Plot your destiny at CMU. If you’d enjoy solving geographic problems in city government, business, scientific research or public land management, you’ll like our geography program with emphasis on geographic information sciences. You’ll acquire the necessary computer skills, learn to work in the field and office, and develop a mix of creative and technical talents.
Points of Pride
- With a 6-foot-long unmanned helicopter equipped with a high-resolution digital camera, CMU geography experts are leading the way in research imaging of Great Lakes coastal wetlands.
- Through CMU's Center for Geographic Information Science, you’ll gain hands-on experience using the latest GIS hardware and software to provide geospatial research tools for solving academic, governmental and industrial problems.
- The geography department offers small classes, field trips and opportunities to work in close collaboration with faculty on research projects. You’ll also gain professional development, resources and contacts through student organizations such as the Geography Club.
Put Your Degree to Work
The federal government employs about half of all geographers. Many geographers do fieldwork, which may include travel to foreign countries or remote locations. Employment of geographers is projected to grow 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for all occupations. Increasing use of geographic technologies and data will drive the growth.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics sample data
|Job||Median Pay||Job Growth through 2022|
|Geographer||$74,760 per year||29% (500 more jobs)|
|Surveyor/mapping technician||$39,670 per year||14% (7,300 more jobs)|
|Urban/regional planner||$65,230 per year||10% (4,000 more jobs)|
The course listings below are a representation of what this academic program requires. For a full review of this program in detail please see our official online academic bulletin AND consult with an academic advisor. This listing does not include the General Education courses required for all majors and may not include some program specific information, such as admissions, retention, and termination standards.
(Click on the course name or number for a complete course description.)
Geography Major: Geographic Information Sciences Concentration
Advisors: Becker, Heumann, Li, Patton, Tian, Wang, Zheng
Total: 45-46 semester hours
Core Courses I
Select one of the following:
An introduction to the physical processes of the atmosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere and the global distribution of climate, soils, and vegetation. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Satisfies University Program laboratory requirement. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
An introduction to the human use of earth resources and quantitative examination of select environmental issues resulting from the societal use/misuse of our planet. Quantitative Reasoning. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
Weather and Climate
Nature of atmospheric processes, weather, and climate - why and how they vary over the surface of the earth.
GEO 205/GEL 205
Introduction to the properties and movements of ocean waters; to marine life, the ocean floors, and the effects of the oceans on humans. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Identical to GEL 205, credit may not be earned in both courses. (University Program Group II-A: Descriptive Sciences)
Study of geomorphic processes affecting the evolution and distribution of landforms; quantitative study of the regional physical landscape; analysis of human-landscape interactions. Prerequisite: GEO 105 or GEL 101 or 100 or 105 or 130.
GEO 334/BIO 334
A lecture/field course introducing the physical, chemical, and biotic properties of soils, soil classification and mapping, and soil resource issues. Identical to BIO 334. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses. Prerequisites: CHM 120 or 131; one of the following: GEO 105, GEL 100, 101, 105, 130QR; or BIO 212, 213 with a C- or better.
Physical, biological and anthropogenic influences on the world distribution of plant and animal life. Prerequisites: BIO 111; One of GEO 105, 120QR, ENV 101 or ENS 101QR.
Core Courses II
Select one of the following:
Human Geography and Globalization
This course is an introduction to human geography that provides geographical perspectives on population, the economy, politics, urbanization, and culture. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. This course may be offered as writing intensive. (University Program Group III-B: Studies in Social Structures)
Food and Agriculture
Study of world production, exchange, and consumption of agricultural commodities with emphasis upon the problems associated with food shortages and the areas most severely affected. This course is approved for offering in an online or hybrid format. Recommended: One of the following: GEO 120, GEO 121, GEO 105.
Principles and theories of economic geography, the global interrelationships of regional and local economic activities, and the effects of technology on spatial economic structures. Recommended: GEO 121, junior standing, or at least 3 credits in BUS, FIN, ECO, or MKT. (University Program Group III-B: Studies in Social Structures)
Spatial patterns of fertility, mortality, and migration, and the processes underlying those patterns. Population growth, distribution, problems and policies. Recommended: One of the following: GEO 120, 121, junior standing.
The rise of cities and urbanization. Human use of urban space. The city as environment. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid formats. Recommended: GEO 121 or junior standing.
Areal characteristics and territorial problems of states, including internal regional relations, border disputes, and colonial areas. Selected world problems. Recommended: GEO 121.
Core Courses III
Select one of the following:
Geography of the Developing World
A geographic analysis of the developing world focusing on processes of environmental, demographic, and socioeconomic change, particularly since World War II. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Prerequisite: Junior standing. Recommended: 9 hours of social science courses.
United States and Canada
Physical environment, resources, economic activities, population patterns, and inter-regional relationships of United States and Canada. Recommended: One of: GEO 105, 120, 121, junior standing.
A Geography of Modern Europe
Geographic characteristics of the continent, its regions, and economic and political systems since WWII. National characteristics of culture, human/land relationships and international involvements. Recommended: GEO 121; junior standing. Although no prerequisites are expected, students should be familiar with concepts common to geography, regional and social sciences.
Geographic characteristics of Latin America from colonization to present. Regions are interpreted by analysis of geographical elements and their interrelationships. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Recommended: GEO 121 or at least 3 credits in a social science. (University Program Group IV-B: Studies in Cultures Outside of the Anglo-American Tradition)
China: Environment and People
Discussion of China's physical environment and the geographic patterns of social, political, and economic processes. China's dynamic roles in world geopolitics and global economy. Prerequisite: GEO 121 or junior standing.
Geographic analysis of the interrelationships between Michigan’s geomorphology, biogeography, climate, resource use and protection, agriculture, land division, transportation, demography, economic and urban development. Prerequisite: Junior standing.
Principles of Computer Programming
Algorithm development and problem solving methods. Design and development of computer programs in a structured programming language. Pre/Co-requisite: One of MTH 130, 132, 133, 217. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Introduction to Geographic Information Science
Fundamentals of geographic information science - including spatial data gathering, measurement, classification, analysis, display and map interpretation. Current computer mapping technologies are used in laboratory. This course may be offered in an online or hybrid format. Quantitative Reasoning. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Science)
Research Methods in Geography
Introduction to skills geographers use to conduct research. Examines major methods geographers use for obtaining, analyzing, and interpreting data. Prerequisites: 9 credit hours completed in GEO major/minor, or ENV major.
Geographic Information Systems
Concepts and applications of geographic information systems (GIS). Acquiring, organizing, managing, and analyzing geographic data; visualizing and communicating geographic information. Prerequisite: GEO 203QR.
Fundamentals of Remote Sensing
Introduction to the fundamental principles and applications of remote sensing of the Earth. Prerequisite: GEO 203QR. Recommended: One of: GEO 105, 120QR, ENS 101QR, GEL 130.
This capstone course solidifies advanced-level understanding of the discipline of Geography. Students apply geographic knowledge and methods to an advanced-level research project. Writing Intensive. Prerequisites: Senior standing with a minimum of 21 credits completed in the major.
Elementary Statistical Analysis
An introduction to statistical analysis. Topics will include descriptive statistics, probability, sampling distributions, statistical inference, and regression. Credit may not be earned in more than one of these courses: STA 282, STA 382, STA 392. Quantitative Reasoning. Prerequisite: MTH 130 or 132 or 133. (University Program Group II-B: Quantitative and Mathematical Sciences)
Select from the following in consultation with and approval of GISci advisor. A maximum of 3 hours of GEO 591 and/or GEO 597 may be applied to the concentration.
Advanced methods and theories concerning the field of cartography including: cartographic communication and visualization, digital map compilation and multivariate data representation. Prerequisites: GEO 303.
Advanced Geographic Information Systems
Advanced techniques of geospatial analysis, with applications in social and environmental systems. Prerequisites: GEO 303, 308; or GEO 501; STA 282 or 382 or BIO 500.
Mapping and Surveying Technology: CAD, GPA, and UAS
Concepts and practice of professional mapping technology including 2- dimensional ComputerAided Design (CAD), Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), and integration between technologies. Prerequisites: GEO 203QR, 303, 308; or GEO 501.
Applications of Remote Sensing
Applications of active and passive remote sensing to investigate patterns and processes of the environment. Prerequisites: GEO 303, 308; or GEO 501. Prerequisites/Co-requisites: STA 282 or 382 or BIO 500.
Quantitative Methods for Spatial Analysis
Statistical techniques for solving spatial problems. Descriptive and inferential spatial statistics. Spatial pattern analysis. Regression modeling with spatial data. Prerequisites: GEO 303, STA 382.
Geographic Information Systems for Social Sciences
Spatial data visualization and analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) with emphasis on application to social sciences, planning, public policy, and business research. Prerequisite: GEO 303 or GEO 501.
Advanced Remote Sensing Systems
Characteristics, processing, and applications based on advanced remote sensing systems including imaging radar, thermal and hyperspectral systems. Prerequisites: GEO 508 and STA 382.
Environmental Modeling with GIS
GIS model design and implementation as directed towards environmental issues. Raster data models, concepts, structure, functions, examples, and modeling capabilities are explored. Prerequisites: GEO 203, 303 and 305; or GEO 501. Recommended: GEO 503.
GIS Operations and Practices
Practices and procedures utilized by professionals in the implementation and maintenance of large-scale GIS operations. Prerequisites: GEO 503 or Graduate Status in the MS GISci Program.
Special Studies in Geography
See course search and registration.
Experiences in applying geographic techniques to environmental analysis, resource management, and business applications. Up to 3 hours of internship credit can be applied to the geography/earth science major. A full-time internship position for one semester may qualify for 12 hours of credit. Prerequisite: permission of program advisor.
Exploration of topics in geography agreed upon by student and instructor. Course may be taken for credit more than once, not to exceed nine hours. Prerequisites: At least 6 hours of Geography credit at the 400 level or above, permission of instructor.