About the Geology Program

Geology encompasses all studies of Earth processes and is one of the cornerstone programs within the Earth Science Department. Students taking a geology course at SMC will gain a scientific understanding o geologic processes that shape the Earth’s surface, oceans, and atmosphere. They will study Earth’s origin, interior processes, plate tectonics theory, the evolution of surface environments, the linkage between climate and biology, and the various ways in which these processes are recorded in the rock record. Courses focus on the application of the scientific method to natural phenomena like the origin and evolution of life, climate change, assessment of geologic hazards, and the formation and utilization of geologic resources.

Program Level Outcomes

Upon completion of Geology courses students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the physical structure and morphology of the Earth and operation of Earth systems through a plate tectonic paradigm.
  2. Identify and classify Earth materials and demonstrate an understanding of their formational histories.

Geology Courses

All classes meet IGETC and GE transfer requirements. Courses are not sequential; there are no prerequisites unless indicated.

  • Geology 1: Physical Geology w/o Lab
  • Geology 3: Introduction to Environmental Geology
  • Geology 4: Physical Geology with Lab
  • Geology 5: Earth History with Lab
  • Geology 10: Exploration of the Solar System
  • Geology 31: Introduction to Physical Oceanography
  • Geology 35 (A-Z): Field Studies in Geology

Degrees and Certificates

Currently, there are no degrees or certificates offered in this discipline at Santa Monica College, but the Geology Program is currently developing an AA-T Degree in Geology. For now, most students should plan to transfer to a four-year institution to continue their education towards a degree in Geology. Transferring students in the major who wish to qualify for an Associates degree before leaving Santa Monica College should consider the General Science major. Below is more information about the optional associate degree.

Associate in Arts Degree Icon Associate in Arts More information on the Associate in Arts

Get a foundation in general education, then gain the skills needed to excel in your desired field.

Completion of an Associate degree usually will not satisfy transfer major requirements. Meet with a counselor to develop an academic program best suited for you.

Estimated Timeline:
2+ years, 60 units

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Associate in Arts Degree - General ScienceAssociates in Arts Degree icon

20 units + General Education Requirements

The objectives of this program are to prepare students for upper division study in a field of science at a four‐year college and/or to earn an Associate degree.

PDF FileView Requirements Associate in Arts Degree - General Science


Additional graduation requirements for an Associates degree from Santa Monica College are listed in the Academics section of the course catalog as well as online at www.smc.edu/articulation.

Potential Career Options

Click on any job title to learn more.

Job Title Typical Education Median Wage
Environmental Engineers Master's Degree $101,504
Environmental Scientists and Specialists Bachelor's Degree $71,873
Gem & Diamond Workers Bachelor's Degree $31,372
GIS Technicians Bachelor's Degree $76,594
Geological Sample Test Technicians Bachelor's Degree $37,100
Geoscientists, except Hydrologists and Geographers Bachelor's Degree $72,460
Geophysical Data Technicians Bachelor's Degree $37,100
Geothermal Production Managers Bachelor's Degree $108,103
Hydrologists Master's Degree $75,702
Mining & Geological Engineers, including Mining Safety Engineers Bachelor's Degree $74,029
Natural Sciences Managers Bachelor's Degree $90,251
Oceanographer Bachelor's Degree $105,720
Petroleum Engineers Bachelor's Degree $123,831
Seismologists Master's Degree $91,920
Soil & Water Conservationists Bachelor's Degree $69,797
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, & Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary Doctoral Degree $82,451

Additional career options: Geochemist, Geophysicist, Planetary Geologist, and Paleontologist.
(This list is by no means comprehensive.)

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