Keystone logo
University of Hawaii, Hilo B.S. in Geology
University of Hawaii, Hilo

B.S. in Geology

Hilo, USA

4 Years


Full time

Request application deadline

Request earliest startdate

USD 20,304 / per year *


* per year


Explore scholarship opportunities to help fund your studies


The bachelor of science degree in geology is a rigorous program that prepares students for the graduate study of work as a professional geologist. The bachelor of arts degree is similar but is intended for students interested in careers in science education or natural resource management. Minors in geology and earth-space science are available for students who wish to major in marine science, astronomy, geography, or natural science.

photo of CSAV student with lava The Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) is a training and outreach program established by the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 1989. Located in the UH Hilo Geology Building, CSAV's mission is to provide training and information on volcanic and natural hazards that occur in Hawaiʻi and worldwide. This is done through a variety of programs: public outreach, including visits to schools and the presentation of public lectures and symposia; a summer program training scientists from developing nations in techniques in volcanic hazards monitoring and response; several research projects; and the production of public informational programs on natural hazards preparedness and response for Hawaiʻi residents.

Geology is the study of the earth: its form and composition, the changes it has undergone and the dynamic forces shaping it today. Geologists are interested in what makes volcanoes erupt, what forces produce mountain ranges, where earthquakes occur and how they can be predicted, how glaciers carve out the landscape, and where petroleum and minerals can be located.

The mission of the UH Hilo Geology Department is to provide students with a rigorous, high-quality foundation in geological science. The primary goal is to prepare students for graduate studies, work as professional geologists, or careers in secondary education, planning, or natural resource management. The Geology Department also supports the liberal arts mission of the University by providing general education students with a broader knowledge of their natural environment. Although delivery of quality undergraduate education is the focus of the Department’s efforts, the Department also supports and contributes to the advancement of scientific knowledge, application of geologic knowledge, and community education and service.

The Geology program exposes students to the theory and application of a wide range of disciplines within the geosciences. The curriculum focuses on the composition, structure, history and dynamics of the Earth. Students will acquire a strong background in the basic sciences as they address geological problems using the tools of chemistry, physics, and mathematics. Hilo’s unique natural setting on the slope of an active volcano makes it an ideal place to experience firsthand the more dynamic aspects of geology.

Both laboratory and field activities are important components of the program, and students can expect to develop their descriptive, analytical and interpretive skills. Students are advised that field trips are sometimes conducted outside of class hours.

The study of geology prepares students for careers in environmental science, natural resources, and scientific research on diverse topics including volcanism and hydrology. Many of the students graduating from the B.S. program go on to pursue graduate degrees.

Goals for Student Learning in the Major


Both the B.S. and B.A. programs in Geology are designed to lead to student mastery of basic concepts and vocabulary in the following areas:

  • Plate tectonics
  • Origin and classification of rocks and minerals
  • Geological time scale and how this relates to major events in the history of Earth and its life
  • Geophysical properties of the Earth and crustal deformation
  • Processes that shape the surface of the Earth
  • Environmental hazards and issues


Graduates are also expected to:

  • Develop skills in observing and recording geologic features and processes.
  • Develop competency in the interpretation of earth science data, including both qualitative and quantitative analyses.
  • Express earth science concepts in writing.
  • Become proficient at:
    • Locating and interpreting scientific literature
    • Giving oral presentations
    • Using computers at a level consistent with current professional practice.

Special Aspects of the Program

The Department’s laboratories, classrooms, and support facilities have been designed to house a complete and state-of-the-art geology program. Laboratory facilities include those for rock preparation, mineralogy and petrology, wet chemistry, seismic monitoring, and a geographic information system (GIS) computer laboratory.

Students also have access to instruments and computers used for volcano monitoring through the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV), which is a training and outreach program associated with the Geology Department. CSAV’s mission is to provide training and information on volcanic and natural hazards that occur in Hawaiʻi and worldwide. Instruments available to the Geology program through CSAV include Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, total field station and EDM instruments, precise leveling instruments, portable seismometers, and gas geochemical instruments.

The Geology Club is an active student organization that provides field experiences and interaction with other individuals with an interest in geology.

B.S. in Geology Requirements

Group 1. General Education Basic, Area, and Integrative Requirements in effect Fall 2011

Students may choose to graduate under the General Education Basic, Area, and Integrative requirements and graduation requirements in force at the time they entered the UH System, when they entered UH Hilo, or when they graduate, provided there is no break in enrollment.

Students should meet with their academic advisor to ensure that they enroll in courses that will enable them to meet these requirements as well as requirements for the major and for graduation. Some courses may meet both General Education requirements and major requirements.

Group 2. Major Requirements and Assigned Credits (73 credits)

All required Courses in GEOL in Group 2, Major Requirements, must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.

  1. Required Courses from Geology
    • GEOL 111-111L Understanding the Earth (3), Understanding the Earth Lab (1)
    • GEOL 112-112L Hist of the Earth & Its Life (3), History of the Earth Lab (1)
    • GEOL 212 Earth Materials I: Minerals (4)
    • GEOL 320 Erth Mat II: Igneous/Meta Rock (4)
    • GEOL 330 Deformation of the Earth (4)
    • GEOL 340 Sedimentary Processes (4)
    • GEOL 342 Earth Surface Processes (3)
    • GEOL 370 Field Methods (3)
    • GEOL 445 GIS for Geology (3) or GEOL 450 Geological Remote Sensing (3)
    • GEOL 495A-495B Seminar (1), Seminar (1)
    • And nine additional semester hours in GEOL courses at the 300- or 400-level. (9)
  2. Required Courses from Related Fields
    • CHEM 161-161L General Chemistry I (3), General Chemistry I Lab (1)
    • CHEM 162-162L General Chemistry II (3), General Chemistry II Lab (1)
    • ENG 225 Writing for Sci & Technology (3)
    • MATH 241 Calculus I (4)
    • MATH 242 Calculus II (4)
    • PHYS 170-170L Gen Phys I: Mechanics (4), Gen Phys I Lab (1)
    • PHYS 272-272L Gen Phys II: Elec & Magnetism (4), Gen Phys II Lab (1)

Total Semester Hours Required for the B.S. in Geology

120 credits required.


  1. Students must earn at least a 2.0 GPA in courses required for the major.
  2. At least 32 credits must be earned in courses at the 300- or 400-level. Courses in Group 2 supply 32 of these credits.
  3. Students preparing for graduate school should consider taking a summer field course in Geology and possibly MATH 300 Ordinary Diff Equations (3) (Ordinary Differential Equations), CS 150 Intro To Computer Science I (3) (Introduction to Computer Science), or PHYS 260 Computational Physics & Astron (3) (Computational Physics and Astronomy).
  4. To earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology, students must fulfill the requirements for the major and meet all of the University’s other baccalaureate degree requirements.
  5. Students wishing to make timely progress toward graduation are urged to pay careful attention to all degree requirements.
  6. In addition, when planning a schedule of courses, it is imperative to be aware of course prerequisites and the frequency with which courses are offered. This information is available in the course listings in this Catalog.
  7. To ensure progress toward degree completion, students are urged to meet with an advisor each semester before registering.

About the School


Similar Courses

  • Bachelor in Geography
    • Suva, Fiji
  • B.A. in Geography
    • Chicago, USA
  • B.A. in Geology with a major in Earth Science
    • Harrisonburg, USA