Requirements and Criteria for
Registration in Alberta
Qualifications Needed to Apply for Registration
To be eligible to apply for registration as a professional geologist
or geophysicist, a person must have experience in geological or
geophysical work and possess certain minimum academic qualifications.
There are two alternate sets of qualifications (Regulation 13),
one being a university degree in geology or geophysics plus two
years of experience (possessed by most applicants), and the other
being an Alberta high school education, or equivalent, of a standard
sufficient for admission to an Alberta university program in geology
or geophysics, plus three years experience in geological or geophysical
work. For the second criterion, graduation from a geological or
geophysical technology program can be counted towards the three
years of experience required. Applications are screened by the APEGGA
Registration Department to ensure these conditions (and those of
paragraph 4.4 below) are satisfied before applications are accepted.
Although the qualifications required for registration will be discussed
in more detail later in this chapter, it should be noted that persons
applying under the first set of criteria above normally will qualify
for registration without examinations or with relatively few examinations.
Those applying under the second set would normally have to write
a large number of examinations.
An amendment to the regulations is in process (1989) which changes
the entry requirement for registration by examination. This amendment
raises the entrance requirement from a high school education to:
completion of at least two years of post-secondary education in
areas that relate to the science and technology of engineering,
geology or geophysics, and
credit or equivalent in an adequate number of fundamental subjects
satisfactory to the Board of Examiners.
the current criteria and the above amendment to it, no individuals
have applied to the Association under the examination route (at
least in recent years) for registration as a geologist or geophysicist.
All have had university degrees.
In addition to the above qualifications, an applicant for professional
membership must be a resident of Alberta who is a Canadian citizen
or who has been lawfully admitted to Canada as a permanent resident.
If he or she is resident in the province but does not satisfy the
citizenship or immigration requirements, or resides outside the
province (whether in another province of Canada or elsewhere) then
the application is made for "licensee" rather than "professional
4.5 In accordance with the Regulations, an application can also
be accepted from registered members of other Provincial Associations
transferring into Alberta or wishing membership in APEGGA as licensees.
The advantages of this rule from the applicant's viewpoint is that
the application fee is less, and an application in this category
need not be screened initially as the eligibility criteria (academic
and experience) are automatically satisfied. On completing the registration
process in Alberta they may be designated professional geologists
or professional geophysicists if they satisfy the criteria for registration
in one of these fields as the case may be.
Except for the Northwest Territories and now Newfoundland, no other
Provincial Association has registered any of its members as professional
geologists or professional geophysicists, even though they may be
qualified in geology or geophysics. Rather, such individuals have
been registered as professional engineers under special rules of
the Association to which they were applying. However, some other
Canadian jurisdictions are currently planning to amend their legislation
to include registration of geologists and geophysicists (see paragraphs
3.25 - 3.33).
Board of Examiners and Application Procedures
Before discussing the qualifications required for registration as
a professional geologist or professional geophysicist, it is appropriate
to review the structure and function of the Board of Examiners and
procedures for processing applications. The Board is the body which
has traditionally appraised academic, experience and other qualifications
of applicants for registration. Although its reporting relationships
have varied from time to time, the Board in essentially its present
form has existed for over 40 years. The Board is established by
the Council of the Association under the Engineering, Geological
and Geophysical Professions Act of 1981, but is an "arms -
length" entity with virtually autonomous powers. While Council
can make regulations affecting registration, and can appoint the
Chairman and members of the Board, the Board itself operates independently
in matters affecting registration.
Before 1981, the Board of Examiners came under the jurisdiction
of the Universities Coordinating Council (UCC). There were arguments
both for and against the Board being responsible to the UCC, but
the most significant reasons for it becoming a part of APEGGA was
that it was more appropriate for the self-governing professions
(of engineering, geology and geophysics) to have full responsibility
for appraising qualifications and deciding who shall be admitted
according to standards set by the profession, and not some independent
body or authority.
Under Regulation 23, the Board of Examiners consists of equal numbers
of registered professional members of the Association from the universities
in Alberta and from the Association at large, including a Chairman
who is from one of the universities. The total numbers are "as
specified by Council from time to time", but are based on the
number of disciplines being examined and number of applications
being received. The Board usually consists of about 35 members.
All are volunteers and receive no remuneration.
The Board includes an executive committee which consists of two-thirds
of the members. The executive committee meets monthly to evaluate
and decide on applications for registration or enrolment. Members
who are appointed from the universities and are on the executive
committee review the academic qualifications of applicants and are
considered to be members of the "academic committee" of
the Board. Members from the "Association at large" who
are on the executive committee review the experience qualifications
of applicants and constitute the "experience committee"
of the Board. The Board meets as a whole semi-annually in June and
December to consider matters of policy, significant changes in procedures,
examination results and appeals from examination assessments. These
meetings are known as "meetings of the full Board". The
Chairman of the Board is also the chairman of the executive committee.
The Director of Registration - the professional staff officer of
the Association responsible for registration - is also appointed
to the Board as the Registrar's Designate, and sits at both executive
committee and full Board meetings.
The amendment to the Act of June 1984 provided for a member of the
public to be appointed to the Board of Examiners, in a manner similar
to members of the public being appointed to the Council of APEGGA
and the Practice Review Board. This amendment was introduced to
conform to the Government's policy of having members of the public
on bodies which set academic standards for entry into the professions.
The public member participates in meetings of the full Board, but
does not attend executive committee meetings nor take part in appraisal
The fields of geology and geophysics and each of the major branches
of engineering are represented on the Board of Examiners. As of
1989 there were two geology members on the academic committee, one
from the University of Calgary and the other from the University
of Alberta, and two on the experience committee. The field of geophysics
in 1989 was represented by one academic examiner and two experience
examiners. The numbers may vary depending on the rate of applications
received. In addition, there is one geologist and one geophysicist
member from the universities at meetings of the full Board. Thus,
applicants for registration as professional geologists and professional
geophysicists have their qualifications evaluated by individuals
qualified in their two fields (not by engineers), and the two professions
have a voice in deliberations of policy and other matters at the
semi-annual meetings of the Board.
As shall be seen later, there are certain academic, experience and
other qualifications required for registration as a professional
geologist or professional geophysicist, or for enrolment as a geologist-
or geophysicist-in-training. To facilitate proper appraisal, certain
documentation is also required in support of the application before
it is ready for appraisal by the Board of Examiners. The first step
is for an application to be made to the Association on the prescribed
form, which among other things includes a detailed experience record
and the names of supervisors and references, and a listing of academic
qualifications (degree(s), institution(s) and dates of achievement).
The required fee must accompany the application. The applicant must
arrange for transcripts of academic records to be sent directly
to APEGGA from the institution attended, using a form provided with
the application package. This has been a long-standing policy of
the Board of Examiners to ensure validity of academic credentials.
The Association (Registration Department) will screen the application
to ensure eligibility, acknowledge it by letter, and write to three
of the references/supervisors named on the application to obtain
appropriate comments in support of experience. As stipulated on
the form, at least two of the references must be professional members
of the Association or members of an equivalent professional association.
The Professional Practice Examination is a requirement for professional
membership and it is to the applicant's advantage to complete it
as soon as possible after the application has been accepted, providing
he or she is qualified to write it. This examination is a multiple
choice type with 80% of the questions on topics common to the three
professions and answered by all applicants, and 20% on topics specific
to engineering, geology and geophysics, selected at the applicant's
choice. Applications are screened initially by Registration staff,
and if academic and experience qualifications appear acceptable
for registration, the applicant is advised to attempt the examination
at an early date. In situations where many examinations would be
required (e.g. applicants with technology diplomas), then the Professional
practice Examination is not written until later in the program of
examinations. Applicants who are already enrolled with APEGGA as
geologists- or geophysicists-in-training are eligible to write the
examination after they have acquired one year's experience after
graduation; thus in these cases the examination is likely to have
been completed by the time the application for professional registration
The routes for processing completed applications for professional
membership or licensee to the Board of Examiners are shown in Figure
1. The width of the lines indicates the relative proportion of applications
which flow via each route. Since there is virtually no accreditation
process at present for geology and geophysics programs, most of
the applications follow route B in which they are evaluated by the
academic and experience committees. The remainder consist of applications
for which the programs have been judged by the Board as acceptable,
and for these the Board has delegated to the Registrar the authority
to refer the application direct to the Board if, in his judgement,
the experience is "clearly acceptable" (route A). If the
1 Processing of Applications
Registrar is not sure about the experience, the application is referred
to the experience committee and then to the Board.
Since the executive committee of the Board meets monthly, applications
are referred by batches on a monthly basis through the Registrar
and committees. Agendas are prepared by Registration Department
staff and contain the recommendations of the academic and experience
examiners. Applications which follow route A are included on the
agenda by list. The executive committee which includes those academic
and experience examiners who appraised the qualifications will decide
on the basis of the recommendation whether to register the applicant,
defer registration and assess more experience, assess examinations,
or assess some combination of these. The Board also has the authority
to refuse registration if character and reputation is in doubt,
but this rarely occurs.
In addition to dealing with new applications, the executive committee
at its meetings considers cases where previously assessed experience
or examinations have been completed.
Qualifications for Registration of Geologists and Geophysicists
The qualifications required for registration as a professional geologist,
professional geophysicist or professional engineer are specified
in Section 21 (1) (a) to (g) of the Regulations accompanying the
Engineering, Geological and Geophysical Professions Act. The academic
requirement is of particular significance to geologists and geophysicists.
Regulation 21(1)(a) currently states this requirement: "a confirmed
degree in Engineering, Geology or Geophysics from a university program
approved by the Board of Examiners or equivalent qualifications
demonstrated by passing such examinations as may be required by
the Board". The word "confirmed" means that the degree
must be validated or the academic credentials verified through transcripts
submitted directly to the Association from the university attended.
Experience several years ago with applicants who submitted so-called
"original academic documentation", which subsequently
was found to have been falsified, led to the introduction of this
4.20 Curricula and course content of geology and geophysics programs
at universities in Canada have varied widely, even for programs
at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. It was
impractical for the Board to identify those programs that would
be acceptable as minimum academic standards for registration. However,
four-year honours degree programs were considered to be acceptable
programs to meet requirements for registration as a professional
geologist or professional geophysicist, and based on these programs
a syllabus of examinations in each field was developed in the 1960s
by the Board of Examiners, to be utilized as reference criteria
against which the academic qualifications of applicants for registration
could be assessed, and for assessing examinations in areas where
academic deficiencies existed or where confirmation of qualifications
was needed. There were many ways or program arrangements which did
not conform to the syllabus requirements that could lead to a program
acceptable for registration, and the syllabus was intended to serve
as a guide for the academic examiner when an assessment was being
made. These syllabi were updated in 1973, in 1981/82, and most recently
in 1986 (geology) and 1988 (geophysics).
As originally written, the educational qualifications specified
in Section 21(a) of the Regulations were limited to two, i.e. a
university degree or completion of examinations. Yet many individuals
wishing registration as professional geophysicists have degrees
in mathematics, physics or a similar discipline which satisfy the
Board's educational requirements for registration. Other individuals
have completed all the university courses to satisfy the requirements
(for engineers and geologists as well as geophysicists) but do not
have a degree. Therefore an amendment to the regulations was developed
in 1988 and is in the process which adds a third provision to Section
or university qualifications acceptable to the Board of Examiners
in a related program..."
Sections 1(b) ("confirmatory examinations"), 1(d)(i) (qualifications
necessary to apply for registration) and 16 (definition of examination
candidate) which are affected by this change are also being amended.
Until about 1982, the academic records (transcripts) of every applicant
for professional geologist and geophysicist were reviewed by the
academic examiner relative to the syllabus. Compared with the registration
process for engineers, this was an onerous task. In the case of
engineering, the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board (CEAB)
had been in existence since 1965, had developed academic criteria
acceptable for registration as professional engineers in Canada,
and had regularly reviewed engineering programs at Canadian universities
relative to this criteria. Lists of accredited engineering programs
were available and were periodically updated. The programs recommended
by CEAB were acceptable to the Board of Examiners and considered
as "university programs (in engineering) approved by the Board",
eliminating the need for a review of individual transcripts by the
academic examiner - only certification of degree was required. However,
as shall be seen later, steps have been taken within the last few
years by the APEGGA Board to introduce a form of limited accreditation
for geology and geophysics programs.
Prior to passage of the Engineering and Related Professions Act
in March 1960, and the introduction of the professional designations
P. Geol. and P. Geoph., the Board of Examiners decided to continue
its practice of accepting only four-year graduates without examination;
three-year and partial four-year graduates would be assessed on
a subject for subject basis. Academic committees in geology and
geophysics were directed to prepare listings of acceptable programs
and institutions in Canada and prepare similar information on programs/institutions
in other countries. For geology, the result was the "Stelck
List" originated by Dr. Charles Stelck, P. Geol., which was
utilized for the next decade or so.
In 1975, the Board decided to accept as academically qualified those
applicants who had:
an Honours Geology or Honours Geophysics degree from a Canadian
a B.Sc. with specialization in Geology or Geophysics from the University
was subsequently found that the content of these programs continued
to vary, hence this decision was revoked and the Board reverted
to its previous practice of complete review of transcripts, which
continued as far as geology was concerned, up to the time of the
next revision of the geology syllabus (1981).
- Academic Requirements
In 1981, the geology syllabus was revised by the Board of Examiners,
based on the content of Honours B.Sc. geology programs at 19 Canadian
universities. The subcommittee which did this work was composed
of three academic members of the Universities of Calgary and Alberta
and two professional geologists from industry. The number of exams
that a candidate with no exemptions would be required to write was
raised to 26 from 17 in the previous (1973) syllabus; this number
was comparable to an increase in examinations for engineering candidates
resulting from a revision to the CCPE uniform syllabus which was
introduced in 1979. In reviewing this syllabus, the Board noted
that it might be considered as a beginning of an accreditation program
across Canada for geology, and that there was much confusion across
the country on the differences between professional registration
and technical society membership.
The review of the Honours B.Sc. Geology programs carried out by
the 1981 subcommittee also resulted in a form of "limited APEGGA
accreditation" of many of these programs. Thus anyone graduating
from such programs in 1978 and subsequently would be academically
qualified for registration as a professional geologist. Applicants
with geology degrees other than honours would not necessarily satisfy
the academic requirements without examination; for example a straight
B. Sc. with a major in geology from the University of Calgary may
be short some of the required courses. Students undertaking non-honours
geology programs at the University of Calgary would however satisfy
registration requirements if the correct courses were chosen initially,
as counselled by academic staff.
4.27 There was also doubt that the honours programs as evaluated
by the subcommittee would remain unchanged. In the case of engineering
a sound system of control, through accreditation, was in effect.
The same was not true for geology. Therefore, the Board would subject
the programs to review at two-year intervals.
A comment should be made about geology programs offered by the University
of Calgary. Two programs have been offered - a B.Sc. Honours and
a B.Sc. with a major in geology. The first is a four-year program,
a graduate of which will satisfy the academic requirements for registration.
This program was the only one in effect at the time the Engineering
and Related Professions Act, which required Alberta graduates to
be registered, was introduced. The second usually contains a limited
number of full courses in geology and a small number of fundamentals,
in most cases the numbers being considerably less than the requirements
of the syllabus although the core courses have usually been taken.
A number of 1982 graduates applying for enrolment as geologists-in-training
had undertaken the B.Sc. major program and therefore were assessed
some examinations to make up for academic deficiencies. These 1982
graduates were admitted before the University of Calgary quota system
was introduced and were, it is understood, informed by the Department
of Geology and Geophysics that the required minimum in a geology
program would not necessarily satisfy APEGGA's registration requirements.
These individuals, however, were reassessed by the Board according
to the previous syllabus (1973) which had been in effect during
the period of their attendance and which generally resulted in elimination
or reduction of the number of examinations.
In 1985 the 1981 geology syllabus was reviewed again by a subcommittee
of the Board of Examiners. The number of examinations required remained
unchanged but flexibility was introduced in the professional level
subjects by modifying maximum and minimum requirements. The descriptions
for examinations and textbook lists was upgraded and updated. The
syllabus was approved by the Board as the 1986 edition and consists
of examinations in the following content areas:
in Fundamentals - 11 subjects; 6 required - 3 compulsory and 3 optional
of remaining 8.
Specific to Geology -
Section A - Core Subjects - 10 compulsory exams on subjects basic
to a geology education.
Section B - Major Options - 8 subjects; minimum of 5 required.
Section C - Advanced Options - 14 subjects; minimum of 2 and maximum
of 5 required.
Ten exams in total are required from sections B and C.
The 1986 syllabus subcommittee also revised the list of Honours
B.Sc. Geology programs. Currently (1989) there are 22 such programs
at Canadian universities that will satisfy the academic requirements
for registration as a professional geologist. The same subcommittee
also developed listings of geology courses at Canadian and US institutions
that the Board accepts for purposes of registration.
Accreditation of Geology Programs
In 1984, under the initiative of John B. Maher, P. Geol., the CSPG
(being a national body) proposed a program to bring about nationwide
accreditation of degree programs in geology at Canadian universities
in a manner similar to the CEAB and ABET accreditation system for
engineering. The objective of such a system would be to facilitate
appraisal of academic qualifications for professional registration
of geologists in the Canadian provinces. It would also aid prospective
students entering university geology programs to select the right
courses of study to allow registration (without examination) when
they had obtained their degree, and would facilitate mobility of
professional geologists transferring from province to province.
The latter was becoming important as other provinces besides Alberta
were beginning to register geologists.
4.32 The proposal - for the establishment of a Canadian Geological
Accreditation Board under the auspices of the Canadian Geoscience
Council (CGC - see paragraph 6.18) - with draft terms of reference
was presented by Mr. Maher to the CGC. It received considerable
attention during meetings of the CGC held in 1985 with particular
and detailed scrutiny by the Council of Chairmen of Canadian Earth
Science Departments (CCCESD), an associate member of CGC. Also,
the proposal was considered in depth by the Chairman of University
Geology Departments in Ontario (CUGDO).
4.33 Accreditation of geologists proved to be a very controversial
topic. There was confusion in the minds of many Canadian earth scientists
between registration and accreditation. A small committee under
the chairmanship of John Maher was established to deal with the
proposal, but in the end both the CUGDO and the CCCESD expressed
their opposition. The CCCESD's formal position may be found in the
document forwarded to the CSPG by its Chairman, Dr. A. E. Beck,
and published in the CSPG Recorder. Among other things, there was
concern that accreditation would restrict the freedom of individual
departments to define their own curricula; that there would be pressures
to introduce more applied aspects of the profession at the expense
of the basics; that the system might tend to infringe upon academic
Geophysics - Development of Requirements up to 1985
Before 1985, what constituted acceptable academic qualifications
for registration as a professional geophysicist was a matter of
concern for the Board of Examiners and had been the subject of discussion
for many years within the geophysical community. The academic programs
for professional degrees such as law, divinity, medicine, engineering
or the like are definite and distinct, whereas those of many applicants
for registration as geophysicists are often vague and diffuse.
To provide for the registration of competent geophysicists who had
academic backgrounds in engineering (before geophysics programs
were introduced in universities), the Board in 1960 adopted a general
rule that a person with a B. Sc. in engineering obtained before
1955 would be academically qualified for registration as a P. Geoph.
providing the major portion of his subsequent experience had been
in geophysics. As time went on, in spite of an increase in the number
of geophysics degree programs offered at universities, more and
more individuals having science-based degrees in other fields entered
the practice of geophysics and desired professional registration.
4.36 The subcommittees of the Board dealing with this matter concluded
that the requirement for registration as a geophysicist was a four-year
honours or specialization degree in the physical sciences which
included some geology and geophysics. However it was recognized
by the Board that there were many programs that did not conform
to these requirements, yet were acceptable for registration in a
broad sense. Therefore the academic examiner must have a wide latitude
in reaching what is often a subjective opinion on the acceptability
or otherwise of a specific degree. Notwithstanding, examiners needed
some guidelines to assist in making assessments and in 1977 the
"Gretener Rule" was developed. Dr. Peter E. Gretener,
P. Geol., P. Geoph. was chairman of the subcommittee which stated:
Graduates with degrees in mathematics, computer science or physics
may apply for registration as P. Geoph. after obtaining a minimum
of one year of geophysical experience, and would be assessed six
examinations from the (1973) geophysics syllabus, then reassessed
after writing once only.
Applicants with academic degrees from recognized institutions shall
be assessed in the spirit of the syllabus i.e. any geophysicist
should be trained in the fields of mathematics, physics and geology,
the relative proportions to be subject to variations within limits.
The geophysical community was still generally dissatisfied with
APEGGA's policies for evaluation of applications for professional
geophysicist, and in 1980 APEGGA president Roy O. Lindseth, P. Geoph.
requested that the Board consider the matter of registration of
geophysicists whose principal degree is in something other than
geophysics. In response to this request, the Board set up a subcommittee
of geology and geophysics members plus professional geophysicist
representatives from industry, which considered this question in
considerable depth. The subcommittee was chaired by Dr. Gretener.
In the course of its deliberations several draft reports were produced,
other members from industry were added to the subcommittee, and
opinions of geophysicists experienced in certain specialized areas
were obtained. At one stage a survey of geophysicists registered
with APEGGA was conducted.
There was considerable difference of opinion within the subcommittee,
but in the end a majority report was approved by the Board and introduced
in 1982 which covered the following areas. Candidates not exempted
from examinations would be required to write a total of 24 compared
to 17 in the previous syllabus. The CSEG was given the opportunity
to comment on the new syllabus, but it had few objections.
Fundamentals - 11 compulsory exams.
Core Subjects - 9 compulsory exams on subjects basic to a geophysics
3. Major Options - 4 exams required from a total of 13, or alternatively,
submission of a written paper or report on selected topics in geophysics
acceptable to the Board.
A review of geophysics programs at Canadian universities carried
out in 1982 showed, as in the past, significant differences in the
content of a number of programs. Therefore the practice of having
the transcripts of applicants for P. Geoph. reviewed by the academic
examiner in geophysics was continued until a further evaluation
made in 1983 showed that some programs were acceptable, allowing
a "limited APEGGA accreditation".
The Board's procedures reflect Regulation 21 (1) (b) accompanying
the 1981 Act, i.e. a "confirmed degree in geophysics from a
university program approved by the Board of Examiners or equivalent
qualifications demonstrated by passing such examinations as may
be required by the Board". However, a temporary relaxation
in the academic requirements for registration as a professional
geophysicist was introduced in 1982 as one of the results of a special
task force established by Council to examine experience and other
requirements for admission to the Association. Known as the "McManus
Formula", it allowed applicants who applied by January 1st,
1984 to be registered without examination if the following conditions
they held a degree from a university recognized by the Board of
Examiners in a field of science related to their area of practice;
they had at least 6 years of experience of an increasingly responsible
nature satisfactory to the Board after graduation; and
the Board assessed the total package of academic and experience
qualifications as being sufficient to meet the minimum requirements
Revised Geophysics Syllabus
The McManus route was closed January 1st, 1984, but the policies
of the Board of Examiners respecting the academic requirements for
registration of geophysicists with non-geophysics degrees were perhaps
not as "rigorous" as before. But some segments of the
geophysical community continued to have concerns about the academic
requirements for professional geophysicist registration. As one
of the activities of the CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA Liaison Committee (see
paragraph 2.23), a subcommittee was established in 1984 to consider
this topic and make recommendations, through the Liaison Committee,
to Council and the Board of Examiners. Membership of this subcommittee
was diverse and consisted of three persons appointed by the CSEG,
one appointed by the CSPG, one appointed by the Liaison Committee
and one academic representative (P. Geoph.). Advisors to the subcommittee
were two professional geophysicist members of the Board of Examiners.
The subcommittee, in dealing with this matter, first developed a
set of guidelines for program content, similar to CEAB's programs
in engineering, which would apply to geophysics in a broad sense.
The document was initially drafted by Dr. Ken West, P. Geoph., one
of the subcommittee's CSEG appointees. Inputs were received from
universities in Canada and the USA regarding content of their programs
related to geophysics. From the program content document, an outline
for a revised geophysics syllabus was developed, followed by the
It was agreed at the outset that the syllabus should be multidisciplinary
within an overall "geophysics" connotation. The subcommittee
took into account the perceptions of some people in the geophysical
industry that the existing syllabus was too rigid, and aimed to
develop a syllabus that reflected the various domains of the practice
Over the next several months from about mid 1985, a geophysics syllabus
outline proceeded through several draft editions. In the course
of its development, comment was obtained from a number of senior
geophysicists in academic circles and in industry. The final stage
in development of the syllabus outline was a review by a committee
of the CSEG, which gave its blessing in July 1986. Both the program
content document and syllabus outline were then submitted to the
APEGGA Council where they were accepted and referred to the Board
of Examiners. The Board accepted the program document for use as
a guideline and accepted the syllabus outline as a basis for a detailed
geophysics syllabus. The outline was then developed into the 1988
The syllabus covers the three levels of qualification - fundamentals,
core subjects and major options. Within these three levels, subjects
have been appreciably broadened so as to include a wider range of
geophysics programs that would be more readily accepted by geophysicists.
The most significant changes were in the major options in which
several fields of geophysical specialization are covered. Also,
while a greater variety of academic backgrounds is encompassed,
the syllabus does not presume to register geophysicists by area
of academic specialization. The six-year experience concept which
was introduced by the 1981 McManus Task Force is also preserved.
The syllabus consists of the following topics:
Fundamentals - 8 examinations equivalent to those normally taught
during a degree program in the physical sciences or engineering.
This section was broadened to make the coverage less narrow and
some subjects were combined or removed.
Core Subjects - 9 examinations in areas of geology, physics and
mathematics which represent the core of geophysical training.
Major Options - 6 examinations of the candidate's choice in one
of: general geophysics, petroleum geophysics, seismology, mining
geophysics, petrophysics or engineering geophysics. Each consists
of 10-13 topics.
The detailed syllabus was subsequently presented to the CSEG/CSPG/APEGGA
Liaison Committee and CSEG who concurred with it.
Completion of the 1988 geophysics syllabus also encompassed a review
of the list of geophysics programs at Canadian universities. In
1989 there were 10 such universities (including one in the USA -
Colorado School of Mines) and 15 programs.
The preceding discussions described criteria which was theoretically
designed for either: persons who had only a high school education
and planned to be registered via the examination route, or who had
a university degree in geophysics from a Canadian university. But
in the actual situation there are many individuals who possess academic
qualifications in between these two extremes and possess varying
kinds of geophysical experience. (This is why Section 21 (a) of
the Regulations is being changed - see paragraph 4.21). The Board
of Examiners utilizes the following policies in handling such situations.
These policies include a modified version of the Gretener Rule (paragraph
In the case of applicants having geophysics degrees from institutions
in Canada other than those stated in the Board's list and elsewhere,
transcripts are examined relative to the Syllabus. If content as
appropriately documented is judged acceptable, academic qualifications
are deemed satisfactory. Otherwise, course-by-course (note (a))
or confirmatory (note (b)) examinations are assessed.
Graduates with geophysical experience and degrees in fields related
to the practice of geophysics will be assessed course-by-course
(note (a)) examinations according to the Syllabus. If geophysical
experience is six years or more, the exams will normally be confirmatory.
Graduates in geology, mathematics or physics with 4 year degrees
acceptable to the Board and six years of increasingly responsible
geophysics experience may be considered to meet the requirements
for registration. In cases of doubt, confirmatory (note (b)) examinations
will be assessed.
Generally, experience is separate and distinct from academic qualifications,
and cannot be used to make up for academic deficiencies.
Supplemented by Advanced Degrees
Content of all programs is examined relative to the Syllabus. If
total content is judged acceptable, academic requirements are acceptable.
Otherwise examinations are assessed. Applications are usually treated
on an individual basis. If the subordinate degree(s) is acceptable
for registration, the advanced degree(s) counts towards experience.
In exceptional cases, where the applicant has limited academic qualifications
but many years of continuous experience with a clear record of increasing
responsibility and outstanding professional reputation and stature,
the Board may accept the total package of academic and experience,
or alternatively require two examinations or completion of a report
at the Board's discretion.
Course-by-course exams are assessed when there are clear academic
deficiencies relative to the Syllabus. A maximum of four attempts
are permitted for each exam.
Confirmatory exams are assessed when the subjects of the program
appear equivalent to Syllabus subjects but content is unknown. Each
exam assessed is attempted once; if all are passed academic requirements
for registration are satisfactory.
Inclusion of the geology and geophysics professions under the professional
act presented some challenging problems for the Board of Examiners,
particularly with respect to academic requirements for registration.
Engineering had a common set of branches or subdivisions and program
curricula that was generally recognized throughout Canada and the
USA. All Canadian provinces and American states had been registering
engineers for several decades and national accreditation boards
had been established which formulated sets of engineering program
criteria for use as a basis for judging academic qualifications
for registration. Such was not the case for geology and geophysics.
While programs of studies existed at the Universities of Alberta
and Calgary, content varied and in some cases did not satisfy what
was judged by the Board as needed to qualify as a professional geologist
or geophysicist. Registrants intending to practice in Alberta who
were graduates from other provinces often had qualifications which
were also diverse.
Although the two professions have always been represented on the
Board of Examiners by experience and academic examiners registered
as professional geologists and professional geophysicists, the development
of appropriate qualifying criteria for registration was a long and
tedious process. To meet the obligations to the public under the
Act, it was necessary that requirements be set at a high standard,
and this philosophy was maintained. Yet the Board was consistently
receptive to representations from the geophysical and geological
communities and was prepared to change the qualifying criteria providing
the high standards were not compromised.
Development of the geology and geophysics syllabi which culminated
in the 1986 and 1988 editions are the results of much dedicated
effort on the part of the Board and members of the geological and
geophysical community. Alberta is considered to currently have a
rigorous system of assessing credentials relative to criteria of
high standards acceptable to the professions. Now that other jurisdictions
are beginning to register geologists and geophysicists, further
developments leading to accreditation of geology programs should
enhance this system.