Online Coursework in Geoscience Departments

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Online courses and programs in higher education have been a growing phenomenon for the past two decades. In recent years, geoscience programs have increasingly been adding online components to their curricula. During the survey in preparation for the 2018 Directory of Geoscience Departments, we asked departments about the state of online courses in their program.

Of the 637 geoscience departments at four-year institutions, 38% responded to the question about online course methods. Seven departments offer fully online geoscience degrees; 53 departments offer at least one fully online course; and 19 departments offer at least one blended learning course, in which a portion of the coursework/lecture is online. Of the 326 geoscience programs at 2-year colleges, 17% responded to these questions. Twenty-six of these programs offer at least one fully online course and 5 programs have at least one blended learning course.

Responding departments were grouped by their Carnegie Classification System level. While these percentages may change as more departments respond in the future, online courses tend to be more common at two-year colleges, master’s-granting colleges, and doctoral-granting institutions. Most of the baccalaureate colleges were liberal arts institutions, and these institutions seem to be less likely to offer online coursework in their geoscience curricula.

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