Geology, M.S.

Master of Science in Geology

About the Degree

Students studying for a Master of Science in Geology degree learn advanced theory and applications of earth materials, structures and/or processes while completing a directed research thesis.

Thesis projects for this degree address diverse topics ranging from:

  • Exploration for natural resources, including metals, petroleum and water;
  • Addressing problems associated with human impacts on the environment; and
  • Investigating earth’s history to understand the evolution of life and global climate change.

External funding and alumni donations allow faculty to support student research. The faculty provides a broad-based education focused on both academic and applied aspects of the geological and environmental sciences.

The department offers M.S. degrees in Geology, Earth Science, and Environmental Geology. Each degree requires 30 credits including a six-credit research thesis. These degrees accommodate applicants having different undergraduate training and career objectives. The M.S. Geology degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.S. Geology degree interested in pursuing a geology-based thesis requiring a broad, quantitative geology background. The Earth Science degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.A. Geology degree interested in a more qualitative geology thesis. The M.S. Environmental Geology degree accommodates those with the equivalent of a B.S. in a natural science or engineering plus the equivalent of a minor in geology and interested in pursuing a wide range of environmental research topics.

Geoscientists decipher how Earth works, and their studies build skills such as rock and sediment analysis, fluid movement, map construction, and historical evaluation.  Students undertake 7-8 courses, which emphasize hands-on learning and practical applications of geologic, geochemical, geomicrobiological and geophysical techniques.  They complete an independent field and/or laboratory research project (thesis) on a topic of their choosing.  They learn geological sampling, laboratory analysis, data interpretation, report writing and presentation skills throughout their program of study.

Salary and Career Outlook

The career outlook for geologists is quite strong.  The need for trained professionals to work in environmental and earth resources jobs is greater than average, and is predicted to grow faster than average at 16% over the decade (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics).  With many senior geologists retiring, the need for replacements is critical. Job opportunities for graduates with a MS in Geology include supervisory field and mid-management positions in private industry engaged in environmental consulting, energy and mineral exploration as well as in government. This career often leads to positions such a project manager for environmental impact assessments throughout the United States.

The average starting salary in 2014 for MS degree geoscientists was $50-60k, with some initial offers (in petroleum) being over $100k.  Likewise throughout the career there is good opportunity to improve compensation – median annual wages were $89,850 in 2017 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statics).

Why Akron?

The Department continues to pursue excellence in its differentiating competency of "Terrestrial Records of Environmental Change (TREC)”. TREC encompasses the study of geologic products and processes on both land and nearshore marine settings. TREC studies lead to a better understanding of past, present and future conditions that affect society. The experienced faculty in the department are internationally known experts in their disciplines. Through external funding, government and industry collaborations, laboratory upgrades, and teaching enhancements, faculty provide students many opportunities to develop the skill set needed for geoscience employment. The faculty provides hands-on education focused on both academic and applied aspects of the geological and environmental sciences. Through studies of chemical cycling in the ocean and rock deformation, students become prepared for environmental and geoengineering careers, respectively. Additional faculty-lead examples include solving environmental issues such as: the effects of dam removal along the Cuyahoga River; assessing acid mine drainage; monitoring groundwater flow and mapping resources in the Metro Parks. Students engaged with opportunities have been well-prepared for careers in the government, energy, and environmental sectors.

Students benefit from working with experienced faculty who are internationally known experts in their disciplines.  Open access to field and laboratory equipment means that the student leaves the program with marketable skills that can transfer directly to the job setting. Working with experienced faculty in graduate-level course work and thesis research, students continually develop skill in interpreting and analyzing geologic data and report writing. Connections to local and regional industries are made with professors and alumni.  We are proud of the contributions our graduates make to the region, state, and nation.

Our MS graduates have been extremely successful in finding employment in all sectors of the geosciences:

Energy and Mineral Resources:

  • Chevron North America Exploration and Production Company (Development Geologist)
  • Geoservices – A Schlumberger Company (Data Engineer)
  • Geosearch Logging, Inc. (Hydrocarbon well logging specialist)
  • Gold Standard Ventures (Exploration Geologist)

Environmental & Geoengineering Companies

  • Hull & Associates (Hydrogeologist)
  • Weston Solutions (Geologist)
  • Envirosafe Services of Ohio (Environmental Manager)
  • York Analytical Laboratories (Lab Technician)
  • Rettew and Associates (Geoscientist)
  • Arcadis (Geologist)
  • GETCO Environmental (Environmental Geologist)
  • GeoSyntec Consultants (Senior Staff Geologist)


  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources (Geologist)
  • Ohio Department of Natural Resources (UIC Administrator)
  • Butler County Soil & Water Conservation District (Environmental Geologist)


  • Western Michigan University (Research Assistant)
  • Purdue University; CO School of Mines; University of Oklahoma (PhD Students)

Contact Information


Dr. John Peck