Graduate Program Geology

Two PSU geology graduate students working on a rooftop garden

Geology Master's Degree Overview

Our master’s in geology prepares you for a high-demand career that addresses critical environmental issues facing our world today from energy, water and mineral resources to climate, natural hazards, and environmental monitoring and cleanup.

Our geology program combines advanced coursework, fieldwork, and laboratory work to equip you with a deep and broad foundation in the geological sciences that are required for work in the oil and gas industry, minerals and mining, state and federal agencies, private consulting firms, and education.

We offer two paths for our master's degree in geology depending on your academic and professional interests:

  1. The master of science or arts degrees blend rigorous coursework and intensive research experience that culminate in a masters-level research thesis or project. The programs are designed to prepare you for continued study at the doctoral level or begin a career as a professional geologist.
  2. The geohydrology option provides you with an opportunity to explore the hydrology subfield of the geosciences with topics ranging from well dynamics to groundwater geology.

Portland State’s comprehensive graduate geology classes delve into just what is at play when we make decisions about resource use, the impact of natural hazards such as earthquakes and floods on the safety of building projects, mineral exploration and extraction, the basic workings of the Earth, and how the events and processes of the past might influence the future.

Degree Details

Location Definitions:

On campus:
100% on campus
Online:
100% online
Flexible:
Combination of online and on campus
  • M
    Masters
    Locations
    On campus
    Total Credits
    45
    Start Term
    Any

Geology Master's Degree: Why PSU?

Join our team of expert scientists right at the center of a geological paradise that will get into the field and into Portland’s science community. Our experienced faculty takes pride in providing you with quality education and mentoring that prepares you for a successful career in the geosciences.

Our location in Portland, midway between the coast and the Cascade Range, offers you unmatched opportunities to study geology, from extinct and active volcanoes to landslides, the Columbia River flood basalts, glaciers atop Mount Hood, and subduction-related events along the coast.

Our faculty excel at both teaching and research, with areas of expertise that include geochemistry and petrology, geophysics, geoscience education, hydrogeology, quaternary geology and geomorphology, urban geology, and geologic hazards, tectonics, and planetary science.

With specialized studies in hydrogeology, geomicrobiology, environmental geology, engineering geology, geomechanics, glaciology, and applied stratigraphy, you can branch out or deepen your knowledge in an area that best fits your interests and career goals.

You will also have opportunities to work closely with faculty in their research labs and on projects with local businesses, government, and regional universities.

Our student clubs, including Portland State's chapters of the Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists and the Association of Petroleum Geologists, provide you with opportunities to network with professionals and learn about the work being done in the field.

What can I do with a master's degree in Geology?

Now is a better time than any to be entering the field as the demand for geoscientists is expected to increase over the next 10 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Our graduates go on to work for government agencies at federal, state, county, and city levels, by independent consulting firms working with engineers, architects, and planners, in the construction, mining, and petroleum industries, and as teachers in elementary and high schools and at the college level.

Recent graduates are working as researchers in the mitigation of environmental problems, assessment of ground and surface water resources, exploration, development, and management of mineral and fuel resources, urban planning, GIS, evaluation of the effects of forest roads and quarries on watershed health, management of their own companies, and teaching.

Thesis Option

  • Students must take G 523 Statistics and Data Analysis in the Geosciences unless already taken as G 423 as an undergraduate.
  • Students must take at least 8 credits in geology courses numbered G 610 or higher.
  • Students must take at least another 12 credits (16 credits if G 423 Computer Application in Geology was completed as an undergraduate) in the field of geology from G 510 or higher level courses.
  • A maximum of 9 credits will be allowed for courses numbered G 501 Research, G 504 Cooperative Education/Internship, G 505 Reading and Conference, or G 506 Special Problems.
  • Students must complete at least 6 credits of G 503 Thesis; up to 9 credits can count for the degree.
  • Completion of field camp (could have been taken as an undergraduate) or equivalent field experience as approved by the field camp director.
  • Presentation of a thesis.
  • Completion of a final oral examination (thesis defense) taken before the end of the sixth week of the final term in residence.

Non-Thesis Option

  • Students must take G 523 Statistics and Data Analysis in the Geosciences unless already taken as G 423 as an undergraduate.
  • Students must take at least 8 credits in geology courses numbered G 610 or higher.
  • Students must take at least another 12 credits (16 credits if G 423 Computer Application in Geology was completed as an undergraduate) in the field of geology from G 510 or higher-level courses.
  • Student must complete 3 credits in G 501 Research.
  • A maximum of 3 additional credits will be allowed for courses numbered G 501 Research, G 504 Cooperative Education/Internship, G 505 Reading and Conference, and G 506 Special Problems or similarly numbered courses in other departments.
  • Completion of field camp (could have been taken as an undergraduate) or equivalent field experience as approved by the field camp director.
  • Presentation of a research project.
  • Completion of a final oral examination on the subject area and the research project.

Accreditation

Portland State University is fully accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).