Graduate degree programs in geological engineering provide students with training in geological concepts and engineering fundamentals to prepare them for work in the industry or academia. These programs are typically available as Master of Science or Doctor of Philosophy degree programs that require a final project. Here we compare these degree programs to help students decide which may be a better fit.
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Master's in Geological Engineering vs. Doctorate in Geological Engineering
Master of Science in Geological Engineering
Master of Science (MS) in Geological Engineering degree programs are usually full-time, on-campus programs that may range from 30 to 36 credits. Some of these programs can be completed in as little as 12 months and students may be able to choose from additional concentrations in areas like groundwater engineering, engineering geology/geotechnics and mining geological engineering. These programs typically require a thesis or provide a thesis and non-thesis option, where non-thesis students are required to complete an independent study project or final report. Coursework for these programs may include topics in geological data analysis, engineering geology, geotechnics, hydrology and design. Graduates of these programs may work various positions in mining companies, the government, academia or nonprofit organizations.
Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Geological Engineering degree programs are also typically full-time, on-campus programs. Based on a student's educational background (i.e. a bachelor's degree versus a master's degree), these programs may range anywhere from 30 to 72 credits and may provide additional areas of concentration, like engineering geology or mining geological engineering. Most commonly, students in these programs are required to pass qualifying exams, complete a dissertation and an oral defense and may pursue fellowships, teaching or research assistantships for funding and research or teaching experience. Coursework for these programs cover similar topics as master's programs and vary greatly based on a student's concentration and/or research interests, but some programs may require students to take coursework from a major and minor area. Graduates of doctoral programs can work advanced positions in geological engineering and research, as well as postsecondary educators in the field.
Common Entrance Requirements
Students applying to graduate programs in geological engineering generally need to hold a bachelor's degree and some programs may prefer that the degree is in engineering or a physical science. Some programs may have a minimum GPA requirement around a 3.0 and/or require students to submit GRE test scores. Typically, students will also need to include their official transcripts, letters of recommendation and a statement of purpose/goals. Other programs may require a resume or CV and/or a personal statement in addition to those common application materials. International students applying to the program may also need to demonstrate English proficiency with the appropriate test scores.
Although MS and PhD in Geological Engineering degree programs may cover many of the same topics, PhD programs are usually longer and require additional graduation requirements. Graduates of these programs are prepared to work similar positions in geological engineering, but doctoral students are likely to take advanced positions and/or go into academia.