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 similar 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.

Geography BS Tracks

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.

To fulfill the BS, you must choose one of two tracks. Students can choose either to focus on environmental systems or geographic information sciences. The required courses differ between the two tracks.

Requirements for the BS

To fulfill the requirements for a BS in geography, you must complete the following.

Breadth Requirement 

This requirement familiarizes you with the breadth of the discipline of geography. You will take one course in human geography, one course in environmental geography, and two courses in geographic information sciences

Ways of Knowing

You will complete either GEOG 4001 or 4002.


You will take 5 elective courses.

For the environmental systems track, you must choose 3 courses from either the environmental systems tracklist or the GIS tracklist. The remaining two electives can be any geography-designated classes. 

For students in the GIS track, you must choose 3 courses from the GIS tracklist. At least one of those courses must be at the 5xxx level. The remaining 2 electives can be any geography-designated classes.

Supporting Sciences

You are required to complete 4 supporting sciences courses. These are meant to supplement and support the work you are doing in the major. Courses in statistics, programming, chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, math, and other disciplines fulfill these requirements. See a list of accepted supporting science courses in the University Catalog.

Environmental Systems Track

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, immediate 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.

In the environmental systems track, students should consider the following classes:

  • GEOG 3401: Geography of Environmental Systems
  • GEOG 3423: Urban Climatology
  • GEOG 3431: Plant and Animal Geography
  • GEOG 3531/5531: Numerical Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 3839/5839: Introduction to Dendrochronology 
  • GEOG 5426: Climatic Variations
  • URBS 3751: Understanding the Urban Environment

Geographic Information Science Track

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.

For the GIS track, students can choose from the following courses:

  • GEOG 3511: Principles of Cartography
  • GEOG 3531: Numerical Spatial Analysis
  • GEOG 3541: Principles of Geocomputing
  • GEOG 3561: Principles of Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 5543: Advanced Geocomputing
  • GEOG 5562: Geographic Information Science and Analytical Cartography
  • GEOG 5563: Advanced Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 5564: Urban Geographic Information Science and Analysis
  • GEOG 5588: Advanced Geovisualization
  • 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)