Top Geology Schools

There are hundreds of schools across the United States that offer programs in geology. The colleges and universities that have degree programs in geology provide students with the option of both undergraduate and graduate degrees. A minimum of a bachelor’s degree is required to find employment in the geology field, but many students prefer to go further with their education and enter geology graduate programs.

 1. University of Arizona – Department of Geosciences

university of arizona
Student Union, Old Main, and Forbes building at the University of Arizona

Located in Tucson, Arizona, the University of Arizona has the #1 geology program in the country according to US News. The program prides itself on having top-notch research facilities and extensive resources for students. In addition, faculty are pivotal in assisting students in gaining knowledge and preparing for future careers.

The undergraduate program offers students the option of a BS in Geology. This degree consists of two-years of geoscience coursework. Students in the program can take classes in a wide variety of topics relating to geology.

There are also graduate degrees available at the University of Arizona. The geology master’s program at the school is an MS degree in Geosciences which is a two-year program with a thesis requirement. The Ph.D. in Geosciences is a four-year program and has a dissertation requirement. Both degrees consist of coursework as well as a research component.

 1. University of Michigan–Ann Arbor – Department of Geological Sciences

University of Michigan Duderstadt Center (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
University of Michigan Duderstadt Center (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Tied for first place with the University of Arizona as the best geology school is the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. The school’s Department of Geological Sciences not only offers students an exceptional education on campus, the school also gives students the opportunity to take classes at Camp Davis in Wyoming. At Camp Davis, students can learn about geology in an outdoor setting surrounded by nature.

The university gives students three options for an undergraduate degree. The first is the BS in Earth and Environmental Sciences. This degree focuses on several areas of earth science. The second option is the BS in Earth Systems Science which emphasizes the relationships between environmental processes. There is also an honors component of either degree where students who have a 3.4 or better GPA can focus on specific areas of the subject. Students who choose the honors option will have to complete an honor’s thesis. Although the school does not offer a geology major, students can major in Earth and Environmental Sciences or Earth Systems Science and minor in Geology.

In addition to undergraduate programs, the school has a well-respected graduate program. Although there is an MS option, it is not necessary for those wanting to enter the Ph.D. program in Earth and Environmental Science to have a master’s degree. The Ph.D. program consists of at least 24 credits of coursework and a dissertation. The program accepts students with degrees from all science majors.

 3. Pennsylvania State University–University Park – Department of Geosciences

penn state
Main entrance of Old Main, at Penn State University (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Ranked #3 by US News is Penn State’s Department of Geosciences which is known for its research, top-notch facilities and its service to communities across the globe. In addition, the faculty at Penn State are some of the best in the world.

The school has a geoscience program for students looking to obtain a degree in geology. The BS in Geosciences has two different options. The first is the General Option which gives students the opportunity to focus on different areas in preparation for a graduate degree. The second option is the Hydrogeology Option. This degree prepares students for both graduate school and entry level positions in the field of hydrogeology.

The graduate program in geology dates back to 1913 and is highly respected. The MS and Ph.D. programs in Geosciences give students the opportunity to research and study among some of the best faculty in the field. Students are encouraged to choose one of many specializations offered in the department which will culminate in a required thesis. The school also has a unique BS/MS program which is available to undergraduate students who show exceptional abilities. They can complete the program in five years.

 3. University of Texas–Austin – Department of Geological Sciences

University of Texas–Austin (Photo:Wikimedia Commons)
University of Texas–Austin (Photo:Wikimedia Commons)

The university’s geoscience program is one of the oldest in the world and is tied with Penn State for the third best geology program in the United States. Located in Austin, TX, the department is also one of the largest in the world and boasts an impressive alumni list. In addition, a large population of geologists work in Houston, which offers students many industry connections.

The university has numerous degree options for students looking to pursue a geology degree. The BS in Geological Sciences has four options: Option one is General Geology which provides a solid background in the subject and is designed for potential teachers, geologists or graduate students. Option two is Geophysics which contains math and physics components. Option three is Hydrogeology which is an attractive choice for students interested in protecting the environment. The fourth option is the teaching option which is suitable for those who wish to parlay their geology studies into a career as a teacher. The school also offers a BS in Geosystems Engineering and Hydrogeology. This degree is part of the College of Engineering as well as the Department of Geological Sciences and allows students to study the fluids of the earth. Another option for geology students is the BA in Geological Sciences. This degree gives students the opportunity to complete two majors. Students not only major in Geological Sciences, they can also major in another subject of interest.

In addition to the various undergraduate degrees, the university also has a well-respected graduate program in geoscience. Students can pursue an MA or an MS in Geosciences. The MA is generally for professionals who would like to gain more knowledge in the field. The MS is the preferred master’s degree and students must complete a thesis. The department also offers a Ph.D. in Geosciences.

 5. Stanford University – School of Earth Sciences

stanford huang
Stanford University – Huang Engineering Center Adam Fagen (Photo: Adam Fagen)

Located in Stanford, CA, Stanford University’s geology program is ranked #5 by US News. The program gives students the opportunity to study and research at state of the art facilities and work in research groups dedicated to understanding the history and structure of the earth.

The undergraduate program at Stanford allows students to pursue a BS in Geological and Environmental Studies. This comprehensive degree program provides students with a sold understanding of all facets of geology. In addition, the program offers field trips, research opportunities as well as preparation to enter the workforce. The BS in Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology is another option for students interested in careers in engineering, environmental geology, geology, geotechnical engineering, and hydrogeology. The department also allows qualified students an honors option. Students must have at least 3.5 in their earth and environmental science courses and are required to complete a research project before graduation.

There are also extensive options for those wishing to pursue a graduate degree. The Coterminal BS/MS program in the department gives students the opportunity to earn their master’s degree at the same time as their bachelor’s degree. The MS and Ph.D. programs in the department are focused on coursework and research. The MS requires the completion of a thesis and Ph.D. candidates must complete a dissertation. The department also gives students the option of the Engineer Degree. This degree is designed for students with an MS, but do not want to complete a dissertation. This program requires 90 units of coursework and a thesis.

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