The Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography
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An online bachelor's in geography degree introduces learners to the study of geography and the tools professionals use to analyze the Earth and its characteristics.
This degree qualifies degree-seekers for most entry-level geography jobs. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for geographers will increase 3% between 2018 and 2028.
This guide ranks the best online bachelor of geography programs to help students find the right program for their needs. We also cover important information for prospective students, including common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.
|#1||University of Florida Gainesville, FL|
|#2||South Dakota State University Brookings, SD|
|#3||Marshall University Huntington, WV|
|#4||Fort Hays State University Hays, KS|
|#5||Florida Atlantic University Boca Raton, FL|
|#6||Park University Parkville, MO|
|#7||Arizona State University-Skysong Scottsdale, AZ|
|#8||Western Illinois University Macomb, IL|
|#9||Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA|
Featured Online Colleges
The Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography Degree Programs
The completely online bachelor of arts in geography from the University of Florida prepares students for careers in urban and regional planning, environmental science, and geographic education.
The program helps learners develop specialized proficiencies in geographic information systems, aerial photo interpretation, computer-based cartography, and remote sensing. Students also gain critical thinking, research, and communication skills and work on research projects with world-renowned faculty members.
The 120-credit curriculum focuses on human geography and includes courses like the digital Earth, atmospheric teleconnections, economic geography, and extreme weather. The program offers internship and honor thesis opportunities. Graduates can begin careers as cartographers, land-use analysts, community developers, or environmental education specialists. The program also prepares students for graduate study in business, law, public health, and environmental science.
Admission requirements include a personal essay, high school or GED transcripts, and ACT or SAT scores. International applicants must also submit proof of English proficiency. UF accepts applications for three start dates each year. Online students at UF receive special consideration for financial aid opportunities like grants, scholarships, loans, and student employment programs. Current and former members of the military may qualify for out-of-state tuition waivers.
The University of Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
South Dakota State University's Department of Geography offers a fully online, student-centered bachelor of science in geography that draws from the social and natural sciences. Geography majors learn about different cultures and places, gain technology skills, and learn to efficiently solve problems. The program features small class sizes, practical activities, and one-on-one attention from professors.
The 120-credit curriculum explores topics like quantitative research methods in geography, geomorphology, and land use and planning. Major courses include introduction to geographic information systems, the geography of the future, world regional geography, and physical geography. Students can add an emphasis in planning or environmental planning and management.
Graduates can use geographic techniques and technologies, communicate geographic ideas, and collect data in a spatial-temporal context. They qualify for jobs like geographic information systems analyst, remote sensing analyst, and urban planner. Recent SDSU graduates have worked for the Earth Resources Observation and Sciences Center, the South Dakota Bureau of Information Telecommunications, and the U.S. Census Bureau.
SDSU uses rolling admissions and accepts applications year-round. The school typically processes applications within 24-48 hours. Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED, ACT scores, and high school or college transcripts. After earning admission, distance learners schedule a placement assessment, apply for financial aid, and meet with an academic advisor.
South Dakota State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The online, asynchronous bachelor of geography degree from Marshall University gives students the flexibility to complete coursework on their own schedules. Designed for students with prior general education or geography credits, this degree completion program offers all required geography courses completely online.
MU's geography curriculum explores geographic information systems, human geography, meteorology, and global environmental issues. The 120-credit curriculum includes courses in spatial statistics, world regional geography, and severe local storms and natural hazards. Graduates pursue careers in natural resource management, geographic education, geospatial information analysis, and city planning.
Students in the program can choose to earn either a bachelor of science or a bachelor of arts. The BS focuses on physical geography, exploring issues like climate and the environment. The BA emphasizes human geography, investigating economic geography and cultures. Students pursuing the BA must complete a foreign language requirement, but they must complete the foreign language requirement at another institution.
MU is transfer-friendly, accepting up to 72 transfer credits from accredited colleges. Distance learners have full access to the university's libraries, career services, technical support, and writing center. Students develop a one-on-one relationship with the geography faculty member who serves as their academic advisor.
Marshall University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Distance learners can enroll in Fort Hays State University's accredited bachelor's degree in geography online through its virtual college. FHSU's bachelor of science in geosciences with an emphasis in geography incorporates both physical geography and human geography and explores topics like landscape evolution, paleontology, and natural resources. Full-time students can graduate in four years.
While earning the bachelor's degree, students simultaneously complete three additional certificates in leadership studies, sustainability, and geographic information systems (GIS). The curriculum includes courses in remote sensing, U.S. geography, global environmental issues, and advanced GIS.
This well-rounded program prepares geography graduates for careers in government, education, and industry. The geography degree also provides an excellent foundation for graduate school. Graduates find employment with organizations like the Kansas Department of Transportation, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the U.S. Forest Service.
FHSU's Department of Geosciences awards scholarships to incoming freshmen and other undergraduate students. Distance learners majoring in geography may also qualify for other types of financial aid, including grants and loans. Online geography students can access FHSU's GIS lab, its geosciences club, research opportunities, and networking events.
Admission requirements for students include at least 24 transferable college credits and a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA on all previous college coursework. Applicants must submit transcripts from all previously attended colleges.
Fort Hays State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The most diverse public research university in the state, Florida Atlantic University serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students and offers 170 programs every year. FAU's fully online BA in geosciences with a geography focus covers physical geography, human geography, and geographic information systems (GIS). The program explores issues like climate patterns, how people use and perceive space, and mapping and analyzing spatial patterns.
The online geography degree includes core courses in weather and climate, introductory statistics, human-environmental interactions in south Florida, and introduction to physical geography. Students can add an area of emphasis in environmental systems, human systems, or GIS. The curriculum also explores urban geography, water resources, digital image analysis, and remote sensing.
Program graduates begin careers in education, the public sector, tourism, and industry. Potential employers include environmental protection organizations, local and national governments, and utility companies. FAU's Center for eLearning provides online library services, tutoring, career services, and disability access. Distance learners also have access to FAU's scholarships, grants, and loans.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED. Applicants must also submit transcripts and official ACT or SAT scores.
Florida Atlantic University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
A private liberal arts institution founded in 1875, Park University offers more than 80 degrees to 16,500 students from 60 countries annually. Park's interdisciplinary, fully online bachelor of science in geography provides students with a foundational understanding of spatial analysis and geographic principles, drawing from physical and social sciences and the humanities. Students explore the connections between society, culture, and the Earth's environment.
The program requires 34-40 major-related credits. The curriculum includes courses like geography of North America, global sustainability, cultural geography, and physical geography. The program culminates in a capstone course.
Program graduates pursue careers as environmental consultants, cartographers, town planners, and GIS officers. The degree also prepares students for graduate study in geography and related fields. Students who complete three semesters and take at least three geography courses with a minimum 3.3 overall GPA can join the university's chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, a geography honor society.
Admission requirements include a high school diploma or GED and official transcripts. Park's flexible online programs offer multiple start dates each year. The university's affordable distance learning programs offer tuition discounts for federal employees, veterans, and members of the military and their dependents.
Park University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Arizona State University's School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning offers a fully online bachelor of science in geography that qualifies graduates for careers as cartographers, water resource specialists, and GIS analysts. The geography bachelor's degree also prepares students for graduate work in fields like urban and regional analysis, GIS and spatial analysis, and climate science.
ASU's geography program focuses on natural science and emphasizes spatial patterns found in plants, landforms, water, and weather. The curriculum also incorporates environmental and social sciences to study human populations, economic patterns, and transportation. The 120-credit curriculum requires 40 courses, each lasting 7.5 weeks. Major courses include introduction to human geography, statistics for geography and planning, and geographic research methods.
Applicants must rank in the top 25% of their high school classes, have a minimum 3.0 GPA, or earn a minimum ACT score of 22 or minimum SAT reasoning score of 1180 (1120 for Arizona residents). Applicants who do not meet these requirements can earn their way into the geography program by completing certain online courses with a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Arizona State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Western Illinois University offers a fully online bachelor of science in geographic information science (GIS) program that features small class sizes and one-on-one attention from doctoral-level faculty. Students learn to think about the world from a spatial point of view. The program also provides a foundation for interpreting the interrelationships between humans and physical patterns on the planet.
The program's 120-credit curriculum includes concentrations in geoenvironment and planning and geospatial science. The degree also requires students to pursue a minor of their choice. Core GIS courses include advanced cartography, GIS software and scripting, advanced quantitative methods and application in GIS, and social applications of GIS. Students can also participate in research with faculty supervision.
GIS majors may qualify for annual scholarships through WIU. Students can apply for additional funding opportunities through the Department of Geography, Geographic Information Science, and Meteorology. On-campus student resources include access to a GIS laboratory with mapping and GIS software, a meteorology laboratory, and computer systems that can create maps of National Weather Service data. The GIS center also offers paid internship opportunities.
The GIS program qualifies graduates for public and private sector careers in historic preservation firms, land-use planning agencies, architectural firms, and wind energy companies. The degree also prepares students to pursue graduate study in geography and related fields.
Western Illinois University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
The completely online, interdisciplinary bachelor of arts in geography from the Department of Geography and Anthropology at Kennesaw State University takes full-time students four years to complete. Students who take summer courses can graduate more quickly.
Learners in this program study the Earth's physical features, the role of people in changing the Earth, and the relationships between places and people. The curriculum also explores climate and weather, trade flows, human culture, and cities from a spatial perspective.
KSU's 123-credit, online geography degree includes coursework in human/regional geography, physical/environmental geography, and geographic techniques. Courses include introduction to human geography, geography of Latin America and the Caribbean, global climate change, and introduction to cartographic processes. The program also lets students choose courses from other disciplines, emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the field.
Online geography majors at KSU benefit from a high level of interaction with faculty members, who provide academic advising, mentorship, and post-graduation career connections. Faculty members also facilitate fieldwork opportunities, study abroad programs, and internships for students.
Program graduates begin careers as environmental managers, hydrologists, transportation planners, and community developers. The program is also excellent preparation for graduate school.
Kennesaw State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Online Bachelor's in Geography Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the following degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.
Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree in Geography
Students should consider several factors when researching the best online geography degrees, including cost, transfer policies, and on-campus requirements. The following list outlines several important considerations for prospective students.
Tuition rates vary by program. Typically, in-state students at public schools pay the lowest tuition rates; however, some programs allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates regardless of where they live.
Schools may offer transfer credit for prior academic work, professional experience, or military experience. Schools with generous transfer policies can save students time and money on a degree.
A school's size and type influences the overall learning experience. For example, small schools may offer more personalized attention from faculty but fewer program options than larger schools.
Most online bachelor's in geography degree programs take four years of full-time study to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines.
Some online programs have on-campus requirements. Students should ensure they can meet these requirements before committing to a program.
Some programs have thesis, fellowship, or internship requirements. These can often be completed near to the student's home, but not always. Students should choose a program with requirements aligned with their goals and interests.
What Is Geography?
The word "geography" is a Greek-rooted word that refers to the study of the Earth and its physical features. Geography helps people reach a deeper understanding of the space they live in and how their activities contribute to that space. It also charts how the world changes over time.
Geography professionals can assume diverse roles with various responsibilities. For example, professionals working in the human geography subfield measure and analyze how human cultures interact with their environments over time. Cartography and geoscience professionals use geographical information to design new maps and assess the Earth's physical makeup.
Most professional geographers need at least a bachelor of geography. They generally work for large agencies in state and federal governments or private organizations that focus on engineering, architecture, or related fields.
What Is a Bachelor's in Geography Degree?
A bachelor of geography prepares students for diverse careers and graduate study in the discipline. Most online bachelor's in geography degrees take four years of full-time study to complete, but learners with transfer credits may be able to graduate in less time. Admission requirements generally include a high school diploma or GED with a competitive GPA. Some schools may also require ACT/SAT scores or prerequisite courses in mathematics or social science.
Students pursuing an online geography degree gain skills in systems analysis, inductive reasoning, and complex problem-solving. Learners also gain working knowledge of common geographical information systems, imagery software, and surveying techniques. Graduates can collect data, take measurements, and analyze land features.
What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor's in Geography Program?
Class offerings vary by program, but most bachelor's in geography programs include versions of the following courses.
- Foundation of Geographic Information Systems: This course provides degree-seekers with an overview of the main tools geographers use to collect and analyze information. Learners study how advanced GIS tools can help professionals measure and describe environmental features like elevation, topography, and satellite vectors. The class blends theory and practice through individual field projects.
- Climatology: Degree-seekers in this course study how climate and weather conditions interact with geography and affect geographical analysis. Learners study the scientific aspects of climatology and the way human activities affect global climate. The course covers topics like climate distribution, atmospheric patterns, and severe weather.
- Regional/Human Geography: This class examines the branch of geography that deals with human communities. It combines geography and anthropology to analyze how different cultures, economies, and societies interact with their environments. Degree-seekers receive an introduction to prominent conceptual models and examine migration, globalization, and international trade.
- Environmental Geography: This course helps learners develop the skills they need to measure human impact on natural environments. Degree-seekers learn how to assess and describe the spatial relationships between human activities and physical geography. Topics include remote sensing, geographic information systems, and air pollution.
- Geographic Techniques: Learners in this course study the main techniques and research methods used by geographers. Degree-seekers learn to read and analyze topographical maps, implement archival data collection, and prepare statistical analysis reports. The class also develops hard skills in spatial reasoning and industry software.
- Anthropology: This class introduces degree-seekers to anthropology, a social science discipline closely related to geography. Students examine the philosophical foundations of anthropology and how its tools can be used to clarify geographical problems. Potential topics include linguistics, cultural difference, and human ethnography.
Earning a geography degree cultivates versatile skills with broad applications in fields like business, science, and nature conservation. The following list outlines several common careers for graduates with a bachelor's degree in geography. However, some careers may require additional credentials, such as professional certification or an advanced degree.
These detail-oriented professionals create maps and produce charts. They rely on strong analytical and computer skills to measure, collect, and interpret technical geographical information. They often use remote-sensing technologies to capture and compile the aerial imagery needed to map terrain.
Cartographers and photogrammetrists usually need a bachelor's degree in geography or a related field. They may also need licensure or certification in a closely related field, like surveying. Most professionals work full time in an office setting, but some may need to travel to collect data.
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Geographers study the planet, the land features that comprise the planet, and the impact people have on its environment. They spend most of their time collecting information through maps, field observations, satellite imagery, and census data. Sometimes they work in collaboration with other professionals to analyze data, generate reports, and find connections between geography, economics, and public health.
Some geographers may work with governments and other organizations, making recommendations based on their research findings. These professionals typically need a bachelor's degree. Geographers possess strong analytical skills and typically work full time in office settings.
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Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, including its composition, structure, and natural processes. They use data to examine the Earth's history and make predictions based on trends and correlations. They often carry out field studies and lab experiments to support the research and development interests of their organizations.
Most geoscientists work full time in an office setting. While some geoscientists may only hold a bachelor's degree, these professionals typically need a graduate degree in a related field. Some employers may also require additional training in the software platforms that geoscientists often use to fulfill their responsibilities.
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These full-time educators help prepare secondary students for life and work after graduation. They develop and implement lesson plans, assess student progress, and work with administrative staff to craft and enforce school policies.
High school teachers at public schools need a bachelor's degree and state licensure. Some school systems may also require teachers to earn a master's degree. High school teachers work full time during the school year.
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Accreditation for Online Geography Degrees
Accreditation indicates that a school or program meets high academic standards. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation typically applies to nonprofit, degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation applies to for-profit, vocational, and technical schools. Regional accreditation is generally considered the more prestigious of the two. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee regional accrediting bodies.
Programs within a school -- such as social work, nursing, and business programs -- may also receive accreditation. Currently, no programmatic accrediting body exists for geography programs.
Geography Professional Organizations
Geography students and professionals should take advantage of professional organizations. These organizations offer benefits like networking opportunities, professional development, and continuing education. We cover several professional organizations for geographers below.
American Geographical Society
Established in 1851, this organization promotes geography research initiatives and publishes several prominent periodicals related to the discipline. It also honors exceptional work in geography through fellowships and awards.
National Council for Geographic Education
Based in Silver Springs, Maryland, NCGE supports local professionals working in geography education through training programs and annual events. It also maintains an extensive directory of professional and classroom-based resources.
American Association of Geographers
With members from over 100 countries, AAG advances geography by raising awareness and promoting scholarly work. It sponsors several high-profile journals and magazines, curates a regular newsletter, and hosts continuing education programs. It also maintains a comprehensive job board for recent graduates and working professionals.
Frequently Asked Questions
Geography is a scientific sub-discipline that focuses on the physical features of the Earth, its atmosphere, and the impacts of its human inhabitants.
Most bachelor's in geography degrees take four years of full-time study to complete.
Salaries vary by role, experience, and education, but according to the BLS, the median annual pay for geographers with a bachelor's degree is $80,300.
Most entry-level geography jobs only require a bachelor's degree. However, some employers may require additional credentials or relevant experience.
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