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How do I Earn a Geology PhD?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 25 May 2018
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People interested in obtaining a PhD in geology will need to attend an educational institution with a geology PhD program and successfully complete the program. Graduates of such programs can opt to pursue post-doctoral work or may choose to enter a geology career with their PhDs. Geology PhDs can be found teaching, working in labs, consulting, and performing research with the goal of improving the field of geology. There are a number of areas of interest that people can pursue within this field.

The earlier someone knows that she or he wants a geology PhD, the better. High school students who intend to become geologists can pursue science classes and explore the possibility of taking classes at a local college by arrangement to take care of some of their undergraduate prerequisites. Advanced placement classes allow high school students to skip basic classes once they are in college, allowing them to focus on the courses they need for their degrees.

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Many undergraduate schools offer degrees in geology. It is advisable to seek out schools with an excellent reputation, opportunities for field work, and a history of sending their graduates on to master's (MA) and PhD programs. If a student has an interest in a particular graduate program, seeking out undergraduate institutions that have established relationships with that program can be wise. While an undergraduate, a future geology PhD can explore research opportunities, take as many elective classes as possible, and seek out research work during the summer. This will assist with a graduate school application and will also prepare the student more effectively for graduate-level education.

With an undergraduate degree, students can apply into an MA/PhD program, a program with a PhD track that allows students to earn an MA along the way. They can also apply into a standalone MA program and plan to earn a PhD at another institution. Requirements for a geology PhD include completion of graduate-level coursework and a research project. Students will need to submit their proposals for research and have them approved before they can move forward, and it can take six to eight years to finish the program.

Prospective geology PhD students should plan on visiting graduate schools and meeting the faculty in the process of applying. Strong letters of recommendation are needed and evidence of participation in research and a potential area of focus is highly beneficial. Students who have work experience in the field and have exhibited clear interest in a particular geology topic are more likely to be accepted into a geology PhD program.

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