geography student, female, in front of Hepner Hall, arms open wide,

Major in Geography

Become a Geography Major at SDSU!

SDSU Geography is one of the oldest and largest Geography Departments in Southern California. Through classroom and laboratory experience, field work, and community involvement students are provided with the knowledge and skills required to appreciate the diversity of landscapes, people and places, the interdependence of places on the surface of the earth, and the spatial processes and relationships that affect contemporary society.

A Geography major will provide you with the education and skills to pursue a wide range of career options. Geographers pursue rewarding careers in education, business, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations.  In recent years many graduates with bachelor degrees have entered a wide range of analytical and planning careers, with job titles such as environmental policy analyst, urban/regional planner, cartographer, geographic information system (GIS) analyst/specialist, energy planner, water resources planner/manager, natural resource manager/planner, park specialist/planner, National Park Service ranger/administrator, habitat restoration manager, and non-profit organization planner/administrator. Some students go on to graduate programs in geography, public health, urban and regional planning and other related disciplines

 Please see our career information section for more information.

Advising

Dr. Molly (Pohl) Costello
Office: Storm Hall 301B
Email: [email protected]

Important Links:

Graduation Requirements

All candidates with a degree in Geography must complete graduation requirements in the General Catalog section on “Graduation Requirements.” These are in addition to the specific major requirements.

The language requirement is part of the Bachelor of Arts degree programs (with the exception of Foundations emphasis). Competency (successfully mastering the third college semester or fifth college quarter) is required in one foreign language. Refer to the section of the General Catalog on “Graduation Requirements”.
Passing the University Writing Examination, or completing one or two courses, depending on the score.
Passing Geography 395 and 495; 395, Introduction to the Major, is taken during the first fall semester upon entering the major, and 495 is taken during the spring semester of the calendar year in which the student expects to graduate.
Geography 101, 101L, 102, 104 (10 units) are required for all emphases; additional preparation courses are required for each of the emphases.

A student desiring to graduate with Distinction in Geography must meet the University requirements listed in the section of the General Catalog on “Graduation Requirements” and be recommended by the geography faculty.


Major Emphasis and Requirements

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Applied Arts and Sciences (Major Code: 22061)

This program provides students with an overview of the diverse fields of geography and exposes them to its breadth of methods. It is primarily designed for students transferring from a California Community College with an Associate Degree in Geography (AA-T) under the Transfer Model Curricula (TMC), which allows them to graduate with no more than 60 additional units. It is open to all students.

(SIMS Code: 112912)

A minimum of 32 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses: Twelve units of core courses (if not already taken). Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

This emphasis is concerned with human-environmental interactions, including the impacts of human activity on the earth and the consequences of environmental change on social life. Students will learn concepts and tools that help them understand and address contemporary environmental issues such as loss of biodiversity, pollution and natural resource degradation, water shortages, food and energy crises, resource conflicts, climate change, devegetation and many other compelling challenges facing society today and in the future. Through their coursework, they will investigate the cultural practices, social structures, and political-economic forces that shape the relationships between society and nature.

(SIMS Code: 112914)

A minimum of 41 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: 
Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses:
Twenty-one units of core courses (if not already taken). Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

This emphasis focuses on the various methods used by geographers to represent and analyze geographic information about the natural and social world. These methods include cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing, spatial statistics and qualitative analysis. Students in this emphasis will learn how to apply skills and use contemporary technologies to solve problems and conduct research. Students interested in the development of new geographic methods may consider the Bachelor of Science degree in geographic information science and technology, which requires additional courses in computer science.

(SIMS Code: 112953)

A minimum of 41 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: 
Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses:
Twenty-one units of core courses (if not already taken). Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

This emphasis deals with the spatial aspects of human existence: how people and their activities are distributed in space, how they use and perceive space, and how they create and sustain the places that make up the earth’s surface. It focuses on the connections between global and local scales and teaches students how to think geographically about global issues such as poverty, migration, environment and development, and changing technology. Human geography includes urban geography, political geography, demography, economic geography, political ecology, social and cultural geography, feminist geography and many other emerging fields, such as children’s geographies. It encompasses a variety of theoretical approaches and methods.

(SIMS Code: 112917)

International Experience:
Students in this emphasis are strongly encouraged to pursue an international experience to increase student awareness of cross-cultural and global issues, which are critical to their development as professional geographers and citizens in a complex and rapidly changing world. A variety of options, including short term and semester formats are available to meet the needs of different students, including those with family and work responsibilities. These options should be discussed with and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

A minimum of 44 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: 
Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses:
Twenty-four units of core courses (if not already taken). Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.



Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree in Applied Arts and Sciences (Major Code: 22061)

This emphasis addresses the theory and practice of information science from a distinctly geographic perspective, with a focus on principles, methods, and technology. Students become familiar with how to generate, manage and evaluate information about processes, relationships, and patterns in various application domains. This program is for students interested in analytical approaches to mapping, visualization, and problem solving using contemporary methods of GIScience, remote sensing, computer science, and statistics.

(SIMS Code: 112992)

A minimum of 41 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: 
Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses:
Twenty-one units from core courses listed above in group (e) Geographic Methods, if not already taken. Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

This emphasis focuses on scientific explanations of the earth’s physical features and processes and the human impacts on them. Students engage in classroom, laboratory and field activities in geomorphology, hydrology, watershed analysis, biogeography, climatology, and landscape ecology. Students in this emphasis will incorporate fundamental training in the physical and biological sciences with methodological techniques in spatial analysis, including the use of satellite imagery and geographic information systems, to study processes and resulting features of earth’s physical environment.

(SIMS Code: 11298)

A minimum of 41 upper division units in geography to include: 

Student Assessment: 
Two units; See Graduation Requirements above

Core Courses: 
Eighteen units, with at least three units from each of the following groups:

(a) Regional Geography: Geography 320, 321, 324, 336, 426;

(b) Human Geography: Geography 312, 340, 348, 353, 354, 440 [or Political Science 440], 454, 554, 573;

(c) Environmental Geography: Geography 340, 348, 370, 426, 454, 570, 572-575;

(d) Physical Geography: Geography 303, 375, 401, 409, 503, 506, 507, 509, 511, 512, 574, 576;

(e) Geographic Methods: Geography 380, 381, 383, 385, 484, 580, 581-594 [or Big Data Analytics 594]

Emphasis Courses:
Twenty-one units of core courses listed above in group (d) Physical Geography, if not already taken. Internship, senior thesis, special study, special topics, or study abroad, as well as up to three units from specific courses in biology, civil engineering, and geological sciences may be used to meet this requirement when appropriate and preapproved by the undergraduate advisor.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The application filing period for admission into San Diego State University is October 1 – December 15.

All applicants must submit admissions materials to Cal State Apply.

If you are accepted for admission to SDSU for fall, you will be notified in early March.

Set up an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor and discuss the choices of programs (B.A. or B.S.) and emphasis. Complete (with the Advisor) the Declaration or Change of Undergraduate Major and Minor Form and submit it to the Registrar’s Office in the Student Services Building.
Yes, the department has various email listservs. To be added to the undergraduate listserv, send your SDSUid address to Molly Costello or Harry Johnson and ask them to put you on the undergraduate email list. Then you will get all Department emails that go out to students.
Yes, the advisor can help you formulate an academic plan for your major. This will help you stay on track for graduation.
Yes, please see our scholarships page for more information. Most applications for SDSU scholarships are due in early February.

The Department of Geography has an active internship program, which can be selected as one of the electives completed for this degree (Geography 595). With an internship, students gain valuable career experience as well as build networking circles. Internships can be found by the department, or by the student, and the position must be relevant to the student’s program of study. Geography 595 is normally taken in the junior or senior year. It requires a minimum of 120 hours over a regular fifteen week semester (i.e. 8 hours a week). Internships can be taken during the summer with approval from the Internship Coordinator, Dr. Molly Costello.

Since Geography is such a broad and diverse topic, the jobs also range through many areas. Check out the alumni section of the Geography web page to see just some of the careers that Geographers have. Also, go to the Association of American Geographers web page to see the kinds of jobs that they list. Generally, Geographers work in many areas of planning – urban, environmental, regional, infrastructure (like transportation); they work in natural resources management, such as Forest Service, water planning and management, habitat management; they work in a great variety of GIS-related positions, which is the fastest growing field in Geography; and many others.


Learning Goals and Outcomes

  1. Adopt a global and interdisciplinary perspective that spans the social and physical sciences
  2. Understand the interrelationships and interdependencies between people and the environment, with the goal of creating sustainable futures
  3. Learn how to apply geographical and spatial analysis techniques to solve problems and address contemporary issues
  4. Use critical thinking to explore, analyze and interpret the world
  1. Spatial Organization: Use maps and other geographic representations to organize information about people, places, and environments (BA, BS)
  2. Global Patterns: Describe physical, environmental and/or socio-economic processes that shape patterns of the earth’s surface (BA, BS)
  3. Scalar Analysis: Analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments at a variety of scales (BA, BS)
  4. Population and Mobility: Examine the characteristics, distribution, and mobility patterns of human populations on the earth’s surface (BA, BS)
  5. Environmental Impact: Explain how human activities have altered the natural world, particularly in terms of resource use and ecosystem health (BA, BS)
  6. Sustainability: Interpret the complex relationships between nature and culture/society, especially as these relate to social and environmental sustainability (BA, BS)
Additional Bachelor of Arts (BA) Specific DLOs:
  1. Methods: Demonstrate knowledge of quantitative and qualitative geographic methods (BA)
  2. Critical Perspectives: Demonstrate knowledge of critical social and spatial theories (BA)
Additional Bachelor of Science (BS) specific goals:
  1. Methods: Demonstrate knowledge of methods and techniques in Geographic Information Science (GIS) (BS)
  2. Physical Science: Demonstrate understanding of physical sciences and mathematical principles as they play a role in shaping the earth’s physical environment and human spatial behavior (BS)

The curriculum map explains how the various courses in our program address learning goals for the major and at what level you might expect those learning goals to be addressed in a given course. The curriculum map is not the same as the degree map, by which you track your progress to degree in consultation with your advisor.

Levels of Degree Learning Outcomes

I = Introduced to the DLO; Students first learn about key ideas, concepts or skills related to the outcome. This usually happens at a general or very basic level, such as learning one idea or concept related to the broader outcome. This would be appropriate for most introductory courses.

D = Developed the DLO; Students gain additional information related to the outcome. They may start to synthesize key ideas or skills and are expected to demonstrate their knowledge or ability at increasingly proficient levels.

M = Mastered the DLO; Students are expected to be able to demonstrate their ability to perform the outcome with a reasonably high level of independence and sophistication. This would be appropriate for most upper-division courses.

Level 100 Classes

  BA and BS BA BS
1
Spatial
Organization
2
Global
Patterns
3
Scalar
Analysis
4
Population
and Mobility
5
Environmental
Impact
6
Sustainability
7
Methods
8
Critical
Perspectives
7
Methods
8
Physical
Science
101 I I I   I I I   I I
102 I I I I I I I I    
103 I I I   I I I   I I
104 I I I I I I I   I I
106 I I I I I I I I    
170 I I   I I D I      

Level 300 Classes

  BA and BS BA BS
1
Spatial
Organization
2
Global
Patterns
3
Scalar
Analysis
4
Population
and Mobility
5
Environmental
Impact
6
Sustainability
7
Methods
8
Critical
Perspectives
7
Methods
8
Physical
Science
303 D D D I D I M   M M
312 D M D D D D D   I D
320 D I D D D D I D I I
324 D D D D D D   D    
336 M M M M D D D   I D
340 D D D D D M I M I I
348 D D D D D D I I    
353 D M M D D D I D I  
354 M M M D M D D D I  
370 M D D D M M I I I D
375 D D D   D I       M
380 D   I       I D I  
381 M I D I     D I D  
382 D D D       D D M  
383     I       D   D  
385 D I     I       D D
395 I I I I I I I I I I

I = Introduced; D = Developed; M = Mastered

Level 400 Classes

  BA and BS BA BS
1
Spatial
Organization
2
Global
Patterns
3
Scalar
Analysis
4
Population
and Mobility
5
Environmental
Impact
6
Sustainability
7
Methods
8
Critical
Perspectives
7
Methods
8
Physical
Science
401 D M M I D D M I M M
409 D M M   M D D D D M
426 M   I D D D   I   D
454 D M D M M M D M    
484 M   D I I I D I D  
495             D   D  
496 This is a special topics class so the substantive content varies each time it is taught. These 6 outcomes will vary accordingly.

I = Introduced; D = Developed; M = Mastered

Level 500 Classes

  BA and BS BA BS
1
Spatial
Organization
2
Global
Patterns
3
Scalar
Analysis
4
Population
and Mobility
5
Environmental
Impact
6
Sustainability
7
Methods
8
Critical
Perspectives
7
Methods
8
Physical
Science
506 D I M D M D M   D D
507 M M M   M M        
509 M M M             M
511 D M D   D I       D
554 M M M M M M D M    
570 D D D D M M I D D D
574   D D   D D   D D D
576 D   D   D       M M
580 D D D       M   M  
581 M   M D     D   M  
582 D D D       M   M  
583 M I M I I   M I M  
584 M D M D D I M M M  
585 M D     D       M M
586 M D M D D D M M    
589 D   D   D D M   M  
590 This is a methods based class so the substantive content varies each time it is taught. These 6 outcomes will vary accordingly.
591 D D M D D I M I M D
592 M D M D M D M I M D
593 M   D   D D M   M  
594 M I D I I I M I M  
596 This is a methods based class so the substantive content varies each time it is taught. These 6 outcomes will vary accordingly.

I = Introduced; D = Developed; M = Mastered