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.

What are the best geography programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
3 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
4 Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA
5 University of Nebraska Omaha Omaha, NE

2020 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Geography Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

Located in Gainesville, the University of Florida offers an online bachelor's degree in geography that prepares graduates for careers as cartographers, community developers, environmental education specialists, and geographic information systems officers.

Students learn career skills related to geographic information systems and aerial photo interpretation. The program also covers spatial analysis, computer-based cartography, and remote sensing.

To be competitive, upper-division transfer applicants should hold at least 60 college credits earned with a minimum 2.5 GPA and have successfully completed prerequisite geography and/or statistics coursework.

Florida residents receive a discounted tuition rate, and the university boasts that 56% of all students start and graduate with no debt. UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2

Arizona State University

Scottsdale, AZ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

Located in Scottsdale, Arizona State University enrolls more than 25,000 online students and offers hundreds of undergraduate programs. Approximately 85% of undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid.

ASU's online bachelor's degree in geography features 120 credits of coursework, including classes in geographic information science, statistics for geography and planning, geographic research methods, and physical geography lab.

Students complete a total of 40 classes, with each class lasting 7.5 weeks. This program prepares graduates for careers like water resource specialists and cartographers, as well as for graduate studies in topics like climate science and cultural geography.

Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and should submit standardized test scores. ASU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

3

Fort Hays State University

Hays, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Located in central Kansas, Fort Hays State University boasts a 96% job placement rate for its graduates. The university offers an entirely online bachelor's degree in geosciences with an emphasis in geography.

Graduates of this program can pursue careers related to the mining industry, civil engineering, environmental activism, and tourism. The degree programs offer opportunities for internships and independent research. Students take classes like cartography and cultural geography.

First-year applicants must complete the Kansas Qualified Admissions Pre-College Curriculum with a minimum 2.0 GPA (Kansas residents) or 2.5 GPA (nonresidents). The program accepts transfer credit from regionally accredited institutions. FHSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

4

Kennesaw State University

Kennesaw, GA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 43%

Kennesaw State University enrolls roughly 38,000 students and offers around 150 degree programs. Located in northwest Georgia, Kennesaw State boasts more than 110,000 alumni globally.

The school's 123-credit bachelor's in geography offers online delivery and includes classes such as global climate change, geography of Europe, advanced geographic information systems, and introduction to remote sensing. Students complete a senior seminar, as well as an internship or a directed applied research project. Graduates can pursue careers in business, education, government, and research.

First-year applicants need to submit standardized test scores, while transfer students need at least 30 transferable credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA. The university charges the same tuition rate for in-state and out-of-state online students. Kennesaw State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

5

University of Nebraska Omaha

Omaha, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

The University of Nebraska Omaha enrolls over 10,000 students, nearly 41% of whom identify as first-generation students. The school offers an online bachelor of multidisciplinary studies with a concentration in geography. Participants further specialize their studies by choosing from concentration tracks in physical and human study, regional study, and techniques.

Concentration classes cover topics like geography of economic globalization, travel study in geography, and aerial photographic interpretation. Graduates of this program can pursue careers related to areas such as travel/tourism and environmental regulation.

Applicants do not need to submit standardized test scores. UNO accepts up to 64 transfer credits earned at a two-year or junior college; to be eligible for transfer, courses must have been completed with a "C-" or higher. Nebraska residents pay discounted tuition. UNO is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Geography?

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 for Online Bachelor's in Geography Degrees

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.

Career Opportunities for Bachelor's in Geography Graduates

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

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Geography Program

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

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

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.