Bachelor’s in Geography Program Guide

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By Marisa Upson

Published on June 8, 2021

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Geography involves the study of Earth's landscape, its atmosphere and climate, and the humans that inhabit it. This broad social and physical science looks at these diverse topics through the lens of spatial patterns, or the arrangement and distribution of objects and the space between them.

Students use this information to tackle problems, such as climate change, natural resource depletion, disease outbreaks, and urban expansion. While some graduates pursue advanced degrees, others enter the workforce as geographic information system (GIS) analysts, cartographers, surveyors, and environmental scientists.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 8% job growth for environmental scientists between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations. These professionals earn a median annual wage of $73,230.

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Geography?

The marketable skills learned in a bachelor's in geography program carry over to numerous careers in multiple industries. Graduates can conduct research, create data sets and maps, and use geotechnical tools, such as GIS mapping and remote sensing. These skills lead to positions with government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and private businesses.

Graduates can conduct research, create data sets and maps, and use geotechnical tools like GIS and remote sensing.

Graduates may analyze federal land-use projects or explore the next best location for a company's expanding enterprise. Other degree-holders may work for nonprofit agencies, plotting the effects of global warming or diminishing wildlife habitats. O*NET Online lists GIS analysts and remote sensing technicians as bright outlook occupations experiencing rapid growth.

Most bachelor's degree in geography programs require 120-126 credits and take four years of full-time study to complete. Online accelerated programs can lead to faster completion times. Students interested in a career as a geographer may want to consider combined degree options, which can lead to a bachelor's and master's in geography in as little as five years.

What Will I Learn in a Geography Bachelor's Program?

Students earning a bachelor's degree in geography study Earth's landscape and its human, animal, and plant inhabitants. Learners gain an understanding of spatial patterns and the geographic tools used to visualize them, including computer-based cartography, remote sensing, GIS, and global positioning systems (GPS).

Students may pursue a bachelor of science (BS) or a bachelor of arts (BA) degree. A BS track leans toward the environmental aspects of geography with a focus on technology, while a BA track focuses more on humanity and its relationship to the Earth.

While all programs vary, most offer a core curriculum that includes statistics, research, and human and physical geography. Some programs also provide extensive opportunities for fieldwork, internships, and research projects. Because of the field's broad nature, almost all bachelor's in geography programs offer concentrations that enable students to align their education with their career goals.

Concentrations

Environmental Systems and Sustainability

This concentration studies the impact of people and their activities on Earth. Students learn about global climate change, depleting natural resources, and other environmental issues.

Human Geography

Human geography explores how people act upon the Earth, including their culture, language, economy, and politics. Students learn how spatial patterns develop because of these actions that determine population trends.

Physical Geography

Learners pursuing this concentration study the natural environment, including landforms, oceans, and the atmosphere. Physical geography also seeks to understand how and why natural phenomena occur.

Geotechnology

This concentration focuses on the many geotechnologies used in the field of geography. Covered topics include GIS, GPS, cartography, remote sensing, and aerial photographic interpretation.

Globalization

In this concentration, students learn about the geography of the world. Globalization incorporates the study of global issues and the relationship of global change to the well-being of communities and individuals.

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What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Geography?

The interdisciplinary nature of geography prepares students for various careers in government, nonprofits, private businesses, education, and research. Many graduates work in the private and public sectors addressing social and environmental issues, while others pursue careers in imaging and mapping, environmental monitoring, public policy, and urban planning.

Graduates may also work in the business sector in market analysis or in emergency management as part of a team supporting communities during natural disasters. Others use the skills they learned in geotechnology to become GIS analysts. Below are just a few of the many common career paths for individuals with an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in geography.

Popular Career Paths

Surveyor Environmental Scientist Cartographer Geographer

Popular Continuing Education Paths

Master's in Geography Master's in Environmental Management Master's in Regional and Urban Planning Master's in Geographic Information Systems

How Much Money Can I Make With a Bachelor's in Geography?

PayScale reports that graduates with a BS in geography earn an average annual salary of $61,890. Nevertheless, wages vary dramatically based on position, experience, employer, and location. For instance, according to PayScale, GIS specialists earn an average yearly salary of $54,110, while the BLS reports that cartographers earn a median annual wage of $68,380.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Geography Programs

How much does it cost to get a bachelor's in geography?

Data USA reports that in-state students pay an annual median tuition of $7,315 for bachelor's in geography programs at public colleges, while out-of-state students at private institutions pay $46,850. The average tuition and fees for out-of-state students at public colleges is $21,184, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Is a geography degree worth it?

Yes. For learners interested in studying Earth's landscape and its inhabitants, a degree in geography can prove exciting and lucrative. Students learn in-demand skills, such as the latest in geotechnology, which can lead to careers working for the government, nonprofit agencies, and private businesses.

What are the most lucrative geography jobs?

The BLS reports that geographers earn a median annual salary of $85,430. Environmental scientists earn a median annual wage of $73,230, while cartographers and photogrammetrists make $68,380 per year.

Are geographers in demand?

The BLS projects a 1% decline in job growth for geographers between 2019 and 2029. While geographers do not experience high demand, the skills acquired in bachelor's in geography programs lead to careers that do enjoy increasing opportunities. A few of these positions include GIS specialist, environmental scientist, and market research analyst.

Is geography an employable degree?

Yes. The skills obtained from an on-campus or online bachelor's degree in geography translate to numerous in-demand careers. For instance, the BLS projects 18% job growth for market research analysts between 2019 and 2029, much faster than the average 4% employment growth rate for all occupations.

Feeling first-day-of-college jitters? Learn what to expect and how to prepare for the first day of class. Looking for a good school in the Southwest? Check out our list of the top 10 online colleges in the southwestern United States. Students can make college life easier by bringing 10 documents that are essential for study, work, and other aspects of student life.

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