Education

Best Earth Science Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Earth Science programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Earth science is the study of the Earth and its processes. Earth science degrees can prepare students for a variety of careers in the Earth sciences, including geology, meteorology, and oceanography.

Earth science degrees offer a broad overview of the Earth sciences, covering topics such as geology, meteorology, and oceanography. Students in earth science degree programs learn about the different processes that shape the Earth, and how those processes can be used to predict the behavior of the Earth’s systems.

How to Choose the Right Earth Science Program

When it comes to choosing the right Earth Science Bachelors Degree Program, there are many things that prospective students need to consider. The first thing to think about is what your career goals are. Do you want to be a research scientist? A teacher? A field geologist? Once you have an idea of what you want to do with your degree, you can start to narrow down your choices.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of the program. Tuition rates can vary significantly from school to school, so it is important to do your research. You should also consider other associated costs, such as room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

Location is another important factor to consider. Some programs may be located in areas that are more conducive to research or field work. Others may be located in cities that offer more internship and job opportunities.

Finally, you should consider the length of the program. Most programs take four years to complete, but some may be accelerated or part-time. You will need to decide if you are willing to commit to a longer program in order to complete your degree in a shorter amount of time.

By considering all of these factors, you will be able to find the right Earth Science Bachelors Degree Program for you.

Best Bachelor’s in Earth Science Programs

The best programs for Earth Science ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Indiana University-Bloomington
Bloomington, IN

The Bachelor of Science in Earth Science from Indiana University-Bloomington is a great choice for students interested in a career in the earth, environmental, or atmospheric sciences. The program provides a solid foundation in these disciplines, equipping students with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue a variety of professional paths. Additionally, the program offers the opportunity to get involved in research projects and to take a 6-week summer field course.

Rank 2
Rochester Institute of Technology
Rochester, NY

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science degree from Rochester Institute of Technology is an interdisciplinary program that combines a love for nature with cutting-edge research to create a sustainable future for our planet. The BS program provides students with the education and experiences they will need to be successful in the field. Real-world experience is strongly encouraged and students have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research, co-ops, internships, and study abroad.

Rank 3
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences from San Francisco State University is designed for students intending to prepare for a career as a professional in industry or government, or for graduate school in any of the earth sciences. The Earth Sciences core courses teach interdisciplinary science concepts and skills in quantitative problem solving, fieldwork, and writing and oral communication. Students develop disciplinary depth by selecting an emphases area: Geology, or Climate & Environmental Science.

Rank 4
San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA

The Bachelor of Arts in Earth Sciences from San Francisco State University is a well-rounded program that provides students with a solid foundation in the basic physical sciences, mathematics, and Earth sciences. Students learn to integrate knowledge from these separate disciplines in order to understand and help solve important interdisciplinary problems, such as climate change and managing conflicting demands that humans make on the natural environment. The program also prepares students to advise and educate others about issues requiring knowledge of how the Earth works.

Rank 5
Millersville University of Pennsylvania
Millersville, PA

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Earth and Ocean Sciences from Millersville University of Pennsylvania is a 4-year program that focuses on the physical science basis of humans’ interaction with the earth system. The BS EEOS major provides education and research training in environmental earth sciences with specific focus on the geological and ocean realms. The program offers the option of three tracks: Environmental Geology, Environmental Ocean Sciences, and Environmental Earth Sciences.

Rank 6
Frostburg State University
Frostburg, MD

The Bachelor of Science in Earth Sciences from Frostburg State University is a four-year program that studies how the Earth was formed, how it evolved, and how we can best manage its resources to preserve habitats. The program uses interdisciplinary techniques to locate, identify, and characterize natural processes, reconstruct landscapes, and examine the impacts of climate change on a diverse range of environments.

Rank 7
University of North Dakota
Grand Forks, ND

The Bachelor of Science in Earth Science from University of North Dakota provides a solid foundation in Geoscience and flexibility for students to focus on related areas of interest. With the growing need for energy, environmental protection, and responsible land and resource management, companies and government agencies continue to seek earth sciences expertise.

Rank 8
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA

The Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science from Old Dominion University is a four-year program that provides students with a solid background in basic sciences, including mathematics, geology, physics, biology, and chemistry. Students also take courses in oceanography and atmospheric sciences. The concentration allows students the freedom to focus their upper-level coursework in a disciplinary field in ocean and earth sciences they find most compelling.

Rank 9
Portland State University
Portland, OR

The Bachelor of Science in Earth Science from Portland State University is a flexible but focused program that prepares students for careers in education, government, and the private sector. The program provides students with a well-rounded education in the earth, space, physical, and life sciences, and the coursework meets the requirements to receive an integrated science endorsement for teaching science in middle and high schools.

Rank 10
Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA

The Bachelor of Education in Physics Education from Liberty University provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in the classroom, including teaching methods, instructional design, curriculum development, and engagement with different types of learners. The physics and earth science courses in the program give students the knowledge needed to teach these subjects effectively to their students. Some of the topics covered in these courses include astronomy, electricity and magnetism, mineralogy and petrology, quantum physics, thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, and wave optics. The program also includes practicum and student teaching experiences to give students hands-on experience in the classroom.

What to Expect From a Bachelor’s in Earth Science Program

Students in a bachelor’s in earth science program can expect to take classes on topics such as geology, meteorology, oceanography, and environmental science. The degree typically takes four years to complete and requires around 120 credits.

Most programs include a mix of classroom-based instruction and fieldwork, giving students the opportunity to learn about and apply scientific theories and methods. Many programs also offer internships, which can provide valuable real-world experience.

Prospective students should have strong math skills, as many earth science courses require significant math coursework. In addition, students should be prepared to do extensive reading and writing, as most courses involve reading scientific papers and writing research reports.

Common Earth Science Courses

The courses taken for a degree in earth science will depend on the focus of the program and the school offering the degree. However, there are some common courses that are often found in these programs.

Oceanography

This course covers the physical, chemical, and biological properties of the ocean. Emphasis is placed on the origin, evolution, and structure of the ocean basins; the ocean’s role in the global climate system; and the ocean’s interaction with the lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the physical, chemical, and geological processes that shape the ocean basins and affect ocean circulation; discuss the ocean’s role in the global climate system; and describe the ocean’s interaction with the lithosphere, atmosphere, and biosphere.

Mineralogy

This course covers the identification, properties, and classification of minerals. Topics include the study of the physical and chemical properties of minerals, the use of the microscope in mineral identification, and the study of crystal systems and mineral groups. Upon completion, students should be able to identify common minerals using a variety of methods, including optical and petrographic techniques, and classify minerals using the Dana system.

Sedimentation and Stratigraphy

This course covers the principles of sedimentation and stratigraphy with emphasis on their application to the interpretation of geological history. Topics include the physical, chemical, and biological properties of sediments; the processes of sedimentation; the classification of sedimentary rocks; and the interpretation of depositional environments. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of sedimentation and stratigraphy to interpret the depositional history of a sedimentary rock sequence.

Structural Geology

This course covers the study of the Earth’s internal deformation, focusing on the description and interpretation of structures in rocks at all scales. Emphasis is placed on the analysis of field data, the application of mapping and modeling techniques, and the interpretation of geologic history. Topics include plate tectonics, stress and strain, brittle and ductile deformation, folds and fractures, and igneous and metamorphic processes. Upon completion, students should be able to apply the principles of structural geology to the interpretation of geological maps and cross-sections, and to the reconstruction of the history of the Earth’s crust.

The Dynamic Earth

This course covers the scientific study of the Earth, its history, and the processes that shape it. Topics include the Earth’s place in the universe, the origin and evolution of the solar system, the internal structure and composition of the Earth, plate tectonics and the geologic history of the Earth, the surface features of the Earth, and the Earth’s climate and environment. Upon completion, students should be able to explain the scientific theories of the origin and evolution of the solar system and the Earth, describe the internal structure and composition of the Earth, and explain the processes that shape the Earth’s surface.

Career Options for Earth Science Graduates

Graduates of Earth Science programs work in a variety of fields and industries, including environmental science, geology, and meteorology. They may also work in fields such as education, research, and government.

Environmental Consultant

Environmental consultants help businesses and other organizations comply with environmental regulations. They also often advise these groups on how to minimize their impact on the environment. To do this work, environmental consultants conduct research, prepare reports, and develop plans outlining their findings and recommendations. They might also monitor environmental conditions, oversee the implementation of their plans, and provide training on environmental topics.

Geologist

Geologists study the physical features of the Earth, including its rocks, minerals, and other natural resources. They also study how the Earth’s physical features have changed over time and how they might change in the future. Geologists typically work in the oil and gas industry, mining, or environmental consulting. They may also work for the government or at universities.

Soil Conservationist

Soil conservationists develop and implement plans to prevent soil erosion and degradation. They work with farmers, ranchers, and other land managers to create conservation plans that address both the needs of the land and the people who use it. Soil conservationists typically have a background in agriculture, environmental science, or engineering.

Hazardous Waste Specialist

Hazardous waste specialists are responsible for the identification, classification, transportation, and disposal of hazardous materials. They work with a variety of hazardous materials, including chemicals, biological waste, radioactive materials, and more. Hazardous waste specialists typically work for environmental consulting firms, government agencies, or private companies. They may also work for hospitals, universities, or other institutions that generate hazardous waste.

Environmental Educator

Environmental educators work to raise awareness about environmental issues and inspire people to take action to protect the planet. They develop and teach educational programs, create curriculum materials, and design public outreach campaigns. Environmental educators may work in a variety of settings, including schools, parks, nature centers, zoos, aquariums, museums, and environmental organizations.

Insights From an Earth Science Graduate

Raphael Singh is a Geologist at the United States Geological Survey. He has a bachelor’s degree in earth science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Raphael has over 20 years of experience in the field of geology.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Earth Science degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Raphael Singh: I took a variety of courses in different sub-disciplines of earth science so that I would have a well-rounded understanding of the field. I also did research projects in different areas of earth science to gain experience in different methods and techniques. I also took courses in related fields, such as chemistry, physics, and biology, to better understand the Earth and its systems.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Earth Science career?

Raphael Singh: I would say that a successful Earth Science career requires a passion for the subject, as well as a willingness to continue learning. The field of Earth Science is constantly changing and evolving, and new discoveries are being made all the time. If you’re not willing to keep up with the latest research, you’ll quickly fall behind.

In addition, I think it’s important to be able to communicate your findings to non-experts. A lot of the work we do is relevant to societal issues, such as climate change, and it’s important that we be able to communicate our findings to policy makers and the general public.

ClimbtheLadder: What misconception(s) do people have about an Earth Science degree, and what would you tell them?

Raphael Singh: I think the biggest misconception about an Earth Science degree is that it’s not useful. I would tell people that an Earth Science degree is actually very useful. It’s a great way to learn about the planet we live on and how it works.

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