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The top 10 reasons why You should Become a Geography Major at the University of Maryland. Dr. Ronald Luna, Undergraduate Director Rachel Berndtson , Senior Undergraduate Advisor Department of Geography University of Maryland Fall 2011. What is Geography?.

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the top 10 reasons why you should become a geography major at the university of maryland

The top 10 reasons why You should Become a Geography Major at the University of Maryland

Dr. Ronald Luna, Undergraduate Director

Rachel Berndtson, Senior Undergraduate Advisor

Department of Geography

University of Maryland

Fall 2011

what is geography
What is Geography?

Geography concerns the relations between people and the natural world, the effects of ecosystems on human beingsand vice versa, the choices people make, the effects of past actions on people today, and the effects of today’s choicesonfuture generations.

geography academic options


Geographic Information Systems

*Upcoming* Global Environmental Justice


*Upcoming* Society, Sustainability and Environmental Justice


*Upcoming* Geospatial Intelligence and Analysis


ENSP-Land Use

Geographic Information Systems











Geography Academic Options

technical skills

digital processing

spatial analysis

human-environmental interactions

Specialized subfields: urban, biogeographic, demographic

Ecological dimensions

Cultural dimensions

Regional dimensions

International dimensions

scientific underpinnings

societal impacts

policy responses

climate change,

sea level rise

greenhouse gas emissions

stratospheric ozone

oceanography and littoral processes

meteorological conditions

environmental policy as it relates to marine and coastal management

remote sensing observations

cartographic vector data

spatial analysis

Remote sensing

military analysis and intelligence

environmental monitoring


disaster assessments,

law enforcement

environmental justice

environmental resources location and use

1 rapidly expanding field of study
#1: Rapidly expanding field of study

Geographic Information Systems

  • Over the past 15 years there has been…
    • A “rapid pace of advancementsand increasing accessibility” to GIS tools and programming languages
    • Increasingly more accessible computer memory for GIS programs
    • Diffusion and adoption of GIS across academic and professional disciplines
    • A flux of massive governmental and commercial spatial databases
    • A significant increase in the public availability to high-resolution satellite imagery
    • The creation of specialized software suites for unique industries
    • The development of Internet tools for GIS data dissemination and visualization

(Sampson and Delgiudice 2006, 1446; Florance 2006, 222-223)

1 rapidly expanding field of study1
#1: Rapidly expanding field of study


  • Why Geography Matters…
    • “Geography is fundamental to the process of true education in that it serves as a springboard to virtually every other subject in the sciences and humanities” (McDougall 2001)
    • “Geography is vitalto the examination of economic competition, poverty, environmental degradation, ethnic conflict, health care, global warming, literature and culture, and, of course, international relations.” (McDougall 2001)
    • Geography is essentialto understanding and changing society (Massey 1984, 1)
    • Geographic knowledge is necessary to understanding industrial processes, economic mechanisms, poverty distribution, natural resource management, natural disaster response and mitigation (Massey 1984, 3, 6, 7)
2 all star faculty
#2: All-Star Faculty
  • Leadersof the field
    • Recently ranked THIRD BEST Geography department in the United States by the National Research Council
  • Great connections
    • “Graduate school and career letters of recommendation need to be different from those required for undergraduate admission” in that they must come from a professor “who can say something good about your potential for graduate or career research, experience with undergraduate research, or performance as a student.”


    • “Develop good relationships with your professors now.”
      • Dr. Kim Nickerson, Assistant Dean at the University of Maryland’s College of Behavioral and Social Sciences

…why does this matter?

3 ease of enrollment and degree completion
#3: Ease of enrollment and degree completion
  • Not a Limited Enrollment Program
  • No entrance exams or minimum GPAs
  • No specific CORE requirements
  • Manageable credit requirements: 50 Departmental Credits
    • Easy to transfer in as a junior or senior
    • Easy addition of minors or double majors
  • Several summer, winter and online course options
4 career opportunities
#4: Career Opportunities
  • Cross disciplinary
    • Government: federal and state (DoD, EPA, BLM, USGS, NASA, NGA, USAID)
    • Corporate (Google, Lockheed Martin, ESRI)
    • Non Profit (World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Amnesty International, The Holocaust Museum)
    • Academic: Universities (teaching, researching), High School, Middle School
    • Physical: land use/land cover change, wildlife habitats, climate change, earth systems science
    • Human: political analysis, cultural analysis, census tracking, transportation systems, corporate strategizing, ethnic disputes, educational change, health access
5 internship opportunities
#5: Internship Opportunities
  • Expanding number of new internship opportunities
    • (private, nonprofit and government sectors)
    • Fall/Winter/Spring/Summer internships
  • Bi-annual Geography Career Fair
    • specifically designed for and open to Geography/GIS students
  • Up to 6 credits for internships (GEOG384, GEOG385)
  • Internship opportunities easily accessible
    • proximity to DC/MD/VA offices

Why is this important?

6 undergraduate research opportunities
#6: Undergraduate Research Opportunities
  • Honors Program (GEOG396, GEOG397)
  • Independent Studies Program (GEOG 398, GEOG498)
  • Opportunities to submit research for cash rewards
  • (Funded) Opportunities to present at national academic meetings
  • Why is this important?
    • Research at the undergraduate level is no longer seen as giving students an “edge” at graduate schools and job opportunities, but rather “many graduate schools and employers have come to expect it” (Webb 2007)
    • Dr. Michael Doyle, former president of the Council on Undergraduate Research and chemistry professor at the University of Maryland: “undergraduate research experience can help recent science grads land interviews (and even jobs) in the industry and compensate for the ‘years of experience’ listed in a job advertisement” (Webb 2007)
7 state of the art technological facilities and skills training
#7: State of the art technological facilities and skills training
  • Student computer labs
    • Access to latest GIS, Remote Sensing and Programming software
      • ArcGIS, ENVI, ERDAS, Visual Studio, S-Plus
7 skills t raining through gis courses
#7: Skills Training through GIS Courses
  • GEOG373
  • GEOG473
  • GEOG475

Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis

Prerequisite: GEOG306 and GEOG373. Credit will be granted for only one of the following: GEOG473 or GEOG482. Formerly GEOG482. Analytical uses of geographic information systems; data models for building geographic data bases; types of geographic data and spatial problems; practical experience using advanced software for thematic domains such as terrain analysis, land suitability modeling, demographic analysis, and transportation studies.

Geographic Information Systems

Characteristics and organization of geographic data; creation and use of digital geospatial databases; metadata; spatial data models for thematic mapping and map analysis; use of geographic information system in society, government, and business. Practical training with use of advanced software and geographic databases.

Computer Cartography

Prerequisite: GEOG306, GEOG373 or equivalent The principles of designing maps for publication in print media, including books and atlases. The selection of symbols, colors, letter- ing, map projections, and map content. Constraints and problems in the classification and representation of map data.

7 skills training through remote sensing courses
#7: Skills Training through Remote Sensing Courses
  • GEOG372
  • GEOG472

Remote Sensing

Principles of remote sensing in relation to photographic, thermal infrared and radar imaging. Methods of obtaining quantitative information from remotely-sensed images. Interpretation of remotely-sensed images emphasizing the study of spatial and environmental relationships.

Remote Sensing: Digital Processing and Analysis;

Prerequisite: GEOG306, GEOG372 or equivalent. Credit will be granted for only one of the following: GEOG472 or GEOG480. Formerly GEOG480. Digital image processing and analysis applied to satellite and aircraft land remote sensing data. Consideration is given to preprocessing steps including calibration and geo registration. Analysis methods include digital image exploration, feature extraction thematic classification, change detection, and biophysical characterization. One or more application examples may be reviewed.

7 skills training through programming and modeling courses
#7: Skills Training through Programming and Modeling Courses

Introduction to Computer Programming in GIS

Prerequisite: GEOG306, GEOG373 or equivalent. An introductory programming course for geography. Introduces the concepts of computer programming as applied to Geography

  • GEOG376
  • GEOG476
  • GEOG498N

Topical Investigations: Conceptualizing and Modeling Human-Environmental Interactions

Advanced Computer Programming in GIS Prerequisite: GEOG306, GEOG373, GEOG376 or equivalent. An advanced programming course for geography . Implementation language is Visual Basic

8 study abroad opportunities
#8 Study Abroad Opportunities
  • Italy: GEOG328G
  • Croatia: GEOG 498A
  • Puerto Rico: GEOG 328
  • Southern Caribbean: GEOG328
  • …and more on the way!
9 diversity of coursework
#9: Diversity of Coursework
  • Physical course examples:
    • GEOG340, GEOG342, GEOG415
  • Human course examples:
    • GEOG328B, GEOG410, GEOG435
  • GIS course examples:
    • GEOG373, GEOG473, GEOG475
  • Remote Sensing course examples:
    • GEOG372, GEOG472
  • Programming and Modeling course examples:
    • GEOG376, GEOG476, GEOG498N
10 a multi disciplinary subject
# 10: A Multi-Disciplinary Subject

Check the following website for additional specialty groups

come see us
Come See Us!

For more information on the Geography and GIS majors at the University of Maryland, please come to the Department of Geography’s Advising Office:

2108 LeFrak Hall


  • Florance, P. 2006. GIS collection development within an academic library. Library Trends 55(2): 222-235.
  • Massey, D. 1984. Introduction: Geography matters. In Geography matters! A reader eds. D. Massey and J. Allen, 1-12. New York: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge.
  • McDougall, W. A. 2001. Why geography matters. American Educator 25(1): 10.
  • Nickerson, K. “Towards a Career in Research: The Value of Undergraduate Research,” Geography 212 Lecture, University of Maryland. College Park. 21 September 2010.
  • Sampson, B. A. and G. D. Delgiudice. 2006. Tracking the rapid pace of GIS-related capabilities and their accessibility. Wildlife Society Bulletin 34(5): 1446-1454
  • Webb, Sarah, “The Importance of Undergraduate Research,” Science Careers, July 06, 2007, accessed September 17, 2010,