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Geography Major and Minor Requirements

Important: The School of Education is now offering a new and innovative teacher licensing program in secondary education. Licensing in middle and high school English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies is now obtained by completing a master’s degree program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Graduates are awarded a master’s degree along with certification in their subject area(s) and certification in English as a Second Language (ESL).

This new structure means that students at UW–Madison become certified to teach these subjects only through graduate-level course work, not as undergraduates.

Information about the new program (e.g., licensing areas, requirements, application process, prerequisite course work and tests, deadlines, and program selection) is available on the Curriculum and Instruction website

Advising staff in the School of Education's Academic Services Office, 139 Education Building, 608-262-1651, can also answer questions and confer with students about the new program.

The major and minor requirements listed below are provided only for (1) secondary students admitted into the undergraduate program fall 2013 or before, and for (2) elementary education students wishing to complete a minor in this subject.

Geography Major

Complete a minimum of 34 credits, including course work in each of the concentrations or tracks of the Geography major. The credits required for program admission must be chosen from courses listed below. At least 15 credits of upper level major course work (numbered 300–699) must be taken in residence on the UW–Madison campus. Students may also wish to consult with the undergraduate advisor in the Geography department, 144 Science Hall, 262-4438. Courses are Geography listings unless otherwise indicated. Note: Each course may be counted in only one of the groups listed below.

  • Select one course from Physical Geography: Earth Systems and Environmental Processes. Courses address the locational arrangements of earth phenomena and their interaction as physical systems: 120, 121, 127, 320, 321, 325, 326, 328, 329, 331, 332, 338, 344, 420, 523, 524, 525, 527, 528, 531.
  • Select one course from People–Environment Interaction. Courses examine human use, perception, and modification of environments: 139, 230, 240, 303, 309, 319, 332, 338, 339, 344, 434, 460, 508, 519, 534, 535, 536, 537, 538.
  • Select one course from Human Geography. Includes study of the location and organization of human settlements and activities: 101, 102, 236, 300, 301, 302, 305, 312, 318, 349, 353, 444, 501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508, 510, 553
  • Select one course from Area Studies and Global Systems. Courses focus on the ways in which regions, places, and landscapes have acquired distinctive characteristics and problems as a result of their locations and resource potentials and of their settlement, appraisal, and use by particular peoples and cultures: 244, 253, 260, 277, 340, 342, 344, 348, 349, 353, 355, 358, 508, 548, 553.
  • Select one course from Cartography and Geographic Information Science. Courses address the creation and use of maps: 170, 370, 377, 378, 570, 572, 574, 575, 576, 577, 578, 579.
  • Select one course from Methodology. These courses examine the nature and techniques of geographic investigation: 360, 560, 565, 566, 601, 602. NOTE: 360 is strongly recommended for students pursuing graduate study or professional work in Geography.
  • 342 The Geography of Wisconsin, 3, or an acceptable substitute selected in consultation with the undergraduate advisor in the Department of Geography. 342 may be also used to fulfill the requirement in Area Studies and Global Systems.
  • Additional credits, if necessary, to total a minimum of 34 credits.

Note: Students interested in studying and teaching in a number of social studies disciplines may wish to combine the major listed here with a major in Broad Field Social Studies. This combination allows an individual to develop a depth of study in a particular area of interest while acquiring a broader understanding of the social sciences. The ability to teach a number of social studies courses may increase employment opportunities and this combination will also provide a foundation for certification in additional social studies subject areas at a later date.

Geography Minor Requirements for Students in Elementary and Secondary Education

The Geography minor may be completed by students in Secondary Education Social Studies or Elementary Education licensing programs. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.75 is required, based on all Geography minor course work taken on the UW–Madison campus. The graduation grade point average may be modified by the last 60 credits rule.

Secondary Education students may select this minor only if completing a major in another Social Studies certification area. It is not possible to be certified only in a minor area. Interested Secondary Education students must apply and be admitted to the Social Studies program. Admission is limited and competitive. See additional information under the major of choice.

All Secondary students, whether completing their first degree or adding on a teaching minor to a prior certification, should expect to complete a methods course, participate in practicum and student teaching experience, and earn passing scores on a content exam to be recommended for certification. Students wishing to complete a minor must consult with the faculty advisor/program coordinator to discuss its field experience component.

The Geography minor requires a minimum of 24 credits. Complete the required course distribution of the major and Geography electives (if needed) to reach 24 credits. Course work must include at least two approved upper-level courses (300–699). Geog 342 may also be used to fulfill the Area Studies and Global Systems group requirement.

This page was updated 9/22/14.