Geography majors study more than textbook definitions at Boulder. The department uses the philosophy that students learn by doing, not studying.
In high school it often seems like history and geography go hand in hand. When it comes to college majors, however, geography gets its own department and its own degree. For future cartographers and students who enjoy figuring out the lay of the land, geography is the perfect mix of maps and field research.
Here are the four most popular geography programs for undergraduate students. And you don’t have to worry about charting a path to discover how much a geography degree costs – we’ve included each school’s tuition price as well.
4. University of Colorado, Boulder: $9,482 (residents), $31,378 (non-residents)
The University of Colorado, Boulder is home to one of the best geography departments in the U.S. Not only does Boulder consistently fall on “best colleges” lists, but the geography program is also ranked in the top three when it comes to placing graduates in academic-based careers. Geography students study a combination of human activity and the natural environment, and can specialize in areas like climatology, human geography, or regional analysis.
Geography majors study more than textbook definitions at Boulder. The department uses the philosophy that students learn by doing, not studying. This means undergraduates spend equal time in the field conducting research – and when they say field, they mean it literally. Students go on many field trips during their years at Boulder, and also conduct research out in the environment.
3. Middlebury College: charges a $55,570 “comprehensive” fee for tuition, room, and board
The mission of the Middlebury College geography department is to teach students the methods and importance of spatial theory and analysis. Like other social science programs, geography students learn about the human condition, thanks to the department’s focus on human geography.
Students in the geography program receive thorough training in geospatial methods, including GIS and cartography. The department faculty bases their lectures on their own research, teaching students about their own findings and current issues. Geography majors aren’t just expected to carry out their own research; they also act as research assistants for the faculty. If you’re interested in a government career, many Middlebury geographers intern with government agencies every year.
2. Clark University: $38,100
With only 3,000 students, Clark University is an excellent small school in many areas. The university was even ranked 86th in the nation in 2011. No matter their major, students are encouraged to take classes at neighboring colleges in Worchester, such as Becker College and College of the Holy Cross. Over the years, five Clark geography graduates have been elected to the National Academy of Sciences – more than any other college. The university is also home to the oldest PhD program.
Within the geography department, student research focuses on present day issues such as hunger, inequality, and climate change. Often, Clark geography majors co-author research papers that are published in professional journals. Students have access to state of the art technology, which is put to use in courses on digital image processing and geographic information systems.
1. Dartmouth College: $43,782
Dartmouth College is recognizable for many reasons, and it’s home to some of the oldest programs in the U.S. When it comes to geography, Dartmouth specializes in undergraduate degrees. No advanced degrees are offered at the college, meaning students are all on the same level in terms of learning and research. The geography department is also the only one of its kind in all of the Ivy League colleges.
Students are encouraged to double major, particularly in the environmental science and economics fields. The labs and other research areas at Dartmouth are more than simply impressive – majors have the opportunity to use remote sensing, tree ring, and cartography labs. If you want to study abroad, the college has a special geography facility in Prague.
- Geography students don’t spend all their time studying maps and terrains. The subject is closely tied to environmental science, so majors often take classes in global climate change, gentrification, and sustainable building.
- Worried geography isn’t a glamorous or popular major? Michael Jordan was a geography major, and even specialized in cultural geography.
- Geography has a lot of overlap with other majors. As a geography student, you might get to take classes in economics, astronomy, or even oceanography.
(Photo Credit: Colorado.edu)