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Best Mineralogy colleges in US?

Posted by Zach Berghorst  
Zach Berghorst August 05, 2012 11:05PM
Hi, I am a young mineral collector and I am interested in knowing what would be the best schools for the study of mineralogy and crystallography. I have already toured South Dakota School of Mines and Technology as well as Colorado School of Mines and Technology. What other schools are best for this study and what positions could this entail later in the job field?
Any help is appreciated,
Patrick Haynes (2) August 06, 2012 01:08AM
You might consider the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, NM. The NM Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources is on campus and they host the country's largest (>300 attendees) annual mineral symposium. The symposium is in November...a great time to see the campus.
Ibrahim Jameel August 06, 2012 01:10AM
I'm sure others can offer more insight and information, but many colleges have phased out their mineralogy departments. The majority of people interested in minerals who work in a (somewhat) related field are geologists, of course that differes substantially from mineralogy. The closest thing to mineralogy (these days) that offers decent career paths is materials engineering, specifically where ceramics and concerned.
Chris Stefano August 06, 2012 03:28AM
There are a couple of mineralogists doing some very exciting applied work at the University of Michigan.

In general I think Ibrahim is right though, if you want a good paying job, particularly at the bachelor's level, materials science is the way to go.
Dennis Tryon August 06, 2012 03:44AM
The University of Arizona in Tucson is certainly worth a look.

Tom Loomis August 06, 2012 04:12AM
Hi Zach,

Good question..there are several I would consider. All doing some serious work in their fields. So depending upon your interest, you might find these choices good:

John Rakovan at the Miami U. at Oxford, OH

Bob Downs at U of A in Tucson

David London at the Univ. of Oklahoma

Skip Simmons and Karen Webber at the University of New Orleans

I'm sure there are more but the ones above all show good interest in classical mineralogy while producing cutting edge research.

good luck.
Paul Brandes August 06, 2012 03:56PM
Sorry to say, I don't believe there are any universities in the US that offer a straight "mineralogy" degree as a BS. My advice to you would be to pick a university that offers the best undergraduate geology program to first get the broad spectrum of earth science, including courses in mineralogy. Then, if you decide to pursue a graduate degree, that is where you could specialise in mineralogy, or perhaps you might find another aspect of geology that you are interested in while an undergrad. One thing I will mention about university mineralogy courses is that they are very technical and you will have to know a fair bit about chemistry and be able to visualise things in three-dimentions. There is a lot more to mineralogy than just looking at pretty minerals.

As far as great geology schools; it's hard to beat Colorado School of Mines, South Dakota School of Mines, or New Mexico Tech. Some other universities I would look at, in addition to the above mentioned, include Wisconsin-Madison and Minnesota-Duluth. I'm not sure where you're located Zach, but in-state tuition may be a concern of yours (and your parents) so you may want to find the best geology program in your state. Job prospects are fairly good these days. Petroleum and mining are both booming at the moment, and there is some very good mineral research going on as Chris mentioned.

Good luck!!
Johan Kjellman August 06, 2012 06:42PM
It's not us but Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada is definitely woth considering if you're in to crystallography applied to minerals.

Jeff Weissman August 06, 2012 07:53PM
Zach - Like you I wanted to study mineralogy in college, started out in the geology department, went to materials engineering, and eventually chemical engineering. I now work with zeolites, various oxides, and a wide range of synthetic equivalents to natural minerals, employing many of the same methods that mineralogists use to make and characterize this materials. Many large, medium, and small companies depend on these materials for a wide range of products - catalysts, sorbents, purifiers, and coatings are some broad examples. Having a strong mineral background has been of significant help in my career path.

Good luck!
Zach Berghorst August 06, 2012 10:17PM
Great! Thanks or the responses.
Paul, I live in Minnesota so Duluth (which I was looking at aswell) may be the best option for a general geology program.
I am aware that colleges don't offer straight up mineralogy as a course, but if I were to get general eath science or geology finished, where would I go (or what would I do) to specialize in more of the mineralogy field?
Thanks again for the responses, I will definitely will keep them in consideration.
Dean Allum August 06, 2012 11:27PM
Something you should consider in any college is the opportunity for internships.

I noticed that none of these geologists mentioned the classical US geological heavyweights Yale and Harvard. These Universities must have evolved to more lucrative pursuits.

Also, what is going on with the recent fad for re-naming the Geology departments as "Earth Sciences" or
"Earth and Environmental Sciences"?

-Dean Allum
Martin Rex August 06, 2012 11:41PM
Northern Arizona University
Paul Brandes August 07, 2012 08:06PM
UM-Duluth has a great geology program, even though it hurts me to say that (I'm a Michigan Tech grad :-D). You might also take a look at UM-Twin Cities as they have a good program as well, but if it were me, I'd choose Duluth. While you are an undergrad, I would recommend joining the Geological Society of America and attending their annual conference. There, you will be able to attend several mineralogy sessions and get a good idea of who is conducting interesting mineral research and at what schools across the country.

Unfortunately Dean, other than Cornell, the Ivy league schools have really slipped in recent years when it comes to the earth sciences; they seem to be more interested in law/medicene than anything else. Plus, I really haven't been too impressed with any recent geo graduates from Yale or Harvard (sorry alums, that's just my observations).
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