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Earth Science

Earth science — or geological science — is the study of the Earth: the materials of which it is made, the processes that act on those materials and the evolution of our planet since its formation 4.6 billion years ago.

Field Work Earth Science

Degrees Offered

  • Bachelor of Science in Geology
    As a Geology major at NC State you will gain specialized training in core knowledge areas of the Geosciences and have opportunities to pursue your own personal academic and research interests with specialized courses and opportunities.  Our students are involved in outreach and education opportunities via the NCSU Geology Club and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences. Our students benefit from a low faculty to student ratio (6:1), opportunities for outdoor learning through our cap-stone Geologic Field Course in New Mexico and in courses that visit some of the best natural classrooms on earth, including the mountains of the southern Appalachians, Grand Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Carlsbad, Mount Rainier, Zion, and Death Valley National Parks.
  • Bachelor of Science in Marine Sciences with Geology concentration
    Marine Science majors concentrating in Geological Oceanography receive inter-disciplinary training focused on the interactions between the solid Earth and oceans. Students complete the core curriculum in Geology, coupled with additional coursework in coastal erosion, sediment transport, ocean currents and marine ecology. There is a focus on expeditionary learning through our Center for Marine Sciences and Technology (CMAST), located in Morehead City, and students are encouraged to participate in NC State’s new Semester at the Coast Program. The degree’s capstone field course is a four-week summer program focused on coastal and estuarine processes within Pamlico Sound and the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

  • Minor in Geology
    A Geology minor is an excellent option for students from any major interested in understanding our planet’s dynamics and history and are curious about the materials, structures, and processes of the solid Earth system and human interactions with the geosphere. A minor in Geology provides a means of recognizing student interest and basic competency in the Earth Sciences.  Current and past minors have come from numerous academic departments across campus, including Civil Engineering, Primary and Secondary Science Education, Environmental Science & Technology, Soil Science, Forestry, Biology, Mathematics, Statistics, Chemistry, Physics, Business, and History.

What Do Earth Scientists Do?

Earth science — or geological science — is a broad and interdisciplinary field that encompasses other disciplines such as biology, chemistry, math, and physics. Knowledge of Earth processes provides a critical framework for the assessment of resources, geologic hazards, and environmental stewardship.

If you enjoy science and are curious about how different components of the Earth system work — and enjoy applying tools of math and science to the real world — the geosciences can provide you with a rewarding career that changes almost daily as new discoveries are made about how our planet (and other planets in the solar system) works.


Geoscientists spend time in the field, laboratories, offices and museums. Many work in the petroleum or natural gas exploration industry or in the mineral industry. Many other geoscientists find work related to natural hazards (e.g., earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides), as geologists on some of the world’s largest engineering projects (dams, tunnels, bridges, tall buildings), in the geothermal and alternative energy sectors, in the remediation of hazardous waste and groundwater pollution control, and in the field of environmental rehabilitation (e.g., stream restoration).

Geoscientists work across industries — from Fortune 100 companies to small environmental consulting and law firms, state agencies and nonprofit organizations. Many others are employed in the education sector including at universities, community colleges and high schools.

At the federal level, geoscientists are employed by the Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service), the Department of Agriculture (Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Land Management), and the departments of defense, commerce and energy. Geoscientists are also employed by the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. State Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. A geoscience degree also can provide a good first step toward a career in environmental or patent law.