Master's Degree Programs in Geography

Learn about the classes available to students in a geography master's program. Get information about the requirements for earning this degree, and find out what careers might be available in this field. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does A Master's Degree Program in Geography Entail?

A master's degree program in geography will provide you with an in-depth education in the geological, environmental and atmospheric elements of the physical world. Your required courses will teach you how to map out geographic locations by environmental characteristics, mathematical dimensions and other physical features, such as population, landscape or climate. You'll also learn about such sociological components of geography as cultural demographics, political climate and environmental programs, like sustainable development and alternative energy.

Key Topics Geological, environmental and atmospheric elements of the world
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree is required for admission
Common Courses Cartography, rural and urban environments, remote sensing devices, geographic theory, meteorology
Possible Career Fields Real estate development, public works, information technology, forestry

What Kinds of Entrance and Completion Requirements Will I Need to Meet?

Master's degrees in geography may be conferred in Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) format. In most cases, your bachelor's degree need not be in geography in order to gain acceptance to a master's degree program. If it's in an unrelated area, however, you may need to take additional foundational coursework in geography before beginning your graduate-level coursework.

Programs typically require the completion of between 24 and 32 credits of master's degree-level geography coursework. A portion of these credits corresponds to core geography courses, but some may be in elective areas, such as remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS) or environmental geography. You'll also be required to complete field experience and a thesis - or, in some cases, an equivalent comprehension exam in lieu of a thesis - before you graduate. Master's degrees specifically in geography are not currently available online, but numerous institutions offer online master's degree programs in the related area of GIS.

What Kinds of Classes Will I Take?

As a student in a geography master's degree program, you'll take courses on such physical geographic features like soil, plants, water, sedimentary deposits and natural disasters. Programs address the geographical characteristics of various regions, states, countries or climates, as well as discussing how regional resources, land use, politics and culture relate to the geography of a region. Topics covered in courses required for most master's degrees in geography may include the following:

  • Land use surveying and analysis
  • Aerial landscape photos
  • Evolution of geographic theory
  • Geographic information systems design and applications
  • Cartography techniques
  • Geographic research methods
  • Remote sensing devices
  • Meteorology and climate change
  • Sustainable land development
  • Rural and urban environments

What Can I Do With My Degree?

As a graduate of a master's degree program in geography, you can pursue careers in forestry, information technology, real estate development or public works. You can work as a surveyor, investigating land for purposes of planning physical or Global Positioning System (GPS) maps or determining commercial viability for building projects.

If you want to work in cartography, potential career options include computer mapping, GIS technology and remote sensing imaging or analysis, reports the Association of American Geographers ( The AAG notes that you can also work for government organizations in environmental or public services positions, including wildlife conservation, toxic waste protection, community advocacy, land surveying or transportation analysis.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • University of Pennsylvania

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • Temple University

    Campus Locations:

    • Pennsylvania: Philadelphia
  • University of South Florida

    Campus Locations:

    • Florida: Tampa
  • Marshall University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Huntington
  • West Virginia University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Morgantown
  • University of Toledo

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Toledo
  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Hattiesburg
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Greensboro
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Charlotte
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill