Online Geoscience Degree

Why are Geosciences Important?

Geoscience is the scientific study of the earth. The include geology, geography, and earth science. Colleges and universities are increasingly grouping these interrelated physical sciences together within a single geoscience department.

Graduates of geoscience programs find work as environmental geologists, hydrologists, geographic information systems (GIS) analysts, remote sensing specialists, petroleum geologists, and educators. Geoscientists identify safe places to dispose of waste, study factors that affect water quality, run computer-based analyses of landscapes and habitats, and discover new mineral resources.

This is an excellent time to explore a career in geoscience. Opportunities for geologists, geographers, and earth scientists are quickly expanding due to rising concerns about environmental degradation and energy supplies. Geographers who can integrate modern mapping technologies with websites and apps are also in high demand.

What Skills Will I Develop Studying for an Online Geoscience Degree?

A good geoscience program will teach you important analytical skills, along with problem-solving and critical thinking skills, as geoscientists must evaluate statistical data regularly. Many geoscientists work closely with other engineers and technicians, so communication skills are also key. Those in the field must research and write reports and effectively present their findings to colleagues, so these are areas that are typically developed in online geoscience degree programs.

Online Geoscience Bachelor's Degree

While most geoscience positions require a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree and related experience may be sufficient for some technician jobs. Some geoscientists pursue master's degrees to advance their careers, or doctoral degrees to work in academia.

Undergraduate students take foundational courses in geology, as well as classes in structural geology, geochemistry, geophysics, hydrology, and environmental science. They also take classes in chemistry, biology, and math, and learn about GIS and other specialized computer analysis techniques.

Coursework outside of these core areas can vary considerably. Since geoscience programs are interdisciplinary, they may place a greater emphasis on one particular area. Available electives will align with the faculty's areas of specialty. For example, geoscience programs may specialize in hydrology, geography, economic geology, environmental geology, planetary geology, or related areas.

Online Geoscience Degree Programs

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester offers an online Bachelor of Science in Geosciences. Students take 120 credits in geology, chemistry, physics, geohazards, geostatistics, natural resources, earth system science, computer programming, and other areas. They can choose to concentrate in geospatial technologies or natural resources and conservation. Students learn how to work with data, and participate in instructor-led labwork with custom lab kits. The program integrates the geographic skills needed to analyze field projects. Students also learn how to communicate their findings to supervisors and stakeholders.

BS in Geosciences - Geospatial Technology

Geospatial technology refers to computerized methods of recording, storing, processing, and analyzing spatial information. These technologies include geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing (recording information remotely through satellites, laser scans, and other methods), and photogrammetry (processing and interpreting aerial photos). Geospatial technologies are essential to research in the earth and environmental sciences.

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester offers an online Bachelor of Science in Geosciences with a Concentration in Geospatial Technology. Students start out with required courses in geology, chemistry, geohazards, atmospheric science, geostatistics, and geoscientific research. Later, they move on to take courses in remote sensing and imagery analysis, spatial analysis, GIS, and geospatial programming. Students learn how to use specialized software packages, along with programming techniques that customize the software and automate processes.

BS in Geosciences - Natural Resources and Conservation

Those in the field of natural resources and conservation protect the biodiversity of many ecosystems, including forests. These scientists may analyze soil and water samples to preserve and evaluate land for future use, or to help businesses limit their environmental impact. They might also study the effects of climate change on humans and the environment, or measure and map forests.

Southern New Hampshire University in Manchester administers an online B.S. in Geosciences with a Concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation. Students begin with required courses in chemistry, physics, geology, geohazards, atmospheric science, data analysis, and geoscientific research. They later take courses within the concentration, including classes on climate change, environmental issues, energy and society, waste management, and environmental remediation. The program includes standard, instructor-led lab work. Students learn how to communicate scientific concepts to decision-makers, in addition to research techniques.

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Online Bachelor's Geoscience Degree Requirements

In order to receive an online BS in Geoscience, students must fulfill the degree requirements set forth by the school of their choosing. While each school may have slightly different coursework requirements, you can generally expect to need a total of 120 credits. These credits will be made up of required general education courses, degree courses, and free elective courses.

Online Geoscience Courses

Southern New Hampshire University offers a variety of Geoscience courses as part of their online degree program, including (but not limited to):

  • Fundamentals of Chemistry
  • Geohazards
  • Principles of Physics
  • Earth System Science
  • Principles of Geology
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Spatial Awareness
  • Geoscientific Research Methods
  • Geostatistics and Data Analysis

Tuition and Fees for Online Geoscience Degree Programs

Online schools tend to offer competitively priced programs. In addition to this, some schools offer discounted tuition for special circumstances, like active duty military and their spouses. Financial aid packages are also typically available for those who qualify.

Tuition and fees for the online geoscience bachelor's degree at Southern New Hampshire University are as follows:

    • $960 per course, $320 per credit hour
    • $150 graduation fee
    • Course materials (amount varies by course)

Online Geoscience Master's Degree

Some geoscience careers, particularly those that involve education, require a master's degree. K-12 teachers, as well as some museum and park service geoscientists, will benefit from completing this graduate-level program. Luckily, master's degrees in geosciences are increasingly available online.

A master's degree in geosciences takes approximately two years to complete online, depending on how quickly you move through the coursework. Students who commit at least 15 hours a week to the program are often able to complete it in a timely fashion. The curriculum generally includes courses in geology, meteorology, chemistry, astronomy, oceanography, earth science, and environmental geoscience. Some courses may also require a final multi-day on-location field methods course, a teacher work sample, or an oral defense including a presentation.

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Importance of Accreditation for Online Geoscience Programs

It's crucial to look for an online geoscience degree program that is fully accredited. These accreditations mean that the program is held to the rigorous academic standards of national and local educational associations. It's wise to ensure that a prospective online program is regionally accredited, typically by an organization from the state or area it's based out of, such as the Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.


A license or certification may be required for some geoscience positions. For example, environmental agencies in several states will only accept proposals and reports submitted by a licensed Professional Geologist. Licensure requires a four to six years of work experience, and a passing score on the Professional Geologist (PG) exam.

Some states also require cartographers to be licensed as surveyors. Candidates must have earned at least a high school diploma, and must also pass a test.

Optional certifications that can enhance job prospects are also available.

For example, a Certified GIS Professional (GISP) credential is available through the GIS Certification Institute. Several states have recognized and endorsed the GISP. The GISP credential has also been endorsed by the National Association of Counties.

Certification renewal is required every five years. Esri Technical Certification is also available for Esri's ArcGIS software, a suite of popular GIS solutions. While the above certifications are optional, they set candidates apart, demonstrating their skill and dedication. Such certifications are increasingly important for promotions and advancement.

The American Institute of Hydrology (AIH) issues certifications to qualified professional hydrologists. Its certifications help ensure quality within the profession, and increase the marketability of certified individuals. Licensing may also be required for hydrologists in some states.

Schools for Geosciences

Southern New Hampshire University, based in Manchester, offers an accredited online BS in Geosciences, with concentrations in both Geospatial Technology and Natural Resources & Conservation. This affordable program offers convenience and flexibility, with 24/7 access and ongoing student support. A total of 120 credits are needed to complete the program, which are earned in courses such as Geosciences Methodologies, Atmospheric Science, Geohazards, and more. You can also transfer up to 90 credits toward an undergraduate degree at SNHU.

Another option for an online geosciences degree is through Mississippi State University. This accredited school offers a BS degree in Geosciences, with a concentration in Broadcast and Operational Meteorology. It also offers three Master's of Science (MS) programs in Geosciences, with concentrations in Applied Meteorology, Environmental Geosciences, and Teachers in Geosciences. All courses in these distance-education programs are offered online, with the exception of a final, field-based capstone course for the MS programs.

What is Computational Geoscience?

Computational geoscience combines mathematical research with high-performance computing and modeling methods as it relates to earth sciences. Research areas include climate modeling, computational geomechanics, digital rock physics, earthquake modeling, glaciology, radar imaging, reservoir simulation and optimization, tsunami modeling, and more. Computing power continues to advance rapidly, making this a highly dynamic scientific industry, and researchers with a computational geoscience degree are highly sought after.

What is Applied Geoscience?

Applied geoscience is a program of study that prepares those seeking private sector or public agency careers in geology, geomorphology, hydrogeology, and more. Those wanting to lead projects in environmental remediation and pollution prevention, for example, will benefit with a background in applied geoscience. Students studying for this type of degree will take a mix of core courses and electives to gain the theoretical and technical skills necessary to move forward with a career in geosciences.

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What is Petroleum Geoscience?

Petroleum geosciences involve the discovery and recovery of oil and gas deposits, and the reduction of emissions due to this process. It's a general combination of natural science, engineering sciences, and computer technology. Petroleum geoscientists are involved in prospecting new places to drill for oil or gas, and evaluating data to see if the site can be turned into a productive well. Some petroleum geoscientists specialize in things such as drilling engineering, formation evaluation, petroleum production, petroleum geology, petroleum geophysics, reservoir engineering, and more.