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Degree Overview: Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Geology

Majors Overview April 4, 2015

Get information about bachelor’s degree programs in geology and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, and continuing education choices.

Bachelor’s Degree Programs in Geology

The past and present of the earth are studied and used by geologists in predicting its future. During the process, they perform examination of mineral and rock formations, analysis of the ways in which natural forces such as water and wind shape the land, and exploration of the earth’s past as preserved in its rocks.

Coursework in bachelor’s degree programs begins with instruction on the basics of Earth science. Students enrolled in the program learn how life is affected by natural occurrences like earthquakes and floods and how to plan and prepare for such occurrences.

Coursework combines fieldwork, lab experiences, and classroom lectures to facilitate the exploration by students of the raw materials (such as water and oil) that comprise the earth and the ways in which they can be put to use in everyday life. Finally, students explore the layers of the earth to gain an understanding of the changes wrought over time.

Upon completion of a bachelor’s degree program in geology, students will be ready for entry-level careers. Many students pursue advanced degrees in order to be allowed to focus on a specific aspect of geology.

Education Requirements

Incoming students to a bachelor’s degree program in geology are expected to have a strong background in math and science, which are the knowledge areas likely to find usage by geologists in their everyday work. Schools encourage taking advanced high school classes, such as calculus and physics. However, communications and writing classes should also be taken by prospective students because writing of detailed and accurate reports is a primary requirement of a geologist’s job.


General education classes are augmented by some classes, while not focusing specifically on geology, hold importance to the profession. For instance, students can use chemistry to gain a grasp of the basic science behind mineral and gem formation. Geology-specific courses are available in an array of topic areas that cover outer space, in addition to sea and land. A fieldwork class is completed by most students as a component part of the undergraduate program. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•History and evolution of Earth
•Rock, gem, and mineral formation
•Aerial photography interpretation
•Tectonics (how and why the Earth’s surface shifts and moves)
•Ecology, climatology, and the environment

Career Choices

Those who complete a bachelor’s degree can seek employment in various geologically related fields. Career choices are driven by increased interests in saving and preserving the environment. The growth of the field is also expected to be enhanced through technological growth and change wherein companies hire geologists to source the raw materials required to make new devices, such as smart phones. Geology graduates may seek entry-level careers as the following:

•Petroleum geologists
•Glacial geologists
•Economic geologists
•Soil scientists

Continuing Education Choices

While entry-level occupations are available to holders of a bachelor’s degree, focus on a career in a specialized field of interest, such as volcanology (study of volcanoes) or hydrology (water studies), can be pursued by interested individuals only if they have advanced degrees at the master’s or doctorate level.

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