares students for graduate school and meets state requirements for professional licensure. A professional geologist license opens career opportunities and makes you more competitive in the job market.
The program includes coursework in geospatial technology, giving you hands-on experience with industry-standard instruments and computer software to prepare you for professional-grade field investigations. These tools, which include geographic information system s, global positioning systems and remote sensing, allow you to map and analyze the earth. Program courses in hydrogeology, geomorphology, geologic hazards and applied geophysics highlight specialty areas important to the modern geoscientist. At Wilkes you can also pursue a complementary minor in energy or certificate in sustainability.
You’ll work closely with expert professors, including licensed geologists, who bring experience in tracking volcanic activity in the Yellowstone National Park, siting wells for the Peace Corps in developing countries, and analyzing lake sediments that reveal patterns of Arctic climate change. Wilkes’ emphasis on mentoring goes beyond one-on-one attention with faculty; mentoring grants fund field experiences and student attendance at professional conferences.
During your yearlong senior capstone project, you’ll work to solve a real-world problem, using equipment in the field and laboratory, refining skills in professional writing and presenting to faculty, fellow students and community partners. Many Wilkes students go on to present research findings at a Geological Society of America regional meeting. Your capstone, coupled with targeted study in mineral, water and energy resources, geologic and geo-environmental hazards, and applied geophysics, enhances graduates’ marketability to potential employers.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of geoscientists, a category that includes geologists, is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations.
Median annual wage for geoscientists was $89,700 in 2015.
Scientists with expertise in geology serve in a variety of capacities to improve the quality of human life:
- geologic hazards assessment (volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, landslides);
- minerals and energy resource evaluation (metals, fossil fuels, geothermal services);
- water resources management (developing new groundwater sources, evaluating movement of surface and groundwater);
- environmental problem solving (global climate change, hazardous and radioactive waste disposal, soil and groundwater pollution, and land use management).
Geology graduates find employment in a variety of professional settings, including:
- engineering firms
- mining and energy companies
- environmental firms
- nonprofit organizations
Geoscientists enjoy a diverse work experience that includes field work, laboratory analysis, community engagement, and time in the office.
The 72,500-square-foot Cohen Science Center features state-of-the-art equipment and related laboratory space for hands-on, experiential learning – a hallmark of the Wilkes experience. The third floor is dedicated to research laboratories for geology, biology, chemistry and environmental research, encouraging interdisciplinary connections and faculty-student interactions on teams.
The Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences Department houses the following labs that are used solely for undergraduate teaching and research:
- Environmental Chemistry
- Rock and Mineral
- Geology and Soil
- Air Quality
- Water Quality/Wastewater
- Geographic Information System (GIS)
- Stratigraphy and Sedimentation
Wilkes University’s geology program provides field and laboratory research opportunities. This gives students hands-on learning opportunities not always available to students at larger institutions.
Instrumentation students use includes:
- X-ray diffractometer
- atomic absorption spectrometer
- flame spectrometer
- polarizing microscope
- ion chromatograph
- gas chromatograph (housed in the Department of Chemistry)
- PerkinElmer spectrofluorometer (housed in the Department of Chemistry)
- Hitachi scanning spectrometer (housed in the Department of Chemistry)
- automated Tedelyne Isco samplers
Our expert faculty bring expertise and practical knowledge in:
- oil, gas and mineral exploration
- geologic hazards
- surface and groundwater resources
- climate change
- environmental consulting
- mine reclamation
- geo-environmental hazards
“Geology makes you look at the world through different eyes. You don’t just see mountains, rivers and road cuts along highways. The world around you becomes infinitely interesting and amazing when you understand the processes that govern it. Geology is a very physical and hands-on field of study. You aren’t just seeing pictures and learning theory. There is plenty of field and lab experience where you are able to see and feel what you are being taught in class.”
Benjamin Rice ’15
Radon Testing and Mitigation Technician
JMSI Environmental Corp.
“I really enjoyed learning about GPS, GIS and mapping. So many aspects of our lives are dependent on these technologies anymore, and it was so interesting to learn the mechanics of GPS and how to read topographical maps. Geology is a fantastic area of science to study, and there are so many different fields to get involved in.”
Michael McCarroll ’15
Graduate student in applied geoscience and hydrogeology
University of Pennsylvania
The Industrial Advisory Council comprises professional geoscientists from industry, government agencies and the nonprofit sector. Council members ensure that the curriculum is relevant and current and advises the department on industry trends, emerging areas of interest, and professional development opportunities. Members include Wilkes alumni and employers of our graduates.
- Thomas Walski, Ph.D., P.E., Bentley Systems (Council Coordinator)
- Dino Agustini, P.E., Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
- Chris Belleman, P.E., Luzerne Country Engineers Office
- Brent Berger, Quad Three Group
- James J. Brozena, P.E., CFM, Brozena Consulting Services
- Steve Cannizzaro, General Dynamics
- Angelika B. Forndran, P.E., Cowan Associates Inc.
- Lori Girvan, P.G. ’00, Barry Isett & Associates Inc.
- Jeremiah Hoagland ’01, The Crossroads Group
- Natalie O'Connor ’98, Alfred Benesch & Company
- Matthew Peleschak, P.E. ’99, Systems Design Engineering
- Janet Warnick, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection