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Earth Science Degree

Earth science is an interdisciplinary program of study which incorporates all the pure science subjects. It is an umbrella term which covers disciplines such as geology, oceanography, marine biology, paleontology, etc. A distinct feature of all these individual subjects is that each investigates a particular aspect or feature of the planet Earth; its composition, resources, and history.

What is Earth Science?

Also known as geoscience, Earth science covers a wide range of pure science subjects. This includes everything from geology, physics, geophysics to meteorology, chemistry, biology, and calculus. Students may choose any one of these areas.
By enrolling in an Earth science degree program, students can expect to gain an understanding of the history and origins of Earth, its complex geological features, the occurrence of dynamic processes, as well as a plethora of environmental issues.

Earth Science Degree Programs

Most entry-level positions in the field require candidates to have at least a bachelor’s degree in earth science or geo science. The following undergraduate options are available for students to pursue:

  • Bachelor of Science (BS) in Earth Science Major
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Earth Science Major
    At the graduate level:
  • Master of Science in Earth Science
  • At the post-graduate level:
  • Ph.D. in Earth Science

In any of these degree programs, students can expect to undertake not only advanced courses, but also engage in field work, laboratory work, and a number of research projects and experiments.

Career Opportunities

Due to the fact that Earth science is such a broad discipline covering a wide range of individual pure science subjects, there are a large number of career options for you to pursue with this degree. The career you choose will depend on your concentration or specialization area as well as the amount of education you have in the field.
Earth scientists may explore careers in mining, civil engineering, hydrocarbon, meteorology, civil engineering, oil and gas extraction, or geological industries.
Common employers include government agencies, environmental management service providers or consultants, consulting firms, and the oil and gas industries.

Job Outlook and Prospective Salaries

Listed below is a set of data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. For each profession, the 2012 annual median salary as well as the projected rate of growth from 2012-22 is listed:

  • Geoscientists - $90,890.
  • Projected Growth: 16%
  • Mining and Geological Engineers - $84,320.
  • Projected Growth: 12%
  • Geological and Petroleum Technicians - $52,700.
  • Projected Growth: 15%
  • Atmospheric Scientists, Including Meteorologists - $89,260.
  • Projected Growth: 10%

A degree in Earth science allows students to take a wide variety of pure science subjects to learn about its Earth’s history, features, and environment. This interdisciplinary course of study can help students pursue different careers. Much will depend upon and be determined by the precise area of concentration within the degree that you choose.

States with the highest employment level in this occupation:



Employment per thousand jobs

Location quotient

Hourly mean wage

Annual mean wage

California 16600.111.2618.1337720
Florida 11300.141.6817.9737370
Illinois 9600.161.9217.937240
Texas 7600.070.7816.6234570
New York 6500.070.8520.1241840


Frequently Asked Question(s)

Q:What are some of the online earth science courses?

A:Online earth science courses include the likes of fundamentals of thermodynamics, geology, introduction to plant biology, ecology, human and social biology, structure and earth materials, essentials of geophysics, turbulence in the ocean and atmosphere and a few special topics in earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. Keep in mind though that this is not an exhaustive list of courses.

Q:What are the admission requirements of earth science graduate programs?

A:To enroll in an earth science graduate program, you will have to meet the admission requirements of the selected school. These requirements may vary. Typically, applicants are required to fill out an admission form, submit official copies of their bachelor and high school degree, have a minimum GPA of 3.0 in geology courses, and submit letters of recommendation.

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