University of Minnesota
Department of Geography, Environment and Society

Department of Geography, Environment and Society's home page.

Undergraduate Programs

Drawing on a rich selection of interdisciplinary fields, the Department of Geography, Environment and Society (GES) houses five baccalaureate degrees and three minors including:

  • Geography BA
    • The geography major offers integrated study of a globalized world, as made by human and non-human forces alike. The major bridges the humanities and the social, biophysical, and information sciences to study social, political, economic, and ecological processes and, especially, the role of space, place, and geographic networks in shaping them.
  • Geography BS
    • The BS offers a solid foundation in the discipline of Geography with an emphasis on the science of Environmental Systems or Geographic Information Science (GIS).
  • Geography Minor
    • With a minimum of 14 credits in Geography, the minor offers students an opportunity to craft an individual course of study in the field.
  • Geographic Information Science Minor
    • Geographic Information Science (GIScience) encompasses the theories and methods for understanding spatial patterns and processes. The undergraduate minor in GIScience allows students to develop depth in spatial analysis that complements their discipline-specific knowledge.
  • Biology, Society, and Environment BA
    • Students in Biology, Society, and Environment (BSE) receive comprehensive training in biology combined with an in-depth examination of the relevance of biology to social and environmental problems. Students complete coursework in the biological sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.
  • Urban Studies BA, BS, and Minor
    • This cross-disciplinary field involves coursework, fieldwork experiences, and introductory work in disciplines that offer useful perspectives on contemporary urban and postindustrial society.
  • Public Health Minor
    • This undergraduate minor is designed to provide students with an interdisciplinary understanding of public health issues in different parts of the world. It can serve as a foundation for further study in public health, other health professions, or any fields in which the health of people is a relevant concern.

Information for Double Majors, Dual Degrees, and Minors

Students are encouraged to pursue complementary majors and minors when they have substantial interest in another discipline, sub-discipline or field of study. See below for examples of combined majors and major/minor programs. Make sure to consult your COLLEGE adviser and the Adviser for each program of interest for more information.

CLA Students may complete multiple majors and/or minors within CLA or in a program offered by another UMTC college (CBS, CFANS, etc.) and vice versa.

Complementary Programs

Check out the catalog for a complete list of UMTC majors & minors. See below for some examples of recommended program combinations:

  • Students interested in Health and Healthcare, consider a minor in:
    • Anthropology, Chemistry, Geography (human or GIS focus), Global Studies, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (HSTM), Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pharmacology, Psychology, Public Health, or Social Justice
  • Students interested in Environmental Science and Environmental Issues, consider a minor in:
    • Anthropology, Agronomy, Computer Science, Earth Sciences, Environmental Geosciences, Environmental Policy & Management (ESPM), Fisheries and Wildlife, Food Systems and the Environment, Horticulture, Marine Biology, Plant Biology, Sustainability Agriculture, Sustainability Studies, or Water Science
  • Students interested in Social Justice, Diversity, or Globalization & Development consider a minor in:
    • American Studies, Anthropology, Gender Women and Sexuality Studies, Geography, Geographic Information Sciences (GIS minor), Global Studies, History of Science, Technology, and Medicine (HSTM), a language program (Spanish, French, etc.), Sociology, Social Justice, or Urban Studies

Limits for Dual Degrees within GES programs

The Department of GES offers courses in several interdisciplinary and sub-disciplinary areas. Students may earn multiple degrees offered by the GES department, but may not earn two degrees within the same major/minor program. The following dual degrees are not allowed:

  • Geography BA and/or BS and/or Geography minor
  • Urban Studies BA and/or BS and/or Urban Studies minor
  • BSE major (BA) and Biology minor (CBS)

For more information, see Dual degree policy:

Resources for BSE, Geography, and Urban Studies Students

Research and Writing Resources

Internship, Volunteer, and Career Resources

The following resources will help you to identify and apply for (paid and unpaid) jobs related to your interests and career goals.

Internships and Volunteer Experiences:

Career Resources

The CLA Career Center can help students successfully identify and apply for positions! Learn how to search for jobs, apply for jobs, secure internships to build your resume, and learn about what kinds of work your major is preparing you to do. Students should seek advice early, and throughout their program, and take advantage of the many resources on and off campus.

Check out Career lists on the Biology, Society, and Environment (BSE) and Geography web pages. The American Association of Geographers (AAG) Online Career and Internship Guide is also an excellent resource for Geography and BSE students interested in environment-related internships and careers.

Scholarships and Awards

Interested in applying for a scholarship? Visit the UMTC collegiate and departmental website to get started.

Geography Majors transferring from a community college may apply for the Darrel Hess Community College Geography Scholarship.

Competitive Fellowships and Scholarships

Many fellowships and awards have minimum GPA and other requirements, but you don’t need to be enrolled in the Honors Program to qualify for many of these scholarships and fellowships:

Department of Geography, Environment and Society Awards

The Geography Department makes awards each spring to undergraduate geographers. They are presented during the Brown Day dinner program.

  • Outstanding Graduating Senior Award
    A cash award from the Department to the outstanding graduating senior in geography, who will have been graduated from the previous fall through the coming summer.
  • Outstanding Senior Project Award
    A cash award for the best senior paper or project submitted since the last Brown Day competition (Awarded on a "calendar year" basis). Every graduating senior in geography must complete a senior paper or project.
  • National Council for Geographic Education Excellence in Scholarship Award
    This award recognizes our nominee to the NCGE for an outstanding geography scholar and includes a certificate from the National Council for Geographic Education. If you believe you meet the eligibility criteria, please contact the GES advisor or a Faculty member.
  • Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geographic Science
    Excellent students who are completing a GIS-focused Geography BA or BS are encouraged to apply for the Marble-Boyle Undergraduate Achievement Award in Geographic Science

Learning Abroad and Other Unique Learning Experiences

Learning Abroad

Learning abroad can be a valuable part of your undergraduate experience. Whether you want to study, explore, volunteer, or intern in another country, this can be an amazing learning experience!

  1. First, attend a Learning Abroad Information Session
  2. Next, look into specific programs and think about how they may fit with your major
  3. Talk with the GES adviser about whether a specific program could be used for major credit. Typically, two to three courses from a one-semester program can count for major credit. (Talk with your CLA adviser about meeting Liberal Education requirements.)

Tips for identifying and selecting a program: The Learning Abroad Center has created Major Advising Pages (MAP) for the Geography and BSE programs. Students with specific interests should also look at the MAPs of other programs, especially:

  • Medicine, Public Health & Health Sciences
  • Pre–Law
  • Sustainability Studies Minor
  • Major/Minor Programs in Other Colleges (e.g., CFANS, CBS, etc.)

HECUA Programs

The University of Minnesota is a member of Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs (HECUA), which provides study semesters in Oslo, South America, and the Twin Cities. Geography and BSE majors may use some HECUA credits to fulfill major requirements. Urban Studies, BSE, & Geography Students have participated in the following HECUA programs for major credit. Students must meet with their major advisor while planning their HECUA semester to be eligible for major credit.

National Student Exchange Program (NSE)

Want to study in another part of the U.S. or Canada for a year, semester, or summer? Students may earn major/minor/LE credit towards their U of M degree at more than 200 schools throughout the U.S. and Canada through the National Student Exchange Program.

Competitive Immersion Programs and Summer Internships

From Fiji, to Wood’s Hole, to Montana, these organizations routinely offer summer programs, internships, and other scholarship experiences for students in diverse areas of study. These are competitive programs and may require significant work to complete the applications, but the opportunities will be well worth it!