What are geologists? They are trained scientists who understand the Earth's natural processes, manmade technologies, and the intersection of the two. They work with raw data to evaluate the causes and consequences of significant geological events and material discoveries.

Geologists help identify and mitigate such large-scale geological hazards as earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods. They work in fossil fuel exploration and production, overseeing the extraction of raw resources to meet society's energy needs. They are also climate scientists who address the impacts and future of climate change at a global level.

Geologists may enter the workforce with an undergraduate degree, but many employers prefer graduate-level study. All undergraduate programs should be accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering & Technology (ABET).

Degrees in Geology

Bachelor Degrees

A 4-year Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Arts (B.A.) degree in Geology should familiarize students with the fundamental origins, structural composition, and physical properties of the Earth. Students at this level explore major natural processes and events, and become versed in the global distribution of raw earth materials and natural resources.

Bachelors can usually find work as entry-level technicians for mining companies, environmental firms, and government entities. Some employers will finance in whole or part an established employee's graduate education. Entering the workforce after earning a bachelor's can thus be a strategic way to pursue subsidized graduate studies while gaining valuable industry experience.

In addition to general education, Geology majors take classes in:

  • Mineralogy & Petrology
  • Physical Geology
  • Structural Geology
  • Stratigraphy & Sedimentation
  • Invertebrate Paleontology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Environmental Geology
  • Field Geology Methods

Bachelor programs may focus on general Geology, Petroleum Geology, Engineering Geology, or Environmental Geology. Environmental geology students study topics like natural resources, water and air quality, planetary history, soil science, and environmental law.

Engineering geology students learn to apply their scientific knowledge to real-world interactions between built and natural environments, specifically in the geo-construction industry. They may explore, for example, remote sensing technologies, soil mechanics and rock slope stability, and contaminant hydrogeology.

Petroleum geology students at this level may study, for instance, statistics, applied geophysics, petroleum & well logging, depositional environments, and geochemistry. In general, major resource companies prefer applicants from accredited geology graduate programs, although the American Association of Petroleum Geologists says these requirements are flexible during “boom times” when the supply of geologists lags demand.

Which jobs are available to students with a B.S. or B.A. in Geology?

  • Petroleum Geotechnician
  • Disaster Assistance Scientist (FEMA)
  • Environmental Field Geologist

Master Degrees

In graduate school, students who haven't already done so should pick an employment sector and design an educational plan based on this choice. Aspiring petroleum geologists, for instance, will ultimately need a graduate degree to become full-title professionals in the oil and gas sector.

For those planning to ultimately earn a Ph.D., a master's degree is useful for learning how to conduct experimental research. Even where doctoral programs do not require Ph.D. applicants to hold a master's, acquiring one could prove a valuable learning experience.

It's not uncommon to combine a graduate degree in Geology with a degree in a related field, such as Civil Engineering. Additionally, some students pursue an MBA after a master's in Geology; business skills are highly valued in this line of work.

Students at the master's level typically collaborate with a faculty committee and advisor to plan graduate coursework around their interests. They may be required to submit a thesis to a graduate committee in order to finish the program.

Incoming master candidates are usually expected to have completed at least a year of college-level Calculus, Physics, and Chemistry. Graduate transfer applicants may need to submit GRE scores. The top geology schools expect applicants to have an undergraduate degree from an ABET-accredited institution.

What kinds of jobs are available to master degree-holders?

  • Research & Development Geophysicist
  • Operations Supervisor — Water Management
  • Principal Geosciences Consultant

Here are some examples of master's-level coursework in Geology:

  • Advanced Structural Geology & Tectonics
  • Carbonate Depositional Systems
  • Subsurface Methods

Doctoral Work

Master geologists can get solid, well-paying jobs, but more extensive career options await those who finish a 1- to 3-year Ph.D. at one of the best geology schools in the U.S. Students who anticipate, for instance, organizing their own research projects or teaching at some point should consider a Ph.D.

Geological positions that require a Ph.D. include:

  • Seismic Stratigrapher
  • Atmospheric Scientist (NASA)
  • Geochemical Research Scientist

Ph.D. candidates may pursue specialized research in, for example:

  • Urban Geology
  • Paleoecology
  • Geoarchaeology

We found 386 schools offering geology degree programs in the U.S.

>> See all 386 Geology Colleges in the U.S.

Geology Schools Ranked By US News and World Report

University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ  |  Total Enrollment: 34488

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor
Ann Arbor, MI  |  Total Enrollment: 38103

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Pennsylvania State University - Main Campus
University Park, PA  |  Total Enrollment: 40571

Degrees Offered: Less than one year, One but less than two years, Associate's, Two but less than 4 years, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Doctor's
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX  |  Total Enrollment: 49996

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
Stanford University
Stanford, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 18549

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 1968

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 10090

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Master's, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of Wisconsin - Madison
Madison, WI  |  Total Enrollment: 40658

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree
University of California - Berkeley
Berkeley, CA  |  Total Enrollment: 31277

Degrees Offered: Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate
Harvard University
Cambridge, MA  |  Total Enrollment: 24279

Degrees Offered: Associate's, Bachelor's, Postbaccalaureate certificate, Master's, Post-Masters certificate, Doctor's, First-professional degree, First-professional certificate

Browse All 386 Colleges With Geology Programs

Title City State Enrollment
Abilene Christian University Abilene TX 4739
Adams State College Alamosa CO 8188
Alfred University Alfred NY 1607
Allegheny College Meadville PA 1904
Amarillo College Amarillo TX 8422
Amherst College Amherst MA 1695
Antioch College Yellow Springs OH 652
Appalachian State University Boone NC 13227
Arizona State University at the Tempe Campus Tempe AZ 44126
Arkansas Tech University Russellville AR 4970
Ashland University Ashland OH 6055
Auburn University Main Campus Auburn University AL 21860
Augustana College Rock Island IL 2230
Austin Peay State University Clarksville TN 7121
Ball State University Muncie IN 19004
Bates College Lewiston ME 1694
Baylor University Waco TX 13719
Beloit College Beloit WI 1262
Bemidji State University Bemidji MN 4118
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania Bloomsburg PA 7548
Boise State University Boise ID 16287
Boston College Chestnut Hill MA 15240
Boston University Boston MA 28318
Bowdoin College Brunswick ME 1609
Bowling Green State University - Main Campus Bowling Green OH 18096
Bradley University Peoria IL 5951
Bridgewater State College Bridgewater MA 8839
Brigham Young University Provo UT 32554
Brigham Young University - Idaho Rexburg ID 8949
Brown University Providence RI 7723
Bryn Mawr College Bryn Mawr PA 1784
Bucknell University Lewisburg PA 3592
Butler County Community College El Dorado KS 7911
California Institute of Technology Pasadena CA 1968
California Lutheran University Thousand Oaks CA 2766
California State Polytechnic University - Pomona Pomona CA 18424
California State University - Bakersfield Bakersfield CA 6397
California State University - Chico Chico CA 15912
California State University - Dominguez Hills Carson CA 12848
California State University - East Bay Hayward CA 12705
California State University - Fresno Fresno CA 19056
California State University - Fullerton Fullerton CA 28381
California State University - Long Beach Long Beach CA 30918
California State University - Los Angeles Los Angeles CA 19593
California State University - Northridge Northridge CA 29066
California State University - Sacramento Sacramento CA 25714
California State University - San Bernardino San Bernardino CA 14909
California State University - Stanislaus Turlock CA 7062
California University of Pennsylvania California PA 5899
Calvin College Grand Rapids MI 4309
Carleton College Northfield MN 1936
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland OH 9304
Casper College Casper WY 3972
Centenary College of Louisiana Shreveport LA 1035
Central Michigan University Mount Pleasant MI 26845
Central Texas College Killeen TX 14636
Central Washington University Ellensburg WA 8050
Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion PA 6192
Clemson University Clemson SC 17465
Cleveland State University Cleveland OH 15294
Coastal Bend College Beeville TX 3259
Colby College Waterville ME 1814
Colgate University Hamilton NY 2820
College of Charleston Charleston SC 11129
College of William and Mary Williamsburg VA 7530
Colorado College Colorado Springs CO 1942
Colorado School of Mines Golden CO 3738
Colorado State University Fort Collins CO 26807
Columbia College Sonora CA 3340
Columbia University in the City of New York New York NY 19639
Columbus State University Columbus GA 5187
Cornell College Mount Vernon IA 987
Cornell University Ithaca NY 12043
Crafton Hills College Yucaipa CA 5054
Cuny Brooklyn College Brooklyn NY 15039
Cuny City College New York NY 11055
Cuny Lehman College Bronx NY 8768
Cuny Queens College Flushing NY 15061
Cuny York College Jamaica NY 5357
Dartmouth College Hanover NH 5386
Del Mar College Corpus Christi TX 9936
Delta College University Center MI 9358
Denison University Granville OH 2108
Depauw University Greencastle IN 2223
Dickinson College Carlisle PA 2115
Dixie State College of Utah Saint George UT 6350
Duke University Durham NC 12192
Earlham College Richmond IN 1156
East Carolina University Greenville NC 18750
East Georgia College Swainsboro GA 1313
Eastern Illinois University Charleston IL 10637
Eastern Kentucky University Richmond KY 13285
Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti MI 23561
Eastern New Mexico University - Main Campus Portales NM 3564
Eastern Washington University Cheney WA 8597
Edinboro University of Pennsylvania Edinboro PA 7278
Elizabeth City State University Elizabeth City NC 2035
Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton FL 21046
Florida International University Miami FL 31945
Florida State University Tallahassee FL 33971
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