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Colorado’s majestic mountains. The high plains, mesas and canyonlands. The state’s energy and mineral wealth. Gold, silver and diamonds. Dinosaurs, crystals and fossils. Even supervolcanoes! Learn about all of it on an urban campus surrounded by these natural wonders.

As an MSU Denver bachelor of science Applied Geology student, you will study the mysteries of the Earth and more through multiple disciplines, developing your knowledge of Geology, Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science and Geographic Information Systems in small classes under the guidance of passionate professors committed to your success.

In typical MSU Denver fashion, your education won’t be all about classroom work. Your Applied Geology program will also include fieldwork courses, a geology internship and undergraduate research projects where you will investigate geological problems in the field or lab. MSU Denver student work has included the discovery of a new kimberlite, the source rock for diamonds in Northern Colorado, the mapping of rock glaciers in the Colorado mountains and international research in Ireland and Germany.

By combining this strong foundation in geological studies with relevant experiences, you will graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to start a geoscientific career or pursue graduate studies.

Program Options

As an MSU Denver student interested in Applied Geology, you can choose from the following programs:

B.S. in Applied Geology
B.S. in Environmental Science
B.A. in Geography
B.S. in Geospatial Sciences
B.S. in Meteorology
Minor in Environmental Science
Minor in Environmental Studies
Minor in Geology
Minor in Geographic Information Systems

Benefits of Earning Your Degree at MSU Denver

As an Applied Geology student you can also get involved in one of several career-related student organizations such as the American Association of Petroleum Geologists Student Chapter, the American Institute of Professional Geologists and the Association of Women Geoscientists. We have one of the most active geoscience student organizations in the nation and have received the prestigious “Student Chapter of the Year Award” from the American Association of Professional Geologists in 2016. These campus organizations provide excellent networking and career-discovery opportunities.

Career Opportunities for Our Graduates

Image of geology careers

Your program in Applied Geology will prepare you for post-graduate study in a geology-related area in addition to careers such as the following:

  • Exploration geologist
  • Forensic geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Geodesist
  • Geophysicist
  • Geoscientist
  • Hydrologist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Mining geologists
  • Petroleum geologist
  • Paleontologist
  • Physical oceanographer
  • Planetary geologist
  • Quarrying
  • Surveying and mapping
  • Volcanologist

Learn more about Applied Geography careers.

Geology Career Outlook

The outlook for geoscientific careers is outstanding. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median pay for geoscientists in 2015 was $89,700 and the field is expected to grow at a rate of 10 percent per year through 2024.

Hear from our students:

“I made my second attempt at college at MSU Denver. I enrolled as a Biology major/Geology minor, because I was interested in pursuing an academic career in Geochemistry and Geomicrobiology. After graduating, I worked for the BLM and USGS, and then I attended Montana State University and earned an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in Geology.”

Scott Montross, MSU Denver ’02, is a postdoctoral researcher at the National Energy Technology Laboratory.


 Uwe Richard Kackstaetter_Applied GeologyUwe Richard Kackstaetter

Associate Professor Uwe Richard Kackstaetter is the inventor of the MSU Denver Stone and Mineral Identification Kit, which allows students and rock hounds to identify stones and minerals using a special process involving density. His professional expertise on two continents ranges from environmental testing and geohydrologic investigations to minerals and igneous research, including volcanoes. He specializes in Applied Geology and Mineralogy and is considered the “hard rock” (mining and minerals) geologist in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Kackstaetter is the recipient of the 2014 MSU Denver Faculty Senate Teaching in Excellence Award.


 Barbara EchoHawk_Applied GeologyBarbara EchoHawk

Associate Professor Barbara EchoHawk is an expert on high-resolution stratigraphy, engineering geology, energy and minerals and the geology of Colorado and Wyoming. She is a strong advocate for “whole person learning,” teaching geology as a second language and social justice in geology. Her expertise and field studies revolve around sedimentary geology and stratigraphic questions, and she is therefore the “soft rock” specialist in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. EchoHawk received the 2016 MSU Denver Faculty Senate Teaching in Excellence Award.


Learn more about MSU Denver Applied Geology faculty.

Alumni at Work

Applied Geology alumni from MSU Denver have gone on to work at these organizations:

Colorado School of Mines
United States Geological Survey
Environmental Protection Agency
Freeport-McMoRan Climax Molybdenum Mine
Arizona Gold Mine Developer and Owner
Commercial Petrographic Thin Sectioning
Newmont Mining Corp. Cripple Creek-Victor Gold Mine
Schlumberger (petroleum)
Kumar and Associates (civil/geotechnical engineering)

MSU Geology graduates have been accepted for post-graduate study at:

  • Colorado School of Mines
  • Colorado State University
  • University of Colorado
  • Montana State University
  • University of Colorado Denver
  • University of New Mexico
  • University of Northern Colorado
  • University of Kansas
  • University of Wyoming

Sample Classes

Image of professor teacher in geology class

Choose from a wide array of Applied Geology courses including those pertaining to Colorado’s own unique geologic history.

Energy and Mineral Resources
Garden of the Gods Geology
Geology of Red Rocks
Geology of the Colorado Plateau
Soil Resources
Stratigraphy and Structure
Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology
Undergraduate Research

International Geology field courses take MSU Denver students to Ireland, Italy, the European Alps of Germany, Switzerland and Austria and many other places. MSU Denver is also one of the few universities in the nation to offer field coursework in Applied Volcanology, taking students on a 4,000-mile round trip to Yellowstone, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Crater Lake and the Lassen Volcanic fields. Planned field visits include some of the most active volcanoes on the planet in Italy.

Facilities and Resources

The Earth and Atmospheric Sciences Department, which houses the Applied Geology program, has two Geology teaching labs, an integrated science lab, a prep room, map library, x-ray lab, undergraduate research lab, a meteorology computer lab, a meteorology classroom and two Geographic Information Systems classrooms equipped with ESRI and ENVI software. Students may obtain ArcGIS software for use while enrolled in GIS classes. Petra Geologic subsurface mapping software is also available via an educational grant.


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