The 5 Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography Degree Programs

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Geographic studies make up the foundation of many careers. Graduates of online degree in geography programs go on to become surveyors and cartographers, environmental and emergency managers, and climatologists and educators. These professions all include investigations into human interaction and impact, climate studies, and weather patterns.

With the growing need to enhance the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the rapidly expanding study of geographic information science (GIS), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects significant job growth in geographic careers. For example, cartography positions are expected to rise 19% over the next 10 years. You can begin your journey in this exciting career by earning your geography degree online.

Online Bachelor’s in Geography Degree Program Ranking Guidelines

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We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The Best Online Bachelor’s in Geography Degree Programs

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South Dakota State University 

Brookings, SD

About this school

Founded in 1881, SDSU is the oldest and largest college in the South Dakota, serving over 12,000 students in the city of Brookings and online. One of SDSU’s online programs is the bachelor of science in geography, which explores the relationship between human interactions and the planet’s functions, and trains students to describe, explain, and relate various natural and cultural factors that distinguish different countries and regions.

This fully online degree in geography requires 120 total undergraduate credits, with 44 credits allocated to the geography major. Candidates complete 32 credits of core geography courses considering weather and climate, cartography, natural landscapes, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. The remaining electives require students to complete at least one course from two main subject categories: advanced physical geography/human–earth relationships, and regional geography/advanced human geography.

Courses in this program offer unique study options: the geography of South Dakota, rural geography, atmospheric sciences, and environmental history of the U.S. All students can also complete an internship worth up to three credits. Typically, occurring at a local or regional government agency, this supervised field experience gives participants the chance to observe the different professional applications of geography.

Graduation Rate

Fort Hays State University 

Hays, KS

About this school

Based in Fort Hays, Kansas, FHSU serves more than 11,000 students, most of them enrolled in online courses. The school offers an online bachelor of science in geosciences with an emphasis in geography, a unique program centering on human geography, physical geography, and information systems used to explore relationships between the two. The degree is available entirely online and uses a primarily asynchronous course format.

The 44–credit geography curriculum includes a geosciences core, a geography emphasis component, and a selection of geosciences electives. First, the nine–credit core examines geology, geographic information systems, and geostatistics and spatial data analysis. Second, the 26–credit geography core explores physical, cultural, world, and urban geography, along with cartography and intermediate geographic information systems.

The geography core also includes an experiential learning component in the form of a one–credit field study in geography and a three–credit internship in geosciences. Finally, the degree curriculum includes nine credits of geosciences electives that offer further specialized knowledge.

Graduation Rate

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Choosing a Program

A strong geography program covers national and international terrains to ensure a solid foundation on both micro and macro levels. Geographical and weather system studies combine with human geographies — the creation, evolution, and geographic shifts of human societies across time — to paint a detailed picture of the Earth’s history and potential future outcomes of ongoing interactions. Many online geography degrees offer senior theses or capstone projects, which allow you to follow up on areas of interest and create independent research to provide potential employers.

Given the variety of geography professions, prospective students should explore the specializations offered through different geography programs. You can tailor your degree toward a career in environmental studies, with courses on climatology and human geography. For a career in private surveying, take courses in remote technologies and satellite metadata analysis to provide your clients with a clear picture of potential prospects and limitations. As a future educator of geographic studies, look out for pedagogical coursework that teaches how to convey the intricacies of geography to future generations.

What Will I Learn in an Online Bachelor’s in Geography Program?

The following list details a few common courses offered through online bachelor’s degrees in geography. These classes provide training in technological tools critical for the professional workforce and offer insights into the interrelations between human endeavors and naturally occurring events that shape the Earth’s surface.

Foundations of Geographic Information Systems
GIS training is a vital component to all future geography specialists. Learn about technological innovations in geographic information gathering and metadata analysis. Train in the latest geographic database software and online platforms to prepare for the job market.
Climatology drives shifts in human geography. In a world increasingly aware of potential climate changes, students must understand climate on micro and macro levels to better comprehend the science of weather.

Online Bachelor’s in Geography Careers

As stated above, careers in geography exist in private and public arenas and utilize a variety of skill sets and interests, from mapping and terrain studies, to investigations into humankind’s impact on the world. The following list details three of the many career paths open to online geography degree holders.

Cartographer and Photogrammetrist
These professionals work with geographic and photographic metadata to compile, update, and maintain government and private mapping systems. Cartographers and photogrammetrists use GIS systems, including satellite information, remote–sensing systems, and personal fieldwork. They provide vital tools for educators, government bodies, and emergency services with reliable information about local, national, and international areas.
  • Median Annual Salary: $63,990
  • Projected Growth Rate: 19%
Geographers gather and process geographic and census data to increase comprehension of the world. With GPS and GIS training, these professionals map relationships between population growth and evolution by tracking weather patterns, terrain shifts, and natural disasters.
  • Median Annual Salary: $76,860
  • Projected Growth Rate: 7%
This career focuses on the history and evolution of the Earth’s surface. Geoscientists create terrestrial surveys for mapping, scientific reports, and natural resource identification. Professionals work in both private and public sectors, including government and environmental agencies in need of environmental protection specialists.
  • Median Annual Salary: $89,850
  • Projected Growth Rate: 14%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for Online Bachelor’s in Geography Degrees

When looking at geography programs, ensure that a school holds proper accreditation. Local, regional, and national accrediting boards provide standards and quality control for programs across the country. Accreditation assures future employers of your academic qualifications.

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) oversees six regional higher education accreditation boards that monitor all public institutions across the country. These include the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC), the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). Make sure your future institution holds accreditation by one of these governing bodies to ensure the highest of academic standards in your geography online degree.

Geography Professional Organizations

As you complete your online geography degree, explore networking opportunities within the professional community. The following list details three organizations open to geography specialists. These professional outlets offer opportunities in professional development, ongoing education, publishing venues, and job search tools.

American Geographical Society
As an affiliate of National Geographic, AGS boasts a long tradition of U.S. geographic studies. Their current initiative, Geography 2050, brings together environmental scientists with energy specialists and business agencies to investigate the future of geopolitics.
National Council for Geographic Education
Designed specifically for geography educators, this association brings awareness to current issues in geographic studies and pedagogy innovations to open geography, climate, and sociology studies to younger generations.

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