Undergraduate Degrees

The Department of Geography offers Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Arts degree programs, as well as geography minors.

What is Human Geography?

The Bachelor of Arts Degree in Human Geography provides comprehensive academic training in the human dimensions of the environment, particularly how people are affected by the environment and how humans alter and change it.  Human geographers describe, analyze, and explain the arrangement of Earth’s cultures and how they interact with the physical world.

What are my post-graduation opportunities?

Human geographers have a wide range of career opportunities in both public and private sectors.  They find work in consulting firms, government agencies, urban and regional planning, location analysis, marketing, real estate, transportation, and teaching.  Geographers are increasingly in demand to apply spatial techniques to diverse human fields such as health care, social services, urban renewal, and global cultural understanding.

What are the main areas of coursework?

Urban and Economic Geography – Learn the “hows” and “whys” of analyzing economic geographic patterns.  Globalization, urbanization, population migration, and human health are all important topics in this realm.

Nature-Society Studies – Learn how people in different parts of the world cope with their physical environment in terms of livelihood.  Agriculture and industrial change along with globalization are the primary human drivers of the economic-urban landscape.

Regional Geography– Learn how people and environments vary across the Earth’s surface.  Regional courses provide an in-depth study of local, national, continental and global nature-human interactions.

What are the major requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all BA Human Geography majors complete the following set of courses.

A.    Both of the following Human Geography courses:

  • GEO 113 Economic Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 151 Human Geography (3 credits)

B.     One of the following Physical Geography courses:

  • GEO 203 Introduction to Meteorology (3 credits)
  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits)  AND GEO 206L Physical Geography Laboratory (1 credit)
  • GEO 306 Environmental Geomorphology (3 credits)

C.    One of the following Regional Geography courses:

  • GEO 204 World Regional Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 330 Geography of the United States and Canada
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes
  • GEO 335 Geography of Latin America
  • GEO 336 Geography of Europe
  • GEO 337 Geography of Asia-Pacific
  • GEO 338 Geography of Africa
  • GEO 339 Geography of the Middle East and North Africa

D.    All of the following Geographic Techniques courses:

  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geography Information (3 credits)
  • GEO 221L Introduction to Geographic Information Lab (1 credit)
  • GEO 363 Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Geographers (3 credits)
  • GEO 480 Senior Seminar (3 credits)

E.     Minimum of 12 additional credits in geography courses including 6 credits numbered at the 300-level and 6 credits at the 400-level

 

What is Economic Geography?

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Economic Geography provides comprehensive academic training in applying the spatial perspective of geography to economic activities.  These activities are inherently spatial, and economic geographers describe, analyze, and explain factors affecting the location and movements of markets, goods, labor, capital investment, ideas, and how they interact. Emphasis is placed on how the human and physical landscape influences and is influenced by these forces, and their effects on people’s lives.

What are my post-graduation opportunities?

Economic geographers have a wide range of career opportunities in the public and private sectors.  They work in a variety of companies, NGOs and nonprofits, and government at all levels. They contribute to urban and rural economic development, transportation planning, the tourism industry; they analyze the effects of supply chains, plan logistics, and determine optimal locations for various economic activities.

What are the main areas of coursework?

Geographic Foundations:  Learn about fundamental geographic concepts and key actors in the global economic which range from firms, people, regions, and industry, as well as the challenges posed by globalization in ability of states to regulate the actions of these entities across nation-state boundaries.

Location Theory: Theoretical underpinnings of factors that drive the location and re-location of people, firms, and industry in the global economy.

Analytical Tools: Range of analytical tools ranging from geographic information systems (GIS), transportation and network analysis, and statistical models to visualize and model the economic activities of people, firms, and industry over space and through time.

What are the major requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all BS Economic Geography majors complete the following set of courses.

A.  Both of these foundational courses:

  • GEO 113    Introduction to Economic Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 151    Introduction to Human Geography (3 credits)

B.  Both of these Geography techniques courses:

  • GEO 221    Introduction to Geographic Information (3 credits)
  • GEO 363    Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Geographers (3 credits)

C.  Three of the following courses integral to Economic Geography:

  • GEO 413 Urban Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 414 Geography of Transportation (3 credits)
  • GEO 415 Location Theory and Land Use Analysis (3 credits)
  • GEO 418 The Ghetto (3 credits)
  • GEO 453 Metropolitan Environments: Urban Forms and Land Uses  (3 credits)
  • GEO 459 Tourism in Regional Development (3 credits)

D.  GEO 480 Senior Seminar (W) (3 credits)

E.  Six additional credits in Geography courses at or above the 300 level (6 credits)

F.  Two approved courses from other departments (6 credits minimum):

  • CE 341 Transportation Engineering (3 credits)
  • CE 448 Transportation Planning (3 credits)
  • CSUS 320 Environmental Planning and Management (3 credits)
  • CSUS 447 Community Economic Development (3 credits)
  • CSUS 474 Advanced Topics in Tourism Management (3 credits)
  • EC 301 Intermediate Microeconomics (3 credits)
  • EC 306 Comparative Economic Systems (3 credits)
  • EC 310 Economics of Developing Countries (3 credits)
  • EC 340 Survey of International Economics (3 credits)
  • EEP 320 Environmental Economics (3 credits)
  • UP 314 Methods for Investigation of Urban Systems (4 credits)
  • UP 353 Land Use Planning (4 credits)

Students in the Economic Geography BS may elect to complete an (optional) Cognate in Business. The requirements for the cognate are met by completing four of the following courses:

  • ACC 230  Survey of Accounting Concepts (3 credits)
  • FI 320  Introduction to Finance (3 credits)
  • GBL 323  Introduction to Business Law (3 credits)
  • MGT 325  Management Skills and Processes (3 credits)
  • MKT 327  Introduction to Marketing (3 credits)

What is Environmental Geography?

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Geography provides comprehensive academic training in the environment and how its many aspects interrelate across the landscape.  Environmental geographers describe, analyze, and explain the arrangement of the Earth’s physical features including atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine components and how they work together.  Emphasis is placed on how mankind is influenced by these forces and how humans may be altering the natural environment.

What are my post-graduation opportunities?

Environmental geographers have a wide range of career opportunities in the public and private sectors.  They find work in environmental consulting firms, government agencies, the tourism industry, the teaching profession, and in natural resource management.  Employers in the field increasingly recognize the need for broadly-trained environmental scientists who can bridge the gap between social science (geography, planning, land use) and physical science (geology, hydrology, geomorphology) aspects of natural systems.

What are the main areas of coursework?

Weather and Climate – Learn how the atmosphere works in terms of short-term weather patterns and long-term climate regimes.  Hydrologic cycles, weather prediction, climate change, severe weather, and modeling future climates are only a few of the topics available.

Geomorphology and Landforms – Learn how to “see” various kinds of landscapes, both on maps and satellite images and in actual field experience.  The evolution of mountains, rivers, coastlines, and floodplains and their influence on human activity are important topics.

Soils and Vegetation – Learn why some parts of the earth are forested and others are deserts.  The evolution of soils with different fertilities, colors, acidities, and other characteristics can be compared to the vegetation growing on them and the climate factors that influence them.

What are the major requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all BS Environmental Geography majors complete the following set of courses.

A.    Two of the following three courses:

  • GEO 203 Introduction to Meteorology (3 credits)
  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits) AND  GEO 206L Physical Geography Laboratory (1 credit)
  • GEO 306 Environmental Geography (3 credits)

B.     One of the following Human/Regional courses (3 credits):

  • GEO 113 Introduction to Economic Geography
  • GEO 151 Introduction to Human Geography
  • GEO 204 World Regional Geography
  • GEO 330 Geography of the United States and Canada
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes
  • GEO 335 Geography of Latin America
  • GEO 336 Geography of Europe
  • GEO 337 Geography of Asia-Pacific
  • GEO 338 Geography of Africa
  • GEO 339 Geography of the Middle East and North Africa

C.    Either of the following Geographic Technique courses (3 or 4 credits):

  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geographic Information (3 credits) AND GEO 221L Geographic Information Laboratory (1 credit)

OR

  • GEO 363 Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Geographers (3 credits)

D.    GEO 480 Senior Seminar (3 credits)

E.     Minimum of 12 additional credits in geography including at least 6 credits numbered at the 300-level and above and 6 credits at the 400-level

F.     Minimum of 9 credits in coursework from the College of Natural Science and/or the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the 300-level and above

What is Geographic Information Science?

The Bachelor of Science Degree in Geographic Information Science provides a rigorous, in-depth program for students interested in the application of information technology to the spatial dimensions of Earth’s human and physical systems. It is ideal for those pursuing a career in the rapidly growing spatial technology sector, or for those considering graduate study in Geography and related disciplines. Students attain substantial general quantitative and technical skills, as well as practical experience applying them to important problems in settings ranging from local to global.

What are my post-graduation opportunities?

GIS jobs are available in the public and private sectors from a large range of organizations. The geospatial technology sector has been growing at double digit rates for several decades. It is one of nine industries targeted by the Federal Government because it is important in shaping our future, and because organizations are hurt by critical shortages of qualified workers in this technology.

What are the main areas of coursework?

Geographic Information Systems – Learn the “hows” and “whys” of analyzing geographic patterns.  Work with computer software that allows “spatial overlay” of human and physical geographic phenomena and learn how to analyze spatial correspondence between them.

Remote Sensing – Learn how to interpret aerial and satellite imagery to detect geographic patterns on the earth’s surface.  Use these images as data input to a GIS system.

Cartography – Learn how to display geographic phenomena as maps.  Integrate maps as outputs of GIS analysis and learn about the many forms of cartographic display including cartographic animation.

What are the major requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all BS GISci majors complete the following set of courses.

A.    All of the following courses:

  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geography Information (3 credits)
  • GEO 221L Introduction to Geographic Information Lab (1 credit)
  • GEO 324 Remote Sensing of the Environment (3 credits)
  • GEO 325 Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)
  • GEO 363 Introduction to Quantitative Methods for Geographers and Planners (3 credits)
  • GEO 424 Advanced Remote Sensing (4 credits)
  • GEO 425 Problems in Geographic Information Science (3 credits)

B.    One of the following courses:

  • GEO 113 Introduction to Economic Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 151 Human Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes Region (3 credits)

C.    Two courses from the following:

  • GEO 423 Cartographic Design and Production (3 credits)
  • GEO 426 Thematic Cartography (4 credits)
  • GEO 428 Digital Terrain Analysis (4 credits)
  • GEO 429 Geoprocessing (3 credits)
  • GEO 453 Metropolitan Environments:  Urban Forms and Land Uses (3 credits; with permission of the Department)
  • GEO 498 Internship in Geography (3-4 credits)
  • Additional courses as approved by the student’s academic advisor

Disciplinary Teaching Minor in Geography

The Teaching Minor in Geography is designed to give students a well-rounded background in Geography targeted to teaching at the secondary level. The minor is available only to students pursuing a major in Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Science: Social Science Education, History with a teacher certification option or a James Madison major in Comparative Cultures and Politics, International Relations, Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy or Social Relations and Policy.

 

What are the teaching minor requirements?

All geography teaching minors complete a minimum of 22 credits, including:

A.   One of the following courses:

  • GEO 113 Introduction to Economics Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 151 Cultural Geography (3 credits)

B.   All of the following courses:

  • GEO 204 World Regional Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 206L Physical Geography Laboratory (1 credit)
  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geographic Information (3 credits)
  • GEO 330 Geography of the United States and Canada (3 credits)
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes Region (3 credits)

C.   One additional course in Geography at the 300 or 400 level (3 credits)

What is the Minor in Geography?

The Minor in Geography provides a fundamental foundation to the breadth of study within the field of geography as well as grounding in general geographic theory.  The minor is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs at Michigan State University other than the Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science Degrees in Geography.

What are the minor requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all Geography minors complete the following set of courses.

A.  A minimum of 9 credits from the following:

  • GEO 113 Economic Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 151 Human Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 203 Introduction to Meteorology (3 credits)
  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits)  AND GEO 206L Physical Geography Laboratory (1 credit)
  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geography Information (3 credits)

B.  A minimum of 3 credits from the following:

  • GEO 204 World Regional Geography (3 credits), or any 300-level GEO course
  • GEO 330 Geography of the United States and Canada (3 credits)
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes (3 credits)
  • GEO 335 Geography of Latin America (3 credits)
  • GEO 336 Geography of Europe (3 credits)
  • GEO 337 Geography of Asia-Pacific (3 credits)
  • GEO 338 Geography of Africa (3 credits)
  • GEO 339 Geography of the Middle East and North Africa (3 credits)

 C.  Complete a minimum of 9 additional credits in geography courses, of which 6 credits must be at the 400-level.  The courses must be approved by the student’s academic advisor.

What is Geographic Information Science?

The Geography Minor in Geographic Information Science provides a program for students interested in the application of information technology to the spatial dimensions of Earth’s human and physical systems. It is ideal for those pursuing a career in the rapidly growing spatial technology sector.  Students attain technical skills, as well as practical experience applying them to important problems in settings ranging from local to global.

What are the minor requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all GIS minors complete the following set of courses.

A.    Both of the following:

  • GEO 221 Introduction to Geographic Information (3 credits)
  • GEO 221L Introduction to Geographic Information Lab (1 credit)

B.     One of the following courses:

  • GEO 490 Independent Study (3 credits)
  • GEO 498 Internship in Geography (3 credits)

C.      At least 14 credits from the following courses:

  • GEO 324 Remote Sensing of the Environment (3 credits)
  • GEO 325 Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)
  • GEO 326 Cartographic Design and Production (3 credits)
  • GEO 363 Introduction to Quantitative Techniques for Geographers (3 credits)
  • FW 419 Application of Geographic Information Systems to Natural Resources Management (4 credits)
  • GEO 424 Advanced Remote Sensing (4 credits)
  • GEO 425 Problems in Geographic Information Science (3 credits)
  • GEO 426 Thematic Cartography (4 credits)
  • GEO 428 Digital Terrain Analysis (3 credits)
  • GEO 453 Metropolitan Environments:  Urban Forms and Land Uses (3 credits; with permission of Dept.)
  • GEO 494 Remote Sensing Field Techniques (2 credits)
  • Additional courses as approved by the student’s academic advisor

 

What is Environmental Policy?

The Geography Minor in Environmental Policy and Practice emphasizes study in environmental theory, philosophy, practice, policy, and applications from a social science perspective.  The minor is available as an elective to students who are enrolled in Bachelor’s degree programs at MSU.

What are the minor requirements?

In addition to the requirements for graduation established by the University and the College of Social Science, all BS GIS majors complete the following set of courses.

A.    Both of the following:

  • GEO 211 Environmental Policy and Practice (3 credits)
  • GEO 432 Environmental Ethics (3 credits)

B.     One of the following courses:

  • GEO 206 Physical Geography (3 credits)
  • GEO 333 Geography of Michigan and the Great Lakes (3 credits)
  • GEO 409 Global Climate Change and Variability
  • FW 444 Conservation Biology (3 credits)
  • GLG 201 The Dynamic Earth (4 credits)

C.      At least three of the following courses:

  • ANP 325  Anthropology of the Environment and Development (3 credits)
  • ANP 431 Gender, Environment and Development (3 credits)
  • EC 201 Introduction to Microeconomics (3 credits)
  • EC 251H Microeconomics and Public Policy (4 credits)
  • EC 335 Taxes, Government Spending and Public Policy (3 credits)
  • EC 425 Law and Economics (3 credits)
  • EC 435 Public Expenditures (3 credits)
  • EEP 255 Ecological Economics (3 credits)
  • EEP 320 Environmental Economics (3 credits)
  • ESA 440 Environmental and Natural Resources Policy in Michigan (3 credits)
  • ESA 460 Natural Resource Economics (3 credits)
  • FOR 466 Natural Resource Policy (3 credits)
  • FW 211 Introduction to Gender and Environmental Issues (3 credits)
  • GEO 419 GIS Applications to Natural Resource Management (4 credits)
  • GEO 453 Metropolitan Environments (3 credits)
  • GEO 454 Geography of Environment and Development (3 credits)
  • HST 391 Environmental History of North America (3 credits)
  • PLS 310 Public Bureaucracy in the Policy Process (3 credits)
  • PLS 313 Public Policy Analysis (3 credits)
  • PRR 302 Environmental Attitudes and Concepts (3 credits)
  • SOC 452 Environment and Society (3 credits)
  • UP 353 Land Use Planning (Joint with SSC) (4 credits)
  • UP 433 Introduction to Environmental Planning (3 credits)
  • UP 488 The Sustainable and Climate Resilient City (3 credits)
  • ZOL 446 Environmental Issues and Public Policy (3 credits)

 

Michigan State University offers an undergraduate concentration in Meteorology/Atmospheric Sciences through the Earth Science Interdisciplinary Program in the College of Natural Science. The concentration is intended to be a preparatory program for students who would like to go on to graduate school in atmospheric science. Students who graduate with this concentration will have completed the math, physics, and computer science necessary for consideration by a graduate program. The concentration is not intended to be an “official” undergraduate degree in meteorology. A student graduating from this program would not, for example, be qualified as a meteorologist in the National Weather Service. The requirements for the concentration can be found at the Office of the Registrar.

Please refer to the Undergraduate Handbook (in process of being updated for 2014-2015) as an important source of information that will answer many of your questions about our undergraduate programs. The handbook is intended to serve Geography students and faculty as a guide to the basic policies and procedures of the programs so that they will have a working knowledge of their opportunities, obligations, and responsibilities.