Undergraduate Program

B.A. in Geography
The MU Department of Geography offers a B.A. degree that prepares students for a variety of professions including careers in environmental impact assessment, mapping, remote sensing, geographic information analysis, government service, military intelligence, as well as education.  Geographers are interested in a wide range of topics and often work in interdisciplinary teams that analyze challenges like environmental change, resource use, and economic issues in an increasingly interdependent world.

A strength of the department is that “big school” research facilities are combined with “small school” faculty-student interaction to build a strong sense of community.  Classes are typically small in size and taught by faculty emphasizing hands-on learning techniques.  Students complete many of their assignments in a state-of-the-art computer laboratory.  Whether students are interested in human geography, environmental problems, or geographic analysis, MU Geography has the facilities and faculty to guide them through the sometimes intimidating task of completing a degree.

Undergraduate emphasis areas of study include:

Human, Regional and Cultural Geography

Students studying human geography are trained to understand and analyze the social and cultural elements which generate regional differences.  Assessing population patterns, political activity, urban planning, and linguistic distributions are included in this area.

Geographic Information Systems

The study of GIS trains students to address the variety of technologies revolutionizing geographic analysis such as GIS, Global Positioning Systems, remote sensing, computer assisted cartography and spatial statistics

Physical and Environmental Geography

Physical and environmental geography emphasizes the complex interactions between the natural world and human behavior.  Students learn to identity, delineate, and manage a range of environmental problems facing society from climate and vegetation change to river management.

Certificates in Geographic Information Systems and Geospatial Intelligence are also offered. 

GIS Certificate

The GIS Certificate Program is an interdisciplinary program designed to provide students with the theoretical, practical and technical skills essential for analysis of spatial data. The program offers the training and experience necessary to prepare for the rapidly expanding professional opportunities available in the diverse fields that depend on geographic information.  All MU undergraduate students may earn the GIS certificate by completing 15 hours of approved coursework with a grade of B or better.

Geospatial Intelligence Certificate

The Geospatial Intelligence Certificate Program provides undergraduate students technical and analytic skills necessary to begin a career in the rapidly growing field of geospatial intelligence.  Geospatial intelligence (GeoINT) is a discipline comprising the exploitation and analysis of geospatial data and information to describe, assess, and visually depict physical features and geographically referenced activities on the Earth. GeoINT sources include imagery and mapping data, whether collected by commercial satellite, government satellite, or by other means, such as reconnaissance aircraft.  Eligibility for the GICP is established by admission to MU for any undergraduate degree program. After this, an undergraduate student must be complete a minimum of 21 hours of approved coursework, and must earn a grade average of at least B in these courses.  The MU GICP is accredited by the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation.

An internship program is available through Geography 4945.  Jobs in the mapping sciences and GIS are rapidly expanding for geography graduates.  Students are encouraged to contact the department and potential employers early in their program of study because special course work may be required for certain jobs.  Recent MU Geography students have interned with companies and government agencies including National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, GeoEye, Bureau of Land Management, PedNet Coalition, Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, Missouri Parks Association, City of Columbia, and Boone County.

MU Geography students learn to creatively think through and solve social, environmental, and spatial problems in three dimensions.  The result is that geography majors receive marketable skills during their undergraduate experience.  Recent graduates work for companies such as ESRI and Garmin.  MU geography graduates have also found employment with government agencies, including the National Park Service, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, U.S. Geological Survey, Missouri Department of Natural Resources, and Missouri Department of Transportation.  Recent alumni of the program earn full-time average salaries of approximately $40,000-60,000.  

Geography student organizations include Gamma Theta Upsilon (a geography honor society) and the MU Geography Club.  Each group plans social (field trips, dinners), academic (guest speakers, attending conferences), and service learning (volunteering, environmental awareness) activities each semester.

Students wishing to declare Geography as a major or second major should follow the following steps.

  1. Make an appointment with the department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dr. Doug Hurt, hurtd@missouri.edu, who will go over course requirements and options as well as answer any questions.
  2. Notify the College of Arts and Science Advising Office in 107 Lowry Hall that you wish to major in Geography.
  3. You are required to fill out a Graduation Plan by the time you have completed 60 credit hours of coursework.  (You must also be in good academic standing and have completed English 1000 and Math 1100.)  The Grad Plan will be completed with help from the Director of Undergraduate Studies who will sign the form when it is finished.  Arts and Science Advising will also approve the plan before it becomes your official program of study.
  4.  Meet with the Director of Undergraduate Studies each semester before you register for courses.  You may be unable to take some of the courses listed on your Grad Plan or wish to take alternative courses.  This is typical, but make sure the replacement coursework fills the same requirement.  Before the end of registration for your graduation semester, you should ask Arts and Science Advising for a Grad Check to verify that you have completed all requirements necessary for graduation.

For more information about the MU Geography undergraduate program, contact Dr. Doug Hurt, Director of Undergraduate Studies at hurtd@missouri.edu.