Online Master’s Degree in Geology

Geology is the scientific study of the earth, including its origins, history, physical and chemical makeup, and associated phenomena, such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Modern geology also encompasses our solar system’s solid planets, according to UC Davis. The field of geology is interdisciplinary, intersecting often with biology, chemistry, physics, and environmental science. Therefore, a masters degree in geology is a good fit for science-minded students who are interested in careers that might entail a solid understanding of all of the physical sciences, particularly as they relate to geoscience.

Students interested in a master degree in geology often earn this degree on the path to a Ph.D., which will help qualify them for some of the best research and academic careers in geoscience. Others pursue a masters degree to prepare for employment in government or private business, tackling issues connected with land use, ground water, petroleum exploration, and more. Others may seek an online masters degree in geology to prepare themselves for a high school or middle school teaching career focused on earth science education. An online masters degree program in geology may take two to three years to complete, depending on the particular program and other factors, such as how many classes a student takes each semester or quarter, whether the student has any prior graduate credits to transfer in, and the total amount of credits that are required to complete the program.

Classes for an Online Masters Degree in Geology

The type of courses you take while enrolled in an online masters degree in geology can vary significantly depending on the program. For instance, students specializing in tectonics will complete vastly different course work than students specializing in hydrogeology. In general, however, students will take a selection of courses meant to deepen their understanding of the earth’s structure while providing the opportunity to conduct in-depth research in a particular area of interest. Students also learn practical skills, such as database development, geoscience software, lab skills (such as handling of specimens like fossils), and using special instrumentation and equipment, all valuable skills that are applicable to their future careers. A sampling of courses you might encounter includes:

  • Seismology
  • Geophysical Signal Analysis
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Surficial Processes
  • Advanced Hydrogeology

Most master’s programs in geology are designed to culminate in a master’s thesis. A master’s thesis is a substantial research project that requires students to identify a significant research question in the geosciences, conduct a literature review of available research in that area, and conduct original research in an effort to answer that question. The master’s thesis’s final deliverable will be a document of publishable quality, and students must defend their thesis in front of a faculty panel.

A Career as a Graduate with an Online Masters Degree in Geology

Entry-level careers in geoscience require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, but excellent job prospects are expected for those with master’s degrees in the field, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). An accredited online masters degree could qualify an individual for advancement or set them apart from their peers for job opportunities. Top careers in research and academia will typically require a Ph.D., the BLS notes. Employment growth of 21% is expected for geoscientists between 2010 and 2012, with the growth primarily driven by the demand for energy and environmental protection, as well as the need for responsible usage of land and natural resources, the BLS explains. A sampling of job titles in the geosciences include environmental geologist, geophysicist, hydrogeologist, petroleum geologist, and more, according to the American Geosciences Institute.


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