BA in Geography with a Specialization in Physical Geography

The College of Arts & Sciences (CAS) no longer admits students to the major in Geography with a Specialization in Physical Geography. Students who are continuing in this major should note the following degree requirements. Other students with interest in this field of study are encouraged to look into the new BA in Earth & Environmental Sciences and course grouping in Earth Observations and to visit the Department of Earth & Environment website.

Physical geography is the study of natural systems and cycles that interact within the Earth’s atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere. The major in Physical Geography has been structured to provide students with a strong background in the natural sciences and expertise in three main topical areas of physical geography: 1) vegetation science, 2) hydrology, and 3) climate. The major emphasizes the application of advanced information technology to geographical analysis with courses in geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. Graduating physical geography students may find employment in firms consulting on environmental problems; research organizations addressing such diverse issues as forestry, water resources, and global climate change; state and federal agencies with environmental, wildlife, and resource mandates; and public and private sector organizations in the field of remote sensing and GIS.


A major in geography with a specialization in physical geography requires the completion of 16 courses with a grade of C or higher in each course. Unless otherwise noted, all required courses are 4 credit hours.


A core of six courses is required:

  • CAS GE 101
  • CAS GE 104
  • A choice of either CAS GE 302 or GE 365
  • And three of the following four:
    • CAS GE/BI 307
    • CAS GE 310
    • CAS ES 317
    • CAS ES 333

A course on human-environment interaction is also required: CAS GE 594.

Required Related Science and Mathematics Courses

The calculus requirement may be met with CAS MA 123/124; 127; 129; or a score of at least 4 on the BC calculus Advanced Placement examination.

The statistics requirement may be met with CAS MA 213 or CAS EC 203.

The physics requirement may be met with any of the following two-course sequences:

  • CAS PY 211/212
  • CAS PY 241/242
  • CAS PY 251/252

CAS BI 107 (or CGS NS 201) is also required.

Advanced Topical Courses

Three additional courses, at least two of which must be at the 400 level or above, are selected from four topical areas:

  • Methods
  • Landforms/soils/vegetation
  • Hydrology
  • Climate

In order to focus course selection, two of the three courses must be from a single topical area.


  • CAS GE 302
  • CAS GE 365
  • CAS GE 375
  • CAS GE 440
  • CAS GE 445
  • CAS GE 448
  • CAS GE 501
  • CAS GE 502
  • CAS GE 505
  • CAS GE 550
  • CAS GE 585


  • CAS BI 303
  • CAS BI 306
  • CAS BI 417
  • CAS BI 448
  • CAS BI/GE 475
  • CAS ES 331
  • CAS ES 333
  • CAS ES 411
  • CAS GE 448
  • CAS GE/BI 525


  • CAS GE/ES 483
  • CAS GE 514
  • CAS GE/ES 517
  • CAS BI 417


  • CAS GE 312
  • CAS GE 446
  • CAS GE/ES 483
  • CAS GE 503
  • CAS GE 504
  • CAS GE 507
  • CAS ES 351

Ecuador Tropical Ecology Program

Students may choose to fulfill their advanced topical courses with any three of the following:

  • CAS BI/GE 438
  • CAS BI/GE 439
  • CAS BI/GE 440
  • CAS BI/GE 441