About the Geoscience Program @ WSU Studying at Winona State University | Careers & Graduate Study | Curriculum | Facilities | Downloadable Information
Studying at Winona State University
Geoscience programs at Winona State University prepare students for a broad spectrum of careers and/or entry to graduate school through a discovery-based undergraduate curriculum rich with field and research opportunities. WSU is located on the beautiful Upper Mississippi River Valley, amid classic exposures of Early Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. This region is part of the "driftless zone" that escaped the direct effects of the last of the Pleistocene glaciers, which covered much of the rest of Minnesota. Sinkholes and cavern systems create challenging problems for the preservation of the relatively pristine but fragile groundwater of southeastern Minnesota. Just a short distance away are crystalline and volcanic rocks representing earlier stages of the assembly and attempted break-up of the North American continent. Winona State's proximity to these varied geologic terrains enables students to study geology in the field, complementing our modern, well-equipped classroom and laboratory facilities.
The Science Laboratory Center was completed in 2004 and is attached to the newly renovated Pasteur Hall. These new facilities offer unique opportunities for Geoscience students to learn and explore their field both in the classroom and around campus. Advanced geology classes average less than 15 students, providing many opportunities for student-faculty interaction. Qualified students can pursue internships, student-faculty research, and departmental honors. An active geology club provides additional educational opportunities through sponsorship of field trips and lectures.
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Careers & Graduate Study
WSU Geoscience graduates find jobs in a variety of geologically related fields. Alumni are employed throughout the United States, and many recent graduates are employed in the upper Midwest. Clusters of alumni in the Twin Cities and Chicago serve as a network for assisting graduates in finding employment. Opportunities in environmental geology are excellent, and continue to increase as land-use problems grow more acute. Position in the petroleum industry are becoming increasingly available as domestic exploration efforts increase in response to global economic pressure.
In recent years, roughly 40% of Geoscience graduates opt to enter the workforce, about 20% enter the teaching profession, and the remaining 40% pursue graduate study, recognizing that the master's degree enhances opportunities for advancement and long-term career stability. WSU Geoscience graduates have been accepted into graduate programs (and supported by assistantships and fellowships) at schools including M.I.T., University of Wisconsin at Madison, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa, Idaho State University, University of Southern California, University of Kansas, Purdue University, South Dakota School of Mines, Northern Arizona University and New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Internships and student-faculty research are highly valuable experiences in which Geoscience majors are participating in record numbers. Many are supported by faculty research grants, funds from WSU's SE Minnesota Water Resources Center, or external sources. Academic credit may be earned for internships and research.
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The Department offers degree programs leading to both the B.A. and the B.S. degree. These degree options prepare Geoscience majors for graduate school, professional employment, or secondary teaching. A Geoscience Minor is also offered. All programs provide students significant field and research opportunities. Both field and research skills are developed incrementally through the curriculum, so that students at all levels enjoy the opportunity to practice what they read about in textbooks. All students work with a faculty advisor from the department to plan their course of study. A departmental honors program is available to qualified students.
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Six teaching laboratories, three student-faculty research rooms, an outdoor rock garden, an indoor rock wall, a state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory and a well-equipped rock preparation laboratory comprise the WSU Geoscience facilities. The department houses excellent teaching collections of minerals, rocks, fossils, and maps. Other equipment available for student use, in classes or in independent research includes: 18 Nikon petrographic teaching microscopes, two Nikon petrographic research microscopes, a Nikon macroscope, a luminoscope, an X-ray diffractometer, a well-equipped sedimentology laboratory that houses two experimental flumes, and hydrogeology field equipment, including a drill rig, facilitate modern approaches to the solution of geologic problems. The department also shares the use of other analytical equipment with the Departments of Chemistry and Engineering. As a laptop institution, students have access to the latest computer technologies; a high-end GIS laboratory, housed in the Geoscience Department, is also available for student and classroom use.
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Copies of our department flyer and brochure are available online! Click here for the flyer (PowerPoint document) and here for the brochure (Word document).
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