The Geography curriculum is oriented toward the concepts and methodologies of social science that stress the importance of location. Geography is the study of spatial variation - of how things vary from place to place on the surface of the earth; how places are connected to each other, and the factors that shape how places interact and change over time.
Geography is studied at many levels, from the local to the global, and from many perspectives (i.e., social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental). Conceptual treatment of geographic issues deal with urbanization; globalization; migration; sustainability; patterns of land use; transportation systems; the flow of goods, services, and information; business location; planning for the natural and built environment; and human-environmental interaction in both urban and rural settings. Special emphasis is placed on how these factors shape our world, the places where we live and work, and the ways in which we interact. Geographic analysis involves information technology; mapping and statistical analysis; social area analysis; remote sensing and satellite imagery; and especially the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). A host of courses prepare students in both the concepts and methods of contemporary spatial analysis. The department also leads the interdisciplinary Minor in Urban Studies. Geography majors find careers in urban and regional planning, cartography, GIS applications and development, marketing research, transportation planning, real estate development, and teaching. While a wide range of career options are available to undergraduate geography majors, graduate studies provide additional options. For details, see the UNC Charlotte Graduate Catalog regarding the M.A. in Geography program.
A Major in Geography leading to a B.S. degree consists of 49 credit hours of Geography and Earth Sciences and at least six credit hours of extra-departmental coursework (55 credit hours total).
Major Courses (31 credit hours)
Restricted Elective Courses (18 credit hours)
Select 18 credit hours of elective GEOG coursework at the 3000 or above level. Up to three elective courses may be selected from courses with the ESCI, GEOL, and METR prefix.
This Elective Course requirement does not apply to students in the Concentration in GIScience and Technology.
Concentration Courses (13-16 credit hours)
Although students pursuing a B.S. in Geography are not required to declare a concentration, formal concentrations within the major include Urban, Social, and Economic Geography; Urban and Regional Planning; and GIScience and Technology. Other plans of study may be developed; students should contact their advisors to develop a program of study that matches their career objectives. Students should work closely with their academic advisors to ensure that their program of study is tailored to their career goals.
Concentration in Urban, Social, and Economic (USE) Geography (14 credit hours)
From the local to the global, patterns of urban growth and development connect people to each other, their communities, and their work at every scale of life. Accordingly, this concentration emphasizes how cities grow, how urban populations change, how urban areas interact with one another as well as the implications of these transitions and interactions at the local, regional and international levels. Coursework is tailored to student interest and typically involves foundational courses in urban, social, and economic dynamics; population, migration, and labor studies; poverty, inequality, and housing; transportation and locational analysis; and global and globalizing cities and the impacts of globalization at all geographic scales. Through classroom and research-based activities, students become grounded in the theory and methods of applied geographical analysis in an increasingly interdependent world that: (1) informs stakeholders and the general public; (2) prepares them for careers in the public and private sectors with consultancies, non-profit agencies, international business, think tanks, transnational organizations, while; (3) preparing them for further academic study. Specific coursework for this Concentration in Urban, Social, and Economic Geography is developed in consultation with the student’s advisor.
Concentration in Urban and Regional Planning (14 credit hours)
Planners solve social and environmental problems in the built environment by translating knowledge into action. Planners work across cultural and disciplinary boundaries to create healthy, just, and sustainable communities. Therefore, the Concentration in Urban and Regional Planning supplies students with a transdisciplinary perspective on major societal issues. Specific areas of instruction include land use, transportation and infrastructure, social justice, urban design, environmental preservation, and analytical methods. Knowledge, skills, and methods gained from the Concentration in Urban and Regional Planning afford students with opportunities for successful careers in public, private, and non-profit organizations. The concentration also prepares students for graduate studies in planning, geography, policy studies, and associated fields. Students in the Concentration in Urban and Regional Planning should select their courses in consultation with their advisor.
Concentration in GIScience and Technology (13-16 credit hours)
The Concentration in GIScience and Technology (GIS) focuses on the acquisition, representation, analysis, modeling and dissemination of geospatial information with cutting-edge computer technologies. Emphasis is placed on both fundamentals of GIScience concepts, and building expert knowledge in the use of geospatial technologies such as GIS, remote sensing, spatial analysis and modeling, database development and management, programming, Web GIS, and geovisualization. Students benefit from systematic training through technical and applied GIS coursework taught by GIScience faculty. Graduates with a Concentration in GIScience and Technology find themselves well-prepared to start a career in a geographic information technology field. Career opportunities have been growing fast as GIScience in high demand in a wide range of professions, including GIS analysts, GIS developers, cartographers, urban and city planners, location analysts, transportation planners and natural resource specialists. Strong connections between the department and local and state agencies offer excellent opportunities to help students achieve their career goals. Students pursuing the Concentration in GIScience and Technology are urged to select their courses in consultation with their advisor to develop an appropriate program of study in this rapidly evolving field to ensure it is tailored to their career goals.
Foundation Course (4 credit hours)
GIS Technique Courses (6-8 credit hours)
Select two of the following:
GIS Application Courses (3 credit hours)
Select one of the following:
GIS Elective Courses (18 credit hours)
Select at least 13 credit hours of additional GIS-related coursework from the courses listed above and an additional 2 to 5 hours in elective courses at the 3000 or above level, for a total of 18 credit hours.
Unrestricted Elective Courses
Degree Total = 120 Credit Hours
Cooperative Education Program
Students in the Geography and Earth Sciences programs may obtain practical work experience while pursuing their degrees by participating in the Cooperative Education program. The work experience is approved by the department and is closely related to the student’s field of study. The Cooperative Education Program allows qualified students either to alternate semesters of academic study with semesters of full-time work experience or to combine part-time academic study and part-time work during the same semester. Students who are in good standing with the University, have a minimum overall GPA of 2.5, and have completed 30 credit hours are eligible to apply. Transfer students are required to complete 12 credit hours at the University prior to application. Students interested in learning more about participating in this program should contact the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences or the University Career Center.
For details about the Honors Program in Geography, visit the program page .
For the suggested course sequence toward completing the major, please see the Academic Plan of Study available online at academics.uncc.edu. Consultation with an advisor is required.