Undergraduate Geography Program


Undecided About a Major?

You may still have many questions about what to major in or what career to pursue. It is not unusual for students to switch majors at least once as an undergraduate.

Confused about a Career?

How do you decide? To begin with, many careers in business, government and civic organizations do not require studying for a specific career. Rather, how well you can write and think is important to them. Many programs in social sciences and humanities open up the doors to a wide variety of careers, In most beginning professions you learn to specialize on-the-job.

Geography studies exciting issues.

One of these interesting areas of study leading to exciting careers is GEOGRAPHY. It is our experience that it is important to find out what you are interested in studying and then by pursuing these interests develop your career.

In Geography, you can pursue interests in:

Housing and Neighborhood DevelopmentEnvironmental IssuesTransportation
Travel and TourismTeachingInternational Affairs and Area Studies
CartographyGeographic Information Systems (GIS) Remote Sensing 
Public PolicyUrban Planning Climatology/Meteorology

Geography can lead to careers as:

Urban PlannerGIS & Remote Sensing ProfessionalReal Estate Developer
Resource ManagerEnvironmentalistPopulation Analyst
Transportation PlannerClimatologistTravel and Tourism Specialist
National Park ManagerGeography TeacherInternational Specialist
Neighborhood OrganizerRetail/Industrial Location AnalystCommunity Development Specialist

Some examples of recent employment by graduates of CSU's Geography Program:

  1. Director of Planning for a major retailer
  2. Analyst of toxic wastes for a waste management company
  3. Director of Neighborhood Economic Development for a southside Chicago neighborhood organization
  4. Teacher of Geography in junior colleges, elementary and secondary schools
  5. Data Analyst for the American Hospital Association
  6. Software developer for the nation's leading Geographic Information Systems firm
  7. Map and Graphics Company Owner

What is Chicago State's Geography Department like?

The Geography curriculum starts with the "state of the world" and how a geographer looks at it. The next few courses build up your background in environmental issues; in cultural and economic issues; and in basic geographic skills like map reading, aerial photo interpretation, and the basic analysis of data such as you would find in the census. In your junior and senior years, you would specialize in Urban and Community Studies, Social and Environmental Justice, Urban Agriculture, or Geographic Information Systems.

Underlying all these courses are a top-notch faculty and brand new equipment. Classes are small.  Faculty are graduates from North America's outstanding geography departments. They are available to counsel and discuss your future including admission to graduate schools. 

Many Geography majors have internships for credit with government agencies and community and civic organizations. The department features a state-of-the-art geographic information systems laboratory. An extensive map library also serves as a federal repository of United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic map series at 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 scales.

How do students become involved in local issues?

The Geography Department has the Neighborhood Assistance Center where faculty and student interns work closely together to serve communities through special technical assistance provided by the Center. Neighborhood Assistance Center projects are often coordinated with faculty in the Geography program. Community problems in economic development, historic preservation, environmental justice, and traffic analysis are recent projects involving students with neighborhood and civic organizations.

What can students do outside the classroom?

One of the important ways of meeting other students is through the Geography Department's student club, the Geographical Society. The Geographical Society holds monthly meetings and socials with slide shows by students and faculty. Students and faculty tour throughout the Great Lakes and Midwest region. The club has also toured and regularly attended professional geography meetings hosted by the Association of American Geographers and the National Council for Geographic Education throughout the United States. The members also plan and participate in special events commemorating National Geography Awareness Week, Black History Month, and Earth Day.

Programs of Study

Liberal Arts Option in Geography

General Requirements:

Admission to the program is contingent upon good academic standing and acceptance by the department. Students are expected to fulfill assessment requirements of the geography program. Copies of these requirements are available with the program advisors. The department will not accept D transfer credit in the major.

Completion of 120 credit hours of work: 42 hours of general education (consisting of 6 hours in composition, 3 hours in mathematics, 6 hours in a foreign language; 9 hours of humanities from at least two disciplines; 9 hours of social sciences from at least two disciplines; and 9 hours of natural sciences and mathematics, of which 3 hours must be from the life sciences and 3 hours from the physical sciences, and one must include a laboratory--refer to the College of Arts and Sciences {CAS} general education requirements for embedded requirements),24 hours in geography core, 15 hours in a concentration area, 18-21 hours in complementary minor, 15-21 hours in electives selected with the departmental advisor’s approval, and passing the examination on the state and federal constitutions. A double major instead of a minor is recommended, although it may increase the number of credit hours required to graduate.

The department reaches out to surrounding communities through the Fredrick Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center. It provides technical assistance to neighborhood-based community and economic development organizations and includes the Calumet Environmental Resource Center. Students assist in research and may have the opportunity to intern with local organizations.

This program is assessed using uniform assessment instruments.

Specific Requirements:

The 33 hour BA in Geography is comprised of an 18 hour core and a 15 hour concentration (Community Development or Environmental Justice or Geographic Information Systems or General). Students may complete an additional concentration for a total of 48 hours.

Required Core Courses (18 credit hours)

Introduction (6 credit hours) -- GEOG 1000 or GEOG 1100, and GEOG 1400

Physical Geography (3 credit hours) – choose one: GEOG 2410 or GEOG 2440

Human Geography (3 credit hours) – choose one: GEOG 2210 or GEOG 2230 or GEOG 2500

Methods and Inquiry (3 credit hours) -- GEOG 2860

Geospatial Technologies (3 credit hours) – GEOG 2840

Community Development Concentration (15 hours)

Core (12 credit hours) - GEOG 2500, GEOG 4500, GEOG 4520, GEOG 4530

Elective (3 credit hours) - choose one: GEOG 2210 or GEOG 2230 or GEOG 3540 or GEOG 3010 or GEOG 4010 or GEOG 4590 or another course with consent of department.

Environmental Justice Concentration (15 hours)

Core (9 credit hours) - GEOG 2500, GEOG 3450, GEOG 4290

Electives (6 credit hours) - choose two: GEOG 4250, GEOG 4280, GEOG 4460.

Students in this concentration are encouraged to select 2440 as their advanced physical geography course from the core.

Geographic Information Systems Concentration (15 hours)

Core (12 hours) - GEOG 4800, GEOG 4820, GEOG 4830, GEOG 4810

Elective (3 credit hours) choose one: GEOG 3450, GEOG 3010, GEOG 4500, GEOG 4010, GEOG 4590, or another course with consent of department.

Students are strongly advised t take CPTR 1150, Introduction to Visual Basic, or its equivalent as an elective course. GIS students are encouraged to consider a minor in Environmental Studies or Environmental Biology. Upon graduation, students can pursue the Graduate Certificate in GIS or M.A. in Geography with specialization in GIS at Chicago State University. See information on these graduate programs for admission and program requirements.

General Concentration(15 hours)

Any fifteen hours in Geography, at least three of which are taken at the 4xxx level.

Core (12 hours): GEOG 2250, 4250, 4590, and 4950

Elective (3 hours) choose one: GEOG 3450, 4290, 4500, 4520, 4530, or 4580

Students in this concentration may substitute GEOG 1500 for GEOG 1000 or 1100 in their required core courses. Students in this concentration are also required to take a biology minor, including BIOL 1710, BIOL 1720 or BOT 2050; ZOOL 2040, BIOL 2550; Urban Ecology (soil, water, plant analysis); and Urban Environmental Biology (new course). The following courses are required in order to fulfill the prerequisites for these classes: College Algebra (MATH 1200), Algebra and Trigonometry (MATH 1210), General Chemistry I (CHEM 1550), and General Chemistry II (CHEM 1560). Students must also take the following as part of their electives: MGMT 2250, ACCT 2110.

Secondary Teaching Option in Geography

General Requirements:

Students must:

  • Pass the examination on the state and federal constitutions.
  • Complete 124 credit hours in: General Education, 42 credit hours; Area of Specialization, 60 credit hours; Professional Education, 28 credit hours.

Specific Requirements

General Education (42 credit hours)

Composition (6 credit hours) - ENG 1270/127 and 1280/128.

Humanities (12 credit hours) - CMAT 1130/113; 3 hours of elective courses in English or Speech; 3 hours humanities elective, 3 hours fine arts.

Natural Sciences (9 credit hours) - 6 hours in either biological sciences or physical sciences, with 3 hours in the other discipline; at least one course must be a laboratory course.

Mathematics (6 credit hours) - MATH 1010/140 and 1020/141.

Social Sciences (9 credit hours) - PSYC 1100/141 and 2040/204; POL 1010/101.

Area of Specialization (54 credit hours)

Required Geography Courses (33 credit hours)

Geography Core (6 hours) - GEOG 1000 or 1100 and 1400

Physical Geography (3 hours) - GEOG 2410 or 2440 or 2400

Human Geography (3 hours) - GEOG 2210 or 2230 or 2500

Methods and Inquiry (3 hours) - GEOG 2860

Geospatial Technologies (3 hours) - GEOG 2840

9 hours of USA and Illinois courses - GEOG 3450, 3010, 3015

6 hours of geography electives from: GEOG 4010. 4500, 4250, 4460, 4290

Required Supportive Courses (21 credit hours)

HIST 1200, 1210, 1300, 1310, 2200**; ECON 1010, and ANTH 1010 or SOC 1010.

Professional Education (29 credit hours)

GEOG 1092; ED 1520 and 2000; ED 4312; ED 4500*; READ 4100*; GEOG 4630* and 4750*; PSYC 2020; SED 4301, 4303; CAS 2630

The courses must be passed with at least a grade of C.

* Restricted to students admitted to the College of Education.

** HIST 2200/220 completes the 15 credit hour requirement in Humanities for students majoring in the Secondary

Teaching Option in Geography.

The Honors Program in Geography

Requirements for Admissions to the Honors Program-students must:

  • Have a 3.25 GPA or higher in the major (after 12 credit hours in the major);
  • Have a 3.0 GPA or higher overall;
  • Have second semester sophomore or junior level status;
  • Be a declared Geography Major
  • Identify a faculty member who will serve as a program mentor (both in assessing student progress at the end of each semester and the completion or the honors thesis;
  • Complete an application for admission that is signed by the faculty mentor and approved by the department chair.

Program Requirements:

  • Complete 12 credit hours designated as honors in geography major classes;
  • Within the 12 credits of honors courses, complete at least two, but not more than three designated honors classes at the 3000-4000 level (6-0 credit hours);
  • Within the 12 credits of honors courses, complete at least on, but not more than two semesters of Senior Honors Thesis (GEOG 4990) with a faculty mentor (3-6 credit hours);
  • Earn a B or above in each honors course;
  • Maintain a major GPA of 3.25 or higher (students whose GPAs fall below the minimums will be granted one semester grace period to regain the minimum GPA level;
  • Participate with other Honors students in department-initiated Honors student activities.

Honors sections will require a level of intellectual engagement over and above that of the traditional course. Honors sections will require additional reading and one or more additional projects, papers, or assignments.

Honors Thesis Project Requirements:

  • Enroll with a faculty mentor for one or two semesters (3-6 credit hours) in a section of Senior Honors Thesis;
  • Develop a project (in conjunction with the faculty mentor) that contributes intellectually to the field of geography;
  • Defend the honors thesis before a committee consisting of the faculty mentor and 1-2 additional faculty readers;

Submit a publishable manuscript of the thesis project or description of a non-traditional project, such as a documentary film, will need to submit a publishable description of the project

Minor in Geography (18 credit hours):

Required Courses (12 credit hours)

Geography Core - GEOG 1000/101, 1400/131

Human Geography - Select 3 hours from 2210/202, 2230/204, or 4500/316

Physical Geography - Select 3 hours from 2410/211 or 2440,

Elective Courses (6 credit hours) - Elective Courses to be selected from the 2000, 3000 or 4000 level with the approval of the departmental academic advisor.