Paleontology Option

The paleontology option focuses on understanding fossils within their geologic context, while Montana's geology provides the opportunity for hands-on fieldwork. The paleontology option in the Department of Earth Sciences is designed for those students who have a strong interest in either invertebrate or vertebrate fossils (evolution, biology of ancient organisms, the environment in which the organism lived, and the changes the fossil has undergone since death). Students who study paleontology find employment with colleges and universities (e.g., teaching paleontology, earth sciences, comparative anatomy), natural history museums (e.g. fossil preparation, collection, curation, exhibit design, education), as scientific illustrators, writers, paleontology consultants for energy resource companies, and resource specialists for local, state, and federal land-management agencies or parks. Because students who study this option are trained in core geology courses, employment may be found in areas outside paleontology that require geologic expertise. Graduate training beyond the bachelor's degree is recommended for those seeking careers in the paleontology (normally a master's degree) or in teaching and/or research (typically a doctorate).

This option combines training in geology and paleontology. The paleontology option builds on courses that form the core of the traditional geology option, while providing strong background in paleontology through four required courses (in addition to the paleontology field course) and two elective courses. All of the paleontology courses offered through the department provide upper division credits. These courses prepare the student for a variety of jobs and/or graduate school. Internships and summer field research experience are available to some students.

Freshman YearCredits
CHMY 141 - College Chemistry I4
CHMY 143 - College Chemistry II4
ERTH 101IN - Earth System Sciences4
ERTH 102CS - Topics in Earth Sciences*1
GEO 211 - Earth History and Evolution3
M 171Q - Calculus I4
M 172Q - Calculus II4
University Core and Electives4
Year Total: 30
Sophomore YearCredits
BIOB 170IN - Principles of Biological Diversity4
GEO 208IN - Earth Materials3
GPHY 284 - Intro to GIS Science & Cartog3
GPHY 384 - Adv GIS and Spatial Analysis3
PHSX 205 - College Physics I4
PHSX 207 - College Physics II4
University Core and Electives9
Year Total: 30
Junior YearCredits
ERTH 303 - Weather and Climate3
ERTH 307 - Principles of Geomorphology4
GEO 302 - Mineralogy and Optical Mineral4
GEO 309 - Sedimentation and Stratigraphy4
GEO 315 - Structural Geology4
STAT 332 - Statistics for Scientists and Engineers3
University Core and Electives8
Year Total: 30
Senior YearCredits
GEO 429R - Field Geology**6
GEO 433 - Global Tectonics3
GEO 448 - Sedimentary Petrology3
University Core and Electives18
Year Total: 30
Total Program Credits: 120

Upper Division Paleontology Course Electives

GEO 310Invertebrate Paleontology3
GEO 330Paleontology Lab Techniques2
GEO 411Vertebrate Paleontology3
GEO 417Taphonomy: Fossil Preservation3
GEO 419Field Paleontology ***2
*

Students are required to take 3 credits of ERTH 102CS to fulfill department requirements as well as Core 2.0 

**

GEO 429R Should be taken SUMMER of either Junior or Senior year.

***

Taken during summer of Sophomore or Junior year

Elective Courses

BIOO 310Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy4
ERTH 484Quaternary Environment3
ERTH 494Seminar1
GEO 312Dinosaur Paleontology3
GEO 413Macroevolution/Fossil Record3
GEO 449Metamorphic Petrology3
GEO 450Igneous Petrology3
GEO 490RUndergraduate Research3
GEO 491Special Topics3
GEO 492Independent Study3
GEO 498Internship3
GPHY 411Biogeography3
GPHY 357GPS Fund/App in Mapping3

Note:

Only GEO 491 courses that cover a specific paleontology topic are applicable.

A C- minimum is required in all curriculum courses to graduate by Regents' policy. This includes electives in the curriculum.

A minimum of 120 credits is required for graduation; 42 of these credits must be in courses numbered 300 or above.