Majors

Geography is simultaneously a social-behavioral and an environmental science.  Geographers describe, analyze, and explain patterns and processes of physical and human phenomena on the Earth's surface.  Penn State’s College of Earth and Mineral Sciences offers a strong mix of human, physical, and technical components that comprise the core of the geography major. Undergraduate degrees in geography are offered in the Bachelor of Science (BS) and in the Bachelor of Arts (BA). Both programs offer an integrated course of study in which students learn fundamental concepts in physical and human geography while developing technical proficiency. 

Bachelor of Arts in Geography

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in geography stresses the social and behavioral aspects of geography; the Bachelor of Science (BS) major stresses the discipline's environmental and technical perspectives. Both majors provide training in descriptive and analytical skills such as mapping and spatial analysis. Substantive course work in the Bachelor of Arts major focuses on the ways people have arranged themselves and their economic, social, and political activities on the surface of the Earth. Combining geography with other areas of study allows students to choose from a broad range of topics in order to suit their individual interests. The BA Geography major is especially appropriate for students seeking a deeper understanding of the human experience and for students intending to pursue postgraduate work in geography or related disciplines.

Bachelor of Science in Geography

The Bachelor of Science (BS) major stresses the discipline's environmental perspectives, while the Bachelor of Arts (BA) stresses the social and behavioral aspects of geography.  Both majors provide training in descriptive and analytical skills such as map reading, cartography, and statistics. Substantive course work in the Bachelor of Science major focuses on the ways people use environmental resources and how they arrange themselves and their economic, social, and political activities on the Earth's surface.  The Geography major can provide preparation for a career in business, industry, or government. Geographers with bachelor's degrees are currently being placed in federal, state, and local administrative and planning agencies and in private firms that specialize in planning and development or in environmental and socioeconomic analysis.

Those students seeking a Bachelor of Science degree have a choice of one of the four areas of concentration.

General option: This option is designed to serve the needs of students who want to learn about the various topics and perspectives that comprise the discipline of geography. The General option is appropriate both for students who intend to pursue postgraduate degrees and for students who want to emphasize a topic for which no option exists.

Geographic Information Science option: This option helps prepare students for entry-level positions in public and private mapping/remote sensing agencies and firms. This option is appropriate for students intending to pursue advanced degrees with specialization in these fields.

Physical/Environmental Geography option: This option is appropriate for students who want a broad understanding of the earth and environmental sciences in preparation for careers in industry, commerce, and government. The option is designed to develop competence in description, analysis, explanation, and management of problems arising from human use of natural resources and natural systems.

Human Geography option: This option is appropriate for students who want to study Economic Geography and Political Economy; Urban Development and Planning; History, Culture, and Politics; and Nature, Society, and Culture, applying geographical analysis to development opportunities and problems.

If you have questions about the geography major or its options, contact undergraduate advising coordinator Jodi Vender at jvender@psu.edu or 814-863-5730.