Geology Degrees

Students interested in studying the earth and its materials should consider earning online masters geology degrees. A geologist studies the Earth's processes, such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, materials, such as oil and metals, and its geological history. In a geology program, students may learn about how people impact the environment, how to locate natural resources, and how to prepare maps to avoid building in areas that may be flooded. In addition to the technical expertise, a geology major may also learn critical thinking, problem solving, organizational, and communication skills, which will provide a good foundation for their career.

Classes and Assignments of a Geology Major

A geology student may take petrology, mineralogy, geographic information science (GIS), hydrogeology, and geophysics. Many of these classes are lecture-based, with a lot of the material coming from scientific text books. Some of these classes have a laboratory component as well. Grades are typically determined by the student's participation in discussions as well as his or her performance on exams, which feature matching, short answer, and diagrammatic problems.

Degree Levels for an Geology Major

  • Associate. Online associate geology degrees provide a solid foundation for the pursuit of online bachelors geology degrees. Students in an associate program may take two geology and chemistry classes, in addition to the core classes, such as English, history, and humanities. The associate degree program enables students to complete their basic courses, which can then be applied towards a bachelor's degree.
  • Bachelor's. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that a bachelor's degree is a requirement for most entry-level positions within geology. In an undergraduate program, the student may take paleontology, geomorphology, geophysics, hydrogeology, and petroleum geology. By the time students graduate, they should be able to use geological principles to solve problems; identify minerals, rocks, and fossils; create geological maps; and more.
  • Master's. Most geoscientists and hydrologists need a master's degree to enter the field, according to the BLS. Obtaining a master's degree is a great option for students who are interested in working in geological research or who are considering pursuing a doctoral degree. A geology master's student may take courses in tectonics, environmental and exploration geophysics, and surficial and glacial geology. To graduate, they may have to complete an original research thesis.
  • Doctoral. A doctoral degree in geology is necessary for many research and college teaching jobs. Doctoral candidates typically need to choose an area of specialization before they start their post-graduate work. These specializations may include sedimentology, structural geology, mineralogy-petrology-geochemistry, and hydrogeology. Each school offers different programs, so make sure to check into it if you're considering a doctoral degree in geology.

A Future as a Geology Major

Geology graduates can find jobs as a geoscientist or hydrologist in numerous industries. For example, a petroleum geologist searches for oil and gas deposits in the subsurface of the ocean or land, a paleontologist examine fossils found in rock formations, and a volcanologist studies volcanic activity to predict future eruptions. The BLS expects employment of geoscientists to increase by 18% between 2008 and 2018 because of the need for responsible land and water management and environmental protection. The median salary for geoscientists was $79,160 in May 2008. However, remember that employment and salary statistics are general numbers and may change by location and employer.