Online Geology Associate’s Degree

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated March 15, 2024

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.

On this page
Back to top

Geology studies materials, processes, structures, and life on Earth over time. In this subject, research on solid earth materials and extraterrestrial natural materials occurs through various geological methods. An online geology associate’s degree provides a broad knowledge of various scientific topics in geology, including the composition and behavior of rocks, minerals, landscape formation and modification, volcanoes, and more. The learning is usually supplemented with on-site learning opportunities. The online geology associate’s degree prepares students for successful transfer to four-year programs at colleges across the United States. Geologists work in specialized agencies that protect the public from natural disasters like volcanoes, floods, and earthquakes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 5% increase in employment opportunities from 2021 to 2031 for geologists[1].

Online Geology Associate’s Degree

Find the Best Online Associate
Programs in Geology

The transition from high school to an associate’s degree could be tricky. It involves evaluating multiple factors, including the quality of the faculty, transferable credits, available student resources, learning modes, curriculum, and accreditation. An outstanding college education can contribute significantly to one’s academic or career choices. FBD teams have scrutinized many colleges and degrees from all over the U.S. and, using our unique approach of ranking, prepared a list of colleges that offer the best online geology associate’s degrees. Here is the list: *

Carroll County Community College, founded in 1976, is a two-year community college that serves the residents of Carroll County, Maryland. The college offers affordable degrees that help students easily transfer to four-year colleges.
Univ Address
Carroll Community College 1601 Washington Rd, Westminster, Maryland 21157

Universities and programs are ranked by various factors, such as affordability, curriculum and coursework, reputation and availability, program length, statistics, the potential of employment, and return on investment for the students. For a more in-depth analysis, please read about our rankings methodology page

What to Expect from an Online Associate
Program in Geology

Associate degrees in geology are generally two-year programs designed to provide fundamental knowledge in Earth sciences, physical science, mathematics, and more, for transferring credits into a general geology or Earth Science four-year degree. It typically requires 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours. The curriculum provides knowledge about the Earth and its processes, the state of our natural resources, and more. Along with the necessary courses, students will also be expected to choose electives offered by the college. Most institutions across the U.S. offer online, offline, and hybrid modes of program delivery to match the schedules of varied applicants. One can expect various on-site learning opportunities, field experiences, and research starting their first semester. Usually, most institutions’ associate’s degrees in geology have a small class size that enables personalized attention from professors.

Curriculum and

An associate degree in geology covers natural sciences and gives foundational knowledge of biology, engineering, mathematics, physics, and chemistry, among others. The curriculum is planned in a manner that helps the transfer of students to colleges nationwide and delivers an in-depth understanding of various topics in geology and geological processes. The provided all-rounded education fulfills the general education component and makes degree holders efficient in transferring to colleges or pursuing careers in geology.

Generally, colleges have curricula that offer several combinations of courses. The basic disciplines under which topics are covered include English composition, mathematics, humanities, fine arts, social and behavioral sciences, and natural sciences. Under these disciplines, some of the courses offered include:

Physical Geology

This course introduces the dynamic events and processes that have modified and shaped the interior and surface of Earth. This foundational subject creates a base for students to learn further topics in geosciences. It takes an inquiry-based approach to develop an understanding of Earth’s surface features, with a particular focus on rocks, seismic activity, crustal deformation, minerals, volcanism, climatic settings, and more.

Writing and Research in the Discipline

This course focuses on developing critical thinking, reading, and writing skills to help explore unique ideas in a subject. Its emphasis is on developing sound perspectives that can be backed by evidence or research. Developing skills in this course is essential at the associate’s level and will benefit those pursuing higher education.

Principles of General Chemistry

This course is often mandatory in most colleges, as it helps give a basic understanding of life sciences. Some topics covered include the study of atoms, molecules, matter and measurements, ions, solution stoichiometry, the electronic structure of atoms, and so on. Along with lecture classes, students may be required to spend a specified number of hours in the laboratory.

Historical Geology

This course includes field-based research. It consists of online and site-based presentations and explorations, independent field projects, field excursions, laboratory-based exercises, etc. The focus is to trace the development and modification of climate, landforms, life, and the environment throughout the geological period.

Environmental or Ecological Sustainability

This course focuses on the interaction between the natural environment and humans. Different systems of Earth-like climate dynamics and biogeochemical cycles are explored in line with human development and population growth, human impact on earth systems, and energy usage.

Some of the other typical courses that may be part of the associate’s degree in geology curriculum are:

  • Oil and Gas Geology
  • Introduction to Oceanography
  • Arts and Humanities General Education
  • Calculus of a Single Variable
  • Geology and National Parks
  • Environmental Geology
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences General Education
  • Fundamentals of Physics
  • Writing about Literature-Diversity

To understand the associate’s program, read the Guide to Associate’s Degree.

Learning Outcomes and
Skills Gained

An associate degree adds to a student’s high school diploma and helps them pursue other academic programs like a bachelor’s degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pursuing an associate’s degree could help one raise their earnings from $37,488 to $45,024, which is a 20% increase in salary[2].

Several program learning outcomes enable students to accomplish the required academic and professional requirements that are the demand in their field, including the ability to:

  • identify rocks and minerals that form Earth;
  • analyze various data from geologic and topographic maps;
  • collect data and apply different geologic techniques to that data for analysis;
  • recognize interdisciplinary methods to examine scientific problems;
  • use suitable methodologies and technologies to solve geological problems that affect the world today;
  • interpret data related to geology from samples that are collected, published resources, digital media, and direct observation;
  • apply quantitative reasoning and scientific knowledge to solve problems in both the field and laboratory;
  • make analytical observations in field-related settings and answer questions related to geology;
  • discuss the relationship between the environment, society, and Earth’s system with geology.

Types of Degrees Geology Students
Can Obtain

The online geology associate’s degrees provide a credential that shows the knowledge and expertise of a person in geology. After completing an associate in geology, one can consider advanced degrees or enter the workforce at entry-level positions. As geology is part of the broader natural science discipline, an Associate of Science in Geology degree is most commonly pursued by students in the U.S.

Associate of Science in Geology

The Associate of Science or AS in Geology is a two-year program that focuses on the understanding and study of the physical structure and substance of Earth. It is intended for those who wish to pursue a bachelor of science degree in geology or a related field at a four-year institution. The curriculum of this degree places emphasis on courses like mathematics, physics, engineering, geology, chemistry, and more. With the in-depth understanding of geology that one would gain, one can quickly transfer to any college around the country or step into different geology-related occupations.

Areas of Specialization for
Geology Students

Academic specializations refer to the topic in which one specializes and learns in-depth concepts. They are focused areas of study attached to a specific major. In specializing, students would be expected to meet a particular amount of coursework about one sub-field in geology. Since a geology associate’s degree is an entry-level program, one might generally not find specializations at the associate’s level. A further advanced degree, like a bachelor’s, is required to specialize in sub-fields of geology. However, one should be aware of the kind of concentrations available in the field, some of which are:

Area of Specialization Description Career Options
Economic GeologyIn this concentration, students learn how to locate and manage the various natural resources of Earth, including minerals, petroleum, coal, and more. This study aims to understand the usage of Earth’s materials for economical or industrial purposes.Economic geologists at museums, governmental departments, scientific bodies, consulting companies, etc.
Petroleum GeologyThis specialization studies the origin, movement, exploration, and accumulation of different hydrocarbon fuels. A specific set of geological principles is taught to understand how hydrocarbons or oil explorations occur.Petroleum geologists and related careers
Mining GeologyIn this specialization, students learn about economic geology and mining engineering principles. It focuses on developing a defined mineral resource and understanding how ore deposits are economically extracted.Mining geologists, geologist miners, and related careers
Hydrology GeologyIn this specialization, one studies the interaction of water with the natural environment of soils and rocks. Various movements, quality, and behavior of underground water are discussed.Various occupations such as hydrogeologists

Full-Time and Part-Time

The associate’s in geology degree prepares students to transfer into four-year programs successfully and, in most cases, share their credits. Obtaining an associate degree typically requires 60 semester or 90 quarter credit hours. Generally, it takes two years to complete an associate of science degree in geology when taken up full-time. A part-time option that takes more than two years to complete is available for those who want more time to finish their program. Most institutions across the U.S. now provide an option of taking courses online, where one can complete the learning in asynchronous or synchronous learning formats.

Requirements for Getting into an Online
Associate Geology Program

Earning an associate’s degree is relatively affordable and takes lesser time than a bachelor’s degree. Hence, many applicants usually prefer to apply for these programs. The degree also helps them land new career paths in various professions. Institutions providing an online geology associate’s degree across the U.S. will vary in their admission requirements; one would also often need to meet specific conditions to gain entry. Some of the standard requirements for an online geology associate’s degree are:

  • Application fee and completed application form
  • ACT or SAT scores (at some colleges)
  • High school diploma, General Education Development Test, or an equivalent
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5 (varies from institution to institution)
  • Completion of English, Math, and Science courses is usually prescribed as pre-college curriculum (those who do not meet this requirement must take up additional courses as part of their curriculum)
  • A Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement

How to Ensure an Online Associate Geology
Program Is Accredited

The accreditation process helps regulate colleges and the quality of programs they provide. Accreditation assures students and potential employers that the degree is high quality. Students contemplating an accredited associate’s degree in geology online can check a college’s accreditation status on the official U.S. Department of Education website[3] or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website[4]. Most institutions are accredited by six regional bodies, which are:

  • New England Commission of Higher Education(NECHE)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

For more on accreditation, read the Guide to College Accreditation.

Where to Find Free Online Courses for
Geology Associate Students

Free geology courses are an excellent option for those who want to gain additional knowledge and deeper insights into geology. Here are some examples:

Course Description Provided by
Reservoir Geomechanics[5]This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to encompass various fields of structural geology, earthquake seismology, rock mechanisms, and petroleum engineering to address various geomechanical problems arising from gas and oil exploitation reservoirs.edX
Our Earth: Its Climate, History, and Processes[6]In this course, one can learn about the building blocks of Earth’s climate systems. Some topics discussed include igneous rocks, minerals and rocks, metamorphic rocks, and sedimentary rocks. The course also introduces the usage of radioactivity to date rocks and stable isotopes to measure the Earth’s structure.Coursera
Extreme Geological Events[7]This course explores how different geological events shape Earth and what future challenging events might hamper the planet. It explores the topics of the formation of the Earth, historical events that have shaped the Earth’s surface, and the differences between geology’s extreme and regular activity.Class Central

Ways to Pay for an Online Associate
Geology Degree

It can be daunting for students to understand how to pay for college. College tuition increases yearly, and many people cannot afford the fees. Since a geology associate degree is an entry-level program, the financial burden is considerably lesser, as the associate degree is usually considered affordable. However, for those who find the need to seek financial assistance to fund their college education, the following financial aid may be considered:

FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid form helps one understand what financial aid they can apply for, including grants, scholarships, loans, and more.

Federal Direct Loans

Federal loans are low-interest and sponsored by the Federal Government when the student meets specific prescribed criteria. Students need not be burdened with loan repayment until they graduate and gain employment.


Grants are available from various sources, including federal and state governments, educational organizations, non-profits, and businesses. It is important to note that since an associate’s degree is entry-level, one might generally not find many grants compared to other advanced degrees like a bachelor’s or master’s.


Scholarships are monetary awards that an awardee need not pay back until they meet the conditions of the award granted. Scholarships can come from various sources, like federal and state governments, colleges, individual sponsors, charities, and other organizations.

For more information on funding college, read the Financial Aid Guide.

Career Opportunities and Salaries
After Graduating

After completing a geology associate’s degree, one can expect to gain the professional skills required to work in various fields of geology and related careers. Associate degree holders must note that most posts may require a bachelor’s degree and above to be considered for high-paying positions. Still, they can apply for entry-level jobs in those occupations, some of which are:

Occupation Job DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2031)
Geoscientists[1]Geoscientists typically study various physical aspects of the Earth, including its structure, processes, and compositions, to gather information about its present, future, and past. They conduct and plan field studies by visiting many locations to collect appropriate samples and execute surveys. They make geological charts and maps.Communication skills, outdoor skills, physical stamina, critical-thinking skills, problem-solving skills$83,6805% (as fast as average)
Geological and Hydrologic Technicians[8]Geological and hydrologic technicians work alongside scientists and engineers to discover, extract, and monitor natural resources like soil, natural gas, and water. They prepare reports and maps to identify geological features of areas with potentially lucrative natural resources.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, interpersonal skills$50,0804% (as fast as average)
Civil Engineering Technologists and Technicians[9]Civil engineering technologists and technicians usually confer with engineers about the plans to determine the size of various structures. They can conduct surveys in the field, collect data and test soil samples, observe project sites, and document the activity of a project.Critical-thinking skills, decision-making skills, math skills, observational skills, problem-solving skills, writing skills$58,3200% (none or little change)
Drafters[10]Drafters often use different software to convert architects’ and engineers’ designs into technical diagrams and drawings. They design plans with the use of Computer-Aided Design software and manuals.Creativity, detail-oriented, math skills, interpersonal skills, technical skills, time-management skills$60,290-3% (decline)
Surveying and Mapping Technicians[11]Surveying and mapping technicians collect data to execute the mapping of the Earth’s surface. They typically collect data on location, search for past survey points, and use descriptive data to record survey data.Decision-making skills, detail-oriented, physical stamina, listening skills$46,9104% (as fast as average)
Mechanical Engineering Technologists and Technicians[12]Mechanical engineering technologists and technicians help mechanical engineers develop, manufacture, test, and design machines or other devices. They primarily work in research and development labs and factories.Communication skills, math skills, mechanical skills, detail-oriented, problem-solving skills$60,4602% (slower than average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Associate
Students in Geology

Professional certifications show that employees are committed to their field, continuing their learning endeavors, and upholding industry standards. Earning certifications can help one add new skills to their traditional degrees. Since an online geology associate degree is an entry-level program, one usually does not qualify for certification. For example, the American Institute of Professional Geologists[13]provides certified professional geologists certification based on their integrity, ethics, and competence, but since applicants are generally required to have a minimum bachelor’s degree or higher in geological sciences, associate students cannot apply for this certification.

In geology, professionals generally do not require licensure to work, especially in entry-level positions associate degree holders qualify for. However, one should be mindful that for working in public services like environmental protection, regulatory compliances, and civil engineering projects, geologists must be licensed by the state. The Fundamentals of Geology Exam, or FGE, administered by the National Association of State Boards of Geology[14]or ASBOG, is what all states use to provide licensure.

Additional Resources for Associate
Students in Geology

The Geological Society of America [15]The Geological Society of America aims to make rigorous scientific advances and discoveries. They provide many opportunities to publish and share research that solves the challenges of Earth. Members host many meetings and premier conferences where they discuss cutting-edge ideas, new research innovations, and discuss scientific challenges.
American Geosciences Institutes [16]The American Geoscience Institutes collaborate with organizations representing geoscientists with diverse knowledge about Earth Sciences. It provides opportunities for education and outreach, scholarly information, public policy, publications, and workforce development.
American Geophysical Union [17]The American Geophysical Union supports professionals pursuing Earth and space sciences. The non-profit organization focuses on disseminating information related to science in the international and interdisciplinary fields within the space and Earth sciences.
Association for Women Geoscientists [18]The Association for Women Geoscientists is one of the worldwide organizations that aims to enhance the level and quality of participation of women in the field of geosciences and explore more lucrative careers.
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography [19]The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography aims to further the interests of the public toward research in the limnological sciences. They provide educational resources for oceanography, general earth sciences, and limnology careers.

FAQs About Online Associate
Geology Programs

What do geologist study?

Geologists generally study the formations of Earth and its structures and how it has changed over time. They also explore the physical properties of the Earth’s rock layers to check specific items like volcanoes, mineral deposits, erosion patterns, and so on.

How do I understand if an associate’s geology program is for me?

How long does completing the associate’s degree in geology online take?

Are there accelerated online geology associate degrees?

What can you do with an online geology associate’s degree?

Is an associate’s degree in geology online worth it?

Is the associate’s degree in geology readily available online?

Author Bio:

Brandon Mario D’Souza

Brandon is a registered social worker with Social Work England. He obtained his master’s in social work (personnel management & industrial relations) and used it in fields such as water treatment, construction, software, and education. Then he transitioned to the health and social care sector with an M.Sc. in health psychology. Brandon loves to write, cook, and play musical instruments (piano, guitar, melodica, ukulele, and kazoo) and enjoys the calmness and serenity of nature.


Master of Social Work, Master of Health Psychology

Areas of Expertise & Credentials

None to disclose in particular; the basics are covered in the short bio.


The average tuition (based on degree type for in-state students), average graduation rates, and rankings are based on data from various sources, including the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), and are variable over time. All rankings and statistics are subject to change. The rankings are solely the opinion of Find Best Degrees (FBD) and are based on our proprietary methodology. They do not represent the views of the institutions or organizations mentioned, nor do they represent any official government census or survey. Furthermore, any views or opinions expressed on this page are of FBD’s researchers and teams. Unless otherwise specified, they do not represent the thoughts and opinions of the individuals, institutions, or organizations mentioned. This page’s content is provided solely for informational purposes, with data drawn from various sources, including IPEDS. FBD and its employees make no guarantees regarding the accuracy or completeness of any information found on this page or by following any link. FBD will not be held liable for any errors or omissions in this material nor any losses, injuries, or damages resulting from the exposure or use of this information. Although the information on this page is/was correct at the time of publication, readers should exercise caution because some or all of the provided information may have changed over time, potentially resulting in inaccuracies. For more information, please read our Terms of Service. Trademarks and logos are the property of their registered owners.