Due to the technical sophistication of the Geological Sciences curriculum, Doctor of Geological Science (D.G.S.) students are required to attend conventional classes in a college or university. The practical technological applications involved in this degree also needs extensive training on-campus. As such, an entirely online D.G.S. program isn’t available in the United States. Still, you can enroll in universities with flexible arrangements. You can earn the D.G.S. at your own pace in not more than nine years, but you will have to attend on-campus classes.

Humans call the Earth their home for millions of years, but our planet still leaves many mysteries to discover. Enrolling in a Doctor of Geological Science program will help humanity unlock some of these secrets. Moreover, you can use your knowledge to develop our planet’s existing resources, study how human activity impacts the environment, and develop ways to protect the Earth.

What does a geologist do?

A geologist is a scientist who studies the earth and its processes like earthquakes, volcanic activity, erosion, and the weather. Geologists conduct surveys on anything on and beneath the land surface including rocks, minerals, and fossil fuels like oil, coal, and natural gas.

Through sophisticated technology and geologic theory, geologists map out areas with abundant resources including water, gold, and other precious elements. A critical job of geologists is geo-hazard mapping. Engineers layout areas with high risks for disasters like landslide slopes, flood zones, tsunami prone areas, potential sinkhole grounds, and drought regions. The data gathered by geologists are essential in building infrastructure and facilities that benefit society such as mining districts, road networks, evacuation centers, and agricultural lands.

Geologists also work with paleontologists and archeologists as they uncover fossils and prehistoric human remains found in excavation sites. They work hand in hand with other scientists to face environmental challenges such as climate change.

Geological Sciences may sound like a terrestrial-focused discipline, but geologists investigate the ocean floor too. They examine below-sea-level topography and consider them for fishing areas, transportation routes for sea vessels, underwater industrial zones, and critical environmentally sensitive marine elements such as reefs.

Research interests of geologists in this digital age go beyond the horizon. Aside from Earth, they also study the landscape of other planets.

What sort of accreditation should I look for in a Doctor of Geological Science (D.G.S.) school?

Although not bearing the term “engineering” on the name, the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) accredits Geological Sciences programs in the US. The Engineering Accreditation Commission and the Computing Accreditation Commission of ABET are the accrediting bodies.

It is also a good sign if the institution’s faculty is affiliated with professional and scholarly organizations like the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG).

How do I earn my Doctor of Geological Science (D.G.S.) degree?

Entry requirements vary with each school. Some universities require applicants to have an M.S. degree in Geological Science, while some accept holders of Bachelor’s Degree in Geology or a related discipline such as biology, chemistry, math, physics, or engineering. Test scores from standardized exams Scholastic Achievement Test (SAT) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are part of the necessary documentation.

The D.G.S. program typically takes up to 4 years to complete if you are studying full time. Most graduates finish it in not more than nine years. The program involves geology coursework, fieldwork, and laboratory examination. Like most research-oriented doctorate programs, D.G.S. students are required to finish a dissertation after the coursework. They work with a supervisor from the institution and professors from other universities make up the panel.

Each Geological Sciences institution features different concentrations. For this reason, you need to consider the area in Geology that you wish to explore before you apply. The current trends in the discipline focus on the diversification of sub-sciences in Geology and the search for new methods to embrace the “new normal” conditions brought by climate change.

What type of degree do I need to pursue research or educate others in Geological Science?

Those who have Ph.D. degrees in the hard sciences including in engineering and especially in Geology are qualified to teach G.S.D. students. Geologists that work in the academia, government, or private corporations can continue to contribute to research by publishing papers in scholarly journals.

What kind of career and salary can I expect with my D.G.S. degree?

As mentioned, geologists land on careers in the academe, government, and private corporations. They are in demand in the energy and mining sectors. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a geological engineer’s annual median pay is $94,240. Those who work as professors make $106,390 yearly.

D.G.S. graduates have plenty of opportunities to work with other scientists. The compensation they get from research endeavors complements their income.

Do I need a license to be a geologist?

Some states require geology bachelor’s and master’s graduates to take a licensing examination. When you pass the exam, you will be awarded a Professional Geologist (PG) title.

AIPG demands continuing education for geologists in the following states: Alabama, Delaware, Kansas, Louisiana, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas. In Alaska, certification depends on the registration requirements.

What schools offer D.G.S. degrees?

The following schools have a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences program in the traditional classroom and residency setting: the University of Texas at Austin in  Austin, Texas; Stanford University in Stanford, California; the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana; and The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. These universities offer full scholarship grants to cover tuition, transportation, allowances, and research conference fees.

Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, offers a flexible schedule for completion of the Ph.D. in Applied Geology Program. If the location is far, you can take some courses in Geology from the University of Akron and Youngstown State University where credits are counted in a Memorandum of Agreement with Kent State University.

If you enjoy Geology as a discipline and are equally passionate about the sciences in general, D.G.S. may be the ideal degree for you!

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UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN

austin

PH.D. IN GEOSCIENCES

School Highlights: Students can find a Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences at the Austin campus of the University of Texas that provides five exciting specializations. These options include fascinating topics that connect students with expert faculty members in each specific area. It is a research-oriented degree program in which students are expected to immerse themselves in personal projects with real-world impacts. They work closely with advisors and supervisors throughout their doctoral experience, and there is a vast amount of resources, such as the Energy and Earth Resources. The curriculum is primarily designed for students pursuing a career in academia. However, it is an excellent resource for individuals entering government or industry-specific positions of employment, as well.

Concentration Options:

  • Climate & the Environment
  • Energy Geosciences
  • Marine Geosciences
  • Planetary Sciences & Geobiology
  • Solid Earth & Tectonic Processes

Campus Location: Austin, TX

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 39% Retention Rate: 95% Graduation Rate: 81%

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STANFORD UNIVERSITY

stanford

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY IN GEOLOGICAL SCIENCES

School Highlights: At Stanford University, one of the nation’s best and most celebrated schools with an outstanding reputation, students major in a Doctor of Philosophy in Geological Sciences. This degree requires students to conduct their own original earth science investigations, interpret their results, and present their conclusions and data before the School of Earth, Energy, and Environmental Sciences. Many students even publish their findings in prominent scientific journals at the end of their degrees! Upon completion, graduates leave Stanford with an enormous reputation and tremendous networking connections. There is also a Ph.D. Minor in Geological Sciences for doctoral students of similar disciplines, and an Engineering Program in Geological Sciences for post-graduate, non-Ph.D. students.

Coursework Sample:

  • Earth and Planetary Processes
  • Coevolutions of Earth and Life
  • Practical Experience in the Geosciences

Campus Location: Stanford, CA

Accreditation:

  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
    533 Airport Boulevard, Suite 200
    Burlingame, California 94010
    www.acswasc.org, (650) 696-1060

Acceptance Rate: % Retention Rate: % Graduation Rate: %

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UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME

notre dame

CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING AND EARTH SCIENCES: PH.D.

School Highlights: The University of Notre Dame has a unique pathway for doctoral students of geology through the Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Science Ph.D. This curriculum spans an incredibly vast array of scientific knowledge and information. Yet, it also allows students to narrow their educational approach by choosing a research focus of their own design. As a whole, the program addresses four critical areas, which include Environmental Fluid Dynamics, Environmental Engineering, Structural Engineering, and Environmental Geosciences. Notre Dame operates state-of-the-art research and computing facilities and laboratories. Students are encouraged to utilize all of these resources while developing a topic that addresses significant challenges facing the 21st century.

Coursework Sample:

  • Environmental Ethics: Ethical Reasoning in the Anthropocene
  • Planet Earth
  • Water, Disease

Campus Location: Notre Dame, IN

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 18% Retention Rate: 98% Graduation Rate: 95%

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTRE DAME’S CIVIL AND ENVIRONMENTAL ENGINEERING AND EARTH SCIENCES: PH.D.

UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA

alabama

GEOLOGY, PH.D.

School Highlights: The University of Alabama provides a multidisciplinary approach to the Doctor of Philosophy in Geology. The curriculum includes strong traditional topics in areas such as environmental geoscience, water resources, and energy exploration, and touches on all of the most critical subdisciplines. Bama offers exciting internship and research opportunities to all doctoral students that are guaranteed to give them unparalleled educational experiences. The coursework is extensively hands-on and laboratory-focused. However, there are also chances to engage in experimental, theoretical, or analytical earth sciences studies. There is also a Master of Science in Geology for students who do not have the necessary prerequisites for admission.

Coursework Sample:

  • Paleoclimatology
  • Communicating Geology
  • Seismology

Campus Location: Tuscaloosa, AL

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 59% Retention Rate: 88% Graduation Rate: 68%

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KENT STATE UNIVERSITY

kent

PH.D. IN APPLIED GEOLOGY

School Highlights: Kent State University’s Ph.D. in Applied Geology addresses all of the most pivotal issues relating to current earth systems, including oceans, solid ground, and atmosphere. There is a strong overall focus on solutions to applied research questions. Doctoral students at this fine higher education institution take advantage of exciting, state-of-the-art resources, such as the expanded pigment spectral library or the Intuitive Multi-Touch Scanning Electron Microscope. Kent students go on thrilling summer field courses that take them far into mountain ranges and major geological events while undertaking their extensive post-graduate coursework. This curriculum is an excellent advancement opportunity for students pursuing either industry careers or those in education.

Concentration Options:

  • Environmental Research
  • Evolution of Earth’s Systems Research

Campus Location: Kent, OH

Accreditation:

  • Higher Learning Commission
    230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500
    Chicago, Illinois 60604
    www.hlcommission.org, (800) 621-7440

Acceptance Rate: 85% Retention Rate: 81% Graduation Rate: 55%

LEARN MORE ABOUT KENT STATE UNIVERSITY’S PH.D. IN APPLIED GEOLOGY