General Description of Geography

Geography focuses on human interactions with the environment. It contributes critical knowledge in political and economic decisions.

Geography (from Greek "geographia", lit. "earth describe-write") is the science that deals with the study of the Earth and its lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena. A literal translation would be "to describe or write about the Earth".

The first person to use the word "geography" was Eratosthenes (276-194 B.C.). Four historical traditions in geographical research are the spatial analysis of natural and human phenomena (geography as a study of distribution), area studies (places and regions), study of man-land relationship, and research in earth sciences.

Nonetheless, modern geography is an all-encompassing discipline that foremost seeks to understand the Earth and all of its human and natural complexities—not merely where objects are, but how they have changed and come to be. Geography has been called 'the world discipline'. As "the bridge between the human and physical sciences," geography is divided into two main branches—human geography and physical geography.

Transfer Preparation for Geography

Geography Majors are highly recommended to take as many geography courses as possible prior to transfer, with a minimum of the following: 

Geography: GEOG 100, 101, 120, 150
Additional Recommendations 

Human Geography: add GEOG 106, 151, 152, 154, 160
Human geography is a branch of geography that focuses on the study of patterns and processes that shape human interaction with various environments. It encompasses human, political, cultural, social, and economic aspects. While the major focus of human geography is not the physical landscape of the Earth (see physical geography), it is hardly possible to discuss human geography without referring to the physical landscape on which human activities are being played out, and environmental geography is emerging as a link between the two.

Physical Geography: add GEOG 130, 151, 152, 154, 155
Physical geography (or physiography) focuses on geography as an Earth science. It aims to understand the physical lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, pedosphere, and global flora and fauna patterns (biosphere). It examines the natural environment and how climate, vegetation & life, soil, water, and landforms are produced and interact.

Environmental Geography: add GEOG 106, 130, 151, 152, 154, 155, 160
Environmental geography is the branch of geography that describes the spatial aspects of interactions between humans and the natural world. It requires an understanding of the traditional aspects of physical and human geography, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment. Environmental geography has emerged as a bridge between human and physical geography as a result of the increasing specialisation of the two sub-fields. Furthermore, as human relationship with the environment has changed as a result of globalization and technological change a new approach was needed to understand the changing and dynamic relationship. Examples of areas of research in environmental geography include emergency management, environmental management, sustainability, and political ecology. 

Geomatics: add GEOG 151, 152, 154, 155
Geomatics is a branch of geography that has emerged since the quantitative revolution in geography in the mid 1950s. Geomatics involves the use of traditional spatial techniques used in cartography and topography and their application to computers. Geomatics has become a widespread field with many other disciplines using techniques such as GIS and remote sensing. Geomatics has also led to a revitalization of some geography departments especially in Northern America where the subject had a declining status during the 1950s. Geomatics encompasses a large area of fields involved with spatial analysis, such as Cartography, Geographic information systems (GIS), Remote sensing, and Global positioning systems (GPS).

Other Course Recommendations for Geography

• It is highly recommended that all geography majors take MATH 119
• For the Human Geography major, add ECON 101, PHS 250
• For the Physical Geography major, add CHEM 100, BIOL 100, MATH 121, PHS 110, PHYS 170
• For the Environmental Geography major, add ECON 101, PHS 250, CHEM 100, BIOL 100, MATH 121, 
   PHS 110, PHYS 170
• For the Geomatics major, add MATH 130

Career Options for Geography

The job title of "geographer" is not often found in companies or government agencies (with the most notable exception of the U.S. Census Bureau). However, more and more companies are recognizing the skill that a geographically-trained individual brings to the table. You'll find many geographers working as planners, cartographers (map makers), GIS specialists, analysts, scientists, researchers, and many other positions. You'll also find many geographers working as instructors, professors, and researchers at schools, colleges, and universities. Here is a brief look at some of your career options:

Urban Planner/Community Development

Geography is a natural tie-in with urban or city planning. City planners work on zoning, land use, and new developments, from a gas station renovation to the development of whole new sections of urban area. You'll work with individual property owners, developers, and other officials.


The news media, book publishers, atlas publishers, government agencies and others are looking for cartographers to help produce maps.

GIS Specialist

City governments, county agencies, and other government agencies and private groups are often in need of experienced GIS professionals.


Agencies like the National Weather Service, news media, the Weather Channel, and other government entities occasionally need climatologists. Admittedly, these jobs usually go to those with meteorology degrees, a geographer with experience and vast coursework in meteorology and climatology would definitely be an asset.

Transportation Management

Like urban and city planning, there are opportunities in local government but regional transit authorities or shipping, logistics, and transportation companies look kindly to someone with transportation geography in their background and good computer and analytical skills.

Environmental Management

A large number of environmental assessment, cleanup, and management companies exist throughout the world today. A geographer brings excellent skills for project management and the development of reports like environmental impact reports. It's often a wide-open field with tremendous growth opportunities.


Becoming a high school or university geography instructor requires additional education beyond your undergraduate degree but it would certainly be rewarding to instill your love of geography with future geographers. Becoming a geography professor will allow you to research the world of geography and add to the body of knowledge developed by geographers.


For the population geographer who loves demographic data, what can be more rewarding than becoming a demographer and working for state or federal agencies to help develop population estimates and present data? The U.S. Census Bureau is one of the few entities that actually have a position titled "Geographer."

National Park Service Ranger

Are you a physical geographer who needs to be outside and couldn’t even consider working in an office? Perhaps a career in the National Park Service is right up your alley?

Real Estate Appraiser

Real estate appraisers develop an opinion of value for a specific piece of property. The work involves research into appropriate market areas, the assemblage of pertinent data, and the use of various analytical techniques to provide an opinion that reflects all pertinent market evidence. This multidisciplinary field incorporates aspects from geography, economics, finance, environmental planning and law. A solid foundation in geography is essential to a real estate appraiser’s success and typical appraisal tools include aerial photos, topographic maps, GIS and GPS.

Geography Faculty

• Ken Yanow, M.S., M.A. | ext. 5720 |

Geography Courses

• GEOG 100 Introduction to Geography – Physical Elements
• GEOG 101 Physical Geography Laboratory
• GEOG 106 World Regional Geography
• GEOG 110 Introduction to Oceanography
• GEOG 120 Introduction to Geography: Cultural Elements
• GEOG 130 Weather and Climate
• GEOG 145 Information to Mapping and Geographic Information Science (GIS)
• GEOG 150 Geographic Information Science and Spatial Reasoning
• GEOG 152 Advanced GIS – Project Design and Applications
• GEOG 153 GIS Internship
• GEOG 154 Introduction to Remote Sensing
• GEOG 155 Introduction to Image Analysis
• GEOG 160 Geography of California
• GEOG 295 Selected Topics in Geography
• GEOG 299 Independent Study

CTE (Career Technical Education) see: Geographic Information Science and Technology