Online Geology Degrees

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated January 16, 2024
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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.

Degrees

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.

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Geology is the scientific study of the physical structure, processes, and the history of expansion and change of Earth. A geology degree online covers topics related to Earth’s physical environment, including climate, renewable geological resources, geological hazards, non-renewable geological resources, and remediation. The online geology degree helps undergraduates develop essential skills required to work as geoscientists, mining and exploration geologist, hydrologist, urban and regional planner, and so on, in private firms or government agencies dealing with mining and petroleum extraction, climate change, environment and education, and more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for geoscientists and related fields is 5%, which is as fast as the average for other occupations[1].

Online Geology Degrees

Find the Best Online
Geology Programs

An excellent undergraduate degree in geology enables students to pursue advanced degrees in geology and easily avail employment in the field. When choosing a top college, it is necessary to understand factors like available resources, field experience opportunities, the quality of teachers, accreditation, etc. FBD teams have searched the country for the best degrees by using our exclusive ranking methodology to help students find one that best suits them. Here is a list of the best online geology degrees in the U.S.: *

The University of Florida (UF) is a public land-grant research university located in Gainesville, Florida. It was founded in 1853 and is a senior member of the State University System of Florida. UF has 16 academic colleges and over 150 research centers and institutes, providing a wide range of graduate professional programs, including business administration, engineering, law, dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
University of Florida 341 Tigert Hall 300 SW 13th St, Gainesville, Florida 32611 $3,876 NA

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
Degree in Geology

A bachelor of geology focuses on studying the structure and modifications of Earth over time. It usually takes 120 credits and four years of full-time study to complete an online degree in geology. The program can be completed online, offline, and in the hybrid mode that blends the two. Some institutions also offer internships, laboratory experience, on-field study, and other practical experiences as part of the curriculum. Students are also expected to take up additional geology or related-field courses along with their primary curriculum, which consists of a wide range of topics in geology, including geomorphology, mineralogy, sedimentology, historical geology, and more. Depending on the college, there are many options for specializations, including petrology, structural geology, sedimentary geology, economic geology, climate change, petroleum geology, soil science, and volcanology.

Curriculum and
Coursework

The bachelor’s degree in Geology is planned to integrate all the geology topics systematically to understand the Earth better. It includes integrating and incorporating subject issues like meteorology, oceanography, etc. The emphasis is to train students on various geological principles that can be applied to meet urgent environmental challenges, like geological hazards, distribution of natural resources, natural disasters, and climate change.

Through the curriculum, one can learn how humans can progress and create a sustainable relationship with Earth. While each institution designs its curriculum to benefit its students in the best possible way, students can expect some of the following courses across most geology degree programs:

Physical Geology

This course aims to provide a basic understanding of physical geology by elaborating on topics like earthquakes, the history of the Earth, volcanoes, processes shaping the surface of Earth, and its natural resources. Specific subjects are also studied, including deformation of crust, river and stream processes, formation of minerals and rocks, weathering and erosion, and glacial cycles.

Fundamentals of Chemistry

This course elaborates on the fundamental chemical techniques and methods used in a laboratory. One can expect to study topics like stoichiometry, chemical equilibria, oxidation, chemical kinetics, etc.

Mineralogy

This course is often prescribed as a pre-requisite course in geochemistry, economic geology, and petrology as it develops a basic understanding of the chemical makeup and structure of the different Earth materials, including learning structure minerals, the genesis of minerals, optical mineralogy, mineral chemistry, crystallography, and so on.

Introduction to Earth Sciences

This course studies the various components of the Earth’s physical environment. Geology and Earth Science are closely related, and it takes a scientific orientation to learn the Earth’s history, origin, and structure as it is currently. The course includes topics aiming at the current features of the Earth in the context of past evolution, like hydrologic, atmospheric, and geologic sciences.

Introduction to Oceanography

This course considers various physical, biological, chemical, and geological facets of studying the ocean. Students learn about the motion and structure of the atmosphere and its contribution to ocean circulation. The course also covers tides, tsunamis, and waves.

Some other standard courses frequently found in a bachelor’s degree in geology are:

  • Introduction to Historical Geology
  • Mineralogy
  • Structural Geology
  • Geoscience Data Analysis and Modeling
  • First Year Writing
  • Introduction to Sedimentary Geology
  • Principles of Paleobiology
  • Calculus
  • Process Geomorphology
  • Principles of Stratigraphy
  • Introduction to Geophysics
  • Petrology
  • Soil Genesis, Morphology, and Classification

In addition to these required courses, students must usually select additional electives in geology and other related subjects. They are also generally required to complete a capstone project, internship, and laboratory experience for general chemistry and physics courses.

Read the Guide to Bachelor’s Programs for more details about bachelor degrees.

Learning Outcomes and
Skills Gained

The Bachelor’s in geology program provides the practical and theoretical knowledge needed to begin a geology career. According to Fred’s data, undergraduates’ weekly wages are more than 84% compared to graduates from high school[2]. The bachelor’s degree equips individuals to work in diverse professions, such as geochemists, hydrogeologists, mudloggers, oceanographers, stratigraphers, coastal geologists, and more.

A bachelor’s degree in geology also gives one much exposure to the subject. It helps students develop skills, such as the ability to:

  • recognize, employ, interpret, and formulate scientific principles and methods that are applicable to research in geology;
  • identify the different characteristics, properties, and behavior of unique Earth materials and apply them to the development of curriculum in geology;
  • interpret and produce geological maps;
  • function collaboratively, independently, and ethically along with other professionals in their own or related fields;
  • demonstrate good verbal and written communications skills to convey the insights of scientific research undertaken;
  • formulate solutions by applying principles of geology to urgent challenges; and
  • demonstrate in-depth knowledge about natural disasters, distribution of natural resources, climate change, etc.

Types of Degrees Geology Students
Can Obtain

Two types of online geology degrees are available to prospective students – the Bachelor of Arts or BA in Geology and the Bachelor of Science or BS in Geology. Both degrees are designed to provide a basic understanding of geology and prepare students for a career in the field. However, the two differ in specific areas of geology, what they focus on, and how the programs are executed.

Bachelor of Arts in Geology

The Bachelor of Arts or BA Geology benefits those from a background with liberal arts by giving them a scientific education. This degree’s curriculum generally takes an interdisciplinary approach through various minor academic and language courses. It is suitable for those who want careers in natural resource management, economic geology, professional consulting, scientific writing, and teacher certification in geology or related fields.

Bachelor of Science in Geology

A Bachelor of Science or BS Geology degree provides a basic foundation in math, physics, and chemistry in addition to studying concentrated geology topics like geological rock specimens and structures. This degree is more scientifically oriented, and the curriculum provides in-depth learning of different issues that create a wholesome understanding of the Earth and its processes. The BS degree is suitable for those who want to pursue further graduate studies or plan to work as a geologist or in related professions.

Areas of Specialization for
Geology Students

Academic specializations increase one’s understanding of a sub-field of geology and improve the chances of easy and better employability in niche areas in the industry. The concentrations offered by various undergraduate programs differ from one college to another. However, some of the common specializations one might generally find in the online degree geology are:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Economic GeologyThis specialization traces the usage of Earth materials for economic purposes. The materials explored in this topic would include base or precious metals, construction-grade stones, and nonmetallic minerals.Economic geologists at museums, governmental departments, scientific bodies, and consulting companies
Petroleum GeologyIn this concentration, students learn to explore the production of natural gas resources and oil. They investigate sedimentary rocks and the processes occurring on the earth’s surface today to learn how organic detritus can be buried and preserved in fine-grained sediments.Petroleum geologist and related careers
Hydrology GeologyIn this specialization, students learn how to explore water resources, their sustainable management, and production. They also learn how to collect data and conduct ground investigations.Various occupations as a hydrogeologist
Environmental GeologyThis concentration focuses on the interaction of humans with their essential geological environment. The constituents of Earth-like sediments, fluids, and rocks and their processes and surfaces are studied.Environmental geologists or environmental scientists
Natural Hazards GeologyThis is a rare specialization. It focuses on learning about earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, sinkholes, and landslides and how these impact people around the globe.Various occupations in management, control, and research of natural hazards

Full-Time and Part-Time
Programs

It usually takes four to five years to complete an online degree in geology as a full-time student. Some factors that affect the duration of the program include the specialization taken, the number of credits completed in a particular semester, transferrable credits from previous degrees, the learning mode (online, offline, and hybrid), and capstone or field requirements. For those who require more time to complete the degree requirements due to personal or work-related commitments, the online geology degree duration extends beyond the typical four years; one usually requires between four and six years to complete the program.

Accelerated Geology
Programs

Through an accelerated online geology degree, one can aim to complete the curriculum requirements in less than four years. There are several ways to fast-track a geology program, including taking up more classes, transferring credits from previous degrees, completing an integrated bachelor’s or master’s degree, and so on. Accelerated programs can significantly benefit those who want to complete their education quickly and enter the workforce or even those transitioning from one career to another. Northern Arizona[3], Cedarville University[4], and the University of Nevada[5] are fine examples of institutions offering accelerated online geology degrees.

Requirements for Getting into an Online Geology
Degree Program

To enroll in an online geology bachelor’s degree, some colleges typically require applicants to have a pre-requisite of math, English, and geology-related science subjects from previous studies. If one does not meet these prerequisites, they are expected to compensate for them by taking extra credits along with their regular curriculum. While each institution specifies its own set of requirements, some standard online geology degree admission requirements that every applicant should meet include:

  • The application form with its prescribed fee
  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Previous official transcripts from high school or college-level
  • A cumulative Grade Point Average of at least 3.0 (generally required)
  • ACT and SAT scores (required by some colleges)
  • A Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose
  • A Personal Essay (differs with institution requirement)
  • Some colleges require PSAT scores (although it may be rare for a geology degree)

How to Ensure an Online Geology
Program Is Accredited

Accreditation determines the quality of the education provided by an institution. If the college is accredited, it means it has complied with the minimum quality requirements specified by accrediting agencies and has that it meets the criteria to offer excellent geology online degree programs. Six independent agencies grant institutional accreditation, which are:

The accreditation status of a college can be checked on the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) website[6]. The ABET generally accredits geology programs offered in the U.S. through its Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission[7]. Prospective undergraduates can also check the institution’s accreditation from the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)[8].

  • 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)

the Guide to College Accreditation provides deeper insights into the accreditation process.

Where to Find Free Online Courses for Geology
Bachelor’s Students

Free geology courses are available online for those pursuing bachelor’s degrees in geology. Signing up for one or more of these can help students gain a better understanding of geology and help them explore topics outside of their degree programs. Here are some examples:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Reservoir Geomechanics[9]This course provides geology and geophysics familiarity and highlights the principles of petroleum production and drilling. It helps in recognizing hydrocarbon column heights and the potential of fault seals. It is a self-paced course that leads to an understanding of structural geology, earthquake seismology, and more.edX
Our Earth: Its Climate, History, and Processes[10]This course introduces the Earth’s climate system and understands how to measure the time of geology. It tries to understand the fundamental question about how old the Earth is and how different methods like dating rocks and isotopes are used.Coursera
Extreme Geological Events[11]This course explores the historical events that modified the Earth’s surface and made the planet more habitable. It tracks natural processes like tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, etc., and traces the risks and hazards that extreme events pose and the likelihood of them occurring in the future.Class Central

Ways to Pay for an Online
Geology Degree

Understanding how to pay for college can be difficult for students. Tuition at colleges rises every year, and many students are unable to pay the fees. Online students typically do not have to pay for transportation, meals, accommodation, etc., significantly reducing one’s financial burden. However, for those who still need financial assistance to pay for their college education, the following options may be considered:

Scholarships

Scholarships are usually merit-based awards that do not need repayments. They are provided by various sources, including colleges, federal and state governments, community groups, and individuals. Some scholarships cater exclusively to particular communities, like minorities and women.

Grants

Grants are given out to those with financial needs rather than only to meritorious students. The award amount can be used to pay for tuition or other educational expenses.

Private Student Loans

Student loans are a good option for those who may not qualify for any other kind of funding. It can be challenging to pay back student loans, and they often pile up into huge debts. To help with repayment, one can look for donors for student loans and grants for student loans.

Federal Direct Loans

An undergraduate enrolled in an accredited program is applicable for such loans, provided they have registered at least 6 to 8 credits each semester. The federal government will supplement these loans, and their repayment happens after gaining employment or graduating with a bachelor’s degree.

Federal Work-Study Programs

Federal work-study programs allow students to work part-time while pursuing their degrees. The money they earn can help with tuition or other expenses. One can opt for community jobs and services linked to one’s study area.

FAFSA

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an application that students fill out to determine whether they qualify for federal financial aid.

Scholarships for Online Geology
Degree Students

To offset some of the high educational costs of pursuing an undergraduate degree, students can consider applying for geology degree scholarships from various sources. Here are some examples:

ScholarshipDescriptionAward/AmountApplication Deadline
AWG Southeastern Bluegrass Chapter[12]This scholarship is provided to two students, one undergraduate and a graduate who identifies as non-binary or female. The awardee should be studying at an accredited college or pursuing a degree from a University in Kentucky. They are given funds to aid their geoscience-related research.VariesVaries
OSGC – Ohio Space Grant Consortium[13]This scholarship is awarded to Juniors or Seniors who are undergraduate students pursuing a STEM-related discipline (including geology). The awardees could be women, those from underrepresented minority communities, and persons with disability.$3,500March 15, 2024
TKE Foundation Scholarships[14]The TKE Foundation offers various scholarships to deserving students interested in pursuing a degree in environmental sciences, earth sciences, natural resources, biology, or other pure sciences like geology, physics, etc. The minimum GPA typically required is 2.75, and the applicant must join Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity memberships.Not disclosedMarch 15, 2024

Career Opportunities and Salaries
After Graduating

Since the human population is increasing, the need for water, mineral, and energy resources have increased, along with managing and controlling these resources. Therefore, there is a demand for a strong workforce with various geoscience and related jobs that pay well. An individual who has completed an online degree in geology can work as a geochemist, oceanographer, paleontologist, or geophysicist, among others. Some of the usually sought-after career opportunities by professionals in this field are:

OccupationJob DescriptionSkills RequiredMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (up to 2031)
Environmental Engineers[15]Environmental engineers use different soil science, chemistry, biology, and engineering principles to develop practical solutions to environmental issues. They work towards improving waste disposal, water and air pollution control, and recycling methods.Imagination, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, reading skills, and writing skills$96,8204% (as fast as average)
Geoscientists[16]Geoscientists analyze aerial photographs, rocks samples, well logs, and other data sources that help locate natural resources and estimate their size. They also prepare scientific reports to interpret the results of the surveys they conducted and present such findings to their colleagues and clients.Problem-solving skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, outdoor skills, physical stamina$83,6805% (as fast as the average)
Geological and Hydrologic Technicians[17]Geological and hydrological technicians often collaborate with support engineers and scientists in extracting, monitoring and exploring natural resources like soil, water, and natural gas. They install and maintain field equipment and laboratories.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical thinking skills, interpersonal skills$50,0804% (as fast as average)
Atmospheric scientists, including meteorologists[18]Atmospheric scientists are entrusted with studying the climate and weather and examining the conditions that affect human activity and Earth. They collect and compile data, develop forecasts from the fields, advise clients about climate change risks, and develop data collection instruments.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, math skills$94,5704% (as fast as average)
Hydrologists[19]Hydrologists study how the Earth’s crust is considered and water movement. They also research snow, rain, and kinds of precipitation that impact groundwater levels or river flows, using their expertise to solve issues with the availability and quality of water.Analytical skills, interpersonal skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, physical stamina$84,0300% (little or no change)
Natural Sciences Managers[20]Natural science managers collaborate with scientists, chemists, biologists, and physicists. They direct many activities and coordinate testing, production, and quality control. They work with high-level executives to build strategies and goals for developers and researchers.Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, time-management skills, leadership skills$137,9006% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online
Bachelor’s Students
in Geology

After graduating with geology degrees online, many students consider obtaining a professional certification. Certification demonstrates the commitment one has towards their profession and continued efforts towards learning. One of the esteemed certifications in geology is the Certified Professional Geologists certification[21]. Some other credentials relevant to geology include:

Certified Petroleum Geologists[22]

The American Association of Petroleum Geologists provides the Certified Petroleum Geologists certification. The certification is popular amongst professionals pursuing various roles as geologists as it identifies them as a person with excellent knowledge of petroleum geology.

OSHA Safety Certificate[23]

As geologists often work in the field in conditions that can be hazardous or be entrusted with monitoring work in dangerous situations, having an OSHA safety certificate with a 40-hour program can prove very beneficial. This certification covers essential regulation standards like the Construction 1926 and the General Industry 1910 standards that cover critical aspects of physical hazards in the workplace.

Certified Environmental Systems Manager[24]

This certification is designed for environmental planning, policy, implementation, monitoring, and measurement professionals. It can be helpful to prove credentials as a professional who is responsible and knows project management.

After graduating from the bachelor’s program, one can also take the Fundamentals of Geology Exam or FGE, executed by the National Association of State Boards of Geology or ASBOG [25]. Licensure is required for some geology occupations; each state has its independent licensing procedures, although usually, the licensing is provided based on an applicant’s performance in the FGE.

Additional Resources for Bachelor’s Students
in Geology Degree

A bachelor’s degree in geology online provides students with a basic foundation in geology. One must acquire skills and abilities beyond a formal degree to improve employability and career prospects. Hence, tapping into resources from professional associations is always an excellent idea. Here are some examples:

OrganizationDescription
The Geological Society of America[26]The Geological Society of America supports the careers of its members by providing education, mentoring, research grants, and various global professional and academic opportunities. They aim to discover new ideas, discuss many scientific issues, and identify cutting-edge research through meetings and conferences.
American Geosciences Institutes[27]The American Geoscience Institute aims at fostering creative solutions for our Earth. They represent the geoscience community by providing information and encouraging collaborative leadership.
American Geophysical Union[28]The American Geophysical Union supports hydrologic, space, planetary, atmospheric, and Earth science enthusiasts. It aims to promote geophysics in its pure form and explore mutually dependent subjects like meteorology, seismology, terrestrial electricity, tides, astronomy, etc.
Association for Women Geoscientists[29]The Association for Women Geoscientists offers various professional and student scholarships and awards. The organization aims to enhance women’s participation and quality in geosciences.
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography[30]The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography wants to advance the public’s awareness of limnology and oceanography through various public education, outreach, and professional development programs. It provides career advice to researchers and lists the types of employment in limnology and oceanography.

FAQs About Online Geology
Degree Programs

What do geologist study?

Geologists generally understand the history of Earth and its structures and processes, so they can evaluate situations that may occur in the future. They also study earth science and geophysics and apply them to resolve current challenges.

Can you get a geology degree online?

Why should I do a bachelor’s in geology degree online?

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

Are geology and natural science the same?

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

Is an online geology degree worth it?

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.

Degrees

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.

Citations:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Geoscientists

Fred Economic Data- Is college still worth it?

Northern Arizona School of Earth and Sustainability-Bachelor of Science in Geology

Cedarville University-Bachelor of Science in Geology

The University of Nevada, Las Vegas-Bachelor of Science in Geology

Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

ABET- Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission

Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

edx- Reservoir Geomechanics

Coursera- Our Earth: Its Climate, History, and Processes

Class Central- Extreme Geological Events

AWG Southeastern Bluegrass Chapter

OSGC – Ohio Space Grant Consortium

TKE Foundation Scholarships

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Environmental Engineers

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Geoscientists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Geological and Hydrologic Technicians

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Atmospheric scientists including meteorologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Hydrologists

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics- Occupational Outlook for Natural Sciences Managers

Certified Professional Geologists

Certified Petroleum Geologists

OSHA Safety Certificate

Certified Environmental Systems Manager

National Association of State Boards of Geology

The Geological Society of America

American Geosciences Institutes

American Geophysical Union

Association for Women Geoscientists

Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography

Disclaimer:

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.