Online Degrees in Geography
Geographers are scientists who study a wide range of issues dealing with the Earth. Depending on their area of focus and the project at hand, geographers may be more or less interested in physical or political features.
As the name implies, physical geographers are often concerned about the Earth’s natural environmental features and how those features affect human life and development plans. On the other hand, human geographers tend to be interested in the relationship between how and where humans organize their activities.
How to Choose the Right Geography Degree
Depending on the specialization chosen, most geographers need a bachelor’s degree to find entry-level employment. Online degrees in geography offer students the opportunity to obtain the industry-specific knowledge and technical skill necessary to begin their career as a geographer without the hassle of attending classes on a traditional campus. Students who pursue a geography degree online enjoy the flexibility of studying from home and designing their school schedule around their personal and professional life. Although each program is different, most geography students take classes in physical geography, human geography, weather and climate, ecology, cultural geography, and cartography.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bachelor’s degree is a common requirement for entry-level employment as a geographer, particularly for available government jobs. Those seeking the best chance for career advancement may want to pursue a master’s degree. Online geography degrees range from associate to doctoral programs. The chart below details the various degrees available and the positions they might lead to:
Length of Completion
|Associate in Geography||Associate programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete, and are often used as preparation for transfer to a bachelor’s degree program.||Surveying or Mapping Technician, Travel Agent|
|Bachelor’s in Geography||These programs typically take four years of full-time study to complete.||Geographer, Cartographer, Photogrammetrist|
|Master’s in Geography||These programs take up to two years of full-time study after completion of a bachelor’s degree.||Geographer, Hydrologist, Urban or Regional Planner|
|Doctorate in Geography||Ph.D. programs often take three to four years of full-time study after completing a bachelor’s degree. Obtaining a master’s is typically a prerequisite.||Geographer, Hydrologist, Urban or Regional Planner|
Online degrees in geography can lead to a number of different careers both in the corporate and public spheres. Students should keep in mind their particular career plans and areas of interest when deciding which degree (or degrees) to pursue. As with all fields, the amount of time spent pursuing a geography degree should directly correlate to the student’s career aspirations.
What to Expect in a Geography Program
Students who enter online geography degree programs can expect to obtain a thorough knowledge of the subject as a whole. The amount of discipline-specific information covered directly corresponds to the level of degree being pursued. Furthermore, students seeking more advanced degrees can also expect to learn advanced research techniques used within each individual discipline. As with all degree programs, specific degree requirements and curriculums vary by school. While not all course maps are exactly the same, core courses in geography typically include:
- World Geography
- Intro to Human Geography
- Intro to Physical Geography
- Intro to Economic Geography
- Weather and Climate
- Cultural Geography
- Physical Geography
- Geographic Information
- Quantitative Methods for Geographers
- Geography of the United States
- Geological Science
- Statistics and Probabilities
Geography Degree Specializations
Because geography is such a wide-ranging discipline, choosing at least a general specialization is usually necessary for program completion and obtaining employment. Students seeking a geography degree can specialize in several different fields, including:
- Physical Geography
- Cultural Geography
- Political Geography
- Economic Geography
- Urban Geography
- Regional Geography
- Medical Geography
These are just a few of the basic specializations that may be available. While pursuing a degree in geography, students can specialize further by studying particular fields like cartography or geographic information systems. Specializations should align with the individual student’s ultimate career goals and personal interests.
Fulfilling degree requirements in the natural sciences, like geology and chemistry, can differ depending the chosen area of concentration. Completing an internship may also be required, depending on the school and the level of degree being sought. These internship opportunities may be completed at corporate centers or through government agencies, possibly leading to entry-level jobs upon graduation.
As noted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, most entry-level jobs for geographers require a bachelor’s degree, particularly government jobs. Practical experience may also be sought by certain employers, making internships an exceptionally valuable opportunity for students seeking a career in geography.
Benefits of an Online Degree in Geography
Because geography is studied at both the local and global level, an online classroom is a perfect fit for those pursuing a degree in the field. Through the use of online learning tools, geography students have the chance to interact and gain new perspectives from their classmates and professors located throughout the country and even the world. Online students can expect this interaction to take place using message boards, video chat, and online networking events.
The field of geography relies heavily on technological applications and processes. Most geographers are expected to be proficient in Geography Information Systems (GIS). Because of this, geographers must be comfortable using sophisticated technological systems, something for which online degrees can help them prepare.
Online programs also present more flexibility than traditional on-campus courses. Thus, pursuing an online degree in geography is the perfect fit for adults who may already be working as a geographer or in another field. Generally speaking, online students have 24-hour access to their course materials, allowing them to study at a time that is most convenient for them.
Careers in Geography
Students who graduate with a degree in geography have a number of different career paths available to them. However, specific career options usually depend on a graduate’s particular field of focus during school. In the chart below, we’ve listed several popular careers in geography, along with relevant wage and employment data provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Projected Job Growth 2019-2029
Mean Annual Wage in 2020
|Cartographers and Photogrammetrists||29 percent||$68,380|
|Urban and Regional Planners||11 percent||$75,950|
|Surveying and Mapping Technicians||1 percent||$46,200|
|Travel Agents||-26 percent||$42,350|
A geography degree provides graduates with numerous career options in both the public and private sector. Although many graduates work for government agencies, corporate careers are also available for certain disciplines. Because no two students are alike, the right degree for you largely depends on your ultimate career goals and employment objectives.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/cartographers-and-photogrammetrists.htm
Geographers, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/geographers.htm
Hydrologists, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/hydrologists.htm
May 2014 National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_nat.htm
Surveying and Mapping Technicians, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/surveying-and-mapping-technicians.htm
Travel Agents, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/sales/travel-agents.htm
Urban and Regional Planners, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/urban-and-regional-planners.htm