Study Geology Abroad

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A Guide to Studying Geology Abroad

It’s been said that the best geologist is simply the one who has seen the most rocks. By that logic alone, students have every reason to study geology abroad. Geologists study the make-up and function of our planet and know full well that to really succeed in the field, you must see as much of the Earth as possible. Study abroad programs in geology offer students the opportunity to explore regions of the planet they have never seen before and also to better understand how people in other nations see and study the earth beneath their feet.

Why Study Geology Abroad

International programs focused on studying geology are incredibly valuable educational opportunities. It is easy to understand how students in a science like geology can benefit from first hand experience in the field, and that is exactly what a geology study abroad program can provide. Furthermore, the field experiences that should naturally accompany a study abroad program in geology demonstrate to future employers that the applicant is both capable of handling the rigors of field work and can thrive in an unfamiliar environment, making these experiences a fantastic one-two punch to add to a resume. 


Australia & New Zealand are home to nearly a dozen world class universities as well as some of the more interesting geologic features on Earth. Furthermore, every major institution of higher learning in these two nations has a geology or geoscience program that is open to international students. The Australian outback is one of the best locations to study geology abroad when it comes to the processes of wind erosion, and New Zealand is home to frequent seismic activity stemming from several major fault lines. Additionally, Lake Taupo (on New Zealand’s north island) is actually the caldera of a supervolcano that has produced two of the most violent eruptions in recent geologic history, making for another key point of interest.

Italy. Italian study abroad programs in geology also combine some of the best university programs available with ample opportunities for fieldwork. Students can study several major volcanoes, as well as topics specific to the magnificent Dolomite range in the northeast. Multiple Italian universities also offer the unique opportunity to base the study of geology within Italy, but to branch out to other European nations for field experiences. The neighboring nations of Switzerland and Austria are the most common destinations for field trips in these geology programs, exposing students to the fascinating geology of the central Alps.

Norway. If glacial geology is of any interest to you, Norway is hard to top. Geology study abroad programs in Norway will naturally focus on the local geology, especially the formation of the world famous coastal fjords and the long-term conservation of these sites. If you can handle the cold, excursions to the northern areas of the country focus on marine geology, specifically in the regions near or above the Arctic Circle. Major universities with comparable geology programs are available in the cities of Stavanger, Tromsø, as well as the capital, Oslo.

Antarctica. Though not a traditional full-term study abroad opportunity, Antarctica is worth a mention for the adventure aspect it provides. Multiple universities in the United States offer short-term study abroad programs that involve travel to the frozen continent to study the complicated nature of polar geology. These programs focus on coastal and glacial geology specifically.

Courses & Programs

The key to any good geology program lies in field experiences, allowing students to get a first hand look at the geologic processes they are studying. This fact is what makes studying geology abroad so valuable. While the classroom environment will likely be similar to what a student could expect at their home university, the added benefit of being exposed to geographic phenomena that can’t be found in their own country is what sets geology study abroad programs apart. As a result, the best geology courses for study abroad students to take will be structured around field trips or, at the very least, the local geology of the destination country.

Following this logic, the best times for a student to study abroad will be during the part of the year that the destination country sees its best weather, which most often occurs during summer or spring semesters, allowing for more opportunities to get outside and apply what is being taught in the classroom. As for required qualifications, there aren’t many for geology students. Some experience in outdoorsmanship can come in handy on field expeditions but beyond that, you and your fellow students are all geologists in training and the faculty at any university will understand this. If a topic at your destination school interests you, simply ask about it and see what can be done to get you enrolled in the course!

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Field Experience. The challenges associated with studying geology abroad will most likely come in the form of trips into the field in the student’s destination of choice. These trips often come with added costs and can frequently take students into remote and isolated areas, but the opportunity is one that should be taken advantage of. Exploring and studying the geological makeup of a foreign, unfamiliar place is one of the greatest benefits of studying abroad as a geology student, and these opportunities should not be passed up. 

Build Your Professional Portfolio. The professional benefit to having field experience in geology is already a bonus, but to be able to say that your experience came in another country is just icing on the cake. The professional benefits and opportunities for exciting field work combined with the ability to experience another culture makes studying abroad a fantastic choice for any geology student.

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A Guide To
Studying Geology Abroad


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