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Graduate Study in Geography
Department of Environment and Society 
S.J. and Jessie E. Quinney College of Natural Resources
Utah State University

The Master’s Degree program in Geography is offered in the Department of Environment & Society, College of Natural Resources. Geography is the study of the relationships between human society and the biophysical environment. Geographers have long studied the broadest dimensions of environmental studies, including human impacts on the environment, the availability and location of the earth’s resources, the physical processes that occur at the earth’s surface, and the spatial interaction among the components of human society and the environment. Geographers are concerned with the study of observable patterns—resulting from the human occupation of the earth, political decisions, and economic activities—and the processes underlying those patterns. The M.S program in Geography allows for broad training in human-environment interaction, as well as technical training in geographic information science (GIS) and remote sensing.

Geographic training prepares students for many types of careers with a variety of employers in the private, public, nonprofit, and academic sectors. In the private sector, geographers may be hired to undertake locational analyses or environmental impact statements for business. There is a high demand for people trained in GIS and cartography with a background in planning and/or the social sciences. In the public sector, at all levels of government (local, state, and federal), geographers are hired to undertake a variety of tasks. Geographers may work for local and state planning offices, land management agencies, and health departments, among others, and conduct research and visualize information using GIS and remote sensing. At the federal level, geographers can work for the U.S. Geological Survey, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service, Defense Mapping Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Department of State, and U.S. Census Bureau, among other agencies. Similar skills are needed by non-government organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, American Farmland Trust, and many others, as well as corporations like ESRI and Google. A focus on conservation and/or social development can also prepare students for international work, whether federal, multinational, NGO, or private business.

The graduate program in Geography allows maximum opportunity for students to design a program of study to fit their professional needs. Both thesis (Plan A) and non-thesis (Plan B) options are available. Students pursuing the Plan A or Plan B options must complete a minimum of 30 credits. The program of study must be designed in consultation with the major professor. For the Plan B option, students complete a project in lieu of a thesis. Additional departmental graduate study requirements also apply. All department graduate students must: complete a statistics course, enroll in the departmental introductory graduate seminar, and attend college and departmental seminar series each year in residence. See the department for additional details.

Proposed General Course of Study:

M.S. Degree Credits
Required Courses: 12
Statistics (3)  
Department Seminars (2)  
ENVS Grad. Introductory Seminar (1)  
Thesis Research (6-15)  
Elective Courses: 18
Total Credits: 30 minimum  

Core Geography Faculty in ENVS:

Dr. Emily Burchfield, Assistant Professor; Office NR 355B; (435)-797-4089;

Dr. Peter Howe, Assistant Professor; Office NR 218; (435)-797-9457;

Dr. Chris Lant, Department Head/Professor; Office NR 201B; (435)-797-4169;

Dr. Claudia Radel, Associate Dean/Associate Professor; Office NR 104A; (435)-797-0516;

Dr. Jordan Smith, etc., Assistant Professor; Office BNR 289; (435)- 797-9174;


ENVS website: