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Geophysics and Seismology

Geophysics is the study of the Earth's physical properties, with seismology a branch of geophysics concerning earthquakes and seismic waves. While a master's degree is most common in these fields, there are opportunities at all educational levels.

Inside Geophysics and Seismology

Geophysicists study the magnetic, electrical and gravitational forces of the Earth, as well as its surface, internal composition and atmosphere. Seismologists are geophysicists who specialize in earthquakes and in the origins and transmission of seismic waves within the Earth. They use the basic physical principles of planets to investigate subsurface conditions of the Earth, often to address environmental and engineering problems. Some seismologists focus on collecting and analyzing seismological data to increase the ability to predict the occurrence and magnitude of earthquakes. Other geophysicists who specialize in seismology may assist in the administration of government regulations, conduct research or offer consulting services around the globe.

Education Information

Students interested in geophysics may pursue a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, as well as a graduate level certificate. A master's degree is the most common level of education for geophysicists, with professional master's degrees available at some schools. A PhD in Geophysics is geared towards those pursuing teaching and research careers; some schools allow students with bachelor's degrees to enter PhD programs directly. Individuals interested in geophysics will need a strong background in mathematics, chemistry and physics.

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