Geographers and related scientists study landforms, waterways, climate, and soil. They also explore the relationships between people and their environments, examining the ways that geographic location shapes political and social practices.
As an online geography major, you could pursue studies that can help prepare you for an exciting career in Earth science, cartography, or urban planning.
Online Geography Degrees
Geography is a discipline that focuses on the Earth and the atmosphere. Studying for a degree in geography can let you learn about the physical features of the planet.
You can also gain a better understanding of the people groups who live on the Earth. Geography studies often address the relationship between people and their environments.
To earn a degree in geography, you’ll typically take classes related to physical and human geography. Physical geography has to do with the landforms and waterways that cover the planet. Human geography relates to politics, culture, and relationships.
As a geography major, you’ll also study climate and environment. You can explore how these factors influence the ways that people in a certain area live. The coursework can also address ways that human actions affect the climate and the environment.
Another component of geography studies involves Geographic Information System (GIS) technology. Data systems play a role in a variety of geography-related activities, including mapping and regional planning.
Some geography majors choose a concentration for their studies. Options vary from school to school but can include:
- Earth Science
- Environmental Geography
- Geographic Information Science
- Human Geography
- Physical Geography
- Urban Planning
Some colleges encourage geography majors to participate in study abroad opportunities or other field experiences. Those activities can allow you to apply your classroom lessons in a real-world setting.
After graduation, geography majors can work in a variety of fields. Some go into scientific pursuits, such as conservation science or soil science. Others pursue work in a surveying or mapping role. Another line of work that appeals to some geographers is urban planning.
Geography-related jobs are often offered by government agencies. Research and development, engineering, and architecture firms also hire for geography-related roles.
Geography Careers & SalariesGeography majors can pursue many different lines of work. Few roles for geography students have the word “geographer” in the title, but they still draw on the skills learned in a geography program.
Many geography graduates work as scientists of some sort. Examples of scientific specialties include conservation, atmospheric, environmental, soil, and plant science. Knowing how to use Geographic Information System (GIS) technology could be helpful in many of those fields.
Scientists with a geography background often hold government jobs. There may be federal, state, and local opportunities. Others are employed by nonprofit organizations, architectural firms, or research and development firms. Some even work as consultants.
Entering a scientific field often begins with working as a technician. For example, there are roles for soil science and environmental protection technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the life, physical, and social sciences pay a median annual salary of $69,760.
|Annual Median Salaries
|Urban and Regional Planners
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
|Soil and Plant Scientists
|Conservation Scientists and Foresters
|Environmental Science and Protection Technicians
|Surveying and Mapping Technicians
Mapping is a key focus for many geography students. There are jobs for surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists. Geographic information specialists are also included within this job category.
Your state may require licensure for some of these jobs, such as working as a cartographer. Entry-level roles in surveying and mapping often have the word “technician” in the title.
Some geography majors find work in urban and regional planning. Local governments typically hire for that role. A master’s degree is needed for many positions, but people with a bachelor’s degree in geography may work as assistants.
Geography Curriculum and Courses
Of the 120 credit hours typically required for a bachelor’s degree, 30 or more of them may be centered around geographical studies. Here are some examples of courses you may come across with a geography major:
- Climatology: You’ll study atmospheric conditions and weather patterns in various parts of the world.
- Environmental Science: Your time in this class will focus on environmental issues, climate change, and people’s relationship with their natural surroundings.
- Geographic Information Systems: You’ll learn about technological systems that record and organize geographic data for meaningful purposes.
- Human Geography: In one or more classes, you’ll focus on people groups and human systems that shape countries and cultures.
- Mapping: In this class, you’ll study the principles of cartography and learn about how to best use maps.
- Physical Geography: This lab course will introduce you to landforms and waterways of the world and touch on ways that the Earth’s physical landscapes influence people groups.
- Statistics in Geography: Taking this class will be an important step in learning to use geographical data for research and planning purposes.
- Regional Geography: In a course on regional geography, you may take an in-depth look at the geographical features, people, and climate of a particular area.
- Research in Geography: After learning about research methods used in this field, you may be tasked with developing a research project of your own.
- Visualization of the Earth: In this course, you’ll gain hands-on experience with using various types of images, such as aerial photos and satellite feeds.
Your curriculum can depend on factors like the specialization you choose and whether you pursue a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Geography.
Your path to a geography degree begins with college admissions. Applying for college may require submitting materials like those listed below:
- ACT or SAT scores (only some schools require them)
- Personal essay
- Reference letters from academic or professional supervisors
- High school transcripts and a minimum GPA of 2.0 or higher
In addition to these materials, you’ll also fill out a form with your basic information. There may be an application fee to turn in as well.
For a respected geography bachelor’s degree, it’s strategic to choose a program at a school with regional accreditation.
The process of accreditation involves reviewing a school’s academics and operating practices. Colleges that demonstrate their competence in these areas can receive the distinction of being regionally accredited.
Earning a degree from an accredited institution has both academic and professional value. In the academic world, it could help you qualify to transfer credits to another school or get into a graduate program. Professionally, an accredited degree might help you qualify for an advanced role.
Financial Aid and Scholarships
You may be able to secure financial assistance to help you pay for college tuition. To get started, you can fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
The government often gives grants and loans to qualifying students to help with college costs. Eligibility is commonly based on need. Both federal and state programs may be available to you. Colleges often distribute their own financial aid as well. You might receive an institutional scholarship for one or more years of your program.
Other organizations give out scholarships, too. Sources might include national clubs or local philanthropic associations. You might even find some scholarship programs that are specifically for geography students.
There’s also a chance that your employer can help you pay for school. Some workplaces have scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs available.
What Can I Do with a Geography Degree?
Some professionals with geography degrees work as geographers. They may be physical geographers who study the land, or they may be human geographers, studying ways that people interact with their environments.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most geographers work for the federal government. Another job for some geography graduates is cartography. Cartographers gather data and use it to create maps. Most cartographers work for local governments or architecture and engineering firms.
Some geography majors work in soil or plant science. That type of job might involve increasing crop production or encouraging sustainable land use.
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Is Geography a Good Major?
Yes, geography is a good major for many undergraduate students. There are a wide variety of applications for geography studies. Graduates could potentially work in environmental services, conservation, forestry, atmospheric science, or agricultural science. Other opportunities could include surveying, cartography, and regional planning.
Geography graduates tend to find work with the federal government or local governments. Federal jobs are often among the highest-paying roles in a job category. Geographers often conduct fieldwork. For those who like to spend time outdoors or travel to various places, that could be a nice job perk.
What Jobs Can You Get with a Geography Degree?
While considering your college major, you may wonder what you can do with a geography degree. Some geography students enter the field of urban planning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, senior planner roles usually require a master’s degree. Associate positions may be open to those with a bachelor’s in geography.
Foresters may have geography degrees, too. Foresters can protect tree populations, encourage growth, or oversee harvesting practices. They can work in parks or take care of trees in urban settings. Knowledge of Geographic Information System (GIS) technology is useful for these jobs.
Geography graduates can also pursue a career as an atmospheric scientist. They may study how weather affects landscapes and human activities.
How Much Do Geographers Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most geographers earn between $53,630 and $117,100 each year. At $92,080 per year, jobs for the federal government have the highest median salary.
Cartographers usually earn between $42,980 and $108,890 annually. Once again, federal government jobs pay the highest. The annual median wage for that employment category is $92,650.
Environmental scientists and specialists tend to make $42,960 to $129,450 each year. Positions within the federal government bring in a median annual pay rate of $103,180. Jobs in engineering services pay a median salary of $75,780 annually.
Is a Geography Degree Worth It?
Yes, a geography degree is worth it for many students. Today’s geography practices involve technological systems, and you can gain experience with these systems in a college geography program. As you study for a BA or BS in Geography, you can also learn to analyze data and statistics.
Many jobs in the geography field are growing. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects a 6% job growth for atmospheric scientists over the next ten years. The same is true for environmental scientists and specialists. Positions in environmental science are increasing at an 8% rate. Jobs for urban and regional planners are growing by 11%.
Universities Offering Online Bachelor in Geography Degree Programs
Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.
Arizona State University offers an online program for a Bachelor of Science in Geography. Students must complete 40 classes that are each 7.5 weeks long to receive the 120 credit hours needed to graduate. Applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, meet ACT or SAT score requirements, and be in the top 25% of their high school graduating class.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Fort Hays State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Geosciences with an emphasis in Geography. To graduate, students must obtain 120 credit hours. Applicants must have a GPA of 2.0 or higher and be in the top third of their graduating class, have an ACT score of 21, or an SAT score of 980.
FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Kennesaw State University offers a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. Students must complete 123 credit hours to graduate. Those interested in the program will be considered based on their SAT or ACT scores, their GPA, and if they have completed the 17 high school units required by the program.
Kennesaw State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Marshall University offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Geography, with the BA focusing on human geography and the BS focusing on physical geography. The degrees can be completed online and allow a maximum of 72 qualifying transfer credits. Applicants must submit high school transcripts and have a GPA of 2.0 or higher.
Marshall University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Old Dominion University offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Geography. Students may add a concentration in Urban Studies, Environment and Resources, or Geographic Information Systems. Official high school transcripts and SAT or ACT scores must be submitted when applying.
Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oregon State University offers a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Geospatial Science. The program can typically be completed in 4 years online. A minimum of 180 quarter credits are required to graduate. Applicants are accepted based on their high school GPAs, courses taken, admissions essays, and personal statements.
Oregon State University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
Park University offers a Bachelor of Science in Geography. The degree program requires students to complete a minimum of 34 credit hours related to the major with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. A capstone assessment is held during the final semester. Applicants may apply online with official transcripts from any schools attended.
Park University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
South Dakota State University offers both a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Geography.
Students must complete 120 credit hours and receive a grade of C or higher in all major-related courses to graduate. The school accepts students year-round and offers rolling admissions. High school transcripts and ACT scores must be submitted when applying.
South Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of Florida offers a Bachelor of Arts in Geography. The program can be completed online. Those interested in the program must have a high school GPA of 2.5 or higher. If the applicant graduated from high school within the past 5 years, then they need to submit SAT or ACT test scores.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Western Illinois University offers a Bachelor of Science in Geography Information Science. Students in the program have the option to study Geospatial Science or Geoenvironment and Planning.
To graduate, students must complete 120 semester hours. Applicants with a GPA of 2.75 or that graduated within the top 10% of their high school class are automatically admitted to the school.
Western Illinois University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your Bachelor in Geography Degree Online
Earning a degree in geography could help prepare you to work in an interesting field that can make a difference for people and the planet. Geography studies can often be applicable to environmental science, surveying, plant science, urban planning, and climatology.
If you’re ready to get started on your geography studies, you may want to take a look at the benefits of online education. A digital approach to college courses can enable you to take classes while also working full-time or managing home and life responsibilities. Online learning can be a flexible way to earn a reputable degree.
You can start checking out accredited colleges today to find online geography programs that best align with your personal needs and professional goals.
I hope you find this article helpful.