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Learn about geoscience with online courses and programs

Geoscience is the study of Earth, how it was formed, its composition, and the factors that shape it. Geoscientists can focus on a specific subfield, such as the climate or natural environment, which can inform important social and policy changes.

What is geoscience?

Geoscience, also known as Earth science, is an interdisciplinary field that studies the structure, composition, and behavior of Earth. By combining principles of biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics, geoscientists can investigate and explain various processes and phenomena.

Some of the major branches of geoscience include:

  • Geology, the study of Earth’s solid materials and the processes that shape its structure.

  • Meteorology, the study of Earth’s atmosphere and weather events.

  • Oceanography, the study of Earth’s oceans and their ecosystems.

  • Environmental science, the study of human activities and their impact on the Earth.

Geoscientists contribute to essential work in sustainable development and the overall wellbeing of societies around the world. Gain the knowledge and skills you need to understand natural hazards, manage natural resources, and address environmental challenges with online courses on edX.

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Geoscience course curriculum

Because geoscience is a broad topic that encompasses many subfields, it’s important to build your general knowledge around Earth science fundamentals. Brush up on your understanding of Earth’s structure, plate tectonics, geological time scales, and environmental science basics.

From there, you can dive deeper into Earth’s processes, materials, surfaces, and landforms. The experience you gain from these introductory courses can prepare you for more advanced and specialized classes that may cover topics such as:

  • Environmental science, natural resources, conservation, and climate change

  • Geological hazards and extreme weather events

  • Ocean currents, marine life, marine pollution, and coral reefs

Start building the knowledge you need to work in the geosciences with edX. From accelerated boot camps to comprehensive programs that allow you to earn a bachelor’s degree or (for more advanced learners) a master’s degree, there are many different learning formats available to fit your needs. Busy professionals can even take advantage of executive education courses tailored to busy professionals. Find the right course for you.

Explore geoscience jobs 

Your interests will likely shape your geoscience education, which can open up career opportunities in your chosen subfield. Some of the job titles within geoscience include:

  • Geologist: Studies the Earth's composition, structure, and processes, and may be involved in natural resource exploration and various environmental assessments.Footnote 1

  • Seismologist: Studies earthquakes and seismic waves, working to understand seismic activity and assess earthquake risks.Footnote 2

  • Oceanographer: Studies the oceans and marine life, with a focus on physical, biological, chemical, or geological oceanography.Footnote 3

  • Environmental scientist: Studies the natural environment and the effects that human activities have on it.Footnote 4

  • Paleontologist: Studies fossils to understand the Earth’s history and evolution of life.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, some employers may seek candidates with a degree in environmental science, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.