BS in Geography

The geography BS is ideal for students interested in biogeography, climate change, environmental geography, or geographic information science (GIS). The BS also serves as thorough preparation for graduate school and careers in environmental science, natural resources management, biogeography, climate science, or similarly technical fields. Instead of the second language courses required to earn a BA, students in the BS program take a minimum of four classes in biological and physical sciences, math, or statistics.

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

As a geography BS student, you will focus on the biophysical and information sciences to study social, political, economic, and ecological processes and the role of space, place, and geographic networks in shaping them. You also have the option to choose an emphasis on GIS and/or environmental systems. Within this emphasis, students may further specialize in urban or rural environments, climate change, or socio-environmental issues.

Interest Areas

We encourage you to develop an area of expertise in one of our suggested interest areas. If our suggestions do not quite meet your interests, you can create your own area of interest 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)

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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