Geologist Schools and Training Programs

Earning a degree in geology allows you to delve into the interdisciplinary sciences that investigate hydrology, land formation, natural resources and the evolution of the planet. Read on for information about geology programs at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels and suggestions for choosing a school. Schools offering Teaching - Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How Can I Study to Become a Geologist?

Geology degrees are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. These degree programs train you to work as a geologist, researcher, consultant or conservationist, though each have their own particular goals for graduates. Bachelor's programs prepare you for entry-level research assistant jobs at non-profit organizations, universities, government agencies and environmental companies, as well as teaching positions at elementary, middle or high schools.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, you'll need to earn a graduate degree to become a geologist or geoscientist (www.bls.gov). Master's and doctoral programs usually provide you teaching or research assistantship opportunities to either train you for a career in academia or allow you to apply your classroom learning to a particular discipline within the field, such as hydrology, physics or tectonics.

Some schools offer engineering concentrations and study-abroad options within a master's program. The completion of a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geology typically coincides with an extended, publishable piece of original research. Upon graduating with either an master's degree or Ph.D., you'll be eligible for advanced positions as a geological research analyst. With a Ph.D. you'll also be qualified to teach geology at the university level.

What Courses Will I Take?

Geology is the science of the Earth, and most programs provide a solid background in traditional math and sciences. Undergraduate coursework introduces you to chemistry, calculus, physics and biology before beginning the major courses. Bachelor's-level geology courses include Earth materials, hydrogology, structural geology, paleobiology, and physical geology. A bachelor's program essentially provides a foundational knowledge of geology, though some programs offer concentrated electives or senior research projects in such areas as environmental geology or geophysics.

Master's degree programs in geology allow you to specialize in a subtopic of geology, such as glacial erosion or marine geology. You'll take a number of advanced courses that prepare you for an independent research project. Doctoral curricula vary significantly in the projects and sub-specializations offered. At some schools, you begin by selecting several advisors from different geological aspects who work together in determining the appropriate courses for your selected focus. Alternately, your program might have specific core lectures, courses and seminars you're required to attend before selecting a concentration.

How Should I Select a School?

You might choose a school for your undergraduate degree based on which aspect of geological science interests you most. If you're interested in oceanic geology, consider schools with easy access to the coast. If you want to work with rock structures, look for a school with close proximity to canyons, volcanoes or above-ground formations. You can find online courses at the undergraduate level, though fully online degree programs are not widely available.

When evaluating graduate schools, you might want to take a close look at the professors in each department to ensure research projects and topics align with your interests. Evaluate faculty achievements, publications and explorations to not only assess qualifications in the field, but reputation within the geological community. Instructors that belong to professional organizations or hold certifications might demonstrate credibility in a particular discipline. You might also qualify for grant funding, university stipends or assistantship opportunities that could help pay for graduate education.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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