What Are the Top Schools for Geography?

Learn about the top three schools with geography programs. Find out what makes these schools the best, including school rankings and degree program offerings. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Geography School?

This interdisciplinary field integrates earth, physical science and human culture studies. You may want to select a school with a strong overall reputation that offers supportive laboratories and research programs in your area of interest. Additionally, the National Research Council (NRC) evaluates schools and programs based on scholarly criteria, research, graduation rates, diversity and faculty. The following three schools' doctoral geography programs ranked highly in several categories in 2010.

What Are Three Top Schools for Geography?

Boston University in MA

BU ranked first in scholarly criteria, research and faculty in the 2010 NRC evaluation. It tied for 41st place in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 rankings of national universities. The Center for Energy and Environmental Studies coordinates interdepartmental research. Research in the Department of Geography and the Environment focuses on energy policy, remote sensing and geospatial technology and physical geography.

You can major in human or physical geography, environmental science or environmental analysis and policy, or pursue a joint B.A./M.A. program. In the master's degree program you can focus on energy and environmental analysis, international relations and environmental policy, global development policy, or environmental remote sensing and geographic information systems. These degrees are offered:

  • B.A. in Earth Sciences
  • B.A. in Environmental Analysis & Policy
  • B.A. in Environmental Science
  • B.A. in Geophysics & Planetary Sciences
  • M.A. in Geography
  • Ph.D. in Geography

University of California in Los Angeles

UCLA ranked second in scholarly criteria and research for its geography doctoral programs in the 2010 NRC report. It tied for 23rd in U.S. News & World Report's 2015 national university rankings. Research facilities include an Intel-funded GIS lab hosted by the Institute of the Environment, a paleo-ecology lab and the Benjamin and Gladys Thomas Air Photo Archives. You could major in geography or geography and environmental studies. These degrees are available:

  • B.A. in Geography
  • B.A. in Geography and Environmental Science
  • M.A. in Geography
  • Candidate in Philosophy in Geography
  • Ph.D. in Geography

University of Maryland in College Park

The University of Maryland tied for second in scholarly criteria and research and also ranked second for doctoral faculty in geography on the 2010 NRC list. It tied at 57th place among national universities in 2015, according to U.S. News & World Report. The Department of Geography emphasizes earth systems science and geographic technologies, including remote sensing and Geographic Information Systems. The department has ties with federal organizations, like NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and local organizations, like the Chesapeake Bay Program. The school offers internship and honors program opportunities. You could concentrate in land use, global environmental change or marine and coastal management. These degrees can be earned:

  • B.A. in Geographical Science
  • B.A. in Geography/B.S. in Social Studies Education - Geography Concentration
  • B.S. in Geographic Information Science and Computer Cartography
  • M.A. in Geography
  • M.P.S in Geospatial Information Sciences
  • Graduate Certificate in Geospatial Information Sciences
  • Ph.D. in Geography

More Top Schools with Geography Programs

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocation
California Institute of Technology4-year, PrivatePasadena, CA
Massachusetts Institute of Technology4-year, PrivateCambridge, MA
Stanford University4-year, PrivateStanford, CA
University of California--Berkley4-year, PublicBerkley, CA
Columbia University4-year, PrivatePalisades, NY
Pennsylvania State University--University Park4-year, PublicUniversity Park, PA
University of Arizona4-year, PublicTuscon, AZ
University of Michigan--Ann Arbor4-year, PublicAnn Arbor, MI
University of Texas--Austin4-year, PublicAustin, TX
Harvard University4-year, PrivateCambridge, MA

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:

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