Environmental Geology Graduate Programs

Jan 21, 2019

It is possible for students interested in environmental geology to find graduate programs in this field. This article provides prospective students with some details about these types of programs, including admission requirements, the types of degrees available, and common coursework.

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Students who are seeking graduate degrees in environmental geology will find Master of Science programs at universities around the country. Some schools have programs specifically in environmental geology, while others offer programs in geology and environmental science or applied geosciences with a concentration in environmental geology. Some common degree requirements are outlined below.

Information About Environmental Geology Graduate Programs

Students can typically complete environmental geology master's degree programs in two years, with the first year and a half generally devoted to taking courses and the last semester spent writing a master's thesis. Below, we will look at five courses that are commonly found in the curricula of these programs.

Groundwater Geology and Modeling

Environmental geology programs typically include one or more courses that focus on some aspect of groundwater. Students learn about the various processes that determine the flow of groundwater as well as the chemical composition of it. The course could include a theoretical component coupled with opportunities to apply theory to real world problems using various methods of groundwater modeling.


Other topics that are generally covered in these graduate programs are different types of pollution and ways of measuring pollution. These courses may focus on a type of pollution, like air pollution, in which case students would learn how different types of air pollutants are structured, their various properties, and their effects on the environment. Pollution-focused courses may also cover urban pollution and ways of measuring and analyzing this type of pollution through hands-on labs.

Geology of Soils

In courses that focus on the geology of soils, students learn about soil science, the composition of soil, and the role that soil plays in various biological and geological systems. These courses may also include a hands-on component in which students analyze soil samples and conduct different soil mapping exercises.

Topics in Geophysics

Geophysics courses may focus on a variety of topics. Some courses cover geophysics more broadly, providing students with an introduction to the various research methods that are employed in the field of geophysics and how they are used to better understand the composition of the Earth. Other courses focus on the research methods and applications found in fields like seismic geophysics and electrical environmental geophysics.

Geographic Information Systems

Students interested in studying and working in the field of environmental geology will undoubtedly be required to work with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), so graduate programs typically include a course that covers this topic. Students learn how to use various software programs and applications in order to be able to conduct proper research while in the field. Some topics that will likely be covered include geocoding, spatial analysis, data collection, and remote-sensing.

Admission Standards for Environmental Geology Graduate Programs

Generally, applicants to graduate programs in environmental geology are expected to have a strong foundation in a field like mathematics or one of the physical sciences in order to be prepared for coursework. Some programs also look highly on applicants with professional experience. When applying to these programs, students will need to submit a completed application form, a resume or CV, undergraduate transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and GRE results.

In review, students interested in environmental geology can enroll in master's degree programs at universities around the country and take advanced coursework to prepare them for a number of careers.

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