Jul 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Bulletin 
2022-2023 Undergraduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED PUBLICATION]

Geology and Physics

Geology and Physics

The Geology major provides students with skills and knowledge that prepare them for a career in the field or the pursuit of an advanced degree in the discipline.

Environmental Science

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary approach to studying the interactions of humans with their natural and built environment. This degree program at USI provides students with a rigorous introduction to, and survey of, the hydrologic cycle as it pertains to human-environment interactions, connections of the geosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere, use and exploitation of natural resources, environmental impact of growing population and energy needs, and the ability to integrate important scientific principles across disciplines. The study of ecological interactions as well as threats to the quantity of water resources available and its quality are explored in this degree program. Lastly, students will study economics, ethics, public policy, sociology, and sustainability to better understand our evolving view of and response to the natural world.

Students enrolled in the Environmental Science degree program will develop, analysis, and decision making skills for assessment and management of the environment. These students will also be exposed to the state-of-the-art measurement and analytical techniques for measuring contaminants in water and biological materials in the environment. Students earning an Environmental Science degree at USI are well prepared for graduate and professional schools, as well as exciting careers in natural resources, consulting firms and industries specializing in water resources, government agencies responsible for regulation and management of energy, land use planning, and not-for-profit organizations.

Geosciences (Geology, Geography)

Geology is the science that permits us to understand the Earth’s past and present, and strive to predict its future. It is a field-oriented science that is observational, theoretical, and applied. Geologists at USI are trained to investigate how and why mountains, glaciers, and other natural processes evolve. We deal with issues and problems of concern to society such as climate change, pollution, and earthquakes. Knowledge of geology is an essential component for making informed decisions about regulation, protection, and development of our natural environment.

The geology program at USI is designed to develop observational, reasoning, and analytical skills that students can apply throughout life. It exposes students to the spectrum of earth materials, processes, and techniques related to the study of Earth. Curricular topics include rocks, minerals, and fossils, near-surface processes such as landslides, soil erosion, surface water, ground water, weather and climate, tectonic processes such as mountain building, earthquakes, and volcanism, and applied processes and techniques such as land use analysis and remediation, oil and gas exploration, oceanography, air photo interpretation, and geographic information systems. The practice of geology draws heavily upon knowledge gained from the study of chemistry, physics, biology, and mathematics. Because of the broad training our graduates receive, they are well-prepared for careers both directly and indirectly related to geology. Some career options require a graduate degree, and USI geology faculty members encourage students to continue their education beyond the bachelor’s degree.


Physics is the study of the most basic laws of nature. Physics describes such phenomena as electricity, light, sound, magnetism, forces, energy, and heat. It is useful to all well-educated individuals, as well as being required of all science majors. Beginning physics is taught at three different levels at the University in order to accommodate students with diverse backgrounds and goals. The following majors and minors are available:

   Biophysics major Biophysics minor
   Physics major (4 possible tracks) Physics minor
        • Traditional track  
        • Teaching track  
        • Applied track  
        • Computational track  


    Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of ScienceBachelor of ScienceMinor