Geography and Human Environmental Studies

College of Behavioral and Social Sciences
Dean: Joel Kassiola

Department of Geography and Human Environmental Studies
HSS 279
415-338-2049
Web Site: http://bss.sfsu.edu/geog/
Chair: Nancy Wilkinson

Undergraduate Advisers: Davis, Guo, Hines, Liu
Graduate Coordinators: Wilkinson, Oliphant

Faculty

Professors—Davis, Holzman, Wilkinson

Associate Professors—Hines, Oliphant

Assistant Professors—Blecha, Blesius, Donovan, Guo, Henderson, Liu

Programs

B.A. in Geography
Minor in Geography
M.A. in Geography
M.A. in Geography: Concentration in Resource Management and Environmental Planning


Program Scope

Geographers study physical and biological environments, human societies and their interactions across space and time, utilizing both natural science and social science perspectives. We seek to analyze the processes, spatial patterns and consequences of human-environment interaction. We use maps, fieldwork and geospatial technologies such as GIS to solve real-world problems at all spatial scales, from local to global.

The undergraduate major core courses introduce foundation concepts in physical and human geography, as well as geographic techniques. An upper division distribution requirement gives students more focused work in physical environment, human geography, regional geography and applied geography or geographic techniques. Each student also develops a focus of interest based upon 12 units of upper division course work related to a coherent theme.

The internship program supplements the scheduled classes and offers a wide range of opportunities for placement in the public or private sector. Internships entail first-hand application of skills and knowledge gained in the course work.

The Masters of Arts in Geography is designed for individuals pursuing careers in environmental planning, monitoring and advocacy; in resource management; in geographic techniques (cartography, GIS, remote sensing); in community college teaching; or for individuals preparing for doctoral work in geography. The graduate curriculum ensures all students grounding in both physical and human geography and offers opportunities for specialization in physical geography, natural resource management, environmental studies, regional geography and GIS. A master's concentration in resource management and environmental planning provides the knowledge and skills necessary to carry out impact analysis, plan formulation and implementation.

The M.A. program culminates in either a master's thesis or a research project and comprehensive oral examination.

Facilities

Research facilities available to students include Geographic Analysis Lab, a Physical Geography lab, a map library, campus computer laboratories, and library. The San Francisco Bay Area provides a stimulating and diversified setting for graduate work, especially for individuals interested in urban, cultural, or environmental questions. Within the region a wide range of governmental agencies, academic institutions, and nonprofit and private organizations have research libraries, data archives and experienced personnel helpful in pursuing research topics. Internships (paid and unpaid) are also available with a variety of organizations.

No fellowships are available to incoming graduate students. Financial aid is limited to university programs such as work study. The department offers technical staff positions and graduate assistant opportunities to graduate students in residence.

Career Outlook

The B.A. and M.A. in Geography provide excellent preparation for a variety of positions in the public or private sector.  Graduates find challenging and interesting careers in environmental and planning agencies at the state and local level, environmental consulting and cartographic firms, and nonprofit organizations, as well as in community college teaching.  A growing demand for students trained in GIS and environmental management make geography students with appropriate skills highly marketable.

BACHELOR OF ARTS IN GEOGRAPHY

Undergraduate Advisers—Jerry Davis, Qian Guo, Ellen Hines, XiaoHang Liu

Students are advised that the CR grade is acceptable in any two courses to be counted for the geography major.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Required Core Courses Units
GEOG 101 Our Physical Environment 3
GEOG 102
or
GEOG 107
The Human Environment
 
World Regions and Interrelations
3
GEOG 103 Geographic Techniques 4
GEOG 690 Proseminar in Geography 3
Total for core 13
Distribution Requirement (Cross-listed courses originating in other departments are not accepted in these categories.)
One course from each of the following four areas:  
Physical Environment
300-numbered courses in Geography
Human Environment
400-numbered courses in Geography
Regional Studies
500-numbered courses in Geography
Either Geographic Techniques
601-639 numbered courses in Geography
or Applied Geography
640-659 numbered courses in Geography
Total distribution requirements 12-15
Focus of Interest
Units of upper-division geography electives consisting of a minimum of three courses chosen on advisement. These courses will be organized around coherent themes such as those listed below. In addition, alternative concentrations tailored to individual student interest may be developed in consultation with the Geography undergraduate coordinator. On advisement appropriate upper-division courses from other departments and programs may be included.
Human Geography  
Environmental Studies
Physical Environment
Resource Management
Techniques of Geographic Analysis
Urban Environment and Land Use Planning
Focused individual interest pursued in consultation with the undergraduate coordinator and focus adviser
Total for focus 12
Total for major 37-40

Foci of Interest

Focus on Human Geography

In addition to serving traditional liberal arts education, this option permits systematic study within cultural geography: GEOG 422, 425, 427, 432, 434, 445, 454, 455 and a 500-level course..

Focus on Environmental Studies

This focus provides students with an opportunity to learn about environmental processes and issues arising from human activities on our planet. GEOG 600 and 652 are required courses. GEOG 316, 317, 422, 427, 642, 646, 647, 651, 657, and 667 are among those recommended. Supplementary courses in Environmental Studies are also recommended on advisement.

Focus on the Physical Environment

This focus offers a chance to study physical patterns and processes involving landforms, climate, biogeography, soils, and water. Courses central to the specialization include GEOG 312, 313, 314, 316, and 317; supporting courses include GEOG 602, 642, 646, 647, and 657. Supplementary courses in Geosciences and Biology are recommended on advisement.

Focus on Resource Management

A central theme in geography is the use and abuse of natural resources. Courses central to this specialization include GEOG 425, 427, 600, 642, 646, 647, 648, and 657. Supplementary courses in Geosciences and Biology are recommended on advisement.

Focus on Techniques of Geographic Analysis

This career-oriented option focuses on the acquisition of technical skills in cartography (GEOG 606), remote sensing and image analysis (GEOG 610, 611), GIS (GEOG 603, 620, and 621), and fieldwork (GEOG 602). An internship (GEOG 688) is strongly recommended.

Focus on Urban Environment and Land Use Planning

This specialization offers an opportunity to acquire foundation knowledge to prepare for entry level careers and graduate work. Key courses include GEOG 432, 433, 434, 651, 652, 658, and 667. Upper-division courses in Urban Studies are particularly appropriate as well.

Focused individual interests may be pursued in consultation with a geography major adviser. GEOG 603 and 688 are highly recommended.

MINOR IN GEOGRAPHY

Minor Adviser— Jason Henderson

The Geography Minor consists of a core curriculum of three lower division courses plus 12 units of upper division geography electives on advisement. These courses may be organized around coherent themes such as those described for the major. However, groupings of courses specifically appropriate to majors in other departments or programs such as International Relations, Geosciences, or Urban Studies are particularly recommended.

Students are advised the CR grade is acceptable in one course to be counted for the geography minor.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
GEOG 101 Our Physical Environment 3
GEOG 102
or
GEOG 107
The Human Environment
 
World Regions and Interrelations
3
GEOG 103 Geographic Techniques 4
Upper division courses on advisement 12
Total 22

MASTER OF ARTS IN GEOGRAPHY

Graduate AdvisersŚNancy Wilkinson, Andrew Oliphant

Admission to the Program

For admission to the graduate program, a student must meet the general university requirements as stated in the Bulletin. For unconditional admission to the M.A. program in geography, a student must have completed an undergraduate major in geography with a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the major. An applicant with a GPA of 3.25 or better in a major other than geography may qualify for admission as a conditionally classified graduate student. The conditional status is removed upon completion of core degree courses in physical and cultural geography, and geographic techniques, plus two upper division geography courses on advisement, with a grade of "B" or better in each course. Units earned for remedial or prerequisite course work are not applied toward the graduate degree.

In addition to the general application and grade transcripts which are sent to the Graduate Studies Office, the department requires a detailed Statement of Purpose, GRE scores and two letters of recommendation. Personal interviews with the graduate adviser and appropriate department faculty are recommended.

Written English Proficiency Requirements

Level One: a score of 4.5 or better on the Analytical Writing portion of the GRE is taken as an indication of Level One writing proficiency. Any student whose GRE AW is 4.0 or lower is required to undertake remedial course work which does not appear on the GAP. Level Two: the second-level university graduate literacy requirement is met by satisfactory completion of GEOG 895 or GEOG 898.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to fulfilling all university requirements, students must complete the required curriculum outlined below. All graduate seminars and all courses used on the Graduate Approved Program with the exception of GEOG 895 and GEOG 898 must be taken on a letter grade basis and have earned a B- or better. Not more than 3 units of Special Study (GEOG 899) and 1 unit of Special Study (GEOG 699) may be included on the Graduate Approved Program. Internship (GEOG 688) units do not appear on the Graduate Approved Program. Each student must consult with the appropriate graduate adviser regularly and design an individual program leading towards the culminating experience requirement (thesis or research paper). For advancement to candidacy, the student must select a culminating experience committee comprised of two or three members, at least two of whom must be from the department, and present a research proposal to department faculty.

Upper-division courses offered by the department may be included with the approval of the graduate advisers. Depending upon a student's background and/or objective, additional courses in geography or related fields may be required on advisement.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
GEOG 705
  or
GEOG 702
Geographical Analysis
 
Field Methods in Geography (4)
3-4
GEOG 801 Scope and Method in Geography 1 3
GEOG 810 Seminar in Physical Geography 3
GEOG 820 Seminar in Cultural Geography 3
Total 12-13
Graduate seminars in geography from the following:
(A seminar may be repeated for credit provided that it covers a different topic area and is offered by a different instructor)
6-12
GEOG 815 Seminar in Geographic Techniques  
GEOG 825 Seminar in Economic Geography
GEOG 832 Seminar in Urban Geography
GEOG 850 Seminar in Regional Geography
GEOG 858 Seminar in Environmental and Land Use Planning
Graduate seminars and courses or upper division courses in geography or related fields on advisement 3-9
One of the following: 3
GEOG 895 Research Project and Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination  
GEOG 898 Master's Thesis and Oral Defense of Thesis
Minimum total 30

Master's Oral Examination. A two-hour oral examination is required of all students. One hour is devoted to the research topic (GEOG 895) and a second hour focuses on a discussion of six foundation works in the discipline selected on individual advisement. The examination or either of its parts may be repeated only once. Students must have completed all course work prior to taking the oral examination which can be scheduled only during the fall and spring semesters. Examination guidelines are available from the graduate adviser.

Research Proposal. The department requires all MA students to present a proposal of their research for culminating experience to faculty and peers within a semester of filing the Proposal for Culminating Experience. The object is to provide students with useful feedback in the critical developmental stage of the research experience. Students present a twenty minute synopsis of their research ideas to faculty and fellow graduate students focusing particularly on linking the research to a broader theoretical framework and presenting a methodology design to achieve the specifically stated objectives. This is followed by twenty minutes (maximum) for questions and comments. Proposal presentations are scheduled as needed.

MASTER OF ARTS IN GEOGRAPHY: CONCENTRATION IN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT AND ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING

Graduate Adviser— Nancy Wilkinson, Andrew Oliphant

Admission to the Program

For admission to the graduate program, a student must meet the general university requirements as stated in the Bulletin. For unconditional admission to the M.A. program in geography, a student must have completed an undergraduate major in geography with a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the major. An applicant with a GPA of 3.25 or better in a major other than geography may qualify for admission as a conditionally classified graduate student. The conditional status is removed upon completion of core degree courses in physical and cultural geography, and geographic techniques, plus two upper division geography courses on advisement, with a grade of "B" or better in each course. Units earned for remedial or prerequisite course work are not applied toward the graduate degree.

In addition to the general application and grade transcripts which are sent to the graduate admissions office, the department requires a detailed Statement of Purpose, GRE scores, and two letters of recommendation. Personal interviews with the graduate coordinator, the graduate adviser, and appropriate department faculty are recommended.

Written English Proficiency Requirements

Level One: a score of 4.5 or better on the Analytical Writing portion of the GRE is taken as an indication of Level One writing proficiency. Any student whose GRE AW is 4.0 or lower is required to undertake remedial course work, which does not appear on the GAP. Level Two: the second-level university graduate literacy requirement is met by satisfactory completion of GEOG 895 or 898.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to fulfilling all university requirements, students must complete the required curriculum outlined below. All graduate seminars and all courses used on the Graduate Approved Program with the exception of GEOG 895 must be taken on a letter grade basis and have earned a B- or better. Not more than 3 units of Special Study (GEOG 899) and 1 unit of Special Study (GEOG 699) may be included on the GAP. Internship (GEOG 688) units do not appear on the GAP. Each student must consult with the appropriate graduate adviser regularly and design an individual program leading towards the culminating experience requirement (thesis or research paper). For advancement to candidacy, the student must select a culminating experience committee comprised of two or three members, at least two of whom must be from the department, and present a research proposal to the department faculty.

Upper division courses offered by the department may be included with the approval of the graduate adviser. Depending upon a student's background and/or objective, additional courses in geography or a related field may be required on advisement.

Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.

Program Units
GEOG 705
  or
GEOG 702
Geographical Analysis
 
Field Methods in Geography (4)
3-4
GEOG 751 Environmental Management 3
GEOG 801 Scope and Method in Geography 1 3
GEOG 810 Seminar in Physical Geography 3
GEOG 820 Seminar in Cultural Geography 3
Additional graduate courses selected from the following on advisement: 3-7
BUS 857 Ecology and Environmental Leadership  
GEOG 815 Seminar in Geographic Techniques
GEOG 858 Seminar in Environmental and Land Use Planning
GEOG 896 Directed Readings in Geography (1-3)
I R 735 Seminar in Global Environmental Policy
Additional graduate seminars or upper division courses selected from the following, on advisement, with a minimum of one course from each category below. 4-9
Category I: Resource Management and Environmental Planning
BIOL 531 Restoration Ecology  
ECON 550 Environmental Economics
ENVS 450 Environmental Law and Policy
GEOG 422 Environmental Perception
GEOG 427 Agriculture and Food Supply (4)
GEOG 646 The Geography of Marine Resources (4)
GEOG 647 Geography of Water Resources (4)
GEOG 652 Environmental Impact Analysis (4)
GEOG 658 Land Use Planning (4)
GEOL 475 Hydrogeology (4)
Category II: Techniques
GEOG 602 Field Methods in Geography (4) — if not chosen above  
GEOG 611 Remote Sensing of the Environment II (4)
GEOG 620 Geographical Information Systems (4)
GEOG 621 GIS in Environmental Analysis (4)
GEOG 642 Watershed Assessment and Restoration (4)
GEOG 657 Natural Resource Management: Biotic Resources (4)
GEOG 705 Geographical Analysis — if not chosen above
Culminating Experience. One of the following:

3

GEOG 895 Research Project
and
Comprehensive Oral Examination
 
GEOG 898 Master's Thesis
and
Oral Defense of Thesis
Minimum total 30

Master's Oral Examination. A two-hour oral examination is required of all students. One hour is devoted to the research topic (GEOG 895) and a second hour focuses on a discussion of six foundation works in the discipline selected on individual advisement. The examination or either of its parts may be repeated only once. Students must have completed all course work prior to taking the oral examination, which can be scheduled only during the fall and spring semesters. Examination guidelines are available from the graduate adviser.

Research Proposal. The department requires all MA students to present a proposal of their research for culminating experience to faculty and peers within a semester of filing the Proposal for Culminating Experience. The object is to provide students with useful feedback in the critical developmental stage of the research experience. Students present a twenty minute synopsis of their research ideas to faculty and fellow graduate students focusing particularly on linking the research to a broader theoretical framework and presenting a methodology design to achieve the specifically stated objectives. This is followed by twenty minutes (maximum) for questions and comments. Proposal presentations are scheduled as needed.


Footnotes

  1. To be taken by the student during the first year after admission to classified graduate status.


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