Geographers study the Earth and the relationships between Earth and people. They are interested in learning more about the natural and the human worlds in order that this knowledge can be applied to guide environmental decisions. Geographers seek to generate scientific information about the environment and combine it with an understanding of human needs to work toward societal decisions which are both environmentally sensitive and compatible with the greater goals of society. Geography at OSU focuses on sustainability and wise management of the environment and resources, with an international orientation aimed at enhancing global awareness. The Geography option offers undergraduates an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes specializations in fields such as geographic information systems, climate and water science, planning and resource evaluation, and the geography of regional and international conflict. The curriculum gives students a rigorous education in spatial analysis and prepares them to apply geographic analysis to practical questions and to communicate effectively. Courses in basic sciences, statistics, and earth sciences provide a broad background. Students also acquire depth of knowledge through upper level elective coursework.
Career opportunities are bright because OSU geography graduates are well prepared in issues concerning natural resources, the physical environment, land use planning and the latest computer mapping and analysis techniques. Such graduates fill planning and resource management positions in federal, state, city, and county agencies. Others work as specialists in cartography, remote sensing, or geographic information systems.
Recent OSU graduates are employed by:
If you answer yes to a majority of these questions, you may have a bright future in geography.
From the Association of American Geographers web site.
What do geographers do? Geographers work in a wide variety of jobs using their diverse skills. Perhaps the current highest demand for specific geographic skills is in the field of geographic information science (GIScience). In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor called geotechnology (encompassed by GIScience) one of the three leading areas of science along with nanotechnology and biotechnology where job growth will be high in the next decade as new applications for the technology are developed and new users adopt the tools of GIS, remote sensing, digital image processing and cartography.
Undergraduates who develop a set of skills in techniques such as GIS, remote sensing and computer-assisted mapping find job opportunities in federal, state and local government agencies in such diverse areas as land and resource management, population (Census Bureau), economic forecasting, agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, public health and emergency response. The private and non-profit sectors also have a high demand for college graduates with GIS skills as shown in current job listings in The GIS Jobs Clearinghouse. Due to the high demand for graduates with GIS/remote sensing skills, the starting salaries are often quite attractive. Depending on their focus as an undergraduate, geography graduates offer employers combinations of skills beyond GIScience. Employment fields that particularly open opportunities for geographers involve the environment, human-nature relations and people-space relations such as:
Geography graduates enter the job market with a broad background in the natural and social sciences. To strengthen their preparation for a career area, advisors in the OSU Geography Program may suggest coursework in fields such as foreign language, computer science, statistics, anthropology, economics or chemistry.
What about graduate school? Many geography majors continue their education at the master's or Ph.D. levels. OSU undergraduate majors have successfully gone on to complete graduate degrees in geography and allied fields both in the United States and abroad. Graduate geography degrees are offered in a wide variety of universities, each offering different specializations depending on the faculty, facilities and related programs. More information about Oregon State's graduate geography degree can be found on the Graduate Program page of this website.