Earth Science Master’s and Graduate Certificates Online

Why a Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate in Earth Science?

The breadth of Earth science is vast. It spans the core of the Earth to the furthest planet in a galaxy far beyond our own. Career choices for graduates with an upper-level Earth science degree or graduate certificate is equally as vast. Graduates with a master's degree or graduate certificate in Earth science are prepared for jobs in the fields of geology, environmental consulting, engineering, law, paleontology, and research.

For educators, especially, an Earth science master's degree or graduate certificate may prove particularly beneficial, as the term "highly-qualified" is essential to an increased salary and increased job security. A master's degree in Earth science is an excellent way for science teachers to achieve highly qualified status and to further their careers by giving themselves an advantage over others in the field.

During their studies, students will explore the various branches of Earth science - oceanography, astronomy, meteorology, and geology - while at the same time, exploring and researching the history of the planet, its composition, issues plaguing our world, and ways to remedy them.

What Skills Will I Learn While Studying for the Earth Science Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate?

While studying for a master's degree or graduate certificate in Earth science, students will be exposed to and prepared for important field-related competencies, including:

  • Researching, analyzing, and synthesizing data
  • Understanding the Earth's features, resources, and materials
  • Implementing creative thinking to solve complex problems
  • Practicing the presentation of research and field work findings
  • Working both independently and as part of a team

How are Earth Science Courses Taught?

Most Earth science master's programs are heavily rooted in research. Because Earth science is hyper-focused on the study of Earth, fieldwork is also an important component of students' academic experience. The remainder of coursework not involving research or fieldwork includes classroom lecture and labs.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate in Earth science?

A graduate degree in Earth science can be earned in two years while a graduate certificate can be completed in as little as one year. Some programs also allow those courses taken at the graduate certificate level to be applied to a master's program should students decide to pursue an upper-level degree at a later point in time. In addition, graduate certificate courses taken at a school like Penn State can also count toward professional development credits for educators.

How do Online Master's Degrees or Graduate Certificates in Earth Science Work?

An online master's degree in Earth science is designed for those who work full-time, have families, or cannot afford to spend time commuting to a physical academic location. Courses taught in the online format function similarly to those taught in the traditional, classroom-based way. Lectures, research and fieldwork may still be required, as will lab work. The latter is completed in a variety of ways. Labs are either conducted virtually or via a lab kit mailed to students. Once complete, students either return the kit to the teacher for a grade or simply write a report based on their findings.

What if I Have Questions about the Online Earth Science Master's Degree Format and Process?

Here is a list of things to consider when exploring an online Earth science program of interest:

  • Is the school accredited?
  • What type of interaction do students have with each other and with the teacher?
  • What are the faculty's credentials, experience, and area of expertise?
  • Does the school offer grants, loans, work-study, and/or financial aid?
  • Is fieldwork, student teaching, or an internship a requirement in order to graduate?
  • How is lab work conducted?
  • Does the school assist with job placement?
  • What type of academic and career counseling is available?

What Will I Need to be Successful Studying Online?

Obtaining an online degree in any capacity requires a high level of time management and self-discipline. Many online programs do not operate on a set classroom schedule and it is solely up to the individual student to conduct research, and complete course and lab work. Students must be vigilant in staying organized and maintaining a routine study schedule.

Earth Science Online Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate Course Examples

Courses taught online at the graduate level toward a degree or certificate in Earth science include:

  • Contemporary Controversies in the Earth Sciences
  • Essentials of Oceanography for Educators
  • Foundations of Solid Earth Science
  • Mineralogy
  • Secondary Earth Science
  • Geology
  • Ecology and Environmental Science

Tuition and Costs for an Online Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate in Earth Science

Tuition to obtain an online master's degree or graduate certificate in Earth science ranges from $5,842 to $58,080 per year. Some schools require one-time application and transcript fees, as well.

What Kinds of Jobs Can I Do with an Earth Science Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate?

Those with a master's degree in Earth science have many job options, including:

  • Groundwater specialist, $41,240
  • Environmental lawyer, $113,530
  • Meteorologist, $53,531
  • Paleontologist, $60,816
  • Geochemist, $89,850
  • High school teacher, $48,544
  • College professor, $87,537
  • Oceanographer, $65,133
  • Marine engineer, $76,957
  • Environmental scientist, $50,229

What are the Benefits of Having a Master's Degree or Graduate Certificate in Earth Science?

A career in Earth science can be very rewarding. Billions of people are inhabiting Earth at a rate that's increasing exponentially every year. Conversely, the Earth's resources are depleting at a similar rate. The knowledge gained in an Earth science graduate program can grant students the power to help solve issues like depleting resources and preserving the life of our planet. Graduates become well-informed individuals, equipped with the knowledge and competencies to influence positive change in the environment and the world.

How Can I Get More Information on Earth Science?

More information on both a master's degree, as well as a graduate certificate, in Earth science can be found at: