“Geography is the study of Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments. It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live.” With this definition from the Royal Geographical Society, it can be understood that geography has both physical and human aspects, as it deals with both social sciences and natural sciences of life on earth.
In today’s world, geography is a significant contributor to how society is able to understand physical and spatial systems, culture, ideas, environments and the organisation and characteristics of society as a whole.
Like with most degree programs, entrance into a geography degree program varies from institution to institution. Some universities may require applicants to take an entrance exam, while some will take into consideration national or standard exams. A number of universities also take into consideration advanced placement exams, while some consider transfer credits for post-secondary students or applicants.
Since geography is a multidisciplinary field and covers various topics ranging from natural sciences to social sciences and global issues, a solid background in different subjects and high marks in standard exams are a good boost to your application. Various leadership experiences are also often taken into consideration. Some institutions also require a letter of intent or an application essay.
For a complete list of requirements, you are advised to check out or contact the institution you are interested in applying to.
Undergoing a degree program in geography generally means having to take courses in the areas of environment, society, economy, research methods, development and the various courses that are more focused on geography. Due to the rising concerns regarding different issues such as global environmental changes, deforestation and sustainability, the curriculum may include some courses and/or seminars that have been devoted to these topics in relation to geography.
In the latter years of the program, a major project or thesis may be part of the requirement for completion of the degree. This usually involves extensive research and in some cases, field work.
Most universities provide specialisation options for their students, either through optional electives or as a mandatory part of the degree program. Gaining a specialisation is recommended because geography is a broad field, although availability of specialisations would also depend on the offerings of each university and the level of study.
Below is a short list of some specialisations offered by institutions:
The accreditation of a degree usually depends on the country where the degree is awarded. In most cases, countries have their own accrediting systems for universities, students and graduates.
Graduates of geography degree programs can end up in different professional positions. As such, there is no universal licensing or certification that geography graduates must obtain to be able to find a job in the field.
A degree in geography can typically take around three to four years of full-time study. The exact period of time would depend on the university of your choice and the country wherein it is located.
There are also various degrees available for geography graduates at the master’s and doctorate level, involving intensive research, coursework and experience for candidates looking to broaden their knowledge of geography.
Graduates of geography degree programs can take on different career paths that require their knowledge and skills. Graduates can go into town, urban or regional planning, tourism and environmental management. Jobs within the property industry like surveying are also available to those with postgraduate qualifications in geography. In the private sector, logistics and distribution positions may be available. On the other hand, government departments may also be a viable option for those interested in working in the fields of tourism, development, and environment, as well as in companies dealing with consultancy, utilities and information systems. Some examples of positions taken by geography graduates are cartographer, surveyor, consultant, town planner, logistics manager, tourism officer and lecturer.
With the availability of many different paths that a graduate of geography can take as part of his or her career choices, the highly transferable skills gained throughout a geography degree program will be useful. These skills include research skills, data collection and analysis, report writing, data presentation, problem-solving skills and decision-making.
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