Washington Square Hall 118
Voice: 408-924-5475
Fax: 408-924-5477
Department Website

Chair and Graduate Advisor

Richard Taketa, 408-924-5425

Undergraduate Advisor

Kathryn Davis, 408-924-5485

Admin. Support Coordinator

Jazmina Tamayo, 408-924-5475

Advising Hours

  • Contact the department for advising hours.

Impaction Criteria

  • See the Department Advisor for requirements to declare the Geography Major.

Degree Requirements

Major Requirements

Geography Minors

Geographic Information Science Certificate

About the Department

Geography is for explorers, whether their discoveries are a world away or just next door. Our goal is to make sense of how people and the world's environments interact to build the landscapes where we learn, work and play. Geographers analyze the world with broad and integrative methods, often linking data from the social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. Geography is the way to understand locations, places, and regions. It is the way to interpret both the world's incredible diversity and its repetitive similarities. Geographers love maps. Much of geography centers on learning from maps and communicating with maps. Whether a sketch on a napkin or a computer-driven Geographic Information System (GIS), maps tell of locations and regions, routes and pathways, and the directions to both the past and the future. Modern geography, at the junction of globalism, environmentalism and the innovations in electronic communications technologies, is both exciting and rewarding.

Undergraduate Program in Geography

Undergraduate majors complete a set of core courses that provide a common foundation in geographic analysis. Then the student selects one of three emphases for further study to complete the degree.

Geographic Information Science provides training in collecting, organizing, analyzing and presenting geographic data. Geographic information is acquired from field study, digital databases, aerial photos and satellite imagery; it is organized and analyzed in map form and in geographic databases; and it is presented in both traditional and animated mapping media. Graduates find employment in government agencies, the electronic communications industries and GIS development companies. Students are prepared for professional work as cartographers, GIS application developers and remote sensing analysts. The courses in support of this emphasis build a background in computer applications and computer programming as well.

Global Analysis examines global and interregional connections and diversity in both human and environmental systems. Graduates find work in multinational corporations, international development agencies and in positions such as international marketing, population, foreign policy analyst or agricultural forecaster. Global geography students take a program of both regional and thematic courses, such as Latin American, U.S., Eastern and Southern Asia, and Europe. Thematically we explore such issues as conflict, nationalism, globalization and population as well as a broad range of additional themes.

Urban Analysis is the study of the economic, social, political, and environmental patterning of cities and urban regions. Graduates specializing in this area find employment with consulting companies, real estate companies and local and regional planning agencies. Possible careers include urban planner and location analyst. The courses supporting this emphasis build a comprehensive understanding of metropolitan issues, particularly as these apply to San José and “Silicon Valley.”

Geography classes encourage frequent faculty-student interaction. Courses are scheduled at convenient times. The Geography Department maintains laboratories for work in GIS, computer cartography and analysis of air photos and satellite images. Facilities include a range of workstations as well as printers and scanners for production-quality work. Geography students have the opportunity to participate in faculty research projects as well as exciting study abroad programs.

All students are assigned an academic advisor, who guides the student in selecting courses and assists the student in meeting the requirements of the university and department. Students are encouraged to maintain close contact with their advisor since the shared goal is successful completion of degree requirements in a reasonable amount of time.

The Geography Department has links to companies and government agencies throughout Silicon Valley, which includes one of the world's greatest concentration of firms building GIS hardware, software and custom applications. Career opportunities in geography have never been better. The Geography Department also has formal links to the earth environmental remote sensing program at NASA-Ames and the Metropolitan Technology Center at Moffett Field.

Internship opportunities for geography majors are extraordinary. The department receives requests for interns from the many firms in the growing GIS industry. In addition students find internships in an assortment of government agencies.

The Geography B.A. is also excellent preparation for students interested in a career in teaching. Students planning to be teachers should consult the geography undergraduate advisor for a recommended list of courses to help them prepare for the CSET.

Students interested in majoring in geography should telephone or email the department to make an appointment with the undergraduate advisor.

The Geography Department follows all the university rules regarding transfer of credits from community colleges and other four-year institutions.

Geography Honors Program

Graduation with departmental honors in geography can be achieved by successful completion of any geography graduate seminar open to those seniors with a 3.5 GPA in geography, or completion of an Honors Thesis under supervision of a department faculty member. Students must have a 3.5 GPA in geography to qualify for Honors Thesis option.