BA in Geography

CLA Requirements
Learn more about the CLA BA degree requirements, including the second language requirement.

Senior Project
Learn about the required geography senior project before you start your junior year.

The geography BA focuses on the social, biophysical, and information sciences to study social, political, economic, and ecological processes and the role of space, place, and geographic networks in shaping them. It highlights climate change, social-environmental justice, and the uneven effects of globalization and urban transformation. The BA is ideal for students interested in cultural and human geography; however, there are still opportunities for additional courses in mathematics, statistics, or computer programming if you have an interest in population geography or GIS. Many BA students have opted to minor or double major in a separate field to ensure they are well-prepared for their future.

Interest Areas

We encourage you to develop an area of expertise in one of our suggested interest areas. If our suggestions do not align with your interests or career goals, you can create your own, individualized plan in consultation with an advisor or faculty mentors.

Environmental Systems

Environmental geography is the study of patterns and processes in the natural world. Environmental patterns include the distribution of forests and prairies, the courses of rivers and the extent of their floods, and the tracks of hurricanes and tornadoes. The processes that shape these patterns range from forest fires to erosion to cloud formation. Such phenomena must be understood to help us manage natural resources, mediate risks and hazards, and conserve valued places and species. The challenges faced by our society—mitigating the effects of climate change, maintaining water supplies, and securing energy—can only be addressed with a deep understanding of the geography of the environment.

If you are interested in environmental systems, you might enroll in some of the following courses:

  • GEOG 3361W: Geography and Public Policy
  • GEOG 3401: Geography of Environmental Systems
  • GEOG 3423: Urban Environment
  • GEOG 3431: Plant and Animal Geography
  • GEOG 3531/5531: Numerical Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 5393: Rural Landscapes and Environments
  • GEOG 5421: Introduction to Atmospheric Science
  • GEOG 5426: Climatic Variations
  • GEOG 5565: Geographical Analysis of Human-Environment Systems
  • GEOG 5839: Introduction to Dendrochronology (recent addition; not in catalog)
  • URBS 3751: Understanding the Urban Environment

Geographic Information Science

Geographic information science (GIS) courses cover many aspects of geographical information, including the theory and skills involved in collecting, storing, manipulating, analyzing, and visualizing spatial data. These courses provide grounding in spatial geography encompassing GIS, cartography, remote sensing, spatial analysis, and numerical modeling. Students explore the relationship between society and GIS: Where does geographic information come from? How can society make use of such information? This thematic area exposes students to GIS and cartography applications; including land use and land cover change, environmental justice, transportation improvements; urban, regional, and environmental planning; resource conservation; and society-technology relations.

If you are interested in geographic information science, you might enroll in some of the following courses:

  • GEOG 3511: Principles of Cartography
  • GEOG 3521: Digital Planet: Understanding Your World in the Information Age
  • GEOG 3523: Digital Mapping: Introduction to Making Online Maps for the Humanities and Sciences
  • GEOG 3531: Numerical Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 3561: Principles of Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 5511: Principles of Cartography
  • GEOG 5561: Principles of Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 5562: Geographic Information Science and Analytical Cartography
  • GEOG 5563: Advanced Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 5564: Urban Geographic Information Science and Analysis
  • GEOG 5565: Geographical Analysis of Human-Environment Systems (3.0 cr)
  • GIS 5555: Basic Spatial Analysis (recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5571: ArcGIS I (recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5572: ArcGIS II (recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5573: Desktop Mapping (recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5574: Web GIS and Services (formerly GIS and the Internet; recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5575: Surveying and the Global Positioning System (recent addition to track; by petition only)
  • GIS 5578: GIS Programming (recent addition to track; by petition only)

Globalization & Uneven Development

This thematic area focuses on a key concern of our time: increasing global connectivity coupled with persistent inequality. Through coursework studying the world economy and population; land use, land cover, and climate change; uneven development in the global north and south; and interacting systems of belief; students gain knowledge of an interconnected but continually differentiated world. Does globalization promise a future of fair and open access to resources and markets? Will it ensure the global spread of democracy? Are "global" problems, from climate change to water quality to energy resources, truly global? These are some of the important questions students take up in this study track.

If you are interested in globalization & uneven development, you might enroll in some of the following courses:

  • GEOG 1372: Geography of Global Cities
  • GEOG 3111: Geography of Minnesota
  • GEOG 3141: Africa
  • GEOG 3145: The Islamic World
  • GEOG 3161: Europe: A Geographic Perspective
  • GEOG 3211: East Asia
  • GEOG 3212: Producing India
  • GEOG 3331: Geography of the World Economy
  • GEOG 3371W: Cities, Citizens, and Communities
  • GEOG 3377: Music in the City: Sounds and Bodies in Different Places
  • GEOG 3379: Environment and Development in the Third World
  • GEOG 3381W: Population in an Interacting World
  • GEOG 3388: Going Places: Geographies of Travel and Tourism
  • GEOG 3411W: Geography of Health and Healthcare
  • GEOG 4121W: Latin America
  • GEOG 5385: Globalization and Development: Political Economy

Urban Worlds

The 21st century is urban, with more than half the world's population living in cities. Throughout history, cities have been places of intense human activity, interaction, innovation, and struggle. This thematic area of courses offers study in the history of cities and urban planning and the many processes by which cities and suburbs are made: governmental and community planning, migration, social movements, capital investment and disinvestment, artistic and cultural production, local and global interconnectedness, planned and unplanned settlement, transportation infrastructures, ecological change and its social impacts. More people live in cities than at any other time in history. Find out why this matters.

If you are interested in urban worlds, you might enroll in some of the following courses:

  • GEOG 3361W: Geography and Public Policy
  • GEOG 3371W: Cities, Citizens, Communities
  • GEOG 3373: The Changing Form of the City
  • GEOG 3374W: The City in Film
  • GEOG 3377: Music in the City: Sounds and Bodies in Different Places
  • GEOG 3973: Geography of the Twin Cities
  • GEOG 5361: Geography and Real Estate
  • GEOG 5564: Urban GIS
  • URBS 3301W: American Cities as Settings for Cultural Diversity
  • URBS 3751: Understanding the Urban Environment
  • URBS 3771: Fundamentals of Transit
  • URBS 3871: The Suburban World

Environment & Society

This thematic area covers a multifaceted curriculum focusing simultaneously on the social transformation of the natural world and the inescapably more-than-human world in which human beings live. Through coursework in this area, you will learn about important issues standing at the intersection of ecology and politics and about issues that demand a geographical understanding. These include environmental sustainability and prospects for a "greener" society; uneven resource consumption between the rich and the poor; environmental hazards, risks, and regulation; global land-use and climate change; the emergence of distinctive cultural landscapes; deep-seated cultural discourses regarding "nature" and "society"; and more.

If you are interested in environment & society, you might enroll in some of the following courses:

  • GEOG 3101: Geography of the United States and Canada
  • GEOG 3111: Geography of Minnesota
  • GEOG 3361W: Geography and Public Policy
  • GEOG 3376: Political Ecology of North America
  • GEOG 3378: The Third World: Development, Poverty, Possibility
  • GEOG 3379: Environment and Development in the Third World
  • GEOG 3381W: Population in an Interacting World
  • GEOG 3401: Geography of Environmental Systems
  • GEOG 3411W: Geography of Health and Healthcare
  • GEOG 3431: Plant and Animal Geography
  • GEOG 3561: Principles of GIS
  • GEOG 4121W: Latin America
  • GEOG 5361: Geography and Real Estate
  • GEOG 5393: Rural Landscapes and Environments
  • GEOG 5426: Climatic Variations
  • GEOG 5565: Geographical Analysis of Human-Environment Systems
  • URBS 3751: Understanding the Urban Environment
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