Undergraduate Program in Geography

Geographers are concerned with social, spatial and environmental processes in human and natural systems, with a focus on critical theory, practical application, analysis and interventions. Of central importance to the study of geography are relations between diverse social groups, as well as between people and their natural and human-built environments.

Coursework spans the social and natural sciences, and includes cartography and other technologies for analyzing spatial information. Many geography students combine majors and minors in other fields to prepare themselves for careers in environmental analysis and resource management; urban and regional development; international relations; conflict resolution; public service and more.

For more information about the Geography Major or Minor, or the Environment and Society minor, contact Dr. Peng Gao, Director of Undergraduate Studies, at pegao@maxwell.syr.edu.

Dr. Gao's office hours will be announced. Appointments are held in Eggers 144.

Use our check-list for undergraduate geography majors. (pdf)

View scholarships that may be appropriate or of interest to potential students.

Requirements for a Major in Geography

The program leading to a B.A. in Geography requires at least 33 credits in geography, 21 of which must be at the upper division level (i.e. 300-level or above). All students must take introductory courses in environmental studies; human geography; and physical geography, in addition to a techniques/spatial analysis course and a capstone senior seminar. Students are encouraged, but not required, to concentrate their remaining courses/credits in one of five areas:

  1. Environmental Systems and Landscape Dynamics;
  2. Nature, Society, Sustainability;
  3. Globalization, Development, and Citizenship;
  4. Culture, Justice, and Urban Space; and
  5. Geographic Information Science. 

The Department provides students who meet certain academic requirements, including independent research and a senior thesis, the opportunity to graduate with Distinction. Download a complete description of the Undergraduate Program for Distinction in Geography. (pdf).

Complete degree requirements for a Major in Geography are outlined in the Course Catalog.

Minor in Geography

To complete a minor in geography, students must complete 18 credits in geography courses, of which a minimum of 12 credits must be upper division (i.e. 300-level or above).

Minor in Environment and Society

The minor in Environment and Society requires the completion of 18 credits. Students must take an introduction to environmental studies and an introduction to physical geography. The remaining courses must be selected from a list of primarily upper-division environmentally oriented courses identified by the E&S Director and Steering Committee. At least two elective courses completed for this minor must come from departments other than Geography.

Complete  requirements for a Minor in Geography and a Minor in Environment and Society are outlined in the Course Catalog.