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Geology Program Information


Geology courses at Irvine Valley College provide academic instruction in basic geological concepts and theories, and provide a solid foundation for students' preparing for further academic study of the discipline.

Introductory courses range from survey courses in earth science, to field geology courses that explore California and our national parks and monuments, to the study of natural hazards. More specialized courses examine the physical and biological evolution of the planet Earth, and rocks and minerals found in its crust. The curriculum also includes a wide range of popular field courses within California and other areas in western North America.


The course requirements for a major in geology are intended to provide a solid foundation for a variety of student needs. Students pursuing the major may meet transfer requirements for a baccalaureate institution by completing the Associate in Arts in Geology. Students pursuing the major may meet transfer requirements for a four-year college or university; or they may complete an Associate in Arts degree in geology. For those who intend to pursue upper-division or graduate study, introductory courses in the other sciences are recommended and are necessary in addition to the core courses required for the major. 

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the geology program, students will be able to

  • Identify the major rock-forming minerals, and classify the three types of rocks.
  • Locate and identify the major lithospheric plates and plate boundaries.
  • Evaluate earthquake and volcanic activity on global and local scales, and relate this activity to plate tectonic processes.
  • Identify and discuss the major evolutionary changes that define the divisions of the geologic time scale.

Potential Careers (For Non-Transfer Degree Recipients)

Examples of careers for the geology major include the following:

  • City or County Geologist
  • Engineering Geologist
  • Environmental Geologist
  • Exploration Geologist with an oil or mineral's company
  • Geology teacher

Employment Outlook

Those who complete a bachelor's or advanced degree in Earth science, geology, geophysics, or oceanography are likely to find employment in any of many specialty fields of endeavor. Most geologists and geophysicists work in finding and producing energy resources and minerals, including petroleum, gas, metallic minerals, and non-metallic minerals. Many geologists find employment with governmental agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; state agencies, including state and regional water quality control boards; and local governments. Others work with consulting firms, solving problems associated with mitigating hazards and addressing problems associated with pollution. Research opportunities abound in government agencies and universities in many fields of expertise. At the time they graduate, most geologists find multiple employment opportunities working in developing energy resources or minimizing natural hazards for society. The employment outlook is excellent for graduates in the Earth sciences.

Job Opportunities

Career positions and occupations vary widely in the Earth sciences. These are but a few of the potential positions that would offer good career potential:

  • Engineering geologist
  • Environmental geologist
  • Exploration geologist with an oil company
  • Exploration geologist with a minerals company
  • Production geologist
  • Marine geologist
  • Park naturalist
  • Research geologist
  • Paleontologist
  • State Geological Survey geologist
  • County geologist
  • City geologist
  • Science teacher
  • Professor