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Undergraduate Catalog 2016-2017

Geographical Sciences (GEOG)

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
2181M LeFrak Hall, 301-405-4073
Chair: C. Justice
Professors: R. Dubayah (Graduate Director), M. Hansen, K. Hubacek, G. Hurtt, C. Justice, E. Kasischke, S. Liang, S. Prince, J. Townsend
Associate Professors: M. Geores, P. Torrens
Assistant Professors: T. Loboda, J. Silva
Lecturers: E. Ellicott (Res Asst Prof), A. Eney, L. Giglio (Res Assoc Prof, Lecturer), R. Luna (Undergraduate Director), J. Ma (MPSGIS Program Director), R. Sohlberg (Fac Res Asst), J. Trocino, K. Yearwood (Physical Lecturer), N. Zhou (GIS Lecturer), M. Zlatic
Adjunct Professors: N. Rosenberg, C. Tucker, D. Williams
Adjunct Associate Professors: S. Goetz, C. Walthall
Professors Emeriti: H. Brodsky (Assoc), J. Cirrincione (Assoc), S. Goward, D. Thompson, J. Wiedel

The Major

How do you see the future?  More of everything: food, parks, leisure, personal electronic devices, peace between the nations?  Or more people, new diseases, traffic gridlock, and starvation?  Will there still be crabs and oysters from the Chesapeake Bay?

The world is changing at unprecedented rates, primarily as a result of human actions. Opportunities for increased well-being of humans and the environment abound. On the other hand, competition for resources such as fresh water and oil is reaching crisis proportions.

The future of humanity depends on skillful management of our environment by planning the social, urban, suburban and rural settings where we work, live and play.  Expert care of the environment is needed to maintain supplies of food, natural products, water, and the other resources on which life depends. New insights into the social, economic and urban environment can help control poverty and crime.

Geographical Sciences concerns the relations between people and the natural world, the effects of ecosystems on human beings and vice versa, the choices people make, the effects of past actions on people today, and the effects of today's choices on future generations.  Courses offered by this department may be found under the acronym GEOG.

Program Learning Outcomes

Having completed the degree program, students should have acquired the following knowledge and skills:

  • Possess an understanding of the nature of the physical systems and processes of the Earth's environment and their interactions.
  • Understand the nature of the geographical approach and its value in understanding human-environment relationships.
  • Know the methods and techniques of data collection, display and analysis used in the study of environmental systems.

Academic Programs and Departmental Facilities

The Geographical Science Department has two 25-seat computer teaching laboratories that are used in undergraduate coursework, particularly in GIS/Remote Sensing courses.  There are different types of equipment for field research and remote sensing, and Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are also available.

Requirements for the Major

Within any of the specializations available in the geographical sciences program it is possible for students to adjust their programs to fit their individual interests. The geographical sciences major totals 35 semester hours. In addition to the 35 semester hours, the geographical sciences major is required to take an additional 15 semester hours of supporting course work outside of the department. The hours can be either in one department or in an area of specialization. An area of specialization requires that a written program of courses be reviewed and placed on file by the department advisor. Visit or call the Advising Office, Lefrak 2108, 301-405-4073, e-mail geog-advise@umd.edu , or see the web page at www.geog.umd.edu . Supporting courses generally are related to the area of specialty in geographical sciences. The pass-fail option is not applicable to major or supporting courses. A minimum grade of "C-" in each course is required for major and supporting courses. Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses, including the supporting sequence, used to satisfy the major degree requirements.

Geographical Sciences Major

The required courses for geography majors are as follows:

  Required Courses    
GEOG201Geography of Environmental Systems 3 
GEOG202The World in Cultural Perspective 3 
GEOG211Geography of Environmental Systems Laboratory 1 
GEOG212The World in Cultural Perspective Lab 1 
PHYSICALUpper-level physical geography course 3 
HUMANUpper-level physical human course 3 
TECHNIQUEUpper-level geographic technique course 3 
 At least one upper-level course in physical geography, human geography and geographic technique is required regardless of the specialty of the individual student's program.  These courses build on the initial base provided by the Primary Courses, and also serve as the basis for selection of upper-level geography courses.   
ELECT 300/400Upper-level geography electives 15 
GEOG306Introduction to Geographic Methods for the Geographic Environmental Sciences 3 
 Total Credits: 35 
 Supporting Courses   
MATH120 or MATH220 Elementary Calculus I 3 
SUPPORTSupporting courses approved by GEOG advisor 12 

Introduction to Geography

The 100-level geography courses are general education courses for persons who have had no previous contact with the discipline in high school or for persons planning to take only one course in geography. They provide general overviews of the field or in one of its major topics. Credit for these courses is not applied to the major.

Related Programs

Geographic Information Science/Computer Cartography Major

The Geographical Sciences Department offers an important area of specialization: GIS and Computer Cartography. The Bachelor of Science degree program in Geographic Information Science and Computer Cartography is designed to give students the technical skills needed to acquire, manage and analyze very large amounts of geographic data. Students will get extensive computer training in digital processing of remote sensing observations and cartographic vector data, spatial analysis, and the display of information products. Almost everything we do involves geographic information, from deciding where to live and travel, to environmental monitoring and urban planning. Influenced by computer technology, the academic disciplines of geographic information science such as remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and computer cartography have evolved dramatically in the past few decades. Remote sensing is the science of obtaining geographic information from aircraft and satellites. GIS technology manages and analyzes different forms of digital geographic data, and this field has been growing at an extraordinary rate. Computer cartography has revolutionized traditional cartography to vastly improve map making and visualization of geographic information in a multimedia environment.

The required courses for GIS majors are as follows:

  Required Courses    
GEOG201Geography of Environmental Systems 3 
GEOG202The World in Cultural Perspective 3 
GEOG211Geography of Environmental Systems Laboratory 1 
GEOG212The World in Cultural Perspective Lab 1 
PHYSICALUpper-level physical geography course 3 
HUMANUpper-level physical human geography course 3 
GEOG306Introduction to Geographic Methods for the Geographic Environmental Sciences 3 
ELECT 300.400Upper-level geography electives   3 
GEOG372Remote Sensing 3 
GEOG373Geographic Information Systems 3 
GEOG375Computer Cartography 3 
GEOG472Remote Sensing: Digital Processing and Analysis 3 
GEOG473Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis 3 
 Total Credits 35 
 Supporting Courses  
 Supporting courses approved by GEOG advisor 12 
 One from  
MATH120 or MATH220Elementary Calculus I 3 
MATH140Calculus I 4 
  Supporting area courses must be taken from a list provided by the department.  All math programs should be approved by a departmental advisor. 

Geographical Science and Social Studies Education Double Major

In conjunction with the College of Education/Curriculum and Instruction, the Geographical Sciences Department offers a special 121 credit hours program for students wishing to double major in Geographical Sciences and Social Studies Education - Geography Concentration, allowing them to teach geography at the secondary level. Early examination of requirements is encouraged to reduce the number of additional hours required. In addition to the Geographical Sciences Department's required credits, the program requires 28 credit hours of course work in history and the social sciences. For a list of requirements, contact the Geography Undergraduate Advising Office. Requirements are also listed under the Curriculum and Instruction Social Studies Education - Geography Concentration double major option.

Requirements for the Minor

Minor in Geographic Information Science (GIS)

See undergraduate advising office for more information: LeFrak Hall 2108, 301-405-4073.

  Non-Geography Major Required Courses  
GEOG201/211 or  GEOG202Geography of Environmental Systems/Lab or
  The World in Cultural Perspective
3 or 4
GEOG306Introduction to Geographic Methods for the Geographic Environmental Sciences 3
GEOG372Remote Sensing 3
GEOG373Geographic Information Systems 3
 One from:  
GEOG472Remote Sensing: Digital Processing and Analysis  
GEOG473Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis
GEOG475Computer Cartography  
 Total Credits 15/16
  Geography Major Required Courses  
GEOG306Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the Geographic Environment Sciences  3
GEOG372Remote Sensing  3
GEOG373Geographic Information Systems  3
GEOG476Programming for Geographers  3
  One from  
GEOG472Remote Sensing: Digital Processing and Analysis  
GEOG473Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis  3
GEOG475Computer Cartography  
 Total Credits  15

Student must achieve a "C-" or better in each course applied to the minor in Geographic Information Systems. Students must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative grade point average across all courses, including the supporting sequence, used to satisfy the minor requirements.

Minor in Remote Sensing of Environmental Change (RSEC)


The Remote Sensing of Environmental Change minor program (RSEC) is designed to build students’ understanding global environmental change in order to assess their impacts on the physical and human landscapes, and to use remote sensing as an analytical tool for identifying the impacts. Students in the minor program will receive technical training in remote sensing to examine how extreme environmental events shape human society and ecosystems from the interdisciplinary perspective afforded by the field of Geography.

Admission to the Program:

There are no special requirements for the Minor Program in Remote Sensing of Environmental Change. The Department of Geographical Sciences welcomes students from every area of study. GIS and ENSP students are also welcome to enroll in this minor.


• All credits for the minor must be taken in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.

• All courses must be completed with a grade of “C-” or better.

• No more than six credits are to be included in the Minor and student's major, supporting courses, and college requirements.

The Required Curriculum: (18 credits)

Foundation Course (3 credits)

Natural Disasters: GEOG 140 (3 credits)


Introduction to Methods of Geospatial Intelligence and Analysis: GEOG170 (3 credits)

Technical Geography Courses (6 credits)

Introduction to Remote Sensing: GEOG372 (3 credits)

Advanced Remote Sensing: GEOG472 (3 credits)

Choose one Physical Geography Course (3 credits)

Geomorphology: GEOG340 (3 credits)

Biogeography: GEOG342 (3 credits)

Climatology: GEOG345 (3 credits)

Choose one Human Dimension of Global Change Course (3 credits)

Regional Geography: China GEOG328B (3 credits)

Regional: Sub-Saharan Africa: GEOG328C (3 credits)

Regional: Latin America: GEOG313 (3 credits)

Society and Sustainability: GEOG330 (3 credits)

Intro to Human Dimensions of Global Change: GEOG331 (3 credits)

Economic Geography: GEOG332 (3 credits)

Choose one Advanced Integrated Course (3 credits)

Land Use, Climate Change, and Sustainability: GEOG415 (3 credits)

Modeling Human-Environment Interactions: GEOG416 (3 credits

Cultural and Natural Resource Management: GEOG431 (3 credits)

Coastal Oceans: GEOG441 (3 credits)

Biogeography & Environmental Change: GEOG442 (3 credits)


Advising is Mandatory for students each semester. The advising office is located at 2181M LeFrak Hall. If you can, please email before you visit us since the schedule can change day to day. We can always be reached via email at  geog-advise@umd.edu  or voice mail at 301-405-4073.

Fieldwork Opportunities

GEOG328 (Winter): The Geography of the Southern Caribbean
This course offers an unique and challenging "hands-on" study of Grenada and the Grenadines during the Winter term.  The best way to study the Grenadines is by sailing vessel.  The Grenadines are the "land of eternal summer," making them one of the most exclusive sailing grounds in the world.  Students will be able to visit not only Grenada, but St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Tobago Cays.

GEOG358A Croatia (Summer): country in transition emerging from the war and communism. This course is a geographical survey of Croatia, focusing on its natural and built environment, human and economic resources, and recent emergence from war and communism into a modern democratic state. www.geog.umd.edu/content/study-abroad


The Department of Geographical Sciences offers a one-semester internship program for undergraduates.  Students can earn a total of three credits.  Students are responsible for finding their own internships and can pursue a wide variety of opportunities in the public private and non-profit sectors.   Internships may be on-or off-campus, paid or unpaid.  www.geog.umd.edu/content/internship-program
Internship Requirements

  • Junior or senior with a minimum of 70 credits
  • 2.5 GPA overall

Internship partners

  • NASA Develop
  • USDA
  • Mitre Corporation
  • NOAA
  • ESRI
  • The Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission

Honors Program

Students admitted to the Honors program engage in independent research under the guidance of an individual faculty member.  Students are eligible upon completion of 30 credits of geography courses including the required courses.  Honors students will need to register for 12 credits of which they can substitute for formal coursework.   Students must have a 3.2 overall GPA and a 3.5 GPA in Geographical Sciences. www.geog.umd.edu/content/honors-geography

Student Societies and Professional Organizations

Geography Club

Geography Club is back and better than ever! Join undergrads and grad students for cultural potlucks, international movies, charity events and exploratory trips around the DC metropolitan area!

  • Contact the Geography Club at geogclubumd@gmail.com for more information.
    Geography T-Shirts are now in!  Come by 2181M LeFrak Hall to get yours today! Shirts are $15 and proceeds will go do the Geography Club.

Gamma Theta Upsilon: The Geography Honor Society

GTU is an international honor society in geography that aims to further professional interest in Geography, strengthen student and professional training and encourage student research. Membership is earned through superior scholarship and therefore it is an honor and a professional distinction.
Members must be in their 4th semester of study, working towards a Geographical Sciences or related degree, have a minimum 3.3 GPA cumulative and in all Geographical Sciences classes and attend meetings and events.
Contact Kevin Mathew at geogclubumd@gmail.com for more information
Check us out in Facebook at Facebook.com/umdgeographyclub
The Association of American Geographers

The Association of American Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. For 100 years the AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography. Its members from more than 60 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG's Annual Meeting, two scholarly journals (Annals of the Association of American Geographers and The Professional Geographer), and the monthly AAG Newsletter.

The Sustainability Club

The Department of Geographical Sciences' sustainability club, otherwise known as the Geography Sustainability Task Force (GSTF), seeks to improve the efficiency of our consumption and improve working conditions while at the same time reducing our environmental footprint.  We have made small strides such as changing paper usage and reducing power consumption in computer labs, but continue to work on large issues of departmental and building-wide lighting, water, and waste.  Through increased education, awareness, and involvement we look forward to big changes in 2012 and beyond.  The GSTF has, and continues to, consult and work with the University of Maryland Office of Sustainability ( www.sustainability.umd.edu ).  Future meetings will be posted here and announced through internal departmental emails.

  • Additional information can be obtained from Evan Ellicott ( ellicott@umd.edu ).



Scholarships and Financial Assistance

The Office of Student Financial Aid (OSFA) administers all types of federal, state and institutional financial assistance programs and, in cooperation with other university offices, participates in the awarding of scholarships to deserving students. For information, visit: www.financialaid.umd.edu

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