Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography
Updated August 24, 2022
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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
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.
School Size and Type
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.
Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements
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.
Most professional geographers need at least a bachelor of geography.
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.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists
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.
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.
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.
High School Teachers
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.
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
What Is Geography?
Geography is a scientific sub-discipline that focuses on the physical features of the Earth, its atmosphere, and the impacts of its human inhabitants.
How Long Is a Geography Degree?
Most bachelor's in geography degrees take four years of full-time study to complete.
How Much Do Geography Majors Make?
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.
What Qualifications Do You Need to Be a Geographer?
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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