Geology and Environmental Geosciences

Geoscience provides curious, creative problem solvers with a way to better understand, appreciate, preserve, protect, and wisely utilize the world around them. Geoscientists care about the environment. They understand that the Earth is a system, and that humans impact the natural world on which we depend for our survival. Geoscientists contribute to society by designing and conducting the research on which environmental advocacy and wise public policy are built.

Conduct Research with Global Connections and Impact

Students in geology and environmental geosciences have conducted research in Antarctica, Peru, Australia, Mexico, and all across the United States. Whether it is understanding the chemical, physical and mechanical interactions that connect “fracking” and earthquakes, or investigating climate change by sending remotely operated submarines beneath a kilometer of floating Antarctic ice, geoscience students work closely with faculty to describe, monitor and predict Earth system behavior that affects the whole of society.  If you enjoy integrative, real-world problem solving, geoscience is the place for you.


We maintain an extensive suite of computer, analytical and exploratory equipment for use by faculty and students. Departmental labs and equipment include everything from a scanning electron microscope (SEM) that analyzes the composition, surface geometry and other characteristics of minerals and microfossils, to a remotely operated submarine that investigates the interactions between sediment, ice and water at the ends of tidewater glaciers and beneath floating ice shelves.


Students may choose from over 50 different courses in our graduate and undergraduate programs. Topics range from groundwater flow to volcanology, earthquake seismology, plate tectonics, geochemistry and paleontology. We bring the most cutting-edge science to the classroom, and then supplement that experience with hands-on experiences, field trips and laboratory research work.

Career Preparation Course

Our Geoscience Career Preparation course (GEOL 200) will jump start your professional network of employer connections, and help you develop the professional and technical skills necessary to land the job you want, or gain admission to the graduate school of your dreams. The one credit course is offered each fall semester.

Degree Information

Our undergraduate program leads to a Bachelor of Science in geology and environmental geosciences, and gives students the choice of specializing in one of three emphases:

  • Geology

  • Environmental Geoscience

  • Earth Science Education

Guide to choosing an emphasis 

Requirements for all emphases include an introductory geoscience class and 16 hours of 300-level, core courses. Additional program and emphasis requirements can be found in the NIU Undergraduate Catalog.

Geology field camp 2016

Who Studied Geology?

  • Colin Powell, former Secretary of State, retired four-star general in the United States Army

  • Herbert Hoover, 31st President of the United States

  • Charles Darwin, British naturalist, author of On the Origin of Species

  • Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator Cynthia Carroll, former CEO of Anglo American PLC, the world's largest producer of platinum 

Contact Information

Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences

Davis Hall 312

(815) 753-1943

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