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How do I Study Geology Online?

By S. Gonzales
Updated May 16, 2024
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Studying geology online can be a daunting task. Geology is the study of the materials that make up the Earth and the processes that affect them. By its very nature, is a physical discipline that requires the use of multiple senses — touching, feeling and seeing are integral parts of study. However, those who choose to learn about geology online have options available to them in the form of academic websites and distance learning.

Students interested in pursuing geologist careers can look into obtaining a degree in geology online. Finding an accredited and all-inclusive course of study online can be a bit difficult. This is because the requirements to complete a geology degree can include significant amounts of laboratory work and fieldwork. Geology can be a hands-on discipline, so many potential students forgo studying geology online and instead take basic distance courses in preparation of attendance of a physical school.

Potential students can have some luck finding online geology programs by first investigating schools that specialize in online degrees. However, they should know that many online undergraduate geology programs focus on preparing the degree-earner for teaching at primary or secondary schools. Online geology degrees also can be offered at the master's level, but future students would do well to research what is needed for their completion, because many programs require at least some time devoted to field studies or laboratory studies.

Of course, students who seek simply to enrich the mind by studying geology online have many more options at their disposal. Countless websites explaining geology online exist; some of these websites are maintained by schools of every level, though no academic credit is given to those who peruse the website or use its teaching tools. Interested parties also can consider taking non-credit geology courses at local or state colleges. Some of these courses can be offered electronically, meaning that students can technically study geology online by taking them. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for example, provides open coursework classes on structural geology.

Students who are pursuing online geology degrees should consider their reasons for doing so. If a student is an undergraduate and the main reason for looking into an online geology degree is time, the student should know that he or she first has to complete basic coursework before progressing to specific geology studies. The student can accomplish this by taking basic courses online through a community college. Taking online courses at a community college can save a student money while he or she prepares to transfer to a college or university with an accredited geology program. Additionally, the money that is saved can widen the student's options when choosing a college, because he or she will have more money to pay for tuition.

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Discussion Comments
By indigomoth — On Jan 30, 2014

@Mor - You're assuming that someone would only ever do a geology course in order to get a job. It's a fascinating subject and I think there would be a lot of people who would take a course for its own sake.

That's particularly true since there are several high quality free online courses in geology. Learning for its own sake is its own reward.

By Mor — On Jan 30, 2014

@Iluviaporos - It depends on what the person is studying. If it's something like historical geology, for example, you can pretty much learn all you need to make a contribution to the field through textbooks. Then you would basically work with the fieldwork findings of others when doing your own research.

If you want to actually get a job as a geologist working with mining companies or something like that though you definitely need some experience in the field.

I would talk to people who have the job that you're hoping to get at the end of the course, and ask them what they would recommend.

By lluviaporos — On Jan 29, 2014

I think this is one subject that can only go so far with geology books online. In order to really grasp what they are talking about you need to be able to do lab work and field work, which you can't really do properly over an online environment.

You need to be able to go out with an experienced scientist and be shown how to use the tools and identify different rock and soil types.

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