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What Are the Different Types of Earth Science Degrees?

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  • Written By: Nicole Long
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 24 November 2016
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A wide range of earth science degrees exist for those interested in studying the earth, its processes, and its functions. This particular field of science encompasses many disciplines, which typically allows students the opportunity to seek additional training in specific areas related to the planet. Some of the options for earth science degrees include degrees in geology, meteorology, and oceanography, to name just a few.

Earth science degrees generally focus on studies related to our planet. Typically, this includes the study of Earth’s materials, geologic history, and structure. Education in earth sciences can provide students with the knowledge they need to excel in a wide range of positions, including jobs in the private sector and with government agencies.

An individual interested in earth science may choose to study it in general or to focus on a specific aspect of the field, such as geology, ecology, or hydrology. The multidisciplinary aspect of the earth science field can offer students a wide range of study and career options. Students can also choose to earn dual degrees, pairing earth science with fields like biology or physics, to further complement their educational background.

Geology is one of the earth science degrees available. In this specialty, students learn the physical aspects of Earth as well as its composition and structure. A closely related field is hydrology, which is the study of the physical properties of water, including that found on the planet's surface and underground.

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Another branch of this field commonly found as a degree option is atmospheric science. The most common profession for atmospheric scientists is meteorology. Meteorologists study the atmosphere and forecast the weather. Some in this field specifically study weather patterns over years or throughout history. These individuals are known as climatologists.

Oceanography is another option for those interested in earth science degrees. Students who earn this type of degree usually focus on the world’s oceans and seek to understand how the various properties of water affect climate, weather, and coastlines. Professionals in this field may work closely with biological scientists, referred to as marine biologists, to help address the impact ocean waters have on sea life.

The field of earth science is complex and allows for many different degree choices and career options. In addition to some of the common degrees, students can also choose coursework focused on fields such as seismology and volcanology. Other opportunities also exist in engineering geology and mineralogy.

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