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How do I Choose the Best Geology Programs?

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  • Written By: Rachel Burkot
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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A geologist works with rocks and fossils to learn about the earth’s formation, processes and history. In addition to the earth’s surface, its composition, atmosphere, oceans and forces are studied. Fields of geology careers include petroleum geology, engineering geology and mineral geology, in which oil and gas, electrical forces and minerals are analyzed, respectively. Geology programs vary by college and are geared toward a specific focus within geology.

There is no direct way to find the best geology programs, although a plethora of resources are available, including books, the Internet and other people who have obtained a geology degree. Prospective geologists should talk to anyone they know who has gone to geology school for advice in narrowing down the best geology programs. Forums can be found on the Internet that provide discussion on these programs and on geology classes. Additionally, almost any geology college can be researched on the Internet.

The first step in choosing the best geology program is to decide what geological area is most appealing, such as rocks, minerals, fossils or oceans, among other things. This will allow for a more focused search for geology programs. Then make a list of criteria that must be present in a geology college, which include considerations such as price, location, size, ranking and faculty to student ratio. This will further define the list of schools from which a decision will eventually be made.

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Next, turn to the resources available for picking geology programs. Use different types of sources because each one will rank schools differently. Use the list of criteria to rule out schools that do not fit. Compile a list of ones that do fit, and research each school individually. Visit the websites, and collect as much information as possible on the geology programs offered at each.

After a virtual visit, make actual visits to the schools that are seriously appealing at this point. If they are too far away to visit, call and speak with faculty and staff who have direct interaction with the geology programs, and ask for a video tour of the campus. Now apply to the schools that sound like the best fits. After hearing back from each school, weigh carefully every one that accepted you before making a final decision. Review financial aid packages, geology courses and student testimonials before making the choice.

A few entry-level positions are available in geology with a bachelor’s degree, but most require a master’s. Geology programs usually require courses such as environmental science, seismology, mineralogy, structural geology and oceanography. Strong knowledge of biology, chemistry, physics, math and engineering is also essential for a career as a geologist.

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