Emphases: Human-Environment Geography; Geographical Analysis and Bioregional Planning; Physical Geography
Department: Environment and Society Department
College: S.J. & Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
Geography is the study of the relationships between human society and the physical environment. Geography involves environmental studies, human impact on the environment, availability and location of the earth's resources, physical processes that occur at the earth's surface, and the spatial interactions among society and the physical environment.
The College of Natural Resources conducts extensive research and development in the geographic information sciences. It works extensively with the Environmental Systems Research Institute software company to assure that graduates of the geography program gain proficiency in the latest tools for analyses of geographic information and mapping of the earth's surface.
Students must choose an emphasis.
In addition to completing the 14-credit geography core, all students must complete 48 credits in one of the following emphasis areas.
- Human-Environment Geography: This emphasis provides a broad overview of the relationships between humans and their environments across different cultures, economies, and geographic locations around the globe. It requires an understanding of the dynamics of geology, meteorology, hydrology, biogeography, ecology, and geomorphology, as well as the ways in which human societies conceptualize the environment.
- Geographical Analysis and Bioregional Planning: This emphasis assists students in gaining a solid foundation of geographic information analysis and the skills needed for regional planners. Areas of study include geography, natural resources, landscape architecture, and city and regional planning.
- Physical Geography: This emphasis focuses on physical processes on a landscape scale. Students gain proficiency in geographic information sciences and are exposed to processes of landscape geomorphology and hydrology. Students completing this emphasis will have strong quantitative skills, will be versed in spatial analysis, and will gain an understanding of the interactions of the physics, chemistry, and biology inherent in earth ecosystems.
With a degree in geography, graduates can pursue the following careers:
Human-Environment Geography Emphasis
- Community planning and development
- Travel and tourism
- Environmental protection
- International aid
- Local government departments or agencies responsible for transport, tourism, housing, environmental services, recycling, sustainability, regeneration, economic development, etc.
Geographical Analysis and Bioregional Planning Emphasis
- Community planning and development
- GIS specialist
- Transportation management
- Environmental consultant
- Aerial photographic technician
Physical Geography Emphasis
- GIS specialist
- Environmental management
- Cartographic technician
- Laboratory assistant
Career Services provides counseling and information on hundreds of job and internship opportunities and even helps students apply and interview.
In addition to Utah State University’s admissions requirements, the geography program has special requirements:
- Freshmen: New freshmen admitted to USU in good standing qualify for admission to this major.
- Transfer Students: Transfer students from other institutions or from other USU majors need a 2.5 total GPA for admission to this major.
International students have additional admissions requirements.
Professional Organizations, Honor Societies, and Clubs
Association of American Geographers: AAG is a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. For 100 years, the AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography.
International Association for Society and Natural Resources: IASNR is an interdisciplinary professional association open to individuals who bring a variety of social science and natural science backgrounds to bear on research pertaining to the environment and natural resource issues.
Student Organization for Society and Natural Resources: SOSNR was established in 2003 to promote opportunities for service in the community, provide forums for individuals to present research, and give students opportunities to participate in conferences to help further their academic careers.
Student Sustainability Council: The Student Sustainability Council is a student organization devoted to promoting sustainability on campus, educating the student body and the local community, and giving students the opportunity to serve in areas related to sustainability.
Aggie Recyclers: Aggie Recyclers is a club designed to serve the community and the environment, accomplished through educating people how to live in a sustainable way. The club is very involved with recycling on campus as well as promoting other sustainable practices. In addition to raising awareness, it also participates in a variety of service activities.
Labs, Centers, Research
With the second oldest undergraduate research program in the nation, USU offers students a wide range of opportunities to gain hands-on research experience. USU’s Honors Program prepares students for excellent graduate programs by helping them build relationships with professors, participate in research projects, take smaller, more intensive classes, and develop leadership skills.
Ecology Center: The Ecology Center is an administrative structure in the university that supports and coordinates ecological research and graduate education in the science of ecology and provides professional information and advice for decision makers considering actions that affect the environment. The Ecology Center at USU has had a string of directors known nationally and worldwide as premier scientists in the field of ecology, and students graduating with a degree in ecology are able to make important contacts with influential faculty that can help them go on to prestigious post-doctoral programs and faculty positions at universities around the world.
Energy Dynamics Laboratory: EDL bridges the gap between academia and industry, confronting the challenges of prototyping, deployment, and commercialization of enabling technologies for renewable and advanced energy systems. USU researchers originate projects to derive energy from non-fossil fuels, such as biofuels, wind, and solar power. With EDL’s collaboration, research develops through pilot projects to commercial application.
Institute for Natural Systems Engineering: The INSE is a recognized leader in the development, testing, and application of multi-disciplinary assessment methods for aquatic ecosystems and instream flow assessment methodologies.
Remote Sensing/Geographic Information Systems Laboratory: The RS/GIS advances knowledge in the application of geospatial technologies in ecosystem science and natural resource management. The lab conducts research to meet the requirements of contracting agencies, which include the USDI Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Guard Bureau, the U.S. Geological Survey, NASA, and various state and international agencies and organizations.
S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney Natural Resources Research Library: The Quinney Library maintains collections of materials pertaining to natural resources and the environment in a number of formats that support the programs of study and research in the College of Natural Resources and several partnering centers. The library has more than 60,000 items, both print and electronic, as well as videos, images, and more.
Utah Center for Water Resources Research: The UCWRR facilitates water research, outreach, design, and testing elements within a university environment that supports student education and citizen training.
Utah Climate Center: The UCC facilitates access to climate data and information and uses expertise in atmospheric science to interpret climate information in an accurate and innovative fashion for the public. The mission includes the design of new products to meet present and future needs of agriculture, natural resources, government, industry, tourism, and educational organizations in Utah and the Intermountain region.
Utah Water Research Laboratory: The UWRL works on nearly 250 water-related projects a year and has projects in all of Utah’s 29 counties and more than 40 countries. The lab is one of the go-to places that addresses the technical and societal aspects of water-related issues, including quality, quantity, and distribution of water.
Water Initiative: Utah State University supports a broad community of students and faculty engaged in water education, research, and outreach. The USU Water Initiative provides an overarching umbrella for the activities of this community aimed at fostering interdisciplinary collaboration and collegial sharing of ideas related to water across the departments and colleges of USU.