Apr 23, 2024  
2022-2023 Catalog 
2022-2023 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography, B.A.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges and Program Offerings

SBSB 4-222

(760) 750-4104


Click Here for Complete Faculty Listing  

Program of Study

The Bachelor of Arts in Geography focuses on the study of the Earth and its landscapes, places, and environments. The B.A. degree includes coursework in both social science and physical science as geographers examine the interaction of people with their social, physical, and biological environments across space and time, and at different scales.  Some geographers work in communities, or analyze industries and regions, while others study environmental change, weather, gender, or geopolitics. With this range of topics and Geography’s spatial analytic approach, the degree equips students with foundational knowledge, concepts, and theories that explain the world around them, and help them become broadly trained, informed global citizens who are prepared to investigate, assess, and address contemporary problems, and to look for and contribute to solutions for rural, urban, regional, and global challenges. The degree provides opportunities for students to learn regional and economic geography, environmental and physical geography, and geographical techniques.

Regional and Economic Geography: Regional and economic geographers focus on the place-based networks and global connections that constitute regions. The program emphasizes the connections between politics, economic growth, culture, and the global economy. The program features study of how borders course through, divide, and unify regions around the world including in the San Diego region.

Physical Geography: The program provides training in Earth’s systems and emphasizes the carbon cycle and hydrologic cycle in the formation and transformation of Earth, its landscapes and resources.

Geographical Techniques: Quantitative and qualitative geographic techniques are essential tools of geographers. Students exit the program with training in both qualitative and quantitative geographic techniques.

Students have the option to complete either a senior seminar or an internship as a culminating experience for their degree.  In either case, students will use their experience to demonstrate proficiency in Geography. 

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete a major in Geography will be able to:

  1. Identify, communicate, and apply knowledge of critical social, scientific, and spatial theories.
  2. Describe physical, environmental, and socio-economic processes that shape the Earth’s surface.
  3. Analyze the spatial organization of people, places, and environments locally, regionally, and globally.
  4. Demonstrate knowledge of quantitative and qualitative geographic methods.
  5. Use maps and other geographic methods to organize and present information about people, places, and environments.

Career Opportunities

A Geography degree prepares students for a wide variety of occupations in which  knowledge and understanding of spatial relationships and geographic techniques are essential. They cover 20 economic sectors including primary, secondary, and higher education; earth science and geoscience; urban and regional planning; business management; public administration; environmental consulting; surveying; and geospatial information science.

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts in Geography

A minimum of eighteen (18) units of upper-division credits must be earned at CSUSM. No more than six (6) hours of independent study and/or internship may be applied toward the major. All courses taken for the Major, including Preparation for the Major, must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better.

Admission and Graduation Requirements

The Bachelor of Arts in Geography maintains the same general Undergraduate Admission and Graduation Requirements and/or Transfer Policies/Requirements described in the California State University San Marcos Catalog.

General Education (48 units)

General Education  

Interdisciplinary Social Science Requirement (3 Units)

All Geography majors must meet an Interdisciplinary Social Science (IDSS) requirement. This is satisfied with an approved lower-division interdisciplinary social science course from the following departments or programs: American Indian Studies, Anthropology, Border Studies, Environmental Studies, Ethnic Studies, Global Studies, Linguistics, Social Sciences, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies. The course taken to satisfy this requirement cannot double count with other major requirements and must be outside the student’s major discipline.


Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)

All Geography majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English.  This requirement can be met in one of the following ways:

  1. having completed the equivalent of one intermediate-level course (i.e., 200-level, excluding courses focused solely on oral conversation skills) in any language other than English at the college or community college level, with a C (2.0) grade or better or CR grade (including study abroad). For many students, this will mean a three-course sequence to successfully complete the 200-level course. One of the courses used to meet this requirement will be used to satisfy CSUSM’s General Education, Arts and/or Humanities, (C3) requirement;
  2. having demonstrated intermediate-level language proficiency according to the latest American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) guidelines, which is currently assessed via a CSUSM Proficiency Exam;
  3. having successfully received a score of 3 or better on an Advanced Placement Foreign Language Examination;
  4. having successfully received a score of 4 or better on an International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Language A Literature Exam, or Language A Language and Literature Exam;
  5. having taken a College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Language Examination and received the following minimum score:

French Level II: 59
German Level II: 60
Spanish Level II: 63

  1. having been required to take the TOEFL or other CSUSM-approved English language exam as a condition for admission into the University;
  2. having completed at least three years full-time at a high school or university where English was not the principal language of instruction;

CSUSM accepts American Sign Language (ASL) in fulfillment of this requirement. Proficiency in ASL may be demonstrated by the following:

  1. having completed the equivalent of an intermediate-level ASL course (excluding courses focused on deaf culture or fingerspelling) at the college level, with a C (2.0) grade or better;
  2. having demonstrated the above intermediate-level ASL proficiency according to a CSUSM proficiency exam;
  3. having completed a K-12 mainstream program using ASL interpreters;
  4. having completed a K-12 deaf and hard-of-hearing full-time program.

The language proficiency requirement cannot be met with computer languages.

Breadth Requirement (3 Units)

Additional course in Upper-Division Social Sciences (DD designated) outside the major. This requirement can also count as the DD requirement in Upper-Division General Education, but it must be taken in a Social Science or Interdisciplinary program other than Geography. Any course carrying the DD designation outside of Geography can be used to fulfill this requirement. If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become three (3) free elective units.

Preparation for the Major* (20 Units)

Required Upper-Division Core (15 units)

Students should select one class for each of the following course categories:

Upper-Division Electives (12 units)

Students will complete twelve (12) units upon advisement. Courses may not count towards both upper-division requirements and upper-division electives.

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges and Program Offerings