5 Best Master’s in Geological Engineering in 2024

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Updated: April 15, 2024, Reading time: 8 minutes

Geological engineers at work

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Geological engineers focus on understanding the Earth’s processes, the elements that make up the planet, and how these materials behave under different circumstances. Data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal employment opportunities for geological engineers will remain steady over the decade. 

However, as the world increasingly suffers from the threats posed by climate change and urbanization, the roles of geological engineers will become even more crucial. An advanced degree, such as a master’s, will increase your skills in developing creative solutions that safeguard populations from geological risks. 

If you’re in the market for a Master’s in Geological Engineering, this is a great starting point. We’ve listed a mix of online and on-campus degrees to give you more options. These master’s degrees are known for their rigorous advanced academic coursework in geological engineering.

Geological engineer on site
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Program Overview

SchoolProgramTuitionAcceptance RateStandout Program Feature/sAvailable Online?
Michigan Technological UniversityMaster of Science in Geological Engineering$27,702 per year86%– Offers three pathways: Thesis, Research, and Coursework-based 
– Offers various research and internship opportunities
University of Wisconsin – MadisonMaster of Science in Geological Engineering– $12,252 per year (resident)
– $25,578 per year (non-resident)
56%Provides financial aid opportunities, including assistantships and fellowshipsNO
University of North DakotaMaster of Science in Geological Engineering$13,083.84 per year83%Offer the same online tuition rates regardless of residencyYES
Missouri University of Science and TechnologyMaster of Science in Geological Engineering$1,200 per credit hour85%Offers various emphasis areas and graduate certificatesYES
University of IdahoMaster of Science in Geological Engineering– $554 per credit hour (resident)
– $1,623 per credit hour (non-resident)
53%– Offers low and affordable tuition
– Offers 1-on-1 personalized attention

5 Best Master’s in Geological Engineering

Michigan Technological University

 Houghton, MI

Master of Science in Geological Engineering

Tuition$27,702 per year
Credit Hour30

Michigan Technological University’s MS in Geological Engineering is an on-campus degree program specifically designed for students who want to have a research-based curriculum. The program’s primary goal is to prepare students for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a career in research, development, and teaching.

There are three pathways to complete the MS degree, each with their degree requirements: 

Regardless of which option you pursue, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in research projects in specialized labs, interdisciplinary centers, and research institutes on campus. Moreover, you can also pursue internships at mining and engineering companies.

 University of Wisconsin – Madison

Madison, WI

Master of Science in Geological Engineering

Tuition$12,252 per year (resident)
$25,578 per year (non-resident)
Credit Hour30

The University of Wisconsin—Madison offers an on-campus MS in Geological Engineering program. The program focuses on utilizing the earth’s resources for technical problem-solving and environmental protection. The program’s curriculum develops analytical, numerical, and laboratory analysis techniques for engineering and physical sciences students.

One of the standout features of this master’s degree is its versatility. With guidance from renowned academic advisors, students can choose their research area of interest. They can focus on researching and solving issues in soil and rock engineering, applied geophysics, geotechnical, and geoenvironmental engineering, among other fields. 

Students can choose between a Thesis Pathway and an Independent Study Pathway. Students also have access to fellowships and other funding opportunities.

University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, ND

Master of Science in Geological Engineering

Tuition$13,083.84 per year
Credit Hour30-34

The University of North Dakota’s MS in Geological Engineering allows students to pursue the degree online or on campus. While both formats offer the same high-quality core curriculum, students who pursue the online option may not be able to participate in the Thesis Option. 

If you plan to pursue a PhD, it’s advised that you pursue the on-campus learning format. 

The program’s core curriculum explores various advanced topics, including Geomechanics, Energy Geotechnics, Petrology and Geochemistry, and Geotechnical Engineering. Both online and on-campus students will also have access to the same student support services.

As a master’s degree student at UND, you can access active research grants, the FD Holland Jr. Geology Library, financial support, and free workshops. These resources will allow you to engage in cutting-edge research, access a vast array of geological literature and funding, and gain an extensive professional network that can help you advance your career trajectory.

Missouri University of Science and Technology

Rolla, MO

Master of Science in Geological Engineering

Tuition$1,200 per credit hour
Credit Hour30

If you’re looking for a more practice-based program, consider the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s MS in Geological Engineering. Offered in a distance learning format, this degree program caters to the unique needs of working students.  

This online MS program allows students to tailor their academic experience by choosing an emphasis that best suits their current or future professional goals:

Additional graduate certificates are also available in specialized areas such as Geotechnics, Subsurface Water Resources, Space Resources, and Geologic Hazards. This gives you the opportunity to enhance further your expertise and marketability in specific niches of geological engineering.

University of Idaho

Moscow, ID

Master of Science in Geological Engineering

Tuition$554 per credit hour (resident)
$1,623 per credit hour (non-resident)
Credit Hour30

University of Idaho’s MS in Geological Engineering is another promising program for students who want to study online to keep their full-time jobs. You can complete the program with a Thesis and Non-Thesis option. The Thesis option, however, may require you to report on-campus to complete certain aspects of your research or defend your thesis.

The program’s curriculum combines several topics, including geological engineering, civil engineering, hydrogeology, and site characterization. These courses aim to help students gain advanced training in designing civil engineering projects, evaluating geologic hazards, and developing natural energy resources.

Another known feature of this online geological engineering degree program is the personalized attention it offers from nationally and internationally recognized faculty and staff. 

Geological engineering student on site

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is Geological Engineering Important? 

The work of engineers impacts every aspect of modern life. Geological engineers, in particular, have the primary role of bridging the knowledge gap between geology and civil engineering to ensure that human interactions with the Earth are sustainable and safe. 

Here are brief explanations as to why geological engineers are important today:

  1. Geological engineers design infrastructure by ensuring compatibility with Earth’s materials and conditions, such as evaluating rock stability, groundwater conditions, and geohazards for safe and long-lasting tunnel construction.
  2. Geological engineers use seismic surveys and environmentally friendly drilling methods to focus on sustainable extraction of Earth’s resources, including minerals, oil, gas, and groundwater.
  3. Geological engineers are key defenders against geohazards like landslides, earthquakes, and volcanic activity. They design structures to withstand seismic activity and employ advanced construction techniques.
  4. Geological engineers protect the environment by managing waste disposal, preventing groundwater contamination, and restoring areas affected by mining or industrial activities. They ensure contaminants are removed and the area is restored sustainably.

Do I Need a Master’s Degree in Geological Engineering?

Yes. You should consider pursuing a master’s degree in geological engineering, especially if you want to expand your career opportunities in advanced roles. A bachelor’s degree will qualify you for your first license, which is the professional geologist license. Upon earning a master’s degree and a few more years of work and learning from senior geologists in geological engineering, you can become a qualified engineering geologist license holder.

A master’s degree program will help you pursue specializations within the field, allowing you to delve deeper into geotechnical engineering, geological hazards, or environmental geology as a specific area of geological engineering.

Moreover, a master’s degree will help you develop research skills for research and development positions. Master’s programs often involve research projects and internships for hands-on experience in applying theoretical knowledge to real-world situations. These experiences enhance your analytical and problem-solving skills, contribute to field advancement, and gain valuable experience for employers.

How Much Do Geological Engineers with a Master’s Degree Earn?

The annual salaries of geological engineers with a master’s degree vary depending on several factors, such as their industry, position, and specialization. Glassdoor.com provides insight into these earnings, reporting that:

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