Old map and compass


Geography is the academic discipline that studies the inhabitants, the features, and the lands of the Earth. Geography has been referred to as “the bridge between the physical and the human science” and is thus divided into two main areas: physical and human geography. The spatial analysis of the human and the natural phenomena, the study of the man-land relationship, the area studies (regions and places) and the earth sciences are the four historical traditions in geographical research.

Program Information

The Association of American Geographers has developed ten questions for students to answer to determine if geography is the right program for them. A typical undergraduate geography degree consists of coursework in both geography and other disciplines such as English, geology, history and math. The University of Washington has one of the top geography programs in the world. The major is structured by 4 hybrid “tracks”. The first is Citizenship, Cities and Migration, which focuses on the themes of human movement and urbanization. The second is Economy, Environment, and Sustainability, which studies the reciprocal forces of economic policy, economic activity, and sustainability. The third track is GIS, Society and Mapping, where students learn to use GIS and other web-based geospatial applications. The last track is Globalization, Development and Health which traces the effects of global finance, global trade, and the geography of impoverishment. The Geography BA is granted upon the completion of 180 credits with a GPA of at least 2.0 (at least 2.5 in Geography courses). The University of Chicago is another top school for geography. The program provides a background for advanced specialization in the discipline but also allows for study in other fields. The degree requires the completion of 11 courses, and a BA thesis is also prepared in connection with the senior seminar.

geography student

Pros & Cons

Geographers are becoming more and more necessary to study human impact on the environment, especially as the issue becomes more prominent in the public eye. Global warming remains a huge concern, and as a geographer you can help contribute to saving the planet by advising people on how to decrease their impact on the environment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with knowledge and experience of GIS are poised for the best job prospects. Because geography is a relatively small occupation however, the fast growth expected in the next decade will create only about 600 new jobs. Thus, applicants in this field can expect very strong competition for jobs. Many geographers are employed by the federal government, so budgetary decisions may determine employment opportunities, which means even if you are qualified for a position you may not get it due to budget cuts.

Graduate School & Career

There aren’t many “geographer” job titles, but there are numerous positions that fit well with a degree in geography. Urban Planner and Community Development positions are a natural tie-in with a geography degree. If you are interested in either field, be sure to take urban planning and urban geography courses. You may also want to see if you can get an internship with a city planning agency. Cartographer is another position. News media, atlas publishers, government agencies and book publishers are always looking for cartographers to help produce and publish maps. GIS Specialists are often in high demand for city governments and other government agencies. Agencies like the National Weather Service, the Weather Channel, news media and other government entities employ Climatologists, although a geographer would need experience and coursework in climatology and meteorology for this field.