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2023 Geological & Earth Sciences Degree Guide

The earth is magnificent place that holds so much history, and yet is constantly changing. If you would like to study the earth, from renewable energy sources to minerals and rock structures, a major in Geological and Earth Sciences may be for you.

Students who major in Geological and Earth Sciences take classes in biology, mineralogy, geochemistry, physical geology, and petrology in order to learn everything about the earth. They will study minerals, rocks, soil chemistry, and natural disasters like earthquakes and volcanoes. This major informs students about the earth's past, present and future.

Possible concentrations in this field include general Geology and Earth Science, Geochemistry, Geophysics and Seismology, Paleontology, Hydrology and Water Resources Science, Geochemistry and Petrology, Chemical and Physical Oceanography.

Geological & Earth Sciences Degrees Decreasing

#95 Most Popular Major
7.8k Degrees Awarded
-14.0% Increase in Graduates

In 2020-2021, geological and earth sciences was the 95th most popular major nationwide with 7,821 degrees awarded. This 1,097 less than the prior year, a decrease of 14.0%.

Our 2023 Best Geological & Earth Sciences Schools ranking analyzes 184 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for geological and earth sciences students. Explore this or one of our many other custom geology rankings further below.

2023 Best Colleges for Geological & Earth Sciences
2023 Overall Best Geological & Earth Sciences Colleges >

Best Geological & Earth Sciences Schools by Degree

Associate Degrees in Geological & Earth Sciences
Bachelor's Degrees in Geological & Earth Sciences
Master's Degrees in Geological & Earth Sciences
Doctorate Degrees in Geological & Earth Sciences

What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Geological & Earth Sciences

This major involves lot of science classes. Students will be expected to understand the chemical make-up of certain compositions, be able to perform experiments, and analyze data. Strong critical thinking and analytical skills will help you work on complex problems and draw conclusions from observations and data. Writing and communication skills are also important because scientists must be able to explain their findings to other people who do not have a background in Geological and Earth Sciences.

A degree in Geological and Earth Sciences typically leads to a full time career as a scientist. While you will spend time in offices and laboratories, you will also be expected to conduct fieldwork. This means traveling and putting in long and irregular hours for certain projects.

Previous experience is important in this field and employers often look for students who have gained both field and lab experience while working towards their degree. You can gain this experience through internships or summer field camp programs. These allow students to get hands-on experience conducting experiments, analyzing data, and incorporating classroom knowledge into a real world setting under the advisement of a professor.

Depending on where you decide to work, you may need to earn certification first. It is best to check state laws to ensure you are fulfilling all requirements, as these can vary.

Prior Education for a Geology Program

New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Specific geology careers may require a certain level of degree attainment or additional certifications beyond that.

Geological & Earth Sciences Degree Types

There are many different geology degree levels. You can spend many years getting as high as a in geological and earth sciences to something that takes less time like a . The type of geology degree you choose will determine how long it takes to get your diploma.

DegreeCredit RequirementsTypical Program Length
Associate Degree60-70 credits2 years
Bachelor’s Degree120 credits4 years
Master’s Degree50-70 credits1-3 years
DoctorateProgram required coursework including thesis or dissertationAt least 4 years

A master's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to geology, with approximately 36.2% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for geology workers below.

Level of EducationPercentage of Workers
Master’s Degree37.1%
Bachelor’s Degree28.4%
Doctoral Degree17.0%
Post-Doctoral Training11.9%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate5.2%

About 63.4% of workers in careers related to geology obtain at least master's degrees. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in geological and earth sciences have received.


The education level required is different depending on the geology career you are seeking.

Geology Careers

Average Number of Jobs
$38.8k Average Starting Salary
11% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

Geological and Earth Science graduates work in a variety of fields. Some have gone into the oil and gas industry, engineering firms, mining companies, environmental firms, and government agencies. Those with advanced degrees also perform independent research. Since many industries rely on the earth or interact with it in some way, Geological and Earth Science graduates have many career options.

Solid Growth Projected for Geology Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your geology degree? Geological & Earth Sciences careers are expected to grow 10.9% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to geological and earth sciences.

Occupation NameProjected JobsExpected Growth
Natural Sciences Managers62,3009.9%
Chemistry Professors28,9009.9%
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors14,4009.9%

How Much Money Do People With a Geology Degree Make?

Recently graduated geological and earth sciences students earned an average of $38,787 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $20,625 to as high as $99,747. As you might expect, salaries for geology graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Geology Careers

Salaries for geological and earth sciences graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers geology grads often go into.

Occupation NameMedian Average Salary
Natural Sciences Managers$139,680
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Professors$101,890
Chemistry Professors$92,360

Getting Your Geological & Earth Sciences Degree

With over 1,382 different geology degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased geology school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Geological & Earth Sciences

One of 8 majors within the Physical Sciences area of study, Geological & Earth Sciences has other similar majors worth exploring.

Geology Concentrations

MajorAnnual Graduates
Geology & Earth Sciences6,024
Other Geological & Earth Sciences/Geosciences767
Chemical & Physical Oceanography508
Geophysics & Seismology243
Hydrology & Water Resources Science221

View All Geology Concentrations >

Related MajorAnnual Graduates
General Physical Sciences3,823
Astronomy & Astrophysics1,375
Atmospheric Sciences & Meteorology1,140

View All Geology Related Majors >


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