Geography, B.S.

Program Code: GEOBS_BS

Program Description

The Department of Geography in Penn State's College of Earth and Mineral Sciences offers a strong mix of human, physical, and methodological components that comprise the core of the geography major. Combining geography with other areas of study allows students to choose from a broad range of topics in order to suit their individual interests. Undergraduate degrees in geography are offered in the Bachelor of Science (BS) and in the Bachelor of Arts (BA). Both programs offer an integrated course of study in which students learn fundamental concepts in physical and human geography while developing methodological proficiency in qualitative analysis, spatial analysis, and/or geospatial technologies.

In contrast to the broader liberal arts-oriented B.A., the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major is a more disciplinary-focused program, emphasizing technical skills and preparation across the human/physical spectrum of geography. It includes rigorous training in the use of geographic tools and technologies as well as core and advanced courses on the ways people use environmental resources and how they arrange themselves and their economic, social, and political activities on the Earth's surface.

In both the B.S. and B.A., students can customize and specialize their programs through the completion of undergraduate certificates. The Geography major can provide preparation for a career in business, industry, or government. Geographers with bachelor's degrees are currently being placed in federal, state, and local administrative and planning agencies and in private firms that specialize in planning and development or in environmental, socioeconomic, or location analysis.

What is Geography?

What do Amnesty International, Boeing, National Geographic, and Esri have in common? Penn State geographers are there, hard at work every day. Our students and alumni are behind the maps you use daily, as well as the policies that shape our cities, and the analysis that sustains our environment. Geographers help shape the future design of cities and infrastructure. Geographers assess impacts of rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and tropical storms, as well as study impacts of wild fires or manage wetlands. Geographers analyze new markets and locations for businesses. Geographers use cutting-edge satellite data to defend human rights by detecting large-scale abuses. Geographers also work directly with local people on social justice issues such as health and migration. If you want to change the world, there is no better discipline for people who thrive on complex challenges and want to make a real impact on lives and our environment.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You want to understand and influence the economic, political, and environmental forces that shape our world.
  • You want to make maps using cutting-edge technology to understand people and environments to make a difference in our world.
  • You want to work at the intersection of science, technology, and policy in information technology; business; nonprofits; local, state, or federal governments; or education.
  • You are passionate about issues of human and environmental justice.

Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have third-semester classification.

READ SENATE POLICY 37-30: ENTRANCE TO AND CHANGES IN MAJOR PROGRAMS OF STUDY

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Geography, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 9
Requirements for the Major 75

9 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 6 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GWS courses.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Requirements for the Major

To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn a grade of C or better in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
EMSC 100SEarth and Mineral Sciences First-Year Seminar Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 210Geographic Perspectives on Environmental Systems Science Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 220Perspectives on Human Geography Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 230Geographic Perspectives on Environment, Society and Sustainability3
GEOG 260Geographic Information in a Changing World: Introduction to GIScience Keystone/General Education Course3
GEOG 301Thinking Geographically3
GEOG 364Spatial Analysis3
GEOG 390Professional Development Seminar in Geography1
GEOG 464Advanced Spatial Analysis3
STAT 200Elementary Statistics Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Calculus:
Select one of the following:4
Technical Calculus Keystone/General Education Course
Techniques of Calculus I Keystone/General Education Course
Calculus With Analytic Geometry I Keystone/General Education Course
Engaged Scholarship:
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Service Learning (1-3 credits)
Research Project in Geography (1-3 credits)
Research Project in Geography (1-3 credits)
Internship (1-3 credits)
Geography Teaching Internship (1-3 credits)
Giscience Internship (1-3 credits)
Foreign Studies (1-3 credits)
Geographic Information Science Skills:
Select 6 credits from the following:6
Cartography--Maps and Map Construction
Image Analysis
Geographic Information Systems
Introduction to GIS Programming
300-level geography:
Select 9 credits, not including courses taken above:9
Research and Qualitative Inquiry in Geography
Introduction to Global Climatic Systems
Introduction to Global Climatic Systems
Biogeography and Global Ecology Keystone/General Education Course
Landforms and Geomorphic Systems in the Anthropocene Keystone/General Education Course
Urban Geography: A Global Perspective
Place, Space and Culture Keystone/General Education Course
Geographic Perspectives on Economic Systems Keystone/General Education Course
War, Peace, and Diplomacy: Understanding Contemporary Geopolitics
Political Ecology Keystone/General Education Course
Human Dimensions of Natural Hazards
400-level geography:
Select 12 credits, not including courses taken above:12
Climatic Change and Variability
Forest Geography
Forest Geography
Climatic Change and Variability
Principles and Applications in Landscape Ecology
Comparative Urbanism
Population Geography
Globalization, Migration, and Displacement
Geography of the Global Economy
Geography of the Global Economy
Geography of Race, Class, and Poverty in America
Gendered Worlds
Political Geography
Human Use of Environment
Geography of Water Resources
Energy Policy
Geographies of Justice
Politics of the Environment
Ecology, Economy, and Society
Human Dimensions of Global Warming
Property and the Global Environment
African Resources and Development
Dynamic Cartographic Representation
Advanced Observation of Earth and Its Environment
Geospatial Information Management
Advanced Geographic Information Systems Modeling
Applied Cartographic Design
Topographic Mapping with Lidar
GIS Programming and Software Development
Service Learning (1-3 credits)
Research Project in Geography (1-3 credits)
Research Project in Geography (1-3 credits)
Internship (1-3 credits)
Geography Teaching Internship (1-3 credits)
Giscience Internship (1-3 credits)
Independent Studies (1-3 credits)
Special Topics
Special Topics
Foreign Studies (1-6 credits)
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Select 12 credits in geography or related areas (not used above) in consultation with adviser.12

Program Learning Objectives

  • Majors in Geography will demonstrate knowledge of fundamental geographic skills and concepts and apply them to complex spatial relationships (interactions, patterns, processes) within the human socio-cultural and natural environments at global, regional, and local scales.
  • Majors in Geography will engage in spatial and environmental critical thinking by analyzing, discussing and synthesizing geographical information that may include professional/technical documents, primary data, maps, graphics, and/or archival data.
  • Majors in Geography will communicate geographic information utilizing oral, written, and visual formats to effectively process and integrate facts, ideas, and research results.
  • Majors in Geography will develop research skills by locating, understanding, and explaining geographic challenges and opportunities related to human socio-cultural and/or environmental phenomena at global, regional, and local scales.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.

READ SENATE POLICY 32-00: ADVISING POLICY

University Park

Jodi Vender
Undergraduate Advising Coordinator
305 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-863-5730
advising@geog.psu.edu

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2021-22 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contain suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Geography, B.S. at University Park Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
EMSC 100S (GWS)‡†13General Education Foundation selection (GWS) (ENGL 15, 30, or ESL 15)3
MATH 110, 140, 140G, or 83‡†4STAT 200‡†4
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
GEOG 210, 220, 230, or 260* 3GEOG 220, 210, 230, or 260*3
 16 16
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Foundation selection (GWS) (ENGL 202A, ENGL 202B, ENGL 202C, ENGL 202D, CAS 100A, CAS 100B, or CAS 100C)3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
GEOG 230, 210, 220, or 260*3GEOG 301*3
GEOG 260, 210, 220, or 230*3300-level GEOG selection*3
GEOG 364*3300-level GEOG selection*3
GEOG 390*1 
 16 15
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
GEOG 361, 362, 363, or 365*3GEOG 361, 362, 363, or 365*3
300-level GEOG selection*3GEOG 464*3
Supporting Course selection3400-level GEOG selection*3
Supporting Course selection3400-level GEOG selection*3
 15 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5General Education Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5
400-level GEOG selection*3400-level GEOG engaged scholarship selection (GEOG 493, 494, 494H, 495, 495B, 495G, or 499)*3
400-level GEOG selection*3Elective3
Supporting Course selection3Elective3
Supporting Course selection3Elective3
 13.5 13.5
Total Credits 120

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

All incoming Schreyer Honors College first-year students at University Park will take ENGL 137H/CAS 137H in the fall semester and ENGL 138T/CAS 138T in the spring semester. These courses carry the GWS designation and replace both ENGL 30H and CAS 100. Each course is 3 credits.

Advising Notes:

To enter the major, students need a minimum 2.00 grade point average and third semester standing.

Courses required for the major may be offered fall semester only, spring semester only, or both fall and spring semesters. Consult with your adviser and department to discuss your academic progress and course sequencing.

For 300-level selections, students should choose one course each from physical geography (GEOG 31x), human geography (GEOG 32x) and environment-society geography (GEOG 33x). Additional 300-level courses (any topic) may be selected for "Supporting Courses" and "Electives" to complete undergraduate certificate requirements.

Geography majors are encouraged to complete at least one 12-credit undergraduate certificate in geography as part of their degree program. With careful planning, there is room in the curriculum to complete 2 certificates. Certificate topics include Human Geography; Physical Geography; Environment & Society Geography; Geographic Information Science; Geospatial Big Data Analytics; Justice, Ethics, Diversity in Space; and Landscape Ecology. Certificate courses double-count with major requirements, but students completing more than one certificate may only double-count a single course for each.

Geography course notes:

Geography, B.S. at Commonwealth Campuses

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Foundation selection (GWS) (ENGL 15, 30, or ESL 15)3General Education Foundation selection (GWS) (CAS 100, 100A, 100B, or 100C)‡†13
MATH 110, 140, or 83‡†4STAT 200‡†4
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3General Education Knowledge Domain selection3
 16 14.5
Second Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
General Education Foundation selection (GWS) (ENGL 202A, ENGL 202B, ENGL 202C, ENGL 202D)3General Education Health and Wellness (GHW)1.5
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3Elective3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3Elective3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3Elective3
General Education Knowledge Domain selection3Supporting course3
 15 13.5
Third Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
GEOG 210*3GEOG 301*3
GEOG 220*3300-level GEOG selection*3
GEOG 230*3300-level GEOG selection*3
GEOG 260*3GEOG 464*3
GEOG 364*3Supporting Course3
GEOG 390*1 
 16 15
Fourth Year
FallCreditsSpringCredits
GEOG 361, 362, 363, or 365*3400-level GEOG selection*3
GEOG 362, 361, 363, or 365*3400-level GEOG selection*3
300-level GEOG selection*3400-level GEOG engaged scholarship selection (GEOG 493, 494, 494H, 495, 495B, 495G, or 499)*3
400-level GEOG selection*3Supporting Course3
400-level GEOG selection*3Supporting Course3
 15 15
Total Credits 120

University Requirements and General Education Notes:

US and IL are abbreviations used to designate courses that satisfy University Requirements (United States and International Cultures).

W, M, X, and Y are the suffixes at the end of a course number used to designate courses that satisfy University Writing Across the Curriculum requirement.

GWS, GQ, GHW, GN, GA, GH, and GS are abbreviations used to identify General Education program courses. General Education includes Foundations (GWS and GQ) and Knowledge Domains (GHW, GN, GA, GH, GS, and Integrative Studies). Foundations courses (GWS and GQ) require a grade of ‘C’ or better.

Integrative Studies courses are required for the General Education program. N is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate an Inter-Domain course and Z is the suffix at the end of a course number used to designate a Linked course.

Advising Notes:

Commonwealth campus students are strongly advised to complete all GWS, GQ, and GHW credits before transitioning to UP, as these courses may be challenging to schedule at UP. STAT 200 is a prerequisite for GEOG 364, which is only offered at UP in fall semesters.

To enter the major, students need a minimum 2.00 grade point average and third semester standing.

Courses required for the major may be offered fall semester only, spring semester only, or both fall and spring semesters. Consult with your adviser and department to discuss your academic progress and course sequencing.

For 300-level selections, students should choose one course each from physical geography (GEOG 31x), human geography (GEOG 32x) and environment-society geography (GEOG 33x). Additional 300-level courses (any topic) may be selected for "Supporting Courses" and "Electives" to complete undergraduate certificate requirements.

Geography majors are encouraged to complete at least one 12-credit undergraduate certificate in geography as part of their degree program. With careful planning, there is room in the curriculum to complete 2 certificates. Certificate topics include Human Geography; Physical Geography; Environment & Society Geography; Geographic Information Science; Geospatial Big Data Analytics; Justice, Ethics, Diversity in Space; and Landscape Ecology. Certificate courses double-count with major requirements, but students completing more than one certificate may only double-count a single course for each.

Geography course notes:

Career Paths

There are many potential careers for Geography majors. The Geography major teaches students a variety of useful skills for the marketplace. Employers value the wide-ranging computer, research, and analytical skills that geography students bring to work as employees. Geography undergraduates find jobs in all levels of government, nonprofit organizations, and industry. In preparation for the job market both majors and non-majors can enhance their educational experience by enrolling in one or more of our certificate programs. The geography department offers certificates in Environment and Society, Geographic Information Systems, Geospatial Big Data Analytics, Human Geography, Landscape Ecology, and Physical Geography.

Careers

Very few geography-related jobs have the title of "geographer," but students with geography degrees find employment with diverse organizations including (but not limited to): Amnesty International, BAE Systems, Boeing, Esri, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Heifer International, NASA, National Geographic, National Park Service, Teach for America, United Nations, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. State Department, local, regional, and state planning agencies, environmental and engineering consulting firms, policy research institutes, private corporations, and humanitarian organizations.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT POTENTIAL CAREER OPTIONS FOR GRADUATES OF THE GEOGRAPHY PROGRAM

Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A Geography undergraduate degree is ideal for students who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the computational, environmental, and social sciences. Alumni enter graduate and professional studies in a variety of programs, including (but not limited to) geography, planning, international development, urban studies, sustainability, environmental sciences, ecology, geographic information sciences, information technology, environmental informatics, geodesign, business administration, supply chain management, emergency management, law, and education. They sometimes begin graduate or professional programs directly after finishing undergraduate studies, but often get several years' work experience before returning to school, either full-or part-time.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OPPORTUNITIES FOR GRADUATE STUDIES

Professional Resources

Contact

University Park

DEPARTMENT OF GEOGRAPHY
302 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802
814-865-3433

geography@psu.edu

http://www.geog.psu.edu