Physical Geography

Physical geography is the study of natural systems and cycles that interact within the Earth’s life layer where land and oceans meet the atmosphere. The concentration 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, 3) climate. The program emphasizes the application of advanced information technology to geographical analysis with courses in geographical information systems (GIS) and remote sensing. (Please see program requirements described below.)

Professional Opportunities

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.

Principal Courses

A concentration in Physical Geography requires the completion of 16 courses with a grade of C or higher in each course.

A core of six courses is required:

  • GE 101
  • GE 104
  • GE 302 OR GE 365
  • Three of the following four: GE 303, GE 310, ES 317, and ES 333

One human-environment interaction course of the following three is also required:

  • GE 511 OR GE 542 OR GE 504

Required Related Science and Mathematics Courses

The calculus requirement may be met with:

  • MA 123 AND MA 124
  • MA 127
  • MA 129
  • A grade of at least “3” on BC calculus Advanced Placement examination

The statistics requirement may be met with:

  • MA 213 OR EC 305

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

  • PY 211 AND PY 212
  • PY 241 AND PY 242
  • PY 251 AND 252

BI 107 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 any two of four topical areas: 1) methods, 2) landforms/soils/vegetation, 3) hydrology, and 4) climate. In order to focus on course selection, two of the three courses must be from a single topical area.

  • Methods: GE 275, GE 302, GE 365, GE 440, GE 445, GE 446, GE 448, GE 502, GE 505, GE 550, GE 565
  • Vegetation/Soils/Landforms: BI 303, BI 306, BI 417, BI 448, BI 540, ES 331, ES 333, ES 411, GE 448, BI/GE 529
  • Hydrology: BI 417, GE/ES 483, GE 514, GE 517
  • Climate: GE 312, ES 35, GE 446, GG/ES 483, GE 503, GE 504