Geography, Minor

Program Code: GEOG_UMNR

Program Description

The Geography minor can complement most majors in the social sciences, physical sciences, biological sciences, and technical disciplines. The Geography minor is flexible so that students can tailor their course choices to accommodate individual interests. A broadly based approach to selecting minor courses can be appropriate for students whose majors are highly specialized or narrowly focused. Alternatively, students may choose to fulfill Geography minor requirements with a particular content emphasis, such as an interest in environmental issues or urban and regional planning. Looking through course choices and talking with geography staff can make earning the Geography minor an important enhancement to one's academic program.

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 wildfires 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.

Program Requirements

Requirement Credits
Requirements for the Minor 18

Requirements for the Minor

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the minor, as specified by Senate Policy 59-10. In addition, at least six credits of the minor must be unique from the prescribed courses required by a student's major(s).

Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
In consultation with a geography adviser:
Select 3 credits in physical geography3
Select 3 credits in human geography3
Select 6 credits of additional geography courses6
Select 6 credits of 400-level geography courses6

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.


University Park

Jodi Vender
Undergraduate Advising Coordinator
305 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802

World Campus

Undergraduate Academic Advising
301 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802

Career Paths

There are many potential careers for students with a background in geography. The Geography minor 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 in industry.


Very few geography-related jobs have the title of "geographer," but students with geography backgrounds  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.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A Geography minor is useful for students who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees in the 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, 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.



University Park

302 Walker Building
University Park, PA 16802

World Campus

2217 Earth and Engineering Sciences
University Park, PA 16802