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Understanding the Natural World

Enjoy science? Love the outdoors? Want to make a positive difference in the world? Then a degree in Environmental Physical Science (EPS) at Black Hills State University is for you. What better place is there to study than in the unique natural laboratory of the Black Hills?

  • EPS IS UNIQUE TO BLACK HILLS STATE UNIVERSITY: It’s a rigorous, broad science degree with an emphasis in geology and real-world, hands-on experience and research. Coursework will address issues such as ground and surface water quality and management; soil testing; land-use planning; and natural hazard mitigation.
  • GEOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES ARE GROWTH SECTORS with many opportunities at the entry-level, and even more after graduate school.
  • SMALLER CLASSES AND A SMALL PROGRAM mean more research and internship opportunities for the students, more field experiences, and stronger relationships between students and faculty.
  • FACULTY WORK WITH STUDENTS to choose classes, internships, and research experiences that are tailored to best suit students’ career goals.

At Black Hills State University, the environmental physical science program includes the identification, study, and treatment of a variety of environmental problems. The program addresses ground and surface water quality and management, waste treatment, land-use planning, soil testing, containment chemistry and monitoring, hazardous waste disposal, land reclamation and energy management and production.

The School of Natural Sciences at BHSU is committed to quality undergraduate programs in the natural sciences, with an emphasis on involving students in research and internship experiences.

Why earn an environmental physical science degree from BHSU?

  • Experiential Learning: BHSU provides opportunities to work directly with excellent faculty on research projects.
  • Premier Location: BHSU is located 20 miles from the Sanford Underground Research Facility. This close proximity to Sanford Lab combined with a high level of interest among faculty and staff creates opportunities for collaborative projects in the sciences .
  • Employability: Environmental positions exist in the private sector through consulting, chemical, petroleum and other manufacturing corporations. Positions are also available with state and federal government agencies such as the Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Geological Survey Water Resource Division, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service.

Environmental Physical Science Requirements

Required Core

  • GEOL 201 Physical Geology & 201L Lab
  • GEOL 203 Historical Geology & 203L Lab
  • GEOL 340 Mineralogy/Petrology
  • GEOL 490 Seminar
  • MATH 123 Calculus I
  • MATH 125 Calculus II

Take two of the following science sequences (16 credits)

  • BIOL 151 General Biology I & 151L Lab
  • BIOL 153 General Biology II & 153L Lab
  • CHEM 112 General Chemistry I & 112L Lab
  • CHEM 114 General Chemistry II & 114L Lab
  • PHYS 211 University Physics I & 211L Lab
  • PHYS 213 University Physics II & 213L Lab

Take four courses from the following (12 credits)

  • GEOE 322 Structural Geology (at SDSM&T)
  • GEOL 310 Volcanology
  • GEOL 321 Conservation of Natural Resources
  • GEOL 350 Environmental Geology
  • GEOL 370 Hydrogeology
  • GEOL 392 Topics
  • GEOL 491 Independent Study
  • SCI 388 Global Positioning & Geographical Information Systems
  • SCI 494 Internship

Take two courses from the following (6 credits)

You may not choose both BADM 220 and MATH 281

  • 3 BADM 220 Business Statistics
  • 3 ECON 201 Principles of Microeconomics
  • 3 ECON 202 Principles of Macroeconomics
  • 3 MATH 225 Calculus III
  • 3 MATH 281 Introduction to Statistics
  • 3 MATH 315 Linear Algebra
  • 3 MATH 316 Discrete Mathematics
  • 3 MATH 321 Differential Equations

Gen Ed Requirements - 30 semester hours

  • 3 ENGL 101 Composition I
  • 3 ENGL 201 Composition II
  • 3 CMST Speech 
  • 6 Gen Ed - Social Science
  • 6 Gen Ed - Arts & Humanities
  • 6 to 8 Gen Ed - Natural Science & Lab

A minor is NOT required with this major but electives are required to total 120 hours, of which 36 hours must be 300-400 level courses.

**Current students, please refer to the DegreeWorks Dashboard in MyBHSU to confirm your major requirements.**

Faculty Research

Dr. Abigail Domagall

Associate Professor of Geology

» Research includes: Field data and lab work to understand eruption dynamics of volcanic eruptions. Field sites include Lanzarote, Canary Islands, and Idaho


Employment opportunities exist in a variety of sectors:
» Energy Industry
» Environmental Consultancy
» Environmental Quality Analysis
» GIS and GPS
» Hydrogeology
» Mining
» Natural Resource Management
» Soil Conservation
» Waste Management 

Garima Lohani poses for a photo.

Garima Lohani


• International student - Nepal Graduate School - Masters at Northern Illinois University
• Did independent research on volcanoes at BHSU
• “The best part ... are the faculty members who are very supportive ... [My undergraduate advisor] continues to be an inspiration for me as I am pursuing my masters in volcanology.”

Student Organizations

Environmental Sustainability Student Org. (ESSO)

The purpose of the ESSO is to protect and conserve while generating involvement surrounding environmental issues. Our members will gain experience in leadership and volunteering through community engagement, education, and expansion of our social networks.

Physical Science Club

Develop professional and leadership skills, network in your field, and have some fun through community and campus outreach, educational programs, social events, and outdoor adventures throughout the Black Hills.

Women in STEM

Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics empowers women at BHSU to pursue and succeed in STEM careers by providing a support system, community, and mentorship for future leaders. Become involved in local and national outreach activities and work with area youth to help develop the next generation of successful women in STEM fields.

Contact Info

Abigail Domagall
Phone: 605-642-6506

Black Hills State University
1200 University St.
Spearfish, SD, USA 57799