College of Letters & Science
Requirements for the Major in Geography
Requirements for the Major in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems
Related Courses for Either Major
Double Major in Geography and Cartography/GIS
Five Groups of Geography Courses
Honors in the Major
160 Science Hall, 550 North Park Street, Madison, WI 53706; 608-262-2138; www.geography.wisc.edu
Professors Burt, Cadwallader, Cronon, Downey, Kaiser, Knox, Mason, Naughton, Olds, Ostergren, Turner, Williams, Zhu; Associate Professors Alatout, Dennis; Assistant Professors Baird, Gibbs, Marin-Spiotta, Ozdogan, Robertson, Roth, Schneider, Woodward, Young
Undergraduate advisors in the major: The department's undergraduate advising committee represents various areas of concentration. Studentsshould see the committee member representing the concentration of interest. Office hours of committee members are posted in the department office and on the website.
Faculty diversity liaison: Kristopher Olds, firstname.lastname@example.org
Geography studies the interaction between people and their environments including the ways in which the people, the environments, and the interactions all vary from place to place over the earth. Because it is concerned with the character of people and their cultures on the one hand, and with the character of the earth's surface and its resources on theother, it is both a social and a natural science. Being broad and integrative, geography provides an appropriate foundation for a liberal education. It also provides a base for employment in public or private agencies, both domestic and international, concerned with environmental management, locational analysis or planning (urban, regional, land use).
Cartography/GIS, also known more broadly as geographic information science, studies and develops digital technology and the theory behind this technology to help people work with geographic information. This broad area interfaces with work from the physical and social sciences. It is a field devoted to the acquisition, management, analysis, visualization, and representation of geospatial data. It is a relatively new discipline that incorporates geography, cartography, spatial analysis, and related fields such as geovisualization, geodesy, geocomputation, cognition, and computer science. At the present time professionals trained in geographic information science are very much in demand by federal agencies, state and local governments, and private firms.
The student desiring a limited introduction to the field of geography may select any introductory course in cultural or physical geography. Students with special interests in any of a number of fields outside of geography, such as history, political science, economics, anthropology, sociology, meteorology, geology, etc., will find useful background courses in geography. The student desiring a limited introduction to the field of GIScience may select either Geog 170 or 370 or 377. Students in landscape architecture, urban and regional planning, civil and environmental engineering, medical illustration, or the environmental sciences may find GIScience a useful addition to their major course of study.
Department course offerings are listed in five major groups. Courses in Groups 1 and 5 (except Geog 577) are counted as physical science; those in Groups 2 (except Geog 230 and 240), 3, and 4 are counted as social science.
All students must fulfill the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. All courses in the department identified as intermediate or advanced count toward this requirement.
To qualify for a major in geography, a student must earn a minimum of 30 credits in geography and must meet three requirements:
1. Breadth of Study
Take at least one course in each of:
a. Physical Geography: Earth Systems and Environmental Processes
(Group 1 below)
b. People–Environment Interaction (Group 2 below)
c. Human Geography (Group 3 below)
d. Area Studies and Global Systems (Group 4 below)
2. Skills, Techniques, and Methodology
Each of the following, or an equivalent approved by the advisor:
a. 170 Our Digital Globe, or 370 Introduction to Cartography, or 377 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
b. 360 Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis (offered only in spring)
c. 565 Colloquium for Undergraduate Majors (offered only in fall)
3. Depth and Quality of Study
a. All students must complete the L&S requirement of at least 15 credits of upper-level work in the major completed in residence. All courses in the department identified as intermediate or advanced count toward this requirement.
b. A concentration, approved by the advisor, consisting of at least three related intermediate or advanced level courses (including at least one advanced level course). Either:
(1) A concentration from one of the Groups 1, 2, or 3.
(2) An individual concentration proposed by the student and approved by the advisor.
c. A grade point average of 2.0 or higher for the courses in the major.
The undergraduate major in cartography and GIS requires a minimum of 30 credits in geography. The major must include:
1. Core (required)
360 Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis (offered only in spring)
370 Introduction to Cartography
377 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (Geog 370 and 377 should be taken before cartography electives.)
565 Colloquium for Undergraduate Majors (offered only in fall)
Three of the following courses:
570 Problems in Cartography
572 Graphic Design in Cartography
575 Animated and Web-based Mapping
576 Map Transformations and Coordinate Systems
577 Environmental Modeling with GIS
578 GIS Applications
579 GIS and Spatial Analysis
3. Topical Breadth
One course in each of the following groups:
Physical Geography: Earth Systems and Environmental Processes (Group 1 below)
People–Environment Interaction (Group 2 below)
Human Geography (Group 3 below)
or Area Studies and Global Systems (Group 4 below)
4. Other Required Courses
At least 11 credits to include (a) 8 credits of college-level mathematics and (b) Comp Sci 302 Introduction to Programming or Geog 378 Introduction to Geocomputing
At least 3 credits from the following courses:
Remote Sensing: Envir St 401 fall (Schneider, intro); Envir St 401 spring (Schneider, intermediate); Envir St 556; Forestry 875 (when related to Remote Sensing)
GPS: Geol 444
Students are strongly advised to take foundation courses in those disciplines most appropriately related to their chief interests within geography: botany, geology, mathematics or statistics, civil and environmental engineering, anthropology, economics, history, political science, as well as in the most appropriate foreign languages if graduate study is contemplated.
For students pursuing a double major in Geography and Cartography/GIS, Geog 360, Geog 370, Geog 377, and Geog 565 are considered double-counted courses. The 15-credit upper level requirement may include Cartography major course work.
1. Physical Geography: Earth Systems and Environmental Processes
The locational arrangements of earth phenomena and their interaction as
120, 121, 127, 320, 321, 325, 326, 328, 329, 331, 332*, 338*, 344*, 420, 523, 524, 525, 527, 528, 531.
2. People–Environment Interaction
The human use, perception, and modification of environments:
139, 230, 240, 303, 309, 319, 332*, 337, 338*, 339, 344*, 434, 460, 508*, 519, 534, 535, 536, 537, 538.
3. Human Geography
The location and organization of human settlements and activities:
101, 102, 236, 300, 301, 302, 305, 312, 318, 340*, 349*, 353*, 444, 501, 502, 503, 505, 506, 507, 508*, 510, 553*.
4. Area Studies and Global Systems
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*.
5. Cartography and Geographic Information Science
*Course is listed in more than one group. Students must choose the course grouping in which they want to count the course.
The L&S Honors Program encourages participation in advanced courses, independent research, and graduate seminars that provide a sound foundation for the completion of a Senior Honors Thesis.
To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in Geography, students must complete:
1. the breadth requirements for the major;
2. the skills requirements for the major plus Geog 766 (introduction to research methods) for 1 credit, preferably during the junior year (honors students take Geog 766 in place of 565);
3. a minimum of 21 credits at the intermediate and advanced levels;
4. two advanced courses in the area of concentration with at least one of these being a graduate seminar (Geog 766, 681, 682 may not be counted toward this requirement); and
5. Senior Honors Thesis, Geog 681–682, during the senior year.
To earn a B.A. or B.S. with Honors in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems, students must complete:
1. the breadth requirements for the major;
2. the core requirements for the major plus Geog 766 (introduction to research methods) for 1 credit, preferably during the junior year (honors students take Geog 766 in place of 565);
3. the electives requirement for the major, with the additional requirement that at least one of the electives must be a graduate seminar; and
4. Senior Honors Thesis, Geog 681–682, during the senior year.
Students are urged to take geography courses for honors credits whenever offered, but there is no required minimum number of honors credits. A cumulative overall GPA of 3.3 or higher is required in the major and in all courses taken at UW–Madison at the time of graduation. Honors candidates must plan their program in consultation with the department honors advisor and must identify a faculty member willing to advise their thesis research.
This page was updated 10/27/15.