Department of Geography - Undergraduate Major in Geography
Undergraduate Majors in Geography at
Geography offers a distinctive way of thinking about and analyzing the
world. Geographers identify "where" things, both physical and
human, are located, and then analyze "why" they are located where
they are. The "where" question is always central to what
geographers study and how they study it. What they study is very
diverse. Human geographers study the geographic patterns of
various human activities: economic, political, and cultural.
Physical geographers focus on the geography of physical processes
and their effects: the geography of weather and climate, the geography
of landforms and vegetation, for example. Geographers also study
different places, including regions like the Midwest but also at the
scales of neighborhoods, cities, or countries.
geographers have an extraordinarily diverse and interesting set of
problems to study. Here at Ohio State we focus in particular on four
major areas of interest: i) atmospheric sciences and climatology,
which are branches of physical geography; ii) urban and regional
systems, an important branch of human geography; iii) people,
society, and environment, which provides insights into the
interactions between people in society and their physical environment;
and iv) cartography and geographic information systems (GIS),
which are important methods for studying the various geographies, both
physical and human, around us.
This page provides you with information about our four tracks. If you
would like more information about one or more of them please contact
B.A. in People, Society, and Environment
Students pursuing this track study issues and concepts such as:
Global Environmental Problems: From deforestation to the ozone
hole, geographers study not only the environmental systems that unite
the globe, but the social and economic forces that drive profound, and
perhaps irreversible, changes.
Environmental Law and Policy: The realities of environmental law
are formed both by the exigencies of ecological systems and the
practicalities of social and economic processes. You can study the
legislative procedures that form new environmental law and the methods
and techniques used in managing parks, forests, and waterways.
Environmental Systems: To understand human life in its physical
environment, geographers require a solid grasp of ecological systems.
You can study soils, plants, atmosphere, water, or geomorphology from
the basics to more advanced concepts.
Environmental History and Philosophy: Competing views of the
physical world set the stage for current debates and issues. Geography
is a field where history and philosophy are fundamental to contemporary
Field Research in Environmental Issues: Geographers often
practice their craft in the field, interviewing resource users,
measuring ecological systems, and mapping environmental phenomena. You
can learn to use field tools like Global Positioning Systems (GPS),
Geographical Information Systems (GIS), and cartography in a hands-on
Careers You Can Pursue
This brand new program trains
you for jobs at the intersection of social and environmental science,
such as ones with state and federal Environmental Protection Agencies
(EPA), the Department of Natural Resources, non-governmental
organizations like the Nature Conservancy or American Farmland Trust,
local or state governmental bodies, and companies active in
environmental management or engineering.
B.S. in Atmospheric
Sciences / Climatology
Students pursuing this track study various weather phenomena, including:
Weather Forecasting:. Atmospheric scientists learn
how the atmosphere works and how that knowledge can be used to forecast
future weather for various periods into the future.
Boundary Layer Meteorology and Climatology: What sorts of
processes occur in the important first kilometer of the atmosphere in
which we spend most of our lives? Boundary layer climate studies this
layer, its interaction with the ground and applies these ideas to
agricultural meteorology, pollution, and the weather characteristics of
cities, lakes and forests.
Severe Storms Forecasting: What sorts of atmospheric
conditions lead to hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, intense
lighting, and heavy precipitation? Can these weather conditions be
predicted accurately? How are new technologies like computers,
satellites, and sophisticated weather radars playing a role?
Atmospheric Dynamics and Thermodynamics: Why do
thunderstorms tend to occur in warm, humid weather? Why are the upper
winds of the earth mostly westerly? How does the atmosphere transport
heat, water, and pollutants? A detailed study of the physics of the
atmosphere as an undergraduate major in Climatology/Atmospheric Science
will help you understand these vital issues.
Careers You Can Pursue
Recent graduates who studied Atmospheric Sciences or Climatology
are now working in the following occupations: Meteorologist with a local
TV station; Forecaster with the US Air Force; Meteorologist with the
National Weather Service; Meteorologist/Computer Programmer with the
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration; Air Pollution
Researcher with the Ohio EPA; Weather forecaster with a private
B.A. in Urban and Regional Systems
Students pursuing this track investigate concepts like:
Housing and Neighborhood Politics: Issues like the problem of
the homeless, of downtown redevelopment, the crisis in schools funding,
and residential segregation.
Area Studies: Geographers study different regions of the
world. In the Department at OSU you can study such areas as North
America, Western and Eastern Europe, Latin America, India, the former
Soviet Union, and South Africa. Each of these have their own distinct
problems and lessons to teach us.
Development: Development is a major issue in the world today. In
studying for a B.A. in Urban and Regional Systems at Ohio State you will
have the opportunity to learn about patterns of economic development and
why some countries and regions are more developed than others. You can
also study the Newly Industrializing Countries and why and how they are
'newly industrializing' as well as the politics of local and regional
development within countries.
Location Studies: Geographers study the location of all manner
of things: cities, firms, residents, migrants. As a geographer you will
become acquainted with location theories that often underlie these
Transportation: Subjects like planning logistical systems, the
pros and cons of airline hub‑and‑spoke routing patterns, and the
deregulation of transportation industries.
Globalization: Geographers, including those at OSU, have made
major contributions to the study of contemporary processes of
globalization, its economics, and its politics.
Careers You Can Pursue
Recent graduates who studied Urban and Regional Systems are now working
in the following occupations: Assistant Director Economic Development
for the Chamber of Commerce, Columbus, Ohio; Director of Flood Plain
Management for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; Demographic
Analyst with Ohio State Extension Service; Transit Planner, Southern
California Rapid Transit District; Loan originator with Huntington
Mortgage Company; Cartographer with an oil company; Intelligence
Officer, US Armed Forces Logistics Center; Transportation Planner,
Mid‑Ohio Regional Planning Commission; Director, Capital City Transit
Coalition; Research Analyst, State of Ohio EPA, Air Pollution Division;
University Professor; Market research, Nationwide Insurance; Real estate
Cartography/Geographic Information Systems
Students pursuing this track learn skills like:
Mapping Patterns: Patterns like those of population
change, flows of migrants, neighborhood change, severe storms, ocean
currents, the flows of air masses, and economic development.
Visual Presentation: Learn about the best ways of making
"visual" presentations of the sorts of spatial data that geographers
typically deal with; what is the best way of organizing for visual
inspection (e.g.) data on neighborhood characteristics, trade flows or
Problem Analysis: Learn how to use standard GIS tools for the
analysis of problems like environmental change, air pollution, poverty,
unemployment, and the like.
Combining Statistics and Mapping: Learn how to, for example,
detect unusual occurrences of disease and mortality rates, or to isolate
exceptions in geographic patterns for more careful analysis.
Identifying Optimal Locations: Many employers are interested in
identifying 'best' locations for diverse facilities that include fast
food outlets, automatic teller machines, one-way streets, and bus
routes. GIS provides ways to find solutions to these problems.
You Can Pursue
graduates who studied Analytical Cartography or Geographic Information
Systems are now working in the following occupations: cartographer with
the U.S. Geological Survey; university professor; digital cartographer
with Rand McNally; manager with a private GIS consultancy; cartographer
with the US Defense Mapping Agency; GIS analyst with Nationwide
Insurance; cartographer with an oil company.
What is Ohio State's Geography
doing any bachelorís degree in Geography at Ohio State you would be part
of one of the foremost Departments of Geography in the United States. In
the most recent national rankings it ranked fourth. This is higher than
any other Department at Ohio State. It is a Department that has earned
its ranking through the international research visibility of its
faculty, and is strong in all four of our areas of specialization. So
doing a bachelorís degree in this Department will put you in contact
with first-rate minds who are on the cutting edge of research in the
field as well as enable you to make important contacts with potential
Geography majors come from diverse backgrounds, both personally and
academically. However, whether participating in class discussions,
studying for exams, or doing homework problems, students work
cooperatively with, not competitively against, each other. If, for
whatever reason, youíre re-examining your present major, or if you
currently have no major, consider Geography. We may be what youíre