Geology is the study of the Earth and how it works. Specifically, geologists seek to answer questions as diverse as “How did this mountain form?” and “When will this volcano erupt again?” to “How do we provide clean drinking water?” Geologists work at the interface between human-kind and the Earth, and are on the front line in solving a multitude of energy and environmental issues. Geologists use knowledge of math, chemistry, physics, and biology to answer these questions and gain first-hand experience working in the field. Graduates are employed by governments, oil and mining companies, and environmental firms.

Fast Facts

  • The geology department leads one large trip per year for students. Past trips have gone to Death Valley National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Costa Rica, as well as Italy and Greece

  • Geologists play a prominent role in the discovery and utilization of Earth's resources as well as in protecting the environment. To do this, they travel all around the world performing work at sea, on the top of mountains, in deserts, in underground caves, and in laboratories

  • Mercyhurst geology majors routinely present their original research at national conferences and have been internationally recognized for their efforts

  • The Mercyhurst Geology Club leads multiple field trips a year to go fossil and mineral collecting in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and New York

Learning Outcomes

  • Explain the paradigms that shape current geologic thought (e.g., plate tectonics)
  • Explain the concept of geologic time and detail the geologic time scale for the Earth
  • Explain the processes that have shaped and continue to shape the Earth
  • Identify significant geologic features on the Earth and place them into their appropriate geologic context
  • Identify common rocks and minerals found on and inside the Earth using hand samples and thin sections
  • Associate common rocks and minerals found on and inside the Earth with their appropriate geologic context
  • Formulate and communicate an effective scientific argument through written and oral means
  • Demonstrate the ability to organize and conduct geology-related field and laboratory work

Why Geology?

Students majoring in Geology will be preparing themselves to take an active role in the utilization of the earth's resources while protecting its fragile environment. Course work involves hands-on use of modern laboratory equipment and extensive projects out in the field. The faculty combines the use of small class sizes and abundant travel opportunities with a commitment to involving students in ongoing geological projects that involve both local and far-ranging locales. The curricula are designed with three primary objectives:

  • Prepare students for entry level employment with consulting and engineering companies that concentrate on environmental problems
  • Prepare students for entry level employment in federal, state, and municipal environmental agencies
  • Prepare students that enter graduate programs in the branch of geology of their choosing in preparation for university teaching or upper level employment with private companies or governmental agencies

The Department offers courses leading to the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees in Geology or Geology. To be recommended for graduation, students must earn at least a 2.5 GPA in their major concentration. A student also must earn a grade of at least C in any Geology course that is taken to fulfill a degree requirement. One must earn at least a D in each required cognate.

State Authorization

This program may fulfill a portion of the requirements leading to licensure within this field. Please visit the State Authorization webpage to review the requirements for licensure by state or program.


Geology courses at Mercyhurst include field components that get the students outside doing actual geology. This includes Field Methods in Geology, which is a multi-week field intensive course typically conducted in the western United States.


The number of geology jobs is predicted to increase by 34 percent over the next ten years. The average salary for a geologist is about $70,000 per year.


Students have found employment with the PA Department of Environmental Protection, US Park Service, Bureau of Land Management (via AmeriCorps), and regional environmental remediation firms.