Geography matters! In resource management, business, urban planning and information technology, geography is essential for location and environmental decision-making.
Geographers are especially concerned about the type of society we build and how human activities shape community, regional and national landscapes. Information about human-environmental relations is gathered and analyzed from a variety of sources to develop geographic knowledge and understanding.
Courses in the Geography Program develop critical thinking skills in writing and teach students how to use the most advanced computer technologies. Students may specialize in one of three areas: geographic information science (GIS); globalization and development; and global environmental change. In addition, students may design their own programs with faculty approval.
Geographic information systems: GIS encompasses digital mapping, geographic information processing and analysis, remote sensing, global positioning systems and related topics. Students may add statistical and computer-oriented analysis and modeling and technical and managerial issues of GIS in their course work. The Department houses the state GIS Technical Center, in addition to computer facilities for teaching and research. Practical experience is available through various University research projects or internships with state and local agencies. Additional recommended courses are in computer science, statistics, mathematics and resource economics.
Global environmental change: with expertise in both physical and social sciences, geographers are in a good position to analyze global changes affecting Earth’s environment, such as climate change and its impacts, invasive species and urbanization. This option emphasizes the interaction between natural resources, the physical and biological environment, and human activities in developed and developing regions. It provides training for students interested in problems concerning the conservation of natural resources, environmental impact and economic development and strategies for sustainable resource utilization. Geographical information science, remote sensing and cartographic training are available for analyzing environmental problems resulting from the use and management of energy, mineral, land and water resources. Theoretical issues concerning political ecology are also provided.
Globalization and development: the globalization and development option emphasizes rural, urban and regional development in a global context, with regional expertise in the United States, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Europe. Theoretical and practical issues in the study of development and underdevelopment are raised. The training provided will equip students with a background for careers or advanced study in economic development, sustainable development and policy, third world planning, urban social planning, gender studies and policy formation. Students are exposed to issues such as social equity vs. efficiency, community development, uneven development and gender studies. Students are encouraged to participate in the internship to gain practical experience in planning and regional development.
The number of geographers finding employment has expanded rapidly in the last few years because of the rise of GIS. Job candidates can expect to encounter keen competition, so skills development and flexibility are important. Many graduates will find good employment opportunities in areas outside social science, often in jobs related to social science where their research, information technology, communication and quantitative skills can be put to good use. Prospects generally are better for students who have had opportunities in nonacademic settings, such as through the internship program. Government agencies, health and social service organizations, marketing, research and consulting firms, and a wide range of businesses seek geography graduates, often in jobs with titles unrelated to their academic discipline. Geographers face stiff competition for academic positions. However, the growing importance and popularity of social science subjects in secondary schools is strengthening the demand for social science teachers.
Sample Course Schedules
Wondering what your typical day might be like? We used students’ real course schedules to create these examples.
Freshman YearGEOG 107 Physical Geography STAT 111 Understanding Statistics GEOG 149 Digital Earth Lab GEOG 106 Physical Geography Laboratory GEOG 150 Digital Earth
Senior YearGEOG 496 Senior Thesis GEOG 455 Introduction to Remote Sensing GEOG 321 Geomorphology GEOG 454 Environmental GIS GEOG 407 Environmental Field Geography
English Proficiency Requirements
All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.
WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.