What Types Of Geography Degrees Are There?

"I find geography fascinating and have always loved maps and atlases and such. I was wondering what types of geography degrees are out there? I assume there is work in this field, especially with GIS and similar technology on the market nowadays. Are there a lot of specializations, or just one generic degree I would get and go from there? Thanks for any light you can shed on this subject. I want to make sure I get started on the right track to achieve success and enjoy a career doing what I love."

asked by Antonio from Myrtle Beach, SC

Geography degrees can either take the form of Bachelors Of Arts or Bachelors Of Science degrees. Bachelors of Science degrees usually involved studying physical geography, whereas BA degrees tend to focus on human geography. These are the two main divisions of degrees, and each would leave you in a different direction professionally. So it’s good to know the differences between the two in advance.

You will take courses in both areas, but how many classes you take in the sciences vs. the humanities will depend on whether you choose to pursue physical or human geography.

If you are interested in social sciences, you probably will enjoy studying human geography. This involves how human societies develop across geographical space, developing population centers, interacting with the land, and so on. Globalization, cultural change, and urban development are examples of areas you would study in this field. If however you are more interested in geology and physical sciences, you would probably prefer to study physical geography.

With a Bachelors of Science in geography, you would learn about climate systems, different types of rocks and minerals, how the earth has formed, plate tectonics, and active areas of the planet today.

Not all colleges offer a BS or a BA. Some may only give you one option, but if you have a choice, think about the occupations which interest you. Would you prefer to work in a scientific field, or get involved with urban planning? Other jobs in this field include cartographer, GIS specialist, climatologist, environmental manager, and transportation manager. Some geographers also work as writers or researchers.

While geography may not sound like the most obvious choice for a major, it actually can be a highly practical field to pursue a degree in, especially if you have a clear career path outlined in your mind.

I recommend that you do some research on the jobs that I just listed, and that you learn all you can about them. Figure out what you are interested in doing and how much opportunity there is. Once you find a job that sounds exciting and which offers you opportunity, you will know whether to pursue a Bachelors Of Arts or Bachelors Of Science in geography, and where to go from there.

An advisor can also help you to get started on the right track. I also recommend that you learn all you can about GIS; many of the jobs in geography these days involve advanced technical knowledge of emerging technologies.

Career Spotlight: Geographer

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