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Geologists are often focused on the earth’s physical materials, processes, and history. While having a bachelor’s degree with a Geology major can be a good stepping stone for an entry-level career in geology, many employers prefer to hire geologists with a master’s degree under their belt.
A Master of Science Education in Geology focuses on physical science, earth science, geological sciences, hydrological processes, environmental science, environmental risk assessment, and other relevant disciplines.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a geoscientist can earn a median pay of $87,480 annually. But with an online Master of Science in Geology, this compensation rate can go up.
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Many graduate students pursuing an advanced degree in geology are working professionals who need to juggle their pursuit of a graduate degree with their personal and professional demands. Fortunately, many higher learning institutions in the country offer online master’s degrees in Geology.
Online masters in Geology, like other advanced Geoscience degrees, will build upon the competence that one gained from their undergraduate degree, allowing one to acquire a broader understanding and in-depth knowledge of the field, from Geologic Data to Geological Sustainability.
To help prospective students find the best online Master’s in Geology programs, we picked the best ten choices! Here are the outstanding features of each top-rated degree program on our list:
- Delivered as a Geology master’s program in an online or blended format, requiring students to comply with the requirements both off and on campus,
- Features advanced Geological Science courses, explores earth science and other related STEM disciplines, featuring specializations such as Environmental Geology, Geochemistry, Engineering Geology, Resource Management, or Petroleum Data Management,
- Uses a robust Learning Management System for convenient Geology master’s degree coursework access, virtual class attendance,
- Licensed geologists or Geological Science experts as instructors, with most, if not all, of them being terminal degree holders,
- Approved by academic accrediting organizations that establish the standards of instruction in online master’s degrees, particularly in Geology,
- Recognized by science organizations, with a particular focus on Geology and Geological sciences, that advance the discipline and the profession,
- and, Positively reviewed by Geology graduate students and alumni.
Read our Methodology for a detailed Master’s in Geology ranking process.
Best Online Master’s in Geology Degree Programs
University of Houston
The University of Houston offers a Master of Science in Geology that is an ideal choice for working professionals. It features a fully online curriculum, which means students can enjoy flexibility in their schedules.
Students who want to get admitted into the program will do well with prior training in geosciences along with a bachelor’s degree in Geology or an equivalent. There are also prerequisite courses and credit courses in the sciences and mathematics that students will need to complete before they can be successfully admitted into the program.
The online Geology masters program is designed to help them land professional professions that require advanced geological knowledge and skills in a variety of settings, including the government, academic, and industrial sectors. The program’s curriculum is taught by experienced faculty at the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences.
To earn the degree program, students will need to complete 36 credit hours. Some of the courses include Geochemistry, Advanced Structural Geology, Geospatial Analysis and Application, and Basin Modeling, among others. They are also required to pass a capstone project, although it can be replaced by an additional approved elective by petitioning their graduate advisor.
Ohio University offers a Master of Science in Geological Sciences as a non-thesis track. It is a great option for geoscientists, earth science teachers, and working professionals who need a convenient graduate degree for career growth and advancement. Students are equipped with advanced practical knowledge and training that can enhance their marketability in the field of geology.
Students can successfully earn the program once they have met the minimum requirement of 30 semester hours. They are expected to familiarize themselves with the basic concepts using the earth sciences and learn how modern observations may be extended into deep time.
The program curriculum ensures that they gain a solid foundation in the geology discipline that they can readily apply at work or use in graduate school. By the end of the program, students must be able to interpret, analyze, and discuss scientific papers that tackle geological problems and research techniques.
Some of the courses in the program include Solid Earth Geochemistry, Geodata Analysis, Colloquium in Geology, Earth Systems Evolution, Watershed and Stream Hydrology, Planetary Geology, Groundwater Fundamentals and Practices, and more.
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas
Students who wish to transform their career in geology may want to pursue a Master of Geoscience degree that is offered by Texas A&M University through the Department of Geology. This exclusively online program will teach value-added skills to students who want to delve deep into the evolving areas of geosciences.
There are two concentration options that they can choose from:
- Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIST)
- Petroleum Data Management (PDM)
This geological sciences degree program does not require GRE scores for admission. It features three start dates every year with five 8-week terms per year. To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours.
This master’s degree is offered as a non-thesis track and can be completed in as little as 18 months. Students may also choose between part-time and full-time enrollment, but the coursework can be completed at their own pace. This allows for maximum flexibility.
The GIST track equips students with the necessary knowledge and skills that will help them meet the increasing demand for GIST technical expertise. They are also expected to be leaders in innovation and readily apply modern technologies to rewarding careers in various settings, including nonprofit, government, and business sectors.
The core courses for this track include Remote Sensing Geographical Analysis, GeoDatabases, GIS Programming, Data Quality for the Geosciences, Experimental Design and Analysis, and Data Methods & Geographical Representation, among others.
University of Pennsylvania
Designed for experienced geoscientists, the online Master of Science in Applied Geosciences from the University of Pennsylvania can help graduate students expand their science and engineering experience. This online master’s degree is an excellent way for them to advance in the field without having to relocate and interrupt their career.
Featuring a rigorous curriculum, this fully online program tackles a wide range of pressing environmental, geological, and geophysical engineering problems that can train students to make real, practical differences. Students will be able to build their skills and prepare them for their next professional move and career advancement.
The program teaches them to master various approaches that will let them mitigate soil and water contamination while addressing environmental remediation challenges and reducing impacts brought about by climate change.
Students are expected to deepen their knowledge and technical expertise in geochemistry, hydrogeology, geophysics, and engineering geology. They will also gain leadership and project management skills integral to the advancement of environmental remediation, geotechnical evaluation, and pollution prevention.
Learning from a team of earth science educators, leading academic researchers, and experienced industry experts, students can be guaranteed an excellent learning experience. To earn the degree, students must complete at least 12 graduate-level courses within two years.
The core courses include:
- Aqueous Geochemistry,
- Environmental Groundwater Hydrology,
- Engineering Geology,
- and Applied and Environmental Geophysics, among others.
University of Missouri
The Master of Science in Geological Engineering offered by the University of Missouri is a non-thesis master’s degree program offered online. It covers the application of the principles of geology to solve a wide range of problems in engineering practices. This includes assessing and mitigating geologic hazards, evaluating groundwater resources, and developing sustainable mineral and energy resources.
The program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, with at least one course in each of the three core areas. Students will also need to get courses from each of the four emphasis areas. Taking one to two classes each semester, students will be able to finish in two to three years.
Some of the coursework in the program includes subsurface hydrology, engineering geology and geotechnics, and subsurface exploration.
This master’s in geology degree online program is offered under the Department of Geoscience and Geological and Petroleum Engineering. The university has accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Champaign and Urbana, Illinois
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers a Master of Science in Environmental Geology degree program. It is offered with a non-thesis track and has a total of 32 credit hours.
It is delivered in an online format, which is ideal for working professionals who are unable to commit to any time to on-campus classes. The program is also an ideal platform for professionals who have long since earned their bachelor’s degree to get up to speed with any changes in the field and update their skills and open the door to career advancement.
The program has a focus on environment-related expertise, including modeling of groundwater flow, geochemistry of groundwater and contaminants, characterization of contaminant migration, and environmental geophysics. The program also includes geospatial and data science components and concludes with a capstone course worth 4 to 8 credit hours.
Admission into the program requires a Bachelor of Science degree and a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Applicants who do not meet GPA requirements may still be able to enroll if they have significant expertise.
University of Kansas
The University of Kansas offers a Professional Science Masters (PSM) in Environmental Geology degree program. It is a unique program that is focused on developing professionals who will take up leadership roles in environmental geology in both government and industry/non-government settings.
It is primarily designed for students who are interested in addressing environmental problems using scientific knowledge.
Most of the coursework can be completed online, with the on-campus component either being a series of three one-day-long on-site workshops or a week-long field course. The program has 36 credit hours in total.
The program directly integrates management, communication, and coursework centered around case studies. The curriculum combines training in project management and communications skills with in-depth coursework in geology and environmental policy.
As a geology master’s degree program, the curriculum is founded on the fundamental sub-disciplines of the geological sciences. Still, it contains a primary focus on hydrogeology, geochemistry, and geophysics, as well as components from engineering geology.
Mississippi State University
Mississippi State University offers a Master of Science in Geosciences degree program, which has a concentration on Environmental Geosciences. It was designed for students who are interested in studies covering a broad cross-section of the geological sciences.
The program has 30 credit hours in total and is offered with a non-thesis track. The program is also delivered in both online and on-campus formats.
This master’s in geology degree online program has a 10-course program of study, which includes courses in disciplines such as climatology, ocean science, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Mississippi State uses Canvas as the leading Learning Management System for its coursework.
The entire program can be completed online, although interested students may choose to attend the summer semester in-person options, as the department may offer an in-person Field Methods Seminar (a field-based course) or an on-campus workshop in Research in Applied Meteorology.
Being a non-thesis degree program, students are required to pass the comprehensive written exam after completing all of their coursework.
University of Idaho
The University of Idaho offers a Master of Science in Geological Engineering degree program, which contains 30 credit hours and is offered online through the university’s Engineering Outreach distance learning campus.
The program is a combination of advanced knowledge in geology and engineering that prepares students with skillsets applicable to a number of industries, including civil engineering, the mining industries, energy and mineral resource development, and the field of disaster risk mitigation.
Students enrolled in the program take courses in geological engineering, civil engineering, and hydrogeology, as well as courses in statistics and site characterization.
The program is offered with a thesis and non-thesis options; however, only the non-thesis track is offered with the online degree program. For this track, applicants for admission must have at least two years of professional experience and be able to demonstrate their ability to write a technical paper/report, which they will present in a public seminar.
Being an engineering master’s degree, applicants must generally have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering or geology. Students of non-engineering backgrounds (e.g., mathematics, hydrology, geology, physics) are welcome to apply but may have to take additional coursework.
Missouri University of Science & Technology
Missouri University of Science & Technology offers a Master of Science in Geological Engineering degree program. It is offered as a non-thesis master’s degree program and consists of 30 credit hours.
The program contains three core areas and four emphasis areas. Students must take all 9-credit-hour core courses and one or more from each of the emphasis areas, which are Engineering Geology & Geotechnics, Environmental & Hydrology, Engineering Geophysics, and Data Analytics. A minimum of four courses students choose to take must be geological engineering courses.
The program also offers an online certificate with credits that may be applied toward the master’s degree. These graduate certificates include Geologic Hazards, Geotechnics, Mine Reclamation, Space Resources, and Subsurface Water Resources.
As an Engineering master’s degree, applicants to the program are required to have a previous degree in Geological Engineering or a related science or engineering discipline. The program welcomes students from other academic backgrounds, but they may have to take a number of remedial courses.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to complete a Master’s in Geology online degree?
The program duration often depends on a variety of factors. Students may be enrolled full-time or part-time, which can affect the time it takes for them to complete their master’s degree in Geology.
Some schools offer the degree program online in an asynchronous format, giving students the option to complete the courses at their own pace. The curriculum can also affect the ease with which to earn the degree, with many geology online degrees requiring the completion of thesis work or a capstone project. This often involves formulating geological research questions, writing high-quality written proposals, and even taking on research assistantship positions.
What careers are open to online Master’s in Geology graduates?
Graduates of Master’s Degrees in Geology can apply their core technical skills in Geology—as well as other hard and soft skills they acquired throughout their time in the degree program—to a wide variety of industries in both government and non-government settings.
Graduates can go on to work for the government in regulatory agencies, especially when it comes to monitoring pollutants and adherence to environmental standards, as well as positions related to conducting research.
They can also occupy positions in the energy industry, such as petroleum, or in renewables, such as geothermal energy. They can also use their learned skills in Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems to offer external consultancy services.
Graduates of degree programs that have an environmental focus can also apply their skillsets in non-profits and advocacy groups in the various advocacy-related tasks that serve the overall goal of environmental protection. Lastly, graduates can also go on to serve as educators in various levels of education.
How much does an online Master’s in Geology degree cost?
A good starting point for getting an estimate of the overall cost of the degree is to take the cost per credit hour multiplied by the total number of credit hours. Master’s in Geology/Geological Science degree programs start at around $500 per credit hour, while some degree programs can go up to over $1000. These programs tend to be around 30 credit hours in total.
Overall, it is best to contact universities directly to get the most exact cost figures and to find out the various ways they offer to reduce costs, such as scholarships and grants, that add to the standard federal financial aid.
Master’s in Geology degrees are varied in terms of the emphasis taken by their curriculum designs. While some degree programs have a focus on geological and civil engineering applications, some degree programs have a particular emphasis on addressing environmental issues.
Many master’s in Geology degree programs require applicants to come from geology, engineering, and other science backgrounds since this favors them when it comes to handling the math-intensive course load of most programs. Those that welcome applicants from other academic backgrounds typically require students to take remedial courses.
Master’s degree in Geology graduates are equipped with technical, problem-solving, and communications skillsets that they can readily apply to government and non-government settings, as well as a variety of industries such as the environmental sciences, policy, energy, and mining industries, and more.
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