Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography Programs

Badge (Online) with 2-Line TitleBachelor'sin Geography2017
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An online geography bachelor’s degree can prepare you for a career in environmental science, urban and regional planning, or geography education. Students learn how to use geographic information systems (GIS), spatial analysis, and computer-based cartography to contribute to groundbreaking research within the human-environmental landscape. Positions in geography are in particularly high demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that cartographers and photogrammetrists will experience a 29% job growth rate by the year 2024, which is much faster than the national average. Read on to learn more about online geography bachelor’s degree programs, including degree specializations, foundational coursework, and career prospects.

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Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1 University of Florida 91.25 3/5 85% Gainesville, FL

The University of Florida's online bachelor of arts in geography takes an interdisciplinary approach, exploring the mix of natural resources, geographic features, culture, and political systems that define the world's many places. With an emphasis on human geography, the program lays a foundation for graduate study in a variety of disciplines, and readies students for careers in fields like environmental science, climatology, urban planning, international business, and government.

UF's online geography bachelor's degree requires a minimum of 33 credits in the major. Online students typically take 14 to 16 credits per term, completing most of their classes asynchronously over the course of eight semesters. Transfer students should have at least a 2.5 GPA and must have taken introductory coursework in geography. Online tuition is 25% less than on-campus tuition, and students can enroll four times per year.

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2 Arizona State University-Tempe 64.38 3/5 58% Tempe, AZ

ASU Online is one of the nation's leading virtual campuses, with more than 30,000 students pursuing 140 degree programs entirely online. The school's highly regarded web-based offerings include a bachelor of science in geography that has all the rigor of its on-campus counterpart, but with added flexibility. The program focuses on spatial patterns in the natural world, and studies how varied landscapes influence culture, transportation, and global economics.

The 120-credit curriculum of the online geography bachelor's degree requires a total of 45 upper-division credits, and students must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to earn their diploma. At least 30 credits must be earned at ASU. Classes run for eight weeks per term, and there are six start dates per year. Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT scores. Web-based students are encouraged to take an online orientation course.

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3 Park University 54.38 2/5 41% Parkville, MO

Park's bachelor of science in geography offers a breadth of study in areas such as geoscience, geographical information systems, and global sustainability. Students in the online geography program are required to add a minor or a second major to their geography degree. Because geography is such a broad, interconnected discipline, the college believes students should learn about several subfields, which will help them enter the workforce or continue their studies at the graduate level.

The program is a 30- to 40-credit curriculum, and a minor adds an additional 18 credits toward the 120 needed to earn the bachelor's degree. Coursework is largely asynchronous. A capstone assessment must be completed by all majors and is typically done in the final semester of study. Classes are scheduled in accelerated eight-week sessions and begin five times per year. Ambitious geographers have the option of joining Gamma Theta Upsilon, the International Geographic Honor Society, which offers great networking opportunities.

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4 Kennesaw State University 52.19 3/5 42% Kennesaw, GA

Georgia's third-largest university, Kennesaw State is a national leader in internet-based education, offering more than 70 online degrees. The school's bachelor of arts in geography can be earned entirely through the web and is designed to be completed in four years of full-time study. The 123-credit online geography bachelor's degree incorporates classwork from a variety of disciplines, allowing students to tailor their degree to their interests and professional goals.

Students earning the online geography degree enjoy a great deal of interaction with faculty, and there are often opportunities for field work. Courses can be taken asynchronously, and many students pursue minors in related fields including anthropology, geographical information systems, environmental studies, and native studies. Online students are exempted from out-of-state tuition. Applicants should provide educational transcripts and SAT scores.

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5 University of Nebraska at Omaha 51.25 3/5 46% Omaha, NE

The online geography degree at UNO comes in the form of a bachelor's in multidisciplinary studies (BMS), a degree designed with working professionals in mind. Students enroll in the BMS and concentrate in geography. They can then specialize in one of three tracks: physical and human study; regional study; or techniques, which emphasizes geographical information systems, aerial photography, and other related technology. Regardless of their chosen track, students build expertise in areas such as the environment, anthropology, sociology, and economics.

The BMS curriculum requires 123 credits, 40 of which are general education requirements. The geography core comprises 30 credits, and an additional specialty is 12 more. The concentration allows students to take classes in a number of areas including climatology, political geography, urban sustainability, and geoarchaeology. The remainder of classes can be spread among electives or another specialty.

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An online degree in geography is perfect for those who are interested in the modern world, natural events, and the connections between geographical events across the globe. While all geography programs explore Earth’s land and inhabitants, curriculum and degree specializations differ from school to school. Below are a few sample courses that you can expect to find in any online geography degree program.

  • Geographic Information Technologies: This course examines cartography, map projection information, raster and vector data models, remote sensing, and global positioning systems and technologies. Students gain a basic understanding of the design and application of modern GIS technology through analytical functions such as querying and overlaying.
  • Cultural Geography: Cultural geography courses study human cultures and the expression of the beliefs and practices of people across different environments and cultural landscapes. This course includes discussions on the interactions and connections between regions, and explores historical and contemporary issues surrounding population, religion, politics, and language.
  • Landforms: This course emphasizes physical geography while covering topics like rocks, minerals, soils, rivers, coasts, glaciers, plate tectonics, topographic mapping, and aerial photography. Students learn how erosion, transportation and deposition can modify and alter landforms across the Earth.

Accreditation is an evaluation of a school’s academic quality. There are many advantages to attending an accredited institution. First, accreditation signified that an institution has been thoroughly vetted and meets certain quality standards. Additionally, students who attend these institutions are eligible for federal financial aid in the form of grants and loans. They can also easily transfer their credits to another accredited school without much trouble. There are two main forms of accreditation: national and regional. Regional accreditation is considered more prestigious and is often pursued by public four-year colleges and university. On the other hand, national accreditation is typically earned by for-profit colleges and trade or vocational schools.

Accrediting agencies in the U.S. are overseen by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These organizations recognize accrediting agencies and ensure that they compliant with certain standards. The ED and CHEA also maintain complete lists of all accredited schools in the country on their respective websites.

Students who earn a geography degree online are usually interested in natural, social, and environmental science. With their knowledge of human culture and language, climate science, economic patterns, and urban and regional analysis, geography graduates commonly go on to pursue careers in government, nonprofit organizations, research facilities, education, and business. Below are some of the most common careers pursued by graduates with an online geography degree.

Cartographers and photogrammetrists

Cartographers and photogrammetrists are responsible for creating and updating accurate, user-friendly maps, charts, and images for urban and regional planning, environmental studies, and business marketing. They collect, measure, and interpret geographic information using remote-sensing systems and advanced technology such as GIS, aerial cameras and satellites.

Urban and regional planners

Urban and regional planners manage the economic, social, and environmental issues surrounding the use of land and resources for residential, commercial, industrial, educational, and recreational purposes. These planners work with public officials and community members to develop short- and long-term community plans for schools, parks, and homeless shelters.

Surveyors

Surveyors are responsible for determining the precise locations of buildings, homes, roads, and landfills for various construction projects. They use GPS technology, robotics, and laser systems to examine property lines and prevent boundary disputes. Surveyors work with surveying and mapping technicians, who edit images, produce terrain maps, lay out aerial photographs, and enter data into computers and databases.

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design public spaces such as parks, playgrounds, gardens, residential areas, and college campuses. They also design the locations of roads, walkways, flowers, and trees within these communities. They use advanced technology such as computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software and GIS.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers typically work in research, design, and teaching settings. They usually specialize in one of the following subfields of engineering: construction, geotechnical, structural, or transportation. These professionals are often assisted by civil engineering technicians, who ensure that safe work practices that are compliant with federal, state, and local requirements.

BACHELOR’S IN GEOGRAPHY SALARY

A geography online degree can help you gain the knowledge and experience needed to excel in your career and command a larger salary. Earning your degree is a necessary first step towards gaining an entry-level career in the field. However, you’ll need to gain a few years of experience to move into some of the more advanced positions in the field that have higher overall salaries. According to PayScale, experience level affects income for both civil engineers and urban planners, even though most people do not stay in these positions for more than 20 years. Interestingly, the majority of professional land surveyors report having more than 10 years of experience in the field. Below, you’ll find the median salaries for some of the most common careers in geography over a professional’s career.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Cartographer $48,728 $39,000 $46,000 $58,000
Civil engineer $64,081 $58,748 $71,386 $95,194
Urban planner $54,049 $49,902 $61,411 $84,405
Professional land surveyors $70,268 $60,629 $64,715 $75,520
Landscape architect $57,457 $49,108 $59,986 $77,984

Source: Payscale

Students have several options for financing their online geography bachelor’s degree. Many schools offer a variety of financial aid options, including grants, loans, scholarships and work-study programs. Once you are accepted into a program, be sure to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only will this qualify you to take our federal student loans, but it will also qualify you to apply for the William D. Ford Federal Direct Student Loan Program. Scholarships are also available through some science-related professional organizations, including the National Science Foundation.


AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

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UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.