College of the Siskiyous

Mount Shasta from the northwest, January 2002


Geology is the study of the Earth. Geologists apply a wide range of scientific ideas and techniques to understand both the processes that are changing the planet today as well as those that have shaped it—and the life it supports—during the past 4.6 billion years. Geologists play key roles in helping society manage Earth resources, assess the threats posed by geologic hazards and understand the rapid changes now occurring in the planet's environment. All of these issues are expected to become more critical as Earth's human population grows, which is why the geoscience workforce is predicted to increase faster (14%) during the coming decade than the overall U.S. workforce (11%). Please check with a counselor for specific transfer requirements.

Program Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this program, the student should be able to:

  • Correctly identify a variety of common rocks and minerals and explain what each tells us about the geologic processes that produced it.
  • Establish the timing of the geologic events that have shaped a region, as depicted on a geologic map or cross-section, by applying relative and absolute dating principles.
  • Distinguish the three types of boundaries that separate Earth's lithosphere plates and explain how the stress at each is related to the deformation, seismicity and volcanism observed there.
  • Sketch a cross-section of Earth's interior and explain how the contrasting properties of different regions have enabled us to map the planet's internal structure and link processes there to those occurring at the surface.
  • Recognize common landforms from their depictions on topographic maps and analyze how each is formed through interactions between constructional processes and erosion caused by the movements of water, wind and ice.
  • Correctly identify a variety of common fossils, describe the place of each in the history of life and explain how fossils, collectively, enable us to assess the roles that natural selection and environmental change have played in shaping life on Earth.
  • Apply principle of actualism to infer past environmental conditions using rock characteristics, stable isotope ratios, seawater Ca/Mg ratios and similar measurements.
  • Outline major events that have shaped Earth's history and correctly determine the approximate period depicted by a paleogeographic map during Late Proterozoic or Phanerozoic time.
  • Analyze whether an observation, experimental result or proposed explanation is consistent with a scientific hypothesis for a natural phenomenon and effectively communicate this analysis to others.

Career Options

Although geology careers are remarkably diverse they all have two things in common. First, field work is an integral part of every geologist’s training and so the discipline often appeals to folks who like to be outdoors. Second, because geologists use ideas from many different disciplines to answer questions about the Earth they are broadly trained in the other physical and life sciences as well as mathematics. You can learn more about the range of jobs geologists do from the American Geosciences Institute's "Geoscience Careers" website. The Associate of Science in Geology for Transfer prepares students for further studies towards a baccalaureate degree in Geology or another Earth Science from the California State University (CSU). Note: Some career options may require more than two years of college level study.

Paul Dawson Memorial Scholarship

Paul DawsonPaul Dawson taught geology and engineering at the College of the Siskiyous from 1962 to 1986 and inspired generations of students with his enthusiasm, knowledge of local geology and great stories. Following his death in 1996, Paul's family and friends established a scholarship fund to assist outstanding COS earth science and natural resources students continue their educations. In order to be eligible to receive the $750 award a student must:

  • be a full-time, second semester student who has an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and plans to continue at COS for a consecutive year;
  • have taken or be enrolled in a geology course and be pursuing a career in Earth Sciences or Natural Resources;
  • and, submit a letter of recommendation from the COS Geology or Natural Resource instructor with his or her application.

The application period for the Paul Dawson Memorial Scholarship is January 1 to March 15 and the award recipient will be notified by May 31. Additional information and an online application are available from the COS Foundation's scholarship page. If you have any questions about the scholarship or the application process please call (530) 938-5373.


For information or questions regarding this or other programs at College of the Siskiyous contact the Office of Instruction.

Email: Office of Instruction
Phone: (530) 938-5201