Geologist Schools with Degree Program Overviews

Geologists' subjects span from the deep ocean floor to the moon and planets; to study rocks, they learn chemistry, math and physics. Geology is a large field, encompassing the study of rocks, soils and earth processes on a microscopic, local, global or interplanetary scale, and prospective students should look for specializations that incorporate their interests.

Top 10 Geology Schools

These schools offer geology programs at the undergrad and graduate levels:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition and Fees 2015-2016*
Pennsylvania State University-University Park University Park, PA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $17,514 in-state, $31,346 out-of-state
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's $13,856 in-state, $43,476 out-of-state
Stanford University Stanford, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,320
University of Arizona Tucson, AZ 4-year, Public Bachelor's $11,403 in-state, $32,630 out-of-state
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Doctoral $45,390
University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Doctoral $9,806 in-state, $34,676 out-of-state
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 4-year, private not-for-profit Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $46,704
University of California - Berkeley Berkeley, CA 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $13,431 in-state, $38,139 out-of-state
University of California - Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 4-year, public Bachelor's $13,968 in-state, $38,676 out-of-state
University of Colorado-Boulder Boulder, CO 4-year, public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral $11,091 in-state, $34,125 out-of-state

School Selection Criteria

Students should keep these considerations in mind when choosing a school:

  • Students should look for schools that offer subfields that interest them.
  • Choose a school with legitimate accreditation, preferably regional.
  • A larger school may offer depth and variety that a smaller school cannot provide.
  • Ask about opportunities for hands-on geological work, as some state universities use their land-grant, sea-grant or space-grant status to support exploration of their state's geological features, neighboring ocean floor or extraterrestrial soils and rocks.

Bachelor's Degree Program

Undergraduate degree programs include a broad base of liberal arts and science classes in their general education requirements. Geology majors add basic earth science to chemistry, physics, math and computer science courses. Juniors and seniors may take specialized courses such as geophysics, geochemistry, petroleum geology, geochronology, hydrology and environmental geosciences.

Master's Degree Program

Graduate programs can become very specialized. Coursework may include experimental geochemistry or petrology, sedimentology or biogeochemistry. Master's students usually produce a research thesis, but some programs offer a research project alternative. Almost all Ph.D. programs require original research and a dissertation.

Students who are interested in geology programs should look for schools that offer opportunities for hands-on work and research. Students may also look for programs with specific subfields, and larger schools may offer more of a variety of options.

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