Online Geology Master’s Degrees

By Brandon Mario D`Souza

Updated January 14, 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 one of the branches of natural science that includes the study of rocks and processes of Earth over the years. By pursuing a master’s in geology online, students learn various geologic frameworks that enable them to meet the challenges of their academic or professional careers. The degree gives a thorough understanding of scientific geological principles emphasized through laboratory and field experiences. The online geology master’s program teaches multiple geoscience principles to develop solutions for current geophysical, environmental, geo-engineering, resource extraction, and other problems humans face. Working in the geology field is rewarding as the potential to earn well is higher; one could work as a conservation scientist, seismologist, researcher, environmental consultant, and more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average median pay for geoscientists and related occupations is $83,680[1].

Online Geology Master’s Degrees

Find the Best Online Geology
Master’s Programs

A good master’s in geology provides a curriculum that nurtures students’ skills, enabling them to meet their profession’s challenges. Students must evaluate the potential of the college to teach them the skills that potential employers demand. FBD teams have evaluated tens of colleges with a unique ranking methodology and listed the best online geology master’s degrees in the U.S.: *

The University of Houston (UH), established in 1927, is a public research university in Houston, Texas. A member of the University of Houston System, UH is classified as an “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity.”, and enrolls over 46,000 students.
Univ Address Tuition Grad Rate
University of Houston 212 E. Cullen Building, Houston, Texas 77204 $8,713 62%

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 Master’s
Degree in Geology

The online master’s in geology degree focuses on addressing the fundamental questions about geology and Earth Sciences that range from the formation of Earth, evolution through different stages, and how it works today. Generally, the degree can be completed in two years full-time with a thesis or non-thesis track; it is offered in online, offline, and hybrid study modes. Most programs require students to complete a thesis, followed by a successful oral demonstration and its defense. The degree is designed to help graduates considering geology as a profession or who want to continue studying geosciences at the Ph.D. level.

Curriculum and
Coursework

The master in geology degree provides a robust curriculum with both academic and practical orientation. The coursework often extends beyond a traditional classroom experience into field experiences, wherein hands-on learning is offered to prepare students for various occupations. Most colleges generally require completing a minimum of 36 approved credit hours, including Earth Science and capstone courses. Students are also motivated to select geology electives with recommendations from their geology graduate faculty advisors.

Most colleges will design their curriculum differently to fit their institutional standards. However, they will have commonalities in the foundational courses provided, examples being:

Elements of Geological Research

This course explores various successful strategies for designing and reporting scientific research projects. Students can choose to work on a project currently of geological interest with approval from their advisor or instructor. They can understand how to date literature, practice presentation of the research proposal, review scientific skills, demonstrate results, and interpret the process of writing and publishing a professional paper in geology.

Hydrogeology

In this course, one studies the movement and occurrence of water on different surfaces, the importance of developing water resources, and strategies for tackling environmental pollution. Many quantitative techniques for predicting water flow are explored through laboratory experience.

Geochemistry

One of the branches of Earth Science, this course teaches the application of chemical principles to facilitate a deeper understanding of the different Earth Systems and the systems of other extraterrestrial objects. The topics one could expect to study include rocks, fluids, and the biology and gases that exchange energy over time scales.

Geospatial Analysis and Application

This course provides the learning of tools used to visualize different datasets, including an understanding of graphs, statistics, cartograms, maps, and so on that highlight the historical changes and recent developments on Earth. It provided expertise in collecting, storing, and analyzing geological information.

Statistics and Modeling

This course includes the development of knowledge about the processes where geological problems are reduced with the help of mathematical models. These models can be translated into programs on the computer, wherein the programs will numerically process and display the results in a graphical form.

Some other courses seen across curricula are:

  • Analysis of Geological Data
  • Applied Groundwater Flow Modeling
  • Basin Modeling
  • Volcanology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Glacial Geology
  • Geodynamics
  • Planetary Geosciences
  • Field Methods in Hydrogeology
  • Environmental Organic Geochemistry
  • Introduction to Computational Earth Science
  • Advanced Field Methods
  • Carbon Reduction Challenge

For more insights into master’s programs, read the Guide to Master’s Programs.

Learning Outcomes and
Skills Gained

As a graduate student, one will learn about various topics in geology, including landscape formation, human interaction with the planet, groundwater flow, geological sustainability, and more. Many of the skills gained during the program are transferrable. They will help one work comfortably in high-paying roles in geoscience, field seismology, geological surveying, pollution control, and so on.

Some of the skills that one could expect to develop in the geology master’s program include the ability to:

  • show expertise and knowledge in the core disciplinary areas of geology and use it to solve critical scientific problems;
  • use various technologies and methodologies to solve geological difficulties recently developed;
  • think critically to come up with creative and novel solutions to address environmental concerns like natural disasters;
  • be an active participant in the scientific community and able to take up both organizational and service-related roles in the industry;
  • demonstrate analytic and critical skills in field settings and communicate with other professionals in the field;
  • demonstrate scientific knowledge and apply quantitative reasoning to be able to solve complications that arise in the laboratory and field; and
  • facilitate the understanding of others about the significant concepts related to the Earth and use different techniques to do so.

Types of Master’s Degrees Geology
Students Can Obtain

The online geology master’s is usually available in two degree variants – the Master of Arts in Geology or MA Geology, and the Master of Science in Geology or MS Geology.

Master of Arts in Geology

The Master of Arts in Geology or MA in Geology provides specialized training to those interested in geological and environmental aspects. It can be provided with the option of course-work-only or coursework with a capstone essay. Those pursuing this program will be prepared to work in capacities where they need to offer solutions to environmental problems and where there is a close relationship between earth science and the environment.

Master of Science in Geology

The Master of Science in Geology or MS in Geology typically includes courses like environmental hydrology and science, geochemistry, geological sciences, marine and coastal geology, seismology and planetary sciences, and paleoceanography and paleolimnology. Students are offered both thesis and non-thesis-based tracks. The on-field experience gained during this degree is one of its highlights.

Areas of Specialization for
Geology Students

Specializing in a sub-field helps students get an edge over their peers in their academic and professional pursuits. It gives students a better understanding of the concentration area and can help prepare them for niche roles in the industry. Here are some concentrations within a master’s in geology online:

Area of SpecializationDescriptionCareer Options
Economic GeologyThis concentration traces the industrial and economic aspects of using Earth materials like precious metals, nonmetallic minerals, and more. Students earn how to extract the best valuable elements from oil, minerals, and gas. Efforts are also put into identifying new ways of excavating deposits.As an economic geologist at museums, governmental departments, scientific bodies, consulting companies
Petroleum GeologyThis concentration studies and examines mineral samples and rock formations to find oil and gas deposits. Some colleges also provide the learning of advanced computer technology to survey a particular geological location for oil and gas.Petroleum geologists and related careers
Mining GeologyIn this concentration, students learn about the extraction of non-renewable resources like natural gas, petroleum, and more. It traces the history of mining since pre-historic times and modern mining techniques.Mining geologists, geologists miners
Hydrology GeologyIn this concentration, emphasis is placed on understanding groundwater usage as a resource and conducting quality assessments. Discussions take place around the environmental impact of construction work, ground source heating, and landfills on underground water.Hydrogeologists
Natural Hazards GeologyThis concentration focuses on various issues, from urban design and applied math to seismic issues, and applies probable solutions to community problems worldwide.Various occupations in management, control, and research of natural hazards

Full-Time and Part-Time
Programs

As with most educational programs, the time required to obtain a geology degree would depend on the student’s availability or ability to complete its coursework. On average, it takes full-time students about two years to complete a master’s degree. A part-time degree in geology would take more than two years – between two and four years at least. Here is a quick summary of the timeline to complete the geology master’s programs online:

  • Full-time geology master’s program: approximately two years
  • Part-time geology master’s program: two to four years
  • Credits required for the geology master’s program: between 35 and 46 credits

Accelerated Geology
Programs

An accelerated master’s degree in geology allows students to complete their graduate education in less time than required with a regular program. Many students take up accelerated programs to cater to obligations like work or family and lessen the program’s cost. Western Michigan University[2] and South Dakota Mines[3] are good examples of institutions offering accelerated online master’s in geology programs that can be completed in less that the usual two years.

Requirements for Getting into an Online
Geology Master’s Program

The admission requirements for a master’s in geology program are the same as other master’s programs. Prospective students must have a background in science and math and must have completed a bachelor’s degree or equivalent in geology. Some of the common admission requirements for geology master’s programs are:

  • A bachelor’s degree in geology or related fields
  • A minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.5 or more is generally required (some programs have a lesser GPA requirement)
  • Standardized test scores like the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
  • 2 to 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • A Statement of Purpose or Personal Statement
  • A Graduate Résumé

No GRE Online Geology
Master’s Programs

The Graduate Record Examination, or GRE, is a standardized test that colleges use as an admission requirement for many graduate schools across the United States, Canada, and other countries[4]. Most colleges require GRE scores for enrollment into a master’s program. However, some institutions have removed this requirement or made the submission of scores optional. Removing the mandatory requirement of GRE scores helps a significant number of students to apply for master’s programs in Geology. Some colleges offering a master’s in geology no gre include Ohio University[5] and Youngstown State University[6].

How to Ensure an Online Geology Master’s
Program Is Accredited

Accreditation assures students and prospective employers that institutions maintain the quality of their programs throughout. Studying at an accredited college also ensures that students can access federal and state funding and effortlessly transfer credits. The Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)[7] provide information on an institution’s accreditation status[8]. Online geology master’s programs can be accredited by the ABET – Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission[9], or the universities offering them could be regionally accredited by:

  • 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)

read the Guide to College Accreditation to understand the accreditation process and its importance.

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

Taking free courses can help students develop an in-depth understanding of certain subjects in geology. Many such courses provide additional knowledge that may not always be found in textbooks. Examples of free geology courses include:

CourseDescriptionProvided by
Extreme Geological Events[10]In this course, students learn to identify the key events that led to Earth’s formation. The course traces relationships between emerging complex and simple life on Earth and extreme events like tsunamis, volcanoes, and floods that have devastating effects.Class Central
Climate Change: Carbon Capture and Storage[11]This course helps students understand the atmosphere as a shared resource and the kind of absorbed greenhouse gases. Those interested in climate change and energy sustainability will find this course immensely useful.edX
Oceanography: A Key to Better Understanding Our World[12]This course takes a holistic understanding of oceanographic situations like floating ice, wave formations, strong currents, etc. One can learn about oceanography’s scientific foundations and the construction and classification of the ocean floor.Coursera

Ways to Pay for an Online Geology
Master’s Degree

Sometimes, students hesitate to pursue advanced degrees such as a master’s in geology online because it can be quite expensive to pay for college. Fortunately, several forms of financial aid are available that students can easily access, such as:

Scholarships

Scholarships are monetary assistance given to merit-based students with excellent academic track records. Students can check with the guidance counselor at the college to which they are applying to understand what scholarships they may qualify for.

Grants

Grants are monetary assistance that helps pay for college expenses, including tuition, accommodation, educational supplies, etc. Grants typically do not need to have to be repaid by the recipient.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships involve working a set number of hours per week at one’s college or a specific department, helping professors with academic or research-related work. One could provide teaching or research assistance in exchange for a fee discount or waiver.

Federal Work-Study

Federal Work-Study is an option that lets students work part-time while completing a degree simultaneously. It is provided to graduates with financial needs, which helps them earn money to pay for their higher education.

Federal Direct Loans

There are four types of direct federal loans that master’s students can apply for, including direct subsidized loans, direct plus loans, direct consolidation loans, and direct subsidized loans. Students can pay back their loans after graduating or getting a job.

Private Student Loans

Financial institutions and banks offer education loans, especially to those who do not qualify for federal aid. These loans must be repaid with high interest, putting students in danger of mounting debt.

FAFSA

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is an application that gives students an idea about what kind of federal student aid they would qualify for.

Scholarships for Online Geology Master’s
Degree Students

Besides part-time and full-time work, scholarships are a great way to fund a college education, provided one has an excellent academic record. Those pursuing a graduate-level education can consider applying for scholarships to lessen their financial burdens. Examples of geology master’s degree scholarships are:

Scholarship Description Amount/AwardApplication Deadline
AWG Southeastern Bluegrass Chapter[13]The AWG Southeastern Bluegrass Chapter aims to broaden the scope to access various research scholarships and spread the awareness that not all geology programs across Kentucky have equal funding. Two students are given funds to aid their geoscience-related research.As requiredTBA
OSGC – Ohio Space Grant Consortium[14]The Ohio Space Grant Consortium scholarship is awarded to a master’s student pursuing a STEM-related discipline (including geology). The scholarship includes a $13,000 award from NASA, $3,000 from the university one is studying, and a tuition fee waiver.$16,000February 2024
Graduate Student Research Grant[15]The Geological Society of America provides the Graduate Student Research Grant. It aims to provide partial support for doctoral thesis research in Geology.$1,820 on an averageTBA

Career Opportunities and Salaries
After Graduating

The career paths for online master’s in geology graduates could include working in multifaceted roles in mineral and coal exploration, industrial hydrogeology, military and federal organizations, geophysics, petroleum exploration, and more. Geology occupations are generally in high demand, and graduates can find many possibilities to fit their skills and interests. Geology graduates take up roles such as:

Occupation Job Description Skills RequiredMedian Annual Salary Job Growth (up to 2031)
Geoscientists[16]Geoscientists conduct field studies, collect samples, conduct surveys, prepare scientific reports, and systematically present their findings. These professionals are entrusted with various simple and complex tools, from hammers and chisels to ground-penetrating radar equipment, to conduct research and field activities.Problem-solving skills, communication skills, outdoor skills, critical-thinking skills, physical stamina$83,6805% (as fast as average)
Atmospheric Scientists, including Meteorologists[17]Atmospheric scientists typically measure humidity, temperature, wind speed, atmospheric pressure, dew points, and other characteristics of the atmosphere. They use computers and software that analyze atmospheric data.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, math skills$94,5704% (as fast as average)
Geological and Hydrologic Technicians[18]Geological and hydrologic technicians gather samples in the field and prepare them for analysis in the lab. They also conduct scientific tests on lab samples to understand their characteristics and record the data compiled from databases, reports, and other sources.Analytical skills, communication skills, critical-thinking skills, interpersonal skills$50,0804% (as fast as average)
Environmental Engineers[19]Environmental engineers typically review, update, and prepare environmental investigation reports. They also design projects to protect the environment, like air pollution control systems and facilities for water reclamation. Some also design systems for cleaning and managing various water supplies.Imagination, interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, reading skills, writing skills$96,8204% (as fast as average)
Hydrologists[20]Hydrologists typically measure the properties of water bodies, including their stream flow and volume. They collect soil and water samples to test properties like pollution levels, pH, etc. Preparing reports and presentation of findings is also one of their responsibilities.Analytical skills, interpersonal skills, critical-thinking skills, communication skills, physical stamina$84,0300% (little to no change)
Natural Sciences Managers[21]Natural sciences managers manage and direct scientific research activities and coordinate various product and developmental projects. These professionals are often entrusted with communicating research findings, project proposals, and the status of clients.Interpersonal skills, problem-solving skills, time-management skills, leadership skills$137,9006% (as fast as average)

Certifications and Licensing for Online Master’s
Students in Geology

Professional certifications help graduates with a master’s in geology learn new skills, abilities, and technologies. A certification endorses one’s level of knowledge and expertise in a specific area, which can lead to better job prospects. For example, the Certified Professional Geologists [22]certification demonstrates the commitment one has toward the geology profession[22]. Other prominent certifications geologists can consider are:

Certified Petroleum Geologists[23]

As a certified petroleum geologist, one can prove their expertise and credibility to emerge as a strong voice in government and industry affairs through committees leading public service projects in this field. This certification assures the employer or the client that one is highly knowledgeable and skilled in petroleum-related geology.

OSHA Safety Certificate[24]

The OSHA safety certificate highlights how to effectively interpret health issues that may be related to one’s work environment, interpret Federal Register, recognize physical hazards and violations of OSHA standards, and implement proactive health and safety procedures. It adds credibility to one’s work as an ethical employee and manager.

Certified Environmental Systems Manager[25]

This certification is designed to make professionals more aware of implementing systems leading to environmental management. It gives knowledge about ISO 14001-type principles and guidelines and operating facilities that work according to those. It also increases the possibilities of being employed in diverse fields like governmental and non-governmental agencies, multinational conglomerations, environmental management firms, etc.

More than 30 states in the U.S. execute licensing for geologists; one of the fundamental licensure criteria is that the candidate must pass the Fundamentals of Geology Exam or FGE, administered by the National Association of State Boards of Geology or ASBOG[26].

Additional Resources for Master’s
Students in Geology

Tapping into various resources can help students and professionals with access to research, internships, seminars, and finding employment opportunities. Networking with those in the industry is always an excellent idea because it widens one’s horizon, presents diverse perspectives, and provides deeper insights into various geology topics. Here are some resources students pursuing a master’s degree in geology online can explore:

Title/Resource Job Description
The Geological Society of America[27]The Geological Society of America aims to foster inclusion and professional ethics and promote diversity among geologists. The organization seeks to build a culture of integrity that supports geoscientists and related professions.
American Geosciences Institutes[28]The American Geosciences Institutes are a non-profit dedicated to serving the geoscience community to address society’s needs. It provides crucial services and programs that help build connections to the geoscience community.
American Geophysical Union[29]The American Geophysical Union is a nonprofit association of more than 130,000 members interested in atmospheric, ocean, Earth, space, planetary science, and hydrologic. They aim to expand the Earth and space sciences by disseminating scientific information.
Association for Women Geoscientists[30]The Association for Women Geoscientists is a professional organization that promotes its members’ development and encourages women’s participation in geosciences. They also aim to provide outreach opportunities to girls in the field.
Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography[31]The Association for the Sciences of Limnology and Oceanography offers training and resources in policy activities and policy fellowships in the field of aquatic sciences. It aims to provide its members with tools for collaboration and effective communication with stakeholders in this field, including journalists, the general public, and policy-makers.

FAQs About Online Geology
Master’s Programs

Why should you do an online geology master’s degree?

A master’s degree, being an advanced degree, can help one achieve excellent career opportunities, including working in energy and environmental fields or careers related to geology in settings like educational institutes, governmental agencies, scientific non-profits, and for-profit organizations.

Is it safe to do an online master’s in geology?

What can I do with a master’s degree in geology?

Is a master’s in geology degree affordable?

Do I have to do a thesis-based master’s in geology?

Can you personalize your study plan for your master’s in geology?

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

Western Michigan University

South Dakota Mines

Graduate Record Examination

Ohio University- Online M.S. in Geological Sciences

Youngstown State University

Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs

Council for Higher Education Accreditation

ABET- Applied and Natural Science Accreditation Commission

Class Central- Extreme Geological Events

edx- Reservoir Geomechanics

Coursera-Oceanography: a key to better understanding our world

AWG Southeastern Bluegrass Chapter

OSGC – Ohio Space Grant Consortium

Graduate Student Research Grant

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

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

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

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

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.