Green Leaf

The Geology, BA program aims to provide students with both high-quality conceptual knowledge and hands-on training in geology in preparation for careers within the earth-science field or for graduate studies in geology. 

This is a Green Leaf program


University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Undergraduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.


Students must fulfill all Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees including the Mason Core.

GEOL 317 Geomorphology fulfills the writing intensive requirement for this major.

For policies governing all undergraduate degrees, see AP.5 Undergraduate Policies.

Banner Code: SC-BA-GEOL

Degree Requirements

Total credits: minimum 120

This is a Green Leaf program.

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Candidates for a degree in geology must complete all courses with a minimum GPA of 2.50.

Geology Core

GEOL 101
GEOL 103
Physical Geology (Mason Core)
and Physical Geology Lab (Mason Core)
GEOL 102
GEOL 104
Historical Geology (Mason Core)
and Historical Geology Laboratory (Mason Core)
GEOL 302Mineralogy4
GEOL 304Sedimentary Geology4
GEOL 308Igneous and Metamorphic Petrology4
GEOL 312Invertebrate Paleontology4
GEOL 317Geomorphology 24
GEOL 401Structural Geology4
Six credits of6
Geological Field Techniques 3
Total Credits38

Fulfills writing-intensive requirement.


A 6-credit geology field camp may be substituted for this requirement; see advisor for details.


CHEM 211General Chemistry I (Mason Core)3
CHEM 213General Chemistry Laboratory I (Mason Core)1
Total Credits4


Select one from the following:4
College Physics I (Mason Core)
and College Physics I Lab (Mason Core)
University Physics I (Mason Core)
and University Physics I Laboratory (Mason Core)
Total Credits4


Select one from the following:3-4
Introductory Probability (Mason Core)
Linear Mathematical Modeling (Mason Core)
Analytic Geometry and Calculus I (Mason Core)
Total Credits3-4

Computer Science

GGS 311Geographic Information Systems3
Total Credits3

Program Courses

Students must take an additional 9 credits of GEOL or geology-related coursework. While any GEOL course numbered 300-499 is permissible if not used to fulfill other BA requirements, suggested courses include: 19
Field Mapping Techniques
Environmental Geology
Soil Science
Geology of Earth Resources
Geology of Energy Resources
Planetary Geology
Vertebrate Paleontology
Coastal Morphology and Processes
Marine Geology
Physical Oceanography
Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)
Great Events in Earth History
Chemical Oceanography
Total Credits9

Other relevant courses may be applied to the program with the approval of the program's director.

Mason Core and Elective Credits

In order to meet a minimum of 120 credits, this degree requires an additional 58-59 credits, which may be applied toward any remaining Mason Core requirements (outlined below), Requirements for Bachelor's Degrees, College Requirements for the BA Degree (outlined below), and elective courses. Students are strongly encouraged to consult with their advisors to ensure that they fulfill all requirements.

Mason Core

Some Mason Core requirements may already be fulfilled by the major requirements listed above. Students are strongly encouraged to consult their advisors to ensure they fulfill all remaining Mason Core requirements.

Students who have completed the following credentials are eligible for a waiver of the Foundation and Exploration (lower level) requirement categories. The Integration category (upper level) is not waived under this policy. See Admissions for more information. 

  • VCCS Uniform Certificate of General Studies
  • VCCS or Richard Bland Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Arts and Sciences (A.A.&S.), or Associate of Fine Arts (A.F.A.)
Foundation Requirements
Written Communication (ENGH 101)3
Oral Communication3
Quantitative Reasoning3
Information Technology and Computing3
Exploration Requirements
Global History3
Global Understanding3
Natural Science7
Social and Behavioral Sciences3
Integration Requirements
Written Communications (ENGH 302)3
Writing-Intensive 13
Synthesis/Capstone 23
Total Credits40

Most programs include the writing-intensive course designated for the major as part of the major requirements; this course is therefore not counted towards the total required for Mason Core.


Minimum 3 credits required.

College Requirements for the BA Degree

In addition to the program requirements and the Mason Core requirements, students pursuing a BA degree must complete the coursework below. Except where expressly prohibited, a course used to fulfill this college-level requirement may also be used simultaneously to satisfy other requirements such as Mason Core requirements, other college-level requirements, or requirements for the major. In some cases, the requirements listed below may be superseded by requirements of the degree program and the Mason Core.

Foundational Breadth

Choose two courses from approved Mason Core: Arts, Mason Core: Literature, Mason Core: Global Understanding, and Mason Core: Social and Behavioral Sciences courses in addition to those required by the Mason Core. The two courses used to fulfill the college-level requirements must each be from different Mason Core categories. Additionally, they must be from different disciplines than the courses used to fulfill the University Mason Core requirements.

Natural Science

Choose one credit in addition to the Mason Core: Natural Science requirement for a total of 8 credits1. This combined college-level and university requirement must be fulfilled by completing two of any approved Mason Core: Natural Science courses that include a laboratory experience2.

Select an additional Mason Core Natural Science course1

For Geography, BA majors, this extra credit is not required.


BIOL 124 Human Anatomy and Physiology and BIOL 125 Human Anatomy and Physiology may not be used to fulfill this requirement.

Foreign Language
Intermediate-level proficiency in one foreign language is required and may be fulfilled via one of the options below: 1
1. Completing a course in a foreign language numbered 202 (or its equivalent), or higher level courses taught in the language.
2. Achieving a satisfactory score on an approved proficiency test.
3. Completing a three course sequence in American Sign Language:
American Sign Language (ASL) I
American Sign Language (ASL) II
American Sign Language (ASL) III
4. Conferral of a baccalaureate degree. 2

Students who are already proficient in a second language may be eligible for a waiver of this requirement. Additional information on waivers can be found with the college's Office of Academic and Student Affairs.


This option is only available to students in the Biology, BA with a concentration in Biological Health who have already conferred a baccalaureate degree.

Honors in the Major

Earth science and geology majors who have completed 16 credits of math and science, including GEOL 302 Mineralogy with a GPA of 3.00 or higher are eligible to enter the departmental honors program. Transfer students who have an incoming GPA of 3.10 or higher in math and science and a grade of ‘B’ or better in GEOL 302 Mineralogy are also eligible. To graduate with honors in Earth Science, students are required to maintain a minimum GPA of 3.00 in math and science courses and complete one of the two following sets of courses with an average GPA of 3.50 or better:

First Set of Courses
GEOL 410Research Proposal Preparation1
GEOL 411Geological Research3
GEOL 420Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)3
Second Set of Courses
CLIM 408Senior Research3
CLIM 409Research Internship3
GEOL 420Earth Science and Policy (Mason Core)3

Bachelor's Degree (selected)/Environmental Science and Policy, Accelerated MS


This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain a Green Leaf-designated bachelor's degree and the Environmental Science and Policy, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 141-credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

The GRE exam is not required for this accelerated master's program.

Students should submit three letters of recommendation (at least one from a former professor or someone with a PhD), a recent resume, a statement of interest/research goals and interests (including information on the candidate's proposed MS research), and a letter from their advisor (Perspective Advisor Form) stating that the advisor agrees to take on the candidate as an MS student, how the candidate would be a good fit for them and why candidate's research topic would be suitable.

Students with an overall GPA of at least 3.20 who are pursuing any Green Leaf-designated major or minor may apply to this accelerated master's program after completing two semesters of chemistry (including CHEM 211 General Chemistry I (Mason Core) and CHEM 212 General Chemistry II (Mason Core) and three semesters of biology, including a course in ecology, or the equivalent, for example:

Select one of the following options:13
Option 1:
Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)
Biostatistics for Biology Majors
Foundations of Ecology and Evolution
Option 2:
Environmental Biology: Molecules and Cells
Environmental Science: Biological Diversity and Ecosystems
Environmental Science: Biomes and Human Dimensions
Environmental Microbiology Essentials
Environmental Microbiology Essentials Laboratory
Option 3:
Conservation Theory
Applied Conservation
6 credits of BIOL or CONS electives

Graduate Advisor

By at least the beginning of their senior year, students should seek out a faculty member in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy who is willing to serve as their advisor. This advisor will aid the student in choosing the appropriate graduate courses to take and help to prepare the student for graduate studies. Admission into a research-oriented master's concentration is dependent upon securing the agreement of a faculty advisor. Faculty from a variety of departments and colleges at George Mason University (called "program faculty") can serve as master's advisors. Potential students are encouraged to speak with the graduate program coordinator in the department to obtain guidance on this issue.

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in all graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

Reserve Graduate Credits

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate and graduate degrees plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

EVPP 518Conservation Biology3
EVPP 529Environmental Science Communication3
EVPP 621Overview of Biodiversity Conservation3
EVPP 635Environment and Society3

Geology, BA or BS/Curriculum and Instruction, Accelerated MEd (Secondary Education Earth Science Concentration)


Highly-qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BA or BS in Geology and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction (Secondary Education Earth Science concentration) in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 143 credits.

See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

This accelerated option is offered jointly by the Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Earth Sciences and the School of Education.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

BAM Pathway Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Policies and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to this accelerated master's program, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits, and additional unit-specific criteria.

Students who are accepted into the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits and course-specific pre-requisites.

Accelerated Master’s Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MEd program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor’s/Accelerated Master’s Transition form:

  • 3.0 overall GPA                                                      
  • Completion of specific undergraduate coursework          
  • Successfully meeting Mason’s requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation. 

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following which can be taken as Advanced Standing or Reserve Graduate credit (to be determined by the student and their advisor):

EDRD 619Literacy in the Content Areas3
EDUC 547Scientific Inquiry and the Nature of Science3
SEED 522Foundations of Secondary Education3
SEED 540Human Development and Learning: Secondary Education3
SEED 573Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED 673Advanced Methods of Teaching Science in the Secondary School3
SEED approved elective

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies.