Earn Your Geoscience Degree Online
- $320/credit (120 total credits)
- Transfer up to 90 credits
- Learn observation and problem-solving skills
- Work on real-world geoscience projects
- Internship opportunities
- Hands-on labs can be done at home
Online Geoscience Degree Program Overview
Gain the analytical, technical and communication skills you need to take on complex environmental issues with a Bachelor of Science in Geoscience degree online from Southern New Hampshire University. Our program gives you a strong foundation in the physical sciences with a focus on geography, geology, earth systems science, physics, chemistry and spatial awareness.
"The significance of the geoscience field lies in the possibilities of what geoscientists can do to help protect our planet and predict what the future might hold," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
In the geoscience degree online, you’ll learn how to analyze data and use the latest technology to study all aspects of the earth and present your findings. The skills and experience you obtain from our bachelor’s in geosciences program can equip you to step into the professional world – whether you want to make your mark in the field or in the lab.
Learn how to:
- Develop maps and products using geospatial data
- Use tools, technologies and scientific principles to visualize and solve problems
- Recognize occurrences and patterns through qualitative and quantitative data
- Make ethically responsible geoscientific decisions
Data Analytics in Science
Help solve real environmental challenges through data with the BS in Geosciences with a concentration in Data Analytics in Science program.
As a geoscientist, your work will tackle some of the environment’s most pressing challenges both today and into the future. By building upon your skills with expertise in statistics, data collection and database environments, you can take your work a step further - using numbers to ensure the health of earth systems in geographic areas across the globe.
Big Data is transforming organizations across industries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The occupational outlook for mathematicians and statisticians, for example, looks positive with a 30% job growth expected through 2028.2
Outside of those roles, data analysis can be an attractive addition to a geoscientist’s skill set. Data can help improve geographic information systems, for example, helping inform effective and timely disaster management efforts. Similarly, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) uses data to examine air, water and land as a means of improving public health.
Courses in the data analytics in science concentration are designed to grow skills that can help set you apart from other professionals in your field. You’ll learn how to apply data collection models for making predictions, diagnose and solve organizational challenges, and create structured database environments that can be used to host complex information.
Courses may include:
- Applied Statistics II for Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
- Gathering Requirements and Collecting Data
- Introduction to Structured Database Environments
Natural Resources & Conservation
Learn how to manage, conserve and remediate hazards to natural resources in our online Bachelor of Science in Geoscience with a concentration in Natural Resources and Conservation.
"The natural resources and conservation concentration focuses on ways in which humans and human activities are threatening earth’s natural processes and impacting our environment," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU. "It also highlights ways in which sustainable practices can be utilized to help reduce environmental impact and preserve our natural resources."
The coursework covers climate change, alternative energy, sustainability and more of today's most important environmental challenges. You'll gain the skills and experience you need to meet intensifying demand for geoscience professionals specialized in energy, environmental protection, and land and resource management.
As a graduate of the program, you'll be prepared to pursue or advance your career in a variety of roles, including:
- Environmental specialist
- Environmental inspector
- Field examiner
- Environmental compliance manager
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for environmental scientists and specialists, including those in health fields, will grow 8% by 2028 – faster than the average growth for all occupations.1
Courses may include:
- Energy and Society
- Environmental Issues
- Global Climate Change
- Waste: Sources, Reduction & Remediation
From identifying petroleum extraction sites to predicting earthquakes, geoscientists perform valued – and often critical – functions. The demand for educated geoscience professionals will intensify over the next few decades due to our rapidly growing population and the need for energy, environmental protection, and land and resource management. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for geoscientists will grow 6% by 2028.1
Among the roles in greatest demand are:
- Geologist. Study the history of Earth, including materials, processes and formation.
- Environmental specialist. Help improve lives through the protection and improvement of the environment.
- Permit specialist. Prepare, review and issue permits in regards to pollution and contamination control.
- Environmental inspector. Perform routine inspections of job sites to ensure all projects are in compliance with environmental laws.
- Compliance manager. Analyze complex compliance issues as they relate to environmental laws and industry standards.
- Geotechnician. Identify safe and ideal locations for construction through imaging and testing techniques.
The median pay in May 2019 for those in geoscientist roles was $92,040, according to the BLS.1
Based on median annual wages, the top industries employing geoscientists in May 2018 were1:
- Architectural, engineering and related services: 28%
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction: 22%
- Federal government, excluding postal service: 8%
- State government, excluding education and hospitals: 8%
- Colleges, universities and professional schools (state, local and private): 7%
Depending on the specific responsibilities of a job, you might find yourself working in an office, laboratory, in the field or a combination of the 3. If your position involves extensive research, you could end up traveling often and working outside of typical work hours. But where you career leads you is ultimately up to you.
At SNHU, you have the ability to shape your skill set for your career by using your elective courses to your advantage. Maximize the potential of your program by choosing subjects that complement your core courses.
"Students wishing to focus their careers in more of an environmental arena can bring in courses in biology, environmental science, sustainability and environmental compliance," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU. "Those wishing to be involved in policy and decision making might want to consider courses in data analytics, management and public administration."
Start Your Journey Toward an Online Geoscience Degree
Why SNHU for Your Geoscience Degree
With no set class meeting times, you can learn on your schedule and access online course materials 24/7.
Take advantage of some of the lowest online tuition rates in the nation, plus financial aid for those who qualify. We also make it easy to transfer to SNHU by accepting up to 90 credits from your previous institution.
Founded in 1932, Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution with over 100,000 graduates across the country. SNHU is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), which advocates for institutional improvement and public assurance of quality.
Recently, Southern New Hampshire University has been nationally recognized for leading the way toward more innovative, affordable and achievable education:
- “Most Innovative” regional university honors from U.S. News & World Report each year since 2015
- A $1 million grant from Google.org to explore soft skills assessments for high-need youth
- Recognition as a 2017 Digital Learning Innovator by the Online Learning Consortium
At Southern New Hampshire University, you'll have access to a powerful network of more than 200,000 students, alumni and staff that can help support you long after graduation. Our instructors offer relevant, real-world expertise to help you understand and navigate the field. Plus, with our growing, nationwide alumni network, you'll have the potential to tap into a number of internship and career opportunities.
96.5% of students would recommend SNHU.2 Discover why SNHU may be right for you.
Part of our mission to expand access to quality higher education means removing the barriers that may stand between you and your degree. That’s why you can apply at any time and get a decision within days of submitting all required materials.
Acceptance decisions are made on a rolling basis throughout the year for our 6 (8-week) undergraduate terms.
How to Apply
Simply contact an admission counselor, who can help you explore financial options, answer all your questions and walk you through the application process. Start by:
- Completing a free undergraduate application
- Providing previous institutions attended – so we can retrieve transcripts for you at no cost
Test scores are not required as part of your application.
Courses & Curriculum
The BS in Geosciences gives you a solid foundation in the physical sciences with a focus on geography, geology, earth systems science, physics and chemistry. Through our instructor-led lab courses, you'll gain valuable hands-on experience.
The program emphasizes geoscience data for their uses in problem solving and establishing policies that support public health and safety, effective resource management and environmental protection. You'll study topics such as:
- Chemistry. Gain foundational knowledge in the composition, structure and properties of matter in the context of everyday life.
- Physics. Examine topics like energy, motion, force, gravity, thermodynamics, electricity, magnetism, and atomic and nuclear physics.
- Geohazards. Explore the origin and evolution of disasters caused by natural phenomena such as tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunami and volcanic eruptions.
- Geology. Learn about Earth's composition and structure by studying minerals and rocks, surface processes, introductory petrology and plate tectonics.
- Atmospheric science. Understand weather and climate by applying fundamental principles in physics, chemistry and fluid dynamics.
- Research methods. Become a better geoscience researcher by proposing research topics, conducting preliminary research and developing a research proposal.
With a combined count of 33 credits, the geoscience's major and free electives give you opportunity to pursue a concentration or gain career-specific skills. After considering your interests, you might take courses in public administration, fiscal management, disaster recovery and response, public health, sustainability or even sociology. Through this geoscience degree, the possibilities are truly endless.
Curriculum Requirements & Resources
- General education courses: All bachelor's students are required to take general education classes, if not obtained in prior coursework. Through these foundation, exploration and integration courses, students learn to think critically, creatively and collaboratively, giving you the edge employers are looking for.
- Technology resources: We provide cloud-based virtual environments in some courses to give you access to the technology you need for your degree – and your career. Learn more about our virtual environments.
- Earn math credits for what you already know: Save time and tuition with our Pathways to Math Success assessments. Depending on your scores, you could earn up to 12 math credits – the equivalent of 4 courses – toward your degree for less than $50 per assessment.
Due to shipping laws, lab courses requiring lab kits must be completed within the contiguous United States. New students living outside the lower 48 states may be eligible to transfer in lab credits from accredited institutions. If a currently-enrolled student moves outside of the contiguous U.S., they may petition to take the labs at another institution for credit.
|View Full Curriculum in the Catalog|
|BS in Geosciences|
|Courses May Include|
|BS in Geosciences Online|
|CHM 101||Fundamentals of Chemistry||An introductory, general education course for the non-science major emphasizing the contribution of chemistry in our everyday lives. This course will enable students to look at various aspects of the world around them through the lens of chemistry. It will introduce basic concepts and applications of chemistry as well as chemical topics and their relationship to matters of societal concern.|
|CHM 101L||Fundamentals of Chemistry Lab||This course will use laboratory techniques to study the fundamental principles of chemistry. Topics such as the mole, chemical equilibria, chemical and physical properties, solutions, kinetics, etc., will all be covered along with other topics important to chemistry.|
|GEO 330||Geohazards||This course will explore disasters due to natural phenomena such as climate change, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, asteroid/comet impacts, and mass extinctions. Each type of event will be considered in terms of its origin, evolution, warning potential, range of significant environmental impacts and possible mitigation strategies, as well as key historical cases of these geohazards.|
|PHY 101||Principles of Physics||Principles of Physics is an algebra based course that explores the major topics in physics, such as motion and forces, gravity and projectiles, energy and work, thermodynamics, vibrations and waves, electricity and magnetism, solids and fluids, light and optics, and atomic and nuclear physics.|
|PHY 101L||Principles of Physics Lab||This course will use laboratory techniques to study the fundamental principles of physics. Topics such as motion and forces, gravity and projectiles, and energy and work will be covered along with other topics important to physics.|
|PHY 103||Earth System Science||Earth Science presents the basic dynamics of cycles and processes of the Earth, including an overview of the origin of the planet, its physical and chemical composition, and geological and chemical interactions. The course culminates in a discussion of the current health of the planet and examines related environmental issues and evidence.|
|PHY 205||Principles of Geology||This course will introduce students to the Earth's structure and composition, minerals and rocks, surface processes, elementary petrology, and the principle of plate tectonics. Additionally, historical geology, including paleontology, glaciation, earthquakes and seismology, rivers and drainage, and groundwater will be discussed.|
|PHY 205L||Principles of Geology Lab||This online laboratory course component will allow students to integrate and apply theory based knowledge related to the study of rocks, minerals, and geologic mapping.|
|SCI 207||Atmospheric Science||This course will focus on the fundamental principles of the physics, chemistry, and fluid dynamics underlying weather and climate. Additionally, the continual movement of weather and its associated elements, and the development of climate change will be addressed.|
|SCI 225||Spatial Awareness||This course will examine the study, use, and design of map formats and specialized products such as fence-diagrams and cross-sections, as well as symbology, coordinate systems, and how maps record the historical patterns of human behavior. The course will also review maps as a tool to analyze human activity and societal development, and include important aspects of map data collection, processing, the Global Positioning System (GPS), quantitative mapping, and GIS-based mapmaking techniques. Additionally, students will review how humans process the concept of space.|
|SCI 310||Geostatistics and Data Analysis||This course will review geostatistical methods for their use in the spatial analysis of geological and environmental data. Students will explore the application of geostatistics for the description of spatial patterns and identification of scales of variability, spatial interpolation, and stochastic modeling of environmental attributes, and the creation of risk maps and their use in geoscientific decision making.|
|SCI 320||Geosciences Methodologies||This course will explore the scientific methodology, empirical reasoning, and specific application of research methods in the geosciences. Students will explore key instrumentation and their application in laboratory settings, as well as survey techniques, sample collection, and elementary modeling.|
|SCI 350||Leadership and Ethics in the Geosciences||As professionals, students will be expected to use their knowledge and skills to enhance understanding of Earth for the well-being of society and the environment. As such, this course will focus on leadership and ethics as it relates to the practice of the geosciences. Topics will include project management techniques related to scheduling and budgeting projects, group dynamics, organizational behavior, and compliance.|
|SCI 425||Geoscientific Research Methods||This is the pre-capstone course for Geosciences majors. Through the emphasis in this course on the acquisition and integration of geoscientific research, students will learn to synthesize knowledge and skills from prior program coursework to develop a research project in a chosen area of specialization. This course focuses on helping students propose a topic for research, conduct preliminary research, and develop a capstone research proposal. This course prepares students for the formal capstone submission in the following course, Geosciences Capstone.|
|SCI 489||Geosciences Capstone||This capstone course is the culminating experience for the B.S. in Geosciences program. The aim of the capstone is to assess students' ability to synthesize and integrate the knowledge and skills they have developed throughout their coursework, rather than introducing new concepts. This course extends students' research proposals created in Geoscientific Research Methods into a formal capstone project and is structured to support student success in fulfilling program requirements.|
|Total Credits: 120|
Tuition & Fees
Tuition rates for SNHU's online degree programs are among the lowest in the nation. We offer financial aid packages to those who qualify, plus a 30% tuition discount for U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty.
|Online Undergraduate Programs||Per Course||Per Credit Hour||Annual Cost for 30 credits|
(U.S. service members, both full and part time, and the spouses of those on active duty)*
Tuition Rates are subject to change and are reviewed annually.
*Note: students receiving this rate are not eligible for additional discounts.
No Application Fee, $150 Graduation Fee, Course Materials ($ varies by course)
Frequently Asked Questions
Are geoscience and geology the same? What's the difference?
While geoscience and geology have some overlapping components, they are not entirely the same.
Geoscience is an interdisciplinary field that covers a broad spectrum of disciplines – like earth science, atmospheric science, geology, geography, physics and chemistry. It allows you to study the dynamic nature of the earth, understand its history to predict current and future changes, and find ways to manage our natural resources in a sustainable way.
On the other hand, geology is a subdiscipline of earth science, that specifically focuses on the history of the earth, the rocks and minerals that compose it and the processes that act upon it.
Can you get a geoscience degree online?
Yes. Students can earn their BS in Geosciences online because the program's coursework easily translates to a virtual environment.
SNHU began offering courses online in 1995. By developing online general education courses that would be needed for programs – like English, math, social science and the humanities – SNHU has been able to expand degree offerings, including STEM programs like geoscience.
You'll take science classes like chemistry, physics and geology – and you get the hands-on experience you need through lab kits mailed to your home. And you'll finish up your bachelor's degree with geoscientific research methods and capstone courses, giving you the opportunity to develop a research project in a chosen area of specialization.
Is geoscience a good degree?
Geoscience is an excellent major choice if you're interested in working in a growing STEM field. If you have a passion for our planet, earning a geoscience degree is one way to study its past and protect its future.
According to a survey done by the American Geosciences Institute, graduates in the field are often motivated by intellectual engagement, interdisciplinary nature and solving societal issues.3
The same survey cited that, in 2017, those with undergraduate geoscience degrees were employed in:
- Science and engineering related fields (41%)
- Health-related occupations (32%)
- Pre-college teaching occupations (7%)3
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for geoscientists will grow 6% by 2028.1
What does a geoscientist do?
Geoscientists can help mitigate natural disasters like earthquakes, floods or landslides. They can provide scientific counsel and advice on ways to preserve the environment or sustainably manage natural resources. They can work with geospatial technology to prepare maps, analyze geographic data and study issues like climate change, disaster relief and resource management.
With such a diverse field of study, career opportunities abound for geoscientists. Geoscientists can work in all sectors, including nonprofit, government, industry, academia and research, and jobs can include a combination of field, laboratory and office work – or all of one and none of the others.
"It just depends on what you want to do and where you end up working," said Dr. Kelly Thrippleton-Hunter, technical program facilitator for science at SNHU.
Geoscientists can pursue careers in a multitude of areas and disciplines, including:
- Advising policy makers on decisions relating to protecting the earth
- Communicating the importance of geoscience to the public through scientific writing, education and public outreach
- Environmental assessment and remediation
- Forecasting weather or global climate patterns
- Observing and forecasting natural hazards
- Modeling Earth’s systems
- Sustainably manage energy and natural resources
Thrippleton-Hunter also offered suggestions for careers that you could be positioned for with a geoscience degree:
- Atmospheric scientist/meteorologist
- Earth scientist
- Environmental chemist
- Environmental consultant
- Environmental scientist and specialist
- Geoinformatician (GIS)
- Geological and petroleum technician
- GIS analyst
- Park ranger
- Remote sensing specialist
- Waste management specialist
Some of these roles may require additional education or training beyond a bachelor's degree.
What education do you need to be a geoscientist?
Earning a bachelor's degree is essential to becoming a geoscientist. Some in the field go on to earn their master's degree, as well.
Employers require a specific skill set learned through coursework and hands-on training at universities. Desirable qualities for geoscientist, according to BLS, include1:
- Communication skills, for reports and research papers
- Critical-thinking skills, to evaluate data
- Outdoor skills, to conduct fieldwork
- Physical stamina, for hiking and carrying equipment
- Problem-solving skills, to handle complex challenges
What jobs can I get with a geoscience degree?
The skills you build when you earn a geoscience degree are appealing in a wide range of industries. Because of that, geoscientists are employable all across the workforce.
The American Geosciences Institute lists dozens of professions – some expected, some unexpected – in which geoscientists are employed4:
- Art, like graphic designers
- Business, like defense contractors and environmental managers
- Education, like outreach specialists and professors
- Engineering, like geological and petroleum engineers
- Law, like environment and land use lawyers
- Medicine, like epidemiologists and toxicologists
- Policy, like congressional staffers and science advisors
- Science, like mineralogists and soil scientists
- Writing, like science communicators and journalists
Some of these roles may require additional education or training beyond a bachelor's degree.
Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit institution accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) as well as several other accrediting bodies.
Sources & Citations (1, 2, 3, 4)
1 Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, on the internet, at:
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/environmental-scientists-and-specialists.htm (viewed Nov. 7, 2019)
- https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geoscientists.htm (viewed Nov. 7, 2019)
Cited projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth.
2According to more than 9,200 SNHU online students in survey responses from the fall of 2019.
3 American Geosciences Institute, Occupations of Terminal Geoscience Degree Recipients in 2017, on the internet, at https://www.americangeosciences.org/geoscience-currents/occupations-terminal-geoscience-degree-recipients-2017 (viewed Dec. 11, 2019)
4 American Geosciences Institute, Workforce Infographic, on the internet, at https://www.americangeosciences.org/workforce/workforce-infographic (viewed Nov. 13, 2019)