Geographers study the physical and human features of the earth, concentrating especially on explaining the location of these features and on the environmental relationships among them. In doing such studies, geographers integrate the theories of the physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, and the humanities. Those geographers who emphasize the study of the earth's physical features (such as landforms, vegetation, and climate) focus on the processes that produce these features. As social scientists and humanists, human geographers explore such topics as the arrangement of people on the earth's surface, land use patterns, urbanization, resource and energy usage, and environmental conservation.

Because geography is so varied and offers such a wide range of careers upon graduation, geographers have diverse abilities, such as protecting and managing natural resources, planning for workable and enjoyable cities, utilizing computer technologies, working toward clean and healthy environments, and helping people in developing countries improve their lives. The geography student is creative, enjoys challenges, can learn through observations and research, and enjoys the satisfaction of improving conditions in our societies.

Program Overview

SDSU's Geography Department is well known throughout the United States, and students are from many different states, as well as from different countries. The SDSU geography major offers a broad range of fields from which to select a specialization, and the faculty members are equally diverse and recognized in their specializations. The specific fields include a B.S. in geographic information science and a B.A. in one of the following emphases: general geography (the study of both physical and cultural aspects of geography); physical geography (emphasizing a scientific study of the earth's features); natural resource and environmental geography (concerned with human impacts on the earth); urban and regional analysis (dealing with modern planning technologies and solutions in the development of cities); and methods of geographical analysis (providing a background in geographic information systems, cartography, spatial statistics, and remote sensing). Majors must complete a program in one of the above fields.

The Geography Department also offers a Certificate in Geographic Information Science. Geography majors and other students who are interested in learning about mapping from satellites, atlas production, terrain analysis, computer graphics, surveying, and aerial photography should consider this program.

Special Features

  • Student organizations include the Geography Club, for all students in geography courses and students chapters of professional organizations such as the Association of Environmental Professionals. Gamma Theta Upsilon, the honorary geography society is open to those students who maintain a 3.0 grade point average in their major course work.
  • The Geography Department has excellent computer graphics facilities in its Center for Earth Systems Analysis Research and the Spatial Analysis Lab. These facilities support instruction and research pertaining to computer cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing/image processing, and spatial statistics.
  • Internships are available with the coordinator's consent. Students can work in various government agencies and private companies under joint supervision of agency heads and the course instructor. These internship programs provide not only credits toward graduation, but also practical training for a future career in geography.
  • The offices of the Geography Department provide a comfortable reading room with couches, tables and chairs that are available at any time for studying and small group projects.

Career Opportunities

Upon graduation, many types of careers are available to geography students. Every year during National Geography Awareness Week, the department hosts a career workshop and brings in professionals from geography-related careers to speak to the students about career opportunities. One of the fastest growing careers is in the GIS field, with students obtaining jobs in many different public and private agencies that utilize the GIS technology. For instance, SDSU geography students have found GIS-related jobs in natural resource agencies, defense-related companies, the Navy, environmental and planning companies, among others.

Jobs have consistently been available in the environmental and planning areas for the natural resources and urban geographers, such as environmental consulting firms, urban and transportation planning firms, Caltrans, National Park Service, California State Parks and Recreation, MTDB, SANDAG, and other public and private agencies. The Geography Department has a strong internship program, and students often obtain permanent positions in these companies.

To further explore career options in this field, visit the Career Services Web site for more information.

General Catalog

You can view more complete information regarding the Geography program in the General Catalog. All students are responsible for reading and knowing the information pertinent to their areas of study available in the General Catalog. It contains requirements for all academic majors, course descriptions, policies, and regulations governing progress at the university. Catalogs are distributed at all New Student Orientation programs. To order a General Catalog, call (619) 594-7535.