Why Humboldt

What is special about Geology at Humboldt State?

HSU is a terrific place to learn geology the best way - hands-on and in the field. Field trips are part of almost all of our courses and our unique location close to the Mendocino triple junction and atop the Cascadia subduction zone gives us plenty of places to visit close to campus. Our faculty work on diverse projects all over the world (Humboldt County, the Cascade Range, the Sierra Nevada, New Zealand, Chile, Samoa, and Indonesia to name a few), they involve students in their projects, and they bring enthusiasm for their disciplines into their courses. Perhaps the best thing about Humboldt Geology is our students. We are one of the largest undergraduate geology programs in the state (about 70 students), but our campus is quite small. You will be able to be part of a very active geology club that organizes many fun activities throughout the year including field trips, an annual rock auction, and end-of-the year picnic and camp-out. A common theme described by our students is how approachable and welcoming our department is to new students.

Clam beach

All Geology Departments will tell you they have great faculty. We can prove it!

Facilities:  Our most important “facility” is the natural laboratory the North Coast provides for nearly all of our classes.  We also have excellent labs, extensive mineral, rock, thin section, and fossil collections that will provide you with a solid background to pursue careers in almost every aspect of earth science or to continue on to graduate school.  In addition to standard geology equipment such as petrographic microscopes and surveying equipment, HSU geology has a high-pressure and temperature petrology lab where conditions in the upper mantle can be simulated, soils lab, state-of-the-art real-time kinematic GPS surveying equipment, an x-ray diffractometer and x-ray fluorescence equipment, and geophysical exploration equipment.  We have our own Geographic Information Systems (GIS) laboratory and a set of GIS-equipped lap top computers that are used in a number of our classes.   Our field camp is fully mobile – with and best of all, these facilities are accessible to undergraduates and not restricted for graduate use only.

Our graduates are in demand. Employers seek out our students because of their competence in the field and their extensive scientific training. Career opportunities include positions with local/state/federal government scientific and resource management agencies, geotechnical and environmental consulting firms, nonprofit conservation agencies, universities/colleges/K-12 schools. Job titles of recent Humboldt geology graduates include: geologist, environmental scientist, petrologist, volcanologist, consultant, journalist/technical writer or editor, seismologist, geophysicist, emergency manager, hazards mitigation specialist, field geologist, marine geologist, hydrologist, geomorphologist, museum curator, science teacher.

The Mission and Goals of the Geology Department

The central mission of the Department of Geology is to provide a rigorous, comprehensive and up-to-date geologic education, which allows students to develop scientific thinking skills with particular emphasis on field-based research and active geologic processes and to develop a scientific understanding of the interactions between human activities and geology.


1) Provide an earth systems approach to geologic education that fosters critical thinking and the ability to make informed decisions on scientific issues in our society.

2) Provide students with a strong field-based education that incorporates the evolution of the Earth and its biota, and the classification of geologic patterns and materials at varied temporal and spatial scales.

3) Provide students the technical competence to collect, process, and interpret scientific data.

4) Train students in the communication of scientific information using written, oral, graphic and electronic forms.

5) Provide a sufficiently broad and rigorous background with depth and currency in at least one area of specialization to allow students to enter professional careers or to pursue graduate studies in the earth sciences.