Majoring in Geological Sciences

 

Are the geosciences the right path for you?

If you're trying to decide what to pursue at University of Kentucky, this page can help you determine if this major is for you!

 


 

If you said yes to at least THREE of these, a degree from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences may be a great choice for you!

 

 

Let's also make sure you understand what geology ISN'T. Here are six common misconceptions about being a geoscientist:

 

1. IT'S ALL ABOUT ROCKS

While many geoscientists may use rocks, sediment, or soil to get clues about our planet's past and future (like for studying climate change) there are just as many areas of interest that don't involve rocks at all!

2. ALWAYS IN THE FIELD

Some geoscientists get into the science because of their love of the outdoors and travel, but this definitely isn't a requirement. Quite a number of branches of earth science are lab and computer-based.

3. THEY ARE GREAT AT MATH

The Earth and Environmental Sciences Department offers two options: a B.S. or a B.A. in Geological Sciences. Students receiving a B.A. take fewer math courses and focus on other strengths instead.

4. IT'S ALL "OLD WHITE GUYS"

Women receive nearly half of the geoscience degrees. As the geo community moves to acknowledge its own past transgressions and increase diversity, there are an increasingly large number of scholarships available to historically excluded communities.

5. THEY HAVE TO BE INTO OIL AND GAS

Although some of the graduates from EES go on to work in resource extraction, more go on to work in environmental positions. If you want to save the planet, the geosciences are a great start!

6. THEY USE OLD SCHOOL METHODS

While the fundamentals are important, after the first year you may end up in classes learning modern technologies like ArcGIS, using portable XRF spectrometers, or even collecting data via drone!

 

 

What do geoscientists do with their degree?

As of 2020, the median salary for a geoscientist is $93,580, with the highest 10% earning around $201,150 and the lowest 10% earning around $51,890. The highest paid geoscientists work in resources finding oil and gas, as well as minerals used to build things like cell phones, appliances, and solar panels. However, even if you don't work in those industries, you can still do very well as a geoscientist AND work in a subdiscipline you are passionate about. Below are some of the careers geoscientists pursue with their degrees.
 

  • environmental geoscientist
  • economic geologist
  • geomorphologist
  • petroleum geoscientist
  • hydrogeologist
  • engineering geologist
  • paleoclimatologist
  • volcanologist
  • forensic or medical geologist
  • seismologist
  • geophysicist
  • geochemist
  • glaciologist
  • mineralogist
  • sedimentologist
  • cartographer
  • paleontologist
  • petrologist
  • stratigrapher
  • planetary geoscientist
  • land-use technician
  • surveyor
  • government
  • museum curator or gemologist
     

What our students say

 

  

 

Worried about finances? Scholarships are available and paid lab positions in EES or internships with KGS are an option for our students. If you want to be here, we want you to be here and can help you figure out how to make that happen. Here's a list of undergraduate and funding resources outside of the department.

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