Geology, in its broadest sense, is the study of the Earth – its interior and exterior surfaces, the rocks and other materials that surround us, the processes that have resulted in their formation, the water that flows over the surface and lies beneath it, the changes that have occurred over time, and the changes that we can expect to happen. The study of Geology employs deductive reasoning and scientific procedures, using mathematical, chemical, physical, and biological approaches.

geology major is a good choice for those who enjoy being outside. This is one of the few scientific specialties that allows students to spend most of their time outdoors in the field. In most cases, they might even be able to travel throughout the world, depending on their projects, with possibilities to study in places like Hawaii, New Zealand, Morocco, Nepal, Turkey, the Black Hills, Spain, the Bahamas, France, the Bahamas, Andes-Ecuador, the Death Valley, etc.

The skills that students of a master’s in Geology online develop will be beneficial and transferrable to various other careers. Project management, communication, quantitative reasoning, and research are just a few skills students will learn. Graduates can also switch career paths if they decide to pursue a career in something other than geology and take up laboratory work, journalism, research, or civil engineering. This master’s degree presents students with the opportunity to work in pollution control, geological surveying, environmental geology, geoscience, field seismology, and various other fields.

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Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Online Masters Programs in Geology

With several colleges offering master’s programs in geology, finding the best is easier said than done. Although students are advised to research for themselves, OMC has drawn up a list of the best colleges for a Geology master’s, based on criteria such as the program format and flexibility, experience and quality of the teaching staff, reputation of the institute, accreditation, research facilities and opportunities, career guidance, etc. Accordingly, here are some of the best online masters programs in Geology:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Florida(on-campus)
Tigert Hall, Gainesville, Florida 32611
Texas A & M University-College Station
JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843
Ohio University
020 Chubb Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
Missouri University of Science and Technology(on-campus)
300 W.13th Street, Rolla, Missouri 65409
Mississippi State University
Lee Boulevard, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762
University of Houston(on-campus)
212 E. Cullen Building, Houston, Texas 77204
Florida Atlantic University(on-campus)
777 Glades Rd, Administration Bldg., Room 339, Boca Raton, Florida 33431
South Dakota School of Mines and Technology(on-campus)
501 E Saint Joseph St, Rapid City, South Dakota 57701
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Geology Masters Programs

Geology masters’ programs introduce students to problem-solving, critical thinking, and fundamental concepts in the earth sciences and demonstrate how to present observations that can extend into deep time. These programs provide a solid foundation in the discipline, with a high level of knowledge, skills, and professionalism to enable graduates to advance their careers by integrating courses with cutting-edge research.

From learning and understanding the processes that formed and now modify the Earth to covering topics such as how landscapes are produced and developed, students of a Geology master’s cover a lot. They also study human interactions with the environment, groundwater movement, and geological sustainability, and prepare themselves for advanced research as well as high-profile professions in geology, environmental risk assessment, STEM teaching, public policy, and other fields, while also improving their marketability as practicing geoscientists, earth science educators, and other allied professionals.

Students can pursue a master’s in Geology online program with or without a thesis. Both forms of the program offer advanced, applied instruction and experiences in a wide range of earth science issues to geology graduates and those from related STEM disciplines. Most universities offer online learning and in-person programs.

Geology Masters Programs Degree Types

A Geology Masters is broken down into several specializations, such as geology, geology sciences, earth sciences, etc. However, most of these degree programs are a Master of Science or MS degree.

MS in Geology

The Master of Science in Geology (MS in Geology) is the frequently opted choice for most geology students. This degree typically focuses on data and the sciences and is technically oriented.

MA in Geology

The Master of Arts in Geology (MA in Geology) may be hard to come by because it is usually the opted route for specializations within Geology, such as Earth & Planetary Science, that adopts a more interdisciplinary approach through the study of a variety of subjects.

Specializations in Geology Masters Programs

With Geology being a vast subject, it makes sense for students to focus on a specific area within the subject. Such a specialization or concentration will provide in-depth knowledge in a critical sub-area of Geology, leading to particular jobs that command high respect and remuneration. Students can focus their studies on a variety of topics that include but are not limited to:

  • Geographic Information Science and Technology
  • Data Management for Geosciences
  • Petroleum Geology
  • Marine and Coastal Geology
  • Seismology
  • Planetary Science
  • Environmental Science and Hydrology
  • GIS in Land Management
  • Geological Engineering
  • Paleoceanography
  • Geochemistry
  • Paleolimnology
  • Benthic Ecology
  • Marine Geophysics
  • Geochronology
  • Biostratigraphy
  • Geophysics
  • Mining Management
  • Environmental Geology
  • Applied Environmental Geology
  • Spectral Geology

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Geology Masters Programs

The core coursework of a Geology master’s program tends to overlap with the departments of geophysics, geosciences, atmospheric science, and other related fields. Students can highly customize their program by picking from a plethora of coursework options. Depending on the school and degree, a thesis may be required to be submitted at the end of the program. Some of the standard geology courses online:

  • Groundwater Fundamentals and Practices
  • Stream Geomorphology
  • Solid Earth Geochemistry
  • Colloquium in Geology
  • Geodata Analysis
  • Sedimentary Systems and Processes
  • Earth Systems Evolution
  • Watershed and Stream Hydrology
  • Planetary Geology
  • Mineralogy
  • Paleobiology
  • Stratigraphy
  • Structural Geology
  • Sedimentary Petrogenesis
  • Ocean Data Science
  • Hydro-geochemistry
  • Geologic Evolution of North America
  • Surface and Groundwater Interactions
  • Plate Tectonics
  • Solar System Science
  • Research in Geological Sciences
  • Hydrological Processes
  • Continental Tectonics
  • Groundwater Flow/Transport
  • Metamorphic Petrology
  • Petroleum Geology
  • Professional Issues in Earth and Environmental Science
  • Well Hydraulics
  • Advances in Paleoclimatology
  • Glacial and Quaternary Geology
  • Remote Sensing for Geographical Analysis
  • Petroleum Data Management

The Geology degree prepares students for a variety of settings both on and off the field. They also develop transferable skills, which can be of immense use in areas outside of Geology. In general, Geology graduates will be able to:

  • Interpret, analyze, discuss, and critique scientific articles about geological problems and research procedures.
  • Answer geological research questions, analyze, discuss, and draw conclusions concerning geologic data.
  • Write and speak scientifically to produce high-quality data analysis, results, interpretations, and conclusions.
  • Identify geological issues, develop hypotheses to address geologic issues, and write high-quality written proposals to investigate geologic topics.
  • Collect data and answer geological problems using various geological approaches.

Accreditation for Geology Masters Programs

Accreditation means that a program or school meets or exceeds established standards that they need to adhere to. It is a seal of authenticity, credibility, and quality. An online Master’s in Geology, like all other master’s degrees, must be accredited for the degree to be recognized by the industry. While some schools have officially accredited programs, known as programmatic accreditation, most schools are regionally accredited, which is an equally valid option. The Applied & Natural Science Accreditation Commission (ANSAC) of ABET is one agency that accredits geology and geology science programs in the United States. Regional accreditation agencies include:

  1. New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  2. Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSA-CESS)
  3. Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  4. Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC)
  5. Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  6. Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission

It is always prudent for students of a Geology master’s degree to look for a program or school accredited by at least one independent accrediting authority. The Accreditation Guide provides more information on accreditation.

Timeline For Graduating from Online Geology Masters Programs

The master’s degree in Geology generally requires 30 credit hours in total, 6 of which are thesis hours. In cases where students may opt for a non-thesis degree program, there is a fair chance that they will require some 39 credit hours instead. In broad terms, however, the degree can take anywhere from 1 to 2 years to complete.

Admission Requirements for Online Geology Masters Programs

All schools have specific admissions criteria and requirements that applicants need to meet. The master in Geology is no exception, with standard expectations by the school and some additional ones in some instances. Usually, admission requirements for a master’s in Geology degree program are:

  • An Undergraduate Degree, preferably in geology, earth or space sciences, physical science, integrated science, science education, etc., or a related degree from an accredited institution.
  • All Official Academic Transcripts.
  • A Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or more.
  • Resume.
  • Personal Statement or Statement of Purpose.
  • Personal References (at least 2).
  • A Writing Sample or any Research Work.

Most colleges that offer the Geology master’s degree do not require a GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) score, but some may require one if the applicant’s GPA is lower than needed.

Free Geology Programs

Since Geology is a very scientific subject that demands critical thinking skills and excessive research, it is not advisable for students to take free courses that they think can substitute a master’s degree. Free courses in Geology can only help graduate students and working professionals gain additional knowledge and widen their perspectives. Here are a few resources that offer free courses, although none lead to a master’s degree in Geology:

  1. has put together free online Geology courses from top universities, with many coming from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Course topics include igneous petrology, trace element geochemistry, medical geology, and landscape evolution, and more.
  2. Coursera
    Coursera offers courses for geology and earth sciences that are suitable for students, professionals, and educators. Most of these courses are delivered by reputed universities and institutions, such as the University of Manchester, Rice University, the American Museum of Natural History, etc.
  3. Earth Science Resources
    Earth Science Resources has a compilation of over 55 free online earth science courses, many of which are suitable for geologists or specializations in geology. Topics range from Geodynamics to Geobiology, to Paleoceanography, and a whole lot more.
  4. Udemy
    Udemy offers a handful of free courses, although they may not suit graduate students because they seem basic (but interesting).

How to Pay for Online Masters in Education Administration

For almost all prospective students, the cost of pursuing a graduate study tends to weigh them down. A master’s program can potentially cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, making it an expensive pursuit for many. Fortunately, there are several types of financial aid students can explore and seek to offset the high cost of graduate studies. Some such financial aid may be in the form of:


Scholarships help deserving students pay for their education by lowering or eliminating the cost. Generally, scholarships are merit-based and offered to students who have an excellent academic track record.


Unlike scholarships, generally provided based on merit, grants are frequently awarded based on the family’s finances. Universities that award need-based grants consider an applicant’s grades and test scores as well.

Graduate Assistantships

Teaching Assistantships– Students working as a professor’s assistant, assisting them with instructional restrictions, or assisting in a lab or workshop, as well as teaching and demonstrating for undergraduates, are offered a fee waiver or a stipend in exchange for such services.

Research Assistantships– Students who conduct and/or assist research work under the guidance of a professor are eligible for a fee waiver or stipend.

Student Loans

Students may be eligible for loans from the federal government, banks, or private lenders, all of which entail interest payments. Unfortunately, delayed or missed payments will almost certainly result in a rise in student debt.


Prospective graduate students can complete a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) to determine whether or not they qualify for any financial aid, like scholarships, fellowships, assistantships, and work-study, offered by the university. Everything there is to know about FAFSA is available here.

To learn more about various ways of funding a master’s in Geology, read the best Financial Guide.

FAQs about Online Geology Masters Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between geology, earth science, and geoscience degrees?

Geology focuses on the Earth and the physical materials that make up the Earth. It studies the formation of rocks, and the process by which soil is made, fossils, and how the elements interact with the earth in the form of earthquakes, landslides, and volcanoes. Geoscience is broader in its approach and encompasses the study of the earth’s oceans, lakes, and rivers, along with the atmosphere. Geoscience, also known as Earth Science, is broader still. It encompasses and combines the disciplines of geology, oceanography, astronomy, and meteorology. It seeks to combine the knowledge and study in these four areas to create a broader understanding of the workings of the earth.

Can you get a Geology degree online?

How long does it take to complete an online master in Geology?

What are the career options available for master in Geology graduates?

Is a geology master worth it?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Online Geology Masters Graduates

Employers in the geological sciences frequently seek a master’s degree in geological sciences. With a master’s in Geology online degree, the energy, and environmental fields, as well as occupations in or related to geology, such as education, government, scientific communication, and consultancy, offer excellent opportunities. Graduates can expect to work as part of a team, collaborating with other scientists and engineers using their knowledge, skills, leadership, and communication abilities.

For those who want to work in the sciences, they will not find many better possibilities than getting a master’s degree in Geology. Master’s degree holders in geology are in high demand. Jobs in geology will continue to rise as more sectors require people who understand the complexities of environmental protection, energy systems, and responsible land and resource management. Likewise, professional, technological, and scientific industries related to Geology are also expected to grow at a reasonable rate, according to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The Geology master’s degree is also quite adaptable. Oil and gas, mining and minerals, academia, oceanography, water management, and even government administration are all sectors to find jobs in.

The salary of a geologist varies based on where they reside, the type of job they do, and their level of expertise. And compared to a bachelor’s degree in Geology, a master’s degree holder will earn substantially more, especially when there is a specialization involved.

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual salary for geoscientists in 2020 was around $93,580, with potential growth of 7% in the number of jobs between 2020 and 2030. Although some professionals made slightly less than this (in 2020), it is worth noting that the top 10% of earners made more than $201,150 in a year.

Certifications and Licensure for Online Geology Masters Students

Apart from the many Geology certificate programs online, which act as extensions or near alternatives to an online degree, certifications recognize an individual’s professional knowledge and experience in a particular field or subject. They lead to meaningful opportunities and easier and secure employment as well. For geologists, the number of certifications available to choose from are many but depend on the sector one specializes in or works in. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), for example, awards certifications such as ‘Certified Coal Geologist’, ‘Certified Petroleum Geologist’, and ‘Certified Petroleum Geophysicist. Similarly, the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) offers the Enterprise Administration Professional certification, and the Enterprise Geodata Management Professional certification. Conclusively, getting an online Geology certificate will open up more job avenues in various settings.

In the United States, professional licensure for the engineering and surveying professions related to geology is regulated at the state level. Therefore, students need to graduate from a master’s in Geology degree program that validates their educational experience and prepares them for licensure. In some states, depending on the degree, geologists may be required to have put in four to eight years of work before being eligible for a license.

Additional Resources for Online Geology Masters Students

Geology is related to many other sciences and is a segment of the more extensive subject of Geoscience. For students of a geological sciences degree and working professionals to gain deeper insights into all things geology, share and compare notes with other researchers, and analyze and interpret data with the help of subject experts, it is prudent to network and tap into every possible resource there is. Here are a few resources that can provide ample information and help for students, fresh graduates, and seasoned professionals of geology:

  1. offers free open educational resources for the Geosciences. The site hosts three textbooks – Introduction to Geology, Historical Geology, and Introduction to Mineralogy.
  2. Earth Science Resources
    Earth Science Resources is a treasure trove for geologists that offers Books, Courses, Exercises, Interactive, Labs, Lectures, Photos, and Teaching Resources, all neatly put together and presented.
  3. The Geological Society of America (GSA)
    The Geological Society of America (GSA) offers memberships, has books and publications, hosts events, and offers a host of resources for education and careers. The site is also an excellent way for geologists to stay connected and updated with the latest in the field of geology.
  4. American Geosciences Institute (AGI)
    The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) provides scholarly information aggregating research vital to geoscientists’ work, education and outreach for schools and the public, workforce development research and analysis of career paths, publications that inform on a range of geoscience topics, and news that include geological and geophysical engineering, and much more.
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