In very broad strokes, geology is the study of the rocks and minerals that make up Earth and the process that formed them and earth and that continues today. It’s not merely looking at rocks and identifying them, but also understanding some of the materials that may be present in certain types of rock or mineral formations like fuels. There are a number of ways to get a geology degree, and usually this depends on where a student is in their studies. There are BA, BS, MS and PhD degrees in geology.
Students in junior high and high school who are interested in getting a geology degree should focus on good grades all around but especially good grades in all math and science classes. When possible, they should plan on studying math to the calculus level, and take science courses every year up to physics. Advanced placement (AP) courses are highly recommended since students will receive college credits for these. When students take all AP courses and pass tests for these, they may have almost a full year of college credits prior to entering college.
If students live near a junior or community college they might also want to consider taking summer school courses in geology. The school may have restrictions on age or entry and might have prerequisites. Usually by the time students are 15 or 16, they’ll meet the requirements of the school and be able to study at least basic levels of this subject.
There are many colleges that offer a geology degree or several ones. Students should next determine what schools most appeal. State universities can have good programs, as can many private schools, and people should plan to visit a few of their favorites to determine where to apply.
Some students opt to save money by spending their first two years at a junior college or community college. This is an especially good option if grades in high school were not very strong. A strong showing at the JC or community college level tends to be considered far more than any high school grades when people take this path. Additionally, transferring at the junior level typically doesn’t require SAT scores.
One choice some people will have is whether to get a BS or BA geology degree, and some schools offer both. The BA degree is more focused on students who might be interested in teaching, especially at the junior high or high school level, while the BS degree tends to concentrate more on the scientific perspective and will usually include more lab time. Those wishing to pursue masters or doctorate level work in geology are usually better off getting the BS degree.
When a science student does decide to continue studies at the graduate level, he or she will probably need to start considering where to get another geology degree and whether to pursue masters or doctorate work. Again, there are plenty of schools that offer degrees at each of these levels. People should take into account the kinds of studies that may occur at these schools and how the scientific focus of each school matches up with goals for study.
Also, there is the decision about which graduate geology degree to attempt. Doctoral degrees do typically increase chances for the best possible jobs in the field, but they can take a long time to complete. MS degrees typically take a couple of years to complete. Getting advice from professors on the appropriate direction can be valuable. Moreover, those who initially get a master’s degree can always go back to school and get a PhD geology degree.