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 ONLINE BACHELOR'S IN GEOGRAPHY PROGRAMS?
Kennesaw State University
|Kennesaw, GA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 42%||
Located in the metropolitan Atlanta area, Kennesaw State University is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country and the third-largest university in Georgia. Serving 35,000 students in more than 150 undergraduate, master's, and doctoral programs, KSU offers over 70 online and hybrid degree and certificate programs. The bachelor of arts in geography, available both on-campus and online, introduces students to the unique spatial approach of geography as it applies to human culture, language, and weather and climate.
An online geography bachelor's degree can open career paths in government, nonprofits, education, research, and business. The program's multidisciplinary approach allows distance learners the flexibility to select courses from several fields that address their personal interests and career objectives. The 123-credit degree requires 42 credits of general education courses.
Course offerings in the major include environmental studies, cartography, climatology and global climate change, and remote sensing. In addition to completing either an off-campus internship or an applied research project, all students must take a senior seminar that prepares them for professional roles and graduate study.
The online BA in geography typically takes four years to complete. The program delivers all courses asynchronously with no on-site residencies required. Students may also pursue minors in related disciplines such as anthropology, geographical information systems, and environmental studies. KSU provides distance learners out-of-state tuition waivers, offering a flat per-credit rate for all online courses.
Fort Hays State University
|Hays, KS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 44%||
Fort Hays State University serves a student body of over 15,000 at its northwestern Kansas location and through its Virtual College. The Virtual College currently offers 19 bachelor's and 10 master's degrees. The university ranks #42 among the best online bachelor's by U.S. News & World Report.
FHSU's fully online bachelor of science in geography explores the connections among human geography, physical geography, and information systems. The program prepares its graduates for career opportunities in a variety of public and private settings and provides a strong academic foundation for graduate work in geography and related fields.
This 120-credit online geography bachelor's degree uses a flexible, asynchronous course format delivered through the Blackboard learning platform. The Virtual College records and archives all online classes, allowing students to log in at their convenience to access lectures and other instructional materials.
The curriculum includes 55 credits in general education and liberal arts and sciences and 21 credits in open electives. The remaining 44 credits cover the geosciences core requirements, the geography component, and geosciences electives. Core foundational classes in geosciences include geology, geographic information systems (GIS), geostatistics, and spatial data analysis. The geography component explores physical, cultural, world and urban geography; cartography; and intermediate GIS.
Students choose nine specialized electives in geosciences reflecting personal and career interests. The program also emphasizes experiential learning opportunities through a one-credit field study and a three-credit internship.
|Parkville, MO||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 23%||
Established in 1875 in Parkville, Missouri, Park University is a private liberal arts institution serving over 16,500 undergraduate and graduate students. Park offers 63 online degrees, including the bachelor of science in geography. Incorporating perspectives from the humanities and natural and social sciences, this online geography degree provides a strong foundation in geographic and spatial analysis principles.
The degree leads to a variety of careers in fields such as cartography, commercial and residential surveying, environmental consulting, and geographic information systems. The program also prepares students for graduate work in geography and related disciplines.
Students enrolled in this 120-credit online geography bachelor's degree complete 37 credits in liberal education requirements and courses in the major and electives. The geography major consists of 34-40 credits, including five required courses in cultural geography, physical geography, natural disasters, the geography of North America, and geographic information systems.
A capstone assessment, taken in the final semester prior to graduation, evaluates student competencies in the five core required courses. Students must also complete either a second major or minor. Many students choose to fulfill this requirement in a related field of study like geoscience, geographical information systems, and global sustainability.
Park's flexible online format delivers courses asynchronously in accelerated eight-week sessions. The program offers five start dates throughout the year. Park charges a flat-tuition rate for all online courses. The university also boasts discounted tuition for all U.S. military personnel and veterans.
South Dakota State University
|Brookings, SD||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 55%||
Founded in 1881 in Brookings, SDSU is the state's largest comprehensive higher education institution, serving over 12,000 students in seven colleges.
SDSU's online division, the Office of Continuing and Distance Education, administers 24 degree programs, nine certificate programs, and over 250 web-based courses. The online bachelor of science in geography features two program emphases. The research-oriented planning focus leads to employment opportunities in government, business, and education. The environmental planning and management emphasis prepares students for managerial positions in governmental, industrial, recreational, and commercial settings. Recent graduates find employment as systems analysts, urban planners, intelligence analysts, cartographers, and remote sensing analysts.
The 120-credit BS degree comprises general education classes, major requirements in geography, and electives that students apply toward a second major, minor, or teaching specialization. The curriculum encourages learners to select electives related to their concentrations. For example, students interested in the physical geography specialization might pursue electives in physics, agricultural sciences, botany, or related fields. Training in computer science and mathematics complements the technical geography specialization.
Applicants must submit high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores. SDSU offers credit to transfer students, adult learners, and military veterans for previous work or life experiences.
|Huntington, WV||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 49%||
Marshall University offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs to over 13,000 students at its Huntington, West Virginia main campus, several satellite sites, and online. MU's online geography degree programs appeal to students interested in entering or advancing in careers like geospatial information analysis, natural resource management, city planning, geographic education, and environmental protection.
Both the bachelor of science and bachelor of arts in geography require a total of 120 credits. The BS degree focuses on physical geography, environmental and atmospheric processes, and geographic information systems. Students in this program must complete 42 credits in coursework in the major. The BA option, which requires 37 credits in major courses, explores the relationship between human activity and geography. Coursework addresses issues related to migration, population dynamics, economic development, and urban growth and decline. The BA also includes foreign language study.
While the BS requires five more credits in courses that address meteorology, weather analysis, and climatology, it exempts students from taking a foreign language. Because MU does not offer foreign language courses online, students enrolled in the BA may transfer credit from another institution to fulfill this requirement. Students can complete all other courses required for the BS and BA degrees online through MU.
Both the BS and BA degrees include senior capstone courses. The Geography Department also encourages students to pursue internships for up to six credits. Online students may arrange for an internship placement near their place of residency with the approval of their faculty adviser.
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 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)|
|Professional land surveyors||$70,268||$60,629||$64,715||$75,520|
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.