Geophysics is the study of physical processes and properties of earth. In other words, this field covers the dynamic structure of the earth and its environment. Geophysics can be further divided into sub-categories such as oceanography, climatology, etc. The applications of the principles of geophysics can be seen in a number of areas. These include mineral-exploration, civil engineering, archaeological surveys, earthquake monitoring, and more.
Technology has played a vital role in expanding the exploration frontiers of geophysics. This technological expansion has created many new career opportunities for geophysicists. There are many diverse careers to choose from in geophysics. If you enjoy physics and want to pursue a career that is challenging and exciting, geophysics may be the most suitable option for you. Geoscientists’ jobs were rated as among the best jobs in 2013 by CNN Money Magazine.
You can pursue geophysics at undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate level. A geophysics degree will be needed for most careers in this field. There are many universities and colleges offering geophysics programs, comprehensively designed to equip students with in-depth knowledge and skills necessary for geophysics jobs.
Geophysics Undergraduate Programs: Bachelor of Science in Geophysics
This is a four year undergraduate degree that will help students explore and discover knowledge about the earth’s dynamic structure and processes. The program will provide students with a strong foundation of knowledge on geography, mathematics, geophysics, chemistry, and related fields.
In addition to classroom learning and building theoretical concepts, students will be involved in laboratory classes where they will practically implement geophysical techniques for experimentation and conduct research. The curriculum may vary from college to college, but will generally cover fundamental courses such as the following:
This course will help students with a thorough understanding of the physical processes of the earth. Students will learn about various internal and external processes, and the basic principles of geology.
Introduction to oceanography
This course will examine different components of the marine environment. Topics such as geological history, oceanic sediments, marine resources, and ocean biota are covered in this course.
In this course, students will learn how to classify rocks and minerals. Student will study the description and identification of rocks, and their megascopic petrography. This course may require field trips.
The course will highlight the main causes of earthquakes around the globe. Students will learn about the different types of earth quakes, what causes them, and their hazards.
Masters in Geophysics
Geophysics masters program is a two year undergraduate degree. It is designed to give students a comprehensive understanding of the earth’s processes. As compared to a bachelor level degree, this program follows a more advanced curriculum. Students will acquire a broad grounding in fundamental physics, mathematics, etc, during the first phase of the program.
The program will enable students to specialize in certain fields such as geodynamics, seismology, geomagnetism, etc. The coursework is not limited to classroom learning. Certain courses are covered in laboratories where students develop practical skills. Fieldwork is a key part of the curriculum and gaining hands of experience through experimentation and exploration are essential objectives of this degree. Here are some important courses students will most likely cover:
This course will enable students to learn how to use different techniques for exploring the earth’s surface and what’s beneath it.
This course will cover the concepts of magnetic fields of the earth. Students will learn how the earth has evolved over history by examining frozen rocks and sediments.
This course is dedicated to the study of earthquakes. Students will learn about the main causes of earth quakes and their effect.
Some of the specialization courses include
Environmental earth science
Rock fracture mechanics
PhD in Geophysics
Students who have completed a masters degree can prepare for leadership roles by further pursuing geophysics PhD programs. This is the highest level of qualification offered in this field. It takes around 4-8 years to complete the program. It focuses on independent research studies and a final dissertation. The main requirements include:
Completion of coursework
Independent research study
Oral comprehensive examination
During the coursework, students will cover a range of advanced subject areas that include research methodologies, Paleomagnetism, remote sensing, seismology, environmental assessments, and more. The coursework may vary a little from college to college. Students will then be required to clear an oral examination and conduct a research study on a chosen area. The last phase of the program is dedicated to the development of a thesis which must be approved by the faculty.
Learning Outcomes of Geophysics Courses
Learn how to apply skills in geophysical problems
Conduct research and evaluate findings
Develop written, visual, and oral communication skills
Understand various geophysical problems and devise solutions
Investigate geophysical problems using different techniques and methods
Online geophysics degree programs are offered by a few accredited schools. You can search online to see what options are currently available. There are many reasons why students are pursuing distance learning programs instead of on-campus ones. Online learning is considered to be:
Students can create their own schedules without having to compromise their jobs and other commitments. This mode of learning offers more individualized attention and lets students study at their own pace without having to worry about attending classes.
The admission requirements depend on which university or college you want to enroll in. For admission in an undergraduate program, a high school diploma or GED will be needed along with decent grades in science subjects. For enrollment in a masters-level degree, students must provide a bachelor degree transcript, meet a minimum CGPA score, and provide letters of recommendation. On the other hand, students seeking admission in a PhD program must provide a masters degree transcript, CGPA, and letters of recommendation.
You can work as a geoscientist or a geophysicist in the following industries:
Oil and gas extraction
Your level of education and specialization will play a key role in determining the type of job position you can qualify for. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), geoscientists made a median annual income of $90,890 in 2012. The demand for these professionals is expected to grow by 16% over the next few years, creating approximately 6,000 new jobs.