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Where to Study Paleontology: Bachelor's & Master's Degrees

written by: •edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom•updated: 8/6/2013

Locating colleges that offer degrees in paleontology can be challenging, but this guide will provide you with the information you need to apply for an undergraduate or graduate program in this field. There are three schools in the United States that offer a specialization in paleontology.

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    Colleges for paleontology students offer degree programs for those who are interested in researching prehistoric life and the evolution of life forms. Earning a degree from an accredited and academically solid school can increase your chances of embarking on a successful career in paleontology. Three colleges that meet these standards are Yale University, the University of Chicago, and the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

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    Yale University

    Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology and Geophysics with a concentration in Paleontology and Geobiology. This competitive and thorough degree program, the highest-rated of its kind in the 2010 US News and World Reports, is outlined as follows.

    • Students who enroll in the BS degree program with the Paleontology/Geobiology concentration must take three prerequisite courses (in biology, chemistry, and calculus), four core courses (in evolution, microbiology, statistical data analysis, and sedimentary rocks and fossilization), and four elective courses.
    • Students who are interested in applying to this program must submit counselor and teacher evaluations, standardized test scores (SAT or ACT), high school transcripts, and application essays.
    • The tuition rate for the 2011-2012 school year (excluding room and board) is approximately $40,500. Yale provides extensive financial aid opportunities to applicants.
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    University of Chicago

    The University of Chicago offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science degree in Geophysical Sciences. These highly-rated degree programs include several courses in paleontology and are structured in the following manner.

    • The Bachelor of Arts degree program consists of 15 credits and the Bachelor of Science degree program consists of 18 credits. Students in the BA program are required to complete general education courses in chemistry, physics, and math as well as six advanced course credits in Geophysical Sciences and Mathematics and Statistics. Students in the BS program are required to take two additional advanced course credits (for a total of eight).
    • First-year applicants to this program must submit high school transcripts, teacher recommendations, and SAT or ACT test scores.
    • As of 2011-2012, tuition costs for this school are approximately $42,783 per year. Financial aid and merit scholarships are available to many students.
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    South Dakota School of Mines & Technology

    The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, located in Rapid City, SD, is the only school in the United States that offers a Master of Science in Paleontology degree program. Involving an extensive amount of fieldwork, this graduate program is organized according to the guidelines listed below.

    • In order to earn the Master of Science degree, students must complete 32 semester credits. Examples of courses include Rocky Mountain Stratigraphy I and II, Vertebrate Paleontology, Advanced Field Paleontology, and Advanced Field Geology. Students are also required to complete field studies in the Black Hills and to work with the minerals and fossils located in the school's Museum of Geology.
    • Admission requirements for this program include: two semesters of college-level Calculus, one semester of college Physics, and proficiency in courses such as Statistics, Invertebrate Paleontology, Historical Geology, and Petrology.
    • Tutition and fees per credit hour, for the year 2013-2014 are $412.75 for a resident and $672.75 for non-residents. Whether or not you go full time or part time is up to you and your admissions counselors.
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    These colleges offer strong programs that provide both academic knowledge and career training. If you are considering careers in paleontology as a geoscientist or research scientist, then these bachelor programs and master programs can set you on the right path for the future. Contact the schools mentioned above for further information on their paleontology degree courses.