masters full

Are you interested in taking your mastery of geology to the next level by becoming a teacher, researcher, or advanced professional in a geology-related field? Ball State’s two master’s degree options in geology will set you up for success.

  • master of science option—a two-year program that includes a research thesis and culminates in the traditional graduate degree for professional work in your desired sub-discipline of the geologic sciences
  • master of arts option—leads you to and requires you to pass the National Association of State Boards of Geology (ASBOG) tests: The Fundamentals of Geology Examination and the Practice of Geology Examination. A research thesis is not required.

What You Will Learn

You will be assigned a faculty mentor(s) based on that mentor’s specialty in the geological sciences. You will work with your mentor to fulfill academic goal deadlines and timelines and construct a course load which is tailored to your chosen sub-discipline. Recent sub-discipline studies of our graduates have been:

  • paleontology
  • water chemistry of Tibetan Glaciers
  • fractal analysis of land forms,
  • geothermal energy potential of the Central Sumatra Basin
  • oil exploration

Program Benefits

You’ll learn from well-educated, noted scholars in our field.

They have experience in all areas of the U.S., with detailed knowledge in Indiana and the Midwest, the Appalachian Mountains, the Rocky Mountains, and California, as well as international experience in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Peru, Brazil, New Zealand, China, Korea, Japan, and Antarctica.

They have experience in the major subfields of geology including:

  • minerals
  • igneous and metamorphic rocks
  • sedimentary rocks
  • fossils
  • petroleum geology
  • environmental geology
  • earthquakes and volcanoes
  • landform geomorphology
  • river processes
  • groundwater hydrology
  • environmental site assessment
  • geophysics
  • geochemistry
  • water quality
  • earth/space science teaching

You can expect to experience the world of geology firsthand. We offer fieldwork and other travel opportunities in:

  • Indiana
  • adjacent states
  • the Appalachian Mountains
  • Canada
  • West Texas
  • the Gulf Coast
  • Colorado
  • New England
  • Puerto Rico

In this major, you’ll participate in a five-week summer field course in the Black Hills of South Dakota and northern Wyoming. There, you’ll prepare geologic maps and cross sections, stratigraphic columns, and technical reports.

Almost all geology courses (except for the introductory course) average only about 15 students.

This means you will get to work directly with and learn from our highly regarded faculty.

Our facilities provide an excellent learning environment:

  • spacious work areas
  • faculty and student research laboratories
  • up-to-date equipment
  • dedicated computer lab
  • exhibit areas
  • full electronic classroom facilities

Program Requirements

Master of Science

Coursework for the MS includes:

  • six credits of approved graduate electives in geology
  • an approved minor in a second discipline or GEOL and/or other electives approved by the geology graduate advisor (nine credits)
  • a thesis (six credit hours)
  • nine credits from geology seminar courses


In a normal course of study, students are required to determine the thesis topic and committee by the end of the second semester. The completed thesis document is subject to approval by the committee following a public oral defense.

Coursework for the MA includes:

  • nine credits of approved graduate electives in geology
  • an approved minor in a second discipline or GEOL and/or other electives approved by the geology graduate advisor (nine credit hours)
  • nine credits from geology seminar courses
  • three credits from research methods courses

Total Credits



Your course load will be tailored to the sub-discipline of the geosciences you choose to study. However, you will be responsible for taking at least three of the following courses.

  • GEOL 605 Seminar in Stratigraphy
  • GEOL 610 Seminar in Sedimentary Petrology
  • GEOL 626 Seminar in Tectonics
  • GEOL 660 Seminar in Advanced Hydrology
  • GEOL670 Seminar in Environmental Geochemistry
  • GEOL6 71 Seminar in Geomorphology

For a complete list of all the courses you will take and their descriptions, please see our Graduate Catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do With a Master’s Degree in Geology?

A master’s degree in geology can qualify you in specialized career fields such as oil and mining industries as well as increasing your skills in the environmental field. Job titles of our recent graduates are as follows:

  • petroleum geologist
  • product manager at Landmark Haliburton
  • senior geologist
  • development geologist
  • technical professional
  • associate professor

Paying for Your Education

graduate assistantship iconDepartment Graduate Assistantships

A graduate assistantship is an excellent opportunity to gain meaningful professional experience while helping cover the costs of your degree. Learn more.

Ready to Apply?

Are you interested in pursuing an MS or MA in geology? To apply, you will follow a two-part process in which you will need to meet the admission criteria of and apply to both the Ball State Graduate School and this program itself.

Get Started

More Information

Do you want to learn more about this program or have questions about the application process or options for funding your education? You may complete our online form to request more information. Or if you’d rather speak to someone directly, please feel free to call or email our department.