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Minor in Paleontology

The Minor in Paleontology is an exciting opportunity for any student in any major here at Sonoma State University. Students from any major on the SSU campus can add a cross-disciplinary concentration in the study and analysis of ancient life on Earth. Paleontology is by its very nature an inter-disciplinary field of study, blending both laboratory and field studies of modern organisms and extinct organisms. Some paleontologists approach the field from a geological perspective, and others approach it from a biological perspective. Mars is much in the news lately, but Earth is still the only place to study ancient life.


 Paleontology Minor Brochure


Students complete a total of 20 units.

Minor Core Requirements Units
GEOL 102 Our Dynamic Earth (GE B1) 3
GEOL 313 Paleontology (Fall only) 4
BIOL121 Diversity, Structure and Function, or BIOL 122 Genetics, Evolution, and Ecology
When planning, keep in mind that 121 or 122 do not satisfy the B2 area of GE unless you are a Biology major, and thus Biology 115 would also need to be taken to satisfy B2
Total units in the minor core 11

Minor Electives

In addition to the Minor Core, choose 9 units of electives from other paleontology courses and/or courses with an emphasis on interpreting the history of life on Earth, and at least 1 unit that is a field course, (marked by an *asterisk). All SSU majors may select the Minor in Paleontology, and if you are majoring in either Biology or Geology, at least 3 upper division elective units must be from outside your home department. Additional courses may be counted toward the minor with written approval of one of the Minor Advisors below. The 9 elective units include at least one 4-unit upper division course with a laboratory from the following list:

Electives in the Paleontology Minor

See notes

Course Title Units
ANTH 326 Bioarchaeology [Topics in Archaeology] 4
ANTH 301 Human Fossils and Evolution 4
ANTH 4121 Human Osteology 4
ANTH 4151 Forensic Anthropology Methods 4
BIOL 2201 Human Anatomy 4
BIOL 3221 Invertebrate Biology 4
BIOL 3271 Vertebrate Biology 4
BIOL 3281 Vertebrate Evolutionary Morphology 4
BIOL 385 Biology of the Dinosaurs 3
GEOG 370 Weather and Climate 4
GEOG 372 Climate Change 4
GEOL 105 The Age of Dinosaurs (GE B1) 4
GEOL 120 2 Regional Field Geology, Death Valley (Fall or Spring, GE B3) 3
GEOL 3031 Advanced Principles of Geology (GE B3) 4
GEOL 3042 Geologic Mapping and Report Writing 1
GEOL 3262 Stratigraphy and Earth History 4
GEOL 3142 Paleontology Field Course (Fall only) 1
GEOL 302 Geology of Climate Change 3
GEOL 3212 Burgess Shale Paleontology goes to Canada in late August (prerequisite is GEOL 313 & GEOL 314) 3
  Total elective units you will need in the minor 9


  1. 4-unit laboratory courses – one lab course is required for the minor
  2. Field courses – one field course is required for the minor

Some of the above minor elective courses might have additional prerequisites not listed here. Refer to the online University catalog for additional information, or talk with an advisor. Total units for the Minor in Paleontology is 20, with 11 units in the core and 9 elective units. To graduate with the minor, fill out the same Admissions & Records form for graduating with a major. Contact us to find out more information; we look forward to describing and discussing the minor.

Program Coordinator

Dr. Matthew J. James


Dr. Matthew J. James

Dr. Nicholas R. Geist

Dr. Karin E. Jaffe

Dr. Alexis T. Boutin