Geography Degree

Typical Requirements for a Degree in Geography

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Earning your college degree in geography shows prospective employers that you can solve problems, research solutions, utilize technology, and see the "big picture." A typical geography degree involves a wide variety of coursework within the discipline to expose students to all aspects of this fascinating wide-ranging subject.

Undergrad Geography Coursework

A typical undergraduate geography degree consists of coursework in geography and other disciplines.

In many cases, the college courses taken in other subjects fulfill a student's general education (or GE) requirement. These courses can be in subjects such as English, chemistry, geology, math, sociology, political science, foreign language, history, physical education, and other sciences or social sciences. Every college or university has different general education or core required courses for all students earning a degree from that university. In addition, geography departments may impose additional interdisciplinary requirements on students.

You will typically find that a college or university will offer either of Bachelor of Arts degree in geography or a Bachelor of Science degree in geography. Some colleges and universities offer both Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A. or A.B.) and the Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) in geography. The B.S. degree will typically require more science and math than the B.A.

degree but again, this varies; either way it's a bachelor's degree in geography.

As a geography major you will be able to select from a plethora of interesting courses about all facets of geography as you work toward your geography degree. However, there are always core courses that every geography major must meet.

Lower Division Course Requirements

These initial courses are typically lower division courses, which means they are designed for freshmen and sophomores (students in their first and second years of college, respectively). These courses are usually:

  • An introduction to physical geography lecture (sometimes including a laboratory course in which you make maps, use Geographic Information Systems [GIS], work with compasses and topographic maps, etc.)
  • An introduction to cultural or human geography lecture
  • World regional geography lecture

During the first two years of college, a student would likely take their lower division geography courses and maybe a handful of other lower division geography courses. However, freshman and sophomore years are usually the time to take your general education courses to get them out of the way.

You will take most of your geography courses (and your schedule will mostly be geography courses) only during your junior and senior years (third and fourth years, respectively).

Upper Division Course Requirements

There are core upper division requirements that usually include:

  • Geographic techniques and methods (learning about geography journals, the use of the library, research, using computers for cartography and GIS, using other software platforms, and learning how to think geographically
  • Cartography and/or Geographic Information Systems laboratory (4 to 8 hours a week learning how to make maps and making maps on computer)
  • History of geographic thought (learning about the history and philosophy of geography as an academic discipline)
  • Quantitative geography (statistics and analysis of geographic problems)
  • One upper division course in physical geography
  • One upper division course in cultural or human geography
  • One regional geography course to learn about a specific region of the world
  • Senior project or capstone project or advanced seminar
  • Field work or internship

Additional Geography Concentrations

Then, in addition to the core upper division courses, a student working toward a geography degree might focus within a specific concentration of geography. Your choices for a concentration might be:

  • Urban and/or economic geography and/or planning
  • Geographic Information Systems and/or cartography
  • Physical geography, environmental studies, climatology, or geomorphology (the study of landforms and the processes that shape them)
  • Human or cultural geography
  • Regional geography

A student would likely be required to take three or more upper division courses within at least one concentration. Sometimes more than one concentration is required.

Upon completion of all coursework and university requirements for a geography degree, a student is able to graduate and show the world that he or she is capable of great things and is an asset to any employer!