2012-14 Academic Catalog

Department of Geography

(College of Social and Behavioral Sciences)


The Department of Geography offers the following undergraduate and graduate programs and program certificate.  Specific requirements for these programs are listed within this Department of Geography section in the following order:

  • Undergraduate Major (B.S.)
    • Geographic Information Science
  • Undergraduate Major (B.A.)
    • Geography
  • Minor
    • Geography-Liberal Arts
  • Graduate Major (M.A.)
    • Geography
  • Program Certificate
    • Certificate in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Bachelor of Science Degree Programs

Geographic Information Science Major

The B.S. Geographic Information Science major requires a minimum of 126 total hours to graduate. This total includes Liberal Arts Core requirements and the following specified major requirements, plus course choices for a focus within the major and electives, needed to complete the minimum of 126 hours.

Geographic Information Science core:30-32
Human Geography
Physical Geography (4 hr. version)
Research Experience in Geography
Geographic Information Systems I
GIS Applications: (Variable Topic)
Geographic Information Systems II
Global Positioning System Field Survey Methods
Thematic Cartography
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Senior Seminar in Geography
Professional Seminar
Geography: (two of the following) 6
Maps and Map Interpretation
Spatial Data Analysis *
Satellite Image Processing
One course from each of the following pairs:3
Mathematics or Sociology select one of the following:
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Statistics for Social Research
Computer Science:
Visual BASIC Programming
Database Systems *
Choose one Application Focus (below) and four courses from that focus12
Application Focus on Environmental Science and Policy
Health Promotion/Environmental:
Environmental and Occupational Health Regulations
Earth Science:
Air Quality *
Recent Climate Change
Natural Hazards and Disasters
Environmental Geography
Soils and Landscapes
Reconstructing Ice Age Environments *
Laboratory Methods in Environmental Geography
Or approved courses in cognate areas.
Application Focus on Human Geographic Processes
Cultural Geography
Demography and Population Geography
Political Geography
Geopolitics: (Variable Topic)
Transportation Planning and Policy
Or approved courses in cognate areas.
Application Focus on Economic Geography and Business
Organizational Management
Leadership and Human Relations
Economic Geography
Cultural Geography
Locational Analysis for Business
Transportation Planning and Policy
Or approved courses in cognate areas.
Application Focus on Planning and Policy
Health Promotion:
Introduction to Epidemiology
Political Science:
Introduction to Public Administration
Economic Geography
North American Cities
Cultural Geography
Demography and Population Geography
Political Geography
Regional Analysis and Planning
Transportation Planning and Policy
Or approved courses in cognate areas.
Other courses, in Geography or cognate areas approved, to reach a minimum of 56 hours.
Total hours56


These courses have additional prerequisites as follows:

GEOG 4340/5340 (970:160g) has prerequisite of STAT 1772 (800:072) or SOC 2020 (980:080)

CS 3140/5140 (810:114g) has prerequisites of CS 1520 (810:052); CS 1800 (810:080).

EARTHSCI 3230/5230 (870:123g) has prerequisites of MATH 1420 (800:060); EARTHSCI 3210/5210 (870:121g).

GEOG 4240/5240 (970:155g) has prerequisites of GEOG 2210 (970:028); EARTHSCI 1300 (870:031) or consent of instructor.

Note: Choice of courses and subsequent course prerequisites may increase the length of this program.

Bachelor of Arts Degree Programs

Geography Major

The Geography major requires a minimum of 120 total hours to graduate. This total includes Liberal Arts Core requirements and the following specified major requirements, plus electives to complete the minimum of 120 hours.

GEOG 1110 (970:040)World Geography3
GEOG 1120 (970:010)Human Geography3
GEOG 1210 (970:026)Physical Geography3-4
GEOG 1310 (970:061)Maps and Map Interpretation3
GEOG 4550 (970:180)Senior Seminar in Geography3
GEOG 4560 (970:181)Professional Seminar1
Methods select one of the following: 3
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Geographic Information Systems I
Statistics for Social Research
Electives in geography *18
Total Hours37-38


Other programs occasionally offer courses appropriate to the geography major. The Department of Geography will approve substituting up to two such courses for electives in Geography. Note that only 3 hours of credit in GEOG 3179 (970:179) will count toward electives for the major.


Geography Minor-Liberal Arts

GEOG 1120 (970:010)Human Geography3
or GEOG 1110 (970:040) World Geography
GEOG 1210 (970:026)Physical Geography (4 hrs.)4
Electives in geography *12
Total Hours19



Only 3 hours of credit in GEOG 3179 (970:179) will count toward electives for the minor.


Master of Arts Degree Program

Major in Geography

Students interested in enrolling in the program should contact the graduate coordinator in the Department of Geography. Applications should include two letters of recommendation, a brief statement about professional interests and career objectives, and transcripts of both undergraduate and graduate credit.  Graduate information and application for graduate admission can be found at www.grad.uni.edu/admission.

The Graduate Record Examination (General Test) is not required for admission to the program.

Only graduate courses (course number 5000 or above) will apply to a graduate degree, even if the undergraduate course number (4999 or less) is listed. No exceptions will be made.

The major in Geography is available on the thesis and non-thesis options. A minimum of 32 semester hours, including 6 hours GEOG 6299 (970:299) for thesis research and writing, is required for the thesis option. Students must successfully present a written and oral thesis proposal prior to registration in GEOG 6299 (970:299). A minimum of 38 semester hours, including 3 hours GEOG 6298 (970:298) for completion of a research paper, is required for the non-thesis option. A minimum of 17 hours of 200/6000-level course work is required for both the thesis and non-thesis options.  Any 200/6000-level course offered as a graded course must be taken on a graded basis.

Thesis Option:

Required Geography
GEOG 6000 (970:202)Graduate Colloquium (1 hr; must be taken twice)2
GEOG 6010 (970:294)Nature of Geography and Its Research Methodology3
GEOG 6299 (970:299)Research6
GEOG 6550 (970:280)Seminar3
Electives *18
Total Hours32


At least 12 of the 18 hours must be in geography; at least 3 of the 18 hours must be at the 200/6000-level; cannot include GEOG 6598 (970:298); additional hours of GEOG 6299 (970:299) cannot count toward the minimum 18 elective hours.

Non-Thesis Option:

Required Geography
GEOG 6000 (970:202)Graduate Colloquium (1 hr; must be taken twice)2
GEOG 6010 (970:294)Nature of Geography and Its Research Methodology3
GEOG 6550 (970:280)Seminar3
GEOG 6598 (970:298)Directed Research Project3
Electives *27
Total Hours38


 At least 15 of the 27 hours must be in geography; at least 6 of the 27 hours must be at the 200/6000-level; cannot include GEOG 6299 (970:299).


Each student's program (beyond the required core courses) will be determined by individual needs in consultation with her/his graduate advisor and the graduate coordinator.  For the thesis option, an oral thesis defense is required. For the non-thesis option, a final presentation of the research paper is required.

Program Certificate

The University of Northern Iowa makes available, in addition to traditional programs, the opportunity for students to earn program certificates. Program certificates provide an alternative to programs leading to a degree, a major, or a minor; they certify that an individual has completed a program approved by the university. For information on the following program certificate, contact the Department of Geography or the Office of the Registrar, which serves as the centralized registry.

Certificate in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

The Certificate in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is designed to give the student a substantial background in the fields of cartography and geographic information systems. Students completing the program will be familiar with the terminology, techniques and theory of cartography and GIS principles. Hands-on computer experience is a major feature of many of the courses. The program complements majors in disciplines other than geography while increasing the geography major's preparation for the job market.

The student must earn a grade point average of at least 3.00 in the courses taken for the certificate. It is the responsibility of the student to notify the Head of the Department of Geography during or immediately after the semester in which the course requirements will be or have been completed.

GEOG 3310 (970:164)Geographic Information Systems I3
GEOG 4320/5320 (970:174g)Geographic Information Systems II3
GEOG 4360/5360 (970:165g)Thematic Cartography3
Select two of the following:
GIS Applications: (Variable Topic)
Spatial Data Analysis
Global Positioning System Field Survey Methods
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Satellite Image Processing
Total Hours15


B.S. Degree - Geographic Information Science Major (Major Codes 97A, 97B, 97C, 97D)


GEOG 1210 (970:026)4Liberal Arts Core9
GEOG 1120 (970:010)3GIS Application Elective3
Liberal Arts Core9STAT 1772 (800:072) (or SOC 2020)3
 16 15
GIS Application Elective3Liberal Arts Core6
Liberal Arts Core6University Elective3
University Elective3GEOG 4310/5310 (970:170g)3
GEOG 3310 (970:164)3CS 1130 (810:030) (or CS 3140) 3
 15 15
GIS Application Elective3GIS Application Elective3
Liberal Arts Core3Liberal Arts Core3
University Elective3University Electives6
GEOG 4360/5360 (970:165g)3GEOG 4320/5320 (970:174g)3
GEOG 4350/5350 (970:175g)3GEOG 3598 (970:193)1
 15 16
Geography Elective3Liberal Arts Core6
University Electives7University Elective3
GEOG 4550 (970:180)3Capstone Experience2
GEOG 4560 (970:181)1Geospatial Science Electives6
GEOG 4370/5370 (970:173g)3 
 17 17
Total credit hours: 126

B.A. Degree - Geography Major (Major Code 970)



GEOG 1210 (970:026)4Geography Elective3
GEOG 1110 (970:040)3Liberal Arts Core9
Liberal Arts Core9GEOG 1120 (970:010)3
 16 15
Geography Elective3Liberal Arts Core6
Liberal Arts Core6University Electives6
University Elective3Methods Elective (GEOG 2310, STAT 1772, or SOC 2020) 3
GEOG 1310 (970:061)3 
 15 15
Liberal Arts Core3Liberal Arts Core3
University Electives9University Electives9
Geography Elective3Geography Elective3
 15 15
Geography Elective3Liberal Arts Core6
Capstone Experience2University Electives6
University Electives5Geography Elective3
GEOG 4550 (970:180)3 
GEOG 4560 (970:181)1 
 14 15
Total credit hours: 120



GEOG 1110 (970:040). World Geography — 3 hrs.

Reasons for and consequences of variations over surface of the earth of cultural, economic, physical, and other attributes of places. (Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 1120 (970:010). Human Geography — 3 hrs.

Interaction between peoples and their environments. Spatial patterns and processes of population distribution, characteristics, and movement, human environmental impact, and economic activity. (Fall, Spring)

GEOG 1210 (970:026). Physical Geography — 3-4 hrs.

Explanation of patterns of solar energy receipt, atmospheric pressure, winds, and precipitation around the Earth. Emphasis on how solar energy, water, and crustal movements interact to determine characteristics of natural environments on Earth. Prerequisite(s): student must have satisfied university entrance requirements in English and Mathematics. (Fall, Spring)

GEOG 1310 (970:061). Maps and Map Interpretation — 3 hrs.

Survey of various types of maps available from perspective of map maker and user. Emphasis on reading, analysis, and interpretation of information on maps. (Fall)

GEOG 2210 (970:028). Recent Climate Change — 3 hrs.

Brief overview of the climate system. Examination of the evidence for recent global and regional climate changes. Analysis of the importance of greenhouse gases, solar changes, aerosols, and cloud changes as contributers to climate changes. (Fall)

GEOG 3110 (970:101). Economic Geography — 3 hrs.

Analysis of changing spatial structure of the economy and inter-relationships between geography and economics within a global perspective. (Even Springs)

GEOG 3120 (970:104). North American Cities — 3 hrs.

Principles of urban geography, including urban growth and change, structure and dynamics, and analysis and planning in North American cities. (Fall)

GEOG 3179 (970:179). Cooperative Education in Geography — 1-3 hrs.

Practical experience in business, industry, or a government agency. May be repeated for maximum of 3 hours. Offered on credit/no credit basis only. Prerequisite(s): 15 hours of geography at UNI; cumulative GPA of 2.50; junior standing; consent of department. (Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 3186 (970:186). Studies In: (Variable Topics).


GEOG 3210 (970:137). Natural Hazards and Disasters — 3 hrs.

Examination of causes, physical processes, and geographic distribution of natural hazards. Discussion of prediction methods and social impact of such disasters. (Spring)

GEOG 3220 (970:100). Environmental Geography — 3 hrs.

Study of geographic dimension of human-environmental interaction. Historical perspectives on Earth's environmental problems, the place of humankind in ecological systems, and issues of sustainable development. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 1120 (970:010) or GEOG 1210 (970:026) or GEOG 2210 (970:028) or GEOG 1110 (970:040) or consent of instructor. (Variable)

GEOG 3230 (970:144). Natural Regions of North America — 3 hrs.

Description and explanation of various landforms of North America. Focus on structures and surface processes that form distinct physical regions of North America (e.g., Rocky Mountains), and kinds of landforms that make each region unique. (Even Springs)

GEOG 3310 (970:164). Geographic Information Systems I — 3 hrs.

Fundamental concepts and operations of Geographic Information Systems with applications. Lectures are supplemented by computer-based projects. Lecture, 2 periods; lab 2 periods. (Fall, Spring)

GEOG 3580 (970:189). Readings in Geography — 1-3 hrs.

Maximum of 3 hours can be applied toward Geography major. Prerequisite(s): consent of department head. (Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 3598 (970:193). Research Experience in Geography — 1-3 hrs.

Conducting of supervised research or scholarly project. May be repeated for maximum of 6 hours. Prerequisite(s): 15 hours of geography; consent of instructor. (Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 4110/5110 (970:111g). Cultural Geography — 3 hrs.

Examination of the nature and dynamics of culture relative to issues and landscapes that arise out of the interactions between people and their physical and human environments. Special emphasis on socio-economic development and the process of globalization. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Odd Springs)

GEOG 4120/5120 (970:119g). Demography and Population Geography — 3 hrs.

Geographic perspectives on demography and migration in a changing world. Patterns, processes, and models of population structure, change, distribution, and movement. Relationships with complex spatial mosaic of socioeconomic and environmental systems. Elements of population analysis and geodemographics. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Odd Falls)

GEOG 4130/5130 (970:114g). Political Geography — 3 hrs.

Geographic factors in origin, development, behavior, and interaction of states. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Even Falls)

GEOG 4140/5140 (970:116g). Geopolitics: (Variable Topic) — 3 hrs.

Classical and contemporary geopolitical theory applied in the context of variable settings and topics. May be repeated once for credit on different topics. Prerequisite(s): one previous 100/3000/4000-level course in social science; junior standing. (Odd Falls)

GEOG 4150/5150 (970:141g). Regional Geography: (Variable Topic) — 3 hrs.

Study of geography of selected region including evolution and dynamics of its cultural, social, economic, political, and environmental dimensions. May be repeated on different regions. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Variable)

GEOG 4160/5160 (970:151g). Historical Geography: (Variable Topic) — 3 hrs.

Examination of geographic development of selected region or of significance of geographic factors in historical development of selected topic. May be repeated on different regions or topics. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Variable)

GEOG 4170/5170 (970:168g). Regional Analysis and Planning — 3 hrs.

Introduction to processes, methods, and techniques of regional analysis and planning. Planning seen as political and technical process. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Spring)

GEOG 4180/5180 (970:121g). Locational Analysis for Business — 3 hrs.

Practical and theoretical use of geographic models and concepts in business. Locational analysis, site selection, market area analysis, and real estate evaluation. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Spring)

GEOG 4190/5190 (970:117g). Transportation Planning and Policy — 3 hrs.

Transportation policy goals and objectives, transportation planning processes, characteristics and problems of transportation systems. Use of current methodologies and techniques to support decision making related to transportation policy, operations, and management. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 4210/5210 (970:127g). Climatology — 3 hrs.

Fundamentals of physical and dynamic climatology. Application of fundamentals to classification and mapping of global distribution of climatic types, and reconstruction of past climates. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 4220/5220 (970:126g). Soils and Landscapes — 3 hrs.

Study of soils as result of inter-relationships among climates, ecosystems, and landscapes of the world. Soil formation, distribution, properties, and classification, and applications of soil geography to other disciplines. Lecture, 2 periods; lab/field trips, 2 periods. Prerequisite(s): EARTHSCI 1300 (870:031) or GEOG 1210 (970:026); junior standing. (Even Falls)

GEOG 4230/5230 (970:129g). Rivers — 3 hrs.

Runoff processes, stream discharge, sediment transport, drainage basins, properties of alluvium, channel changes, floodplains, terraces, human adjustments to floods, human impacts on rivers, and river water quality. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Spring)

GEOG 4240/5240 (970:155g). Reconstructing Ice Age Environments — 3 hrs.

Study of earth systems, long-term environmental change, and methods used to detect such change. Evidence of environmental changes resulting from glacial-interglacial conditions and how large scale changes in Earth climate systems affect environmental systems. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 1210 (970:026); GEOG 2210 (970:028); EARTHSCI 1300 (870:031) or consent of instructor; junior standing. (Even Falls)

GEOG 4250/5250 (970:185g). Laboratory Methods in Environmental Geography — 3 hrs.

Intended to make students proficient in the common laboratory techniques used for analyzing soil and sediments for environmental geography. Prerequisite(s): EARTHSCI 1300 (870:031) or GEOG 1210 (970:026); junior standing. (Odd Springs)

GEOG 4310/5310 (970:170g). GIS Applications: (Variable Topic) — 3 hrs.

GIS techniques to conduct spatial analysis of social and environmental topics. Focus on an individual research project and associated functional capabilities of GIS packages. Variable social/environmental focus. May be taken more than once for credit. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 3310 (970:164); junior standing. (Spring)

GEOG 4320/5320 (970:174g). Geographic Information Systems II — 3 hrs.

Technical issues in GIS and ways of implementing GIS as a decision support system for solving problems of a spatial nature in selected fields. Lecture, 2 periods; lab, 2 periods. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 3310 (970:164) or consent of instructor; junior standing. (Spring)

GEOG 4340/5340 (970:160g). Spatial Data Analysis — 3 hrs.

Analysis and interpretation of spatial point processes, area, geostatistical and spatial interaction data. Applications to geographic data in real estate, biology, environmental and agricultural sciences using S-Plus software. Prerequisite(s): STAT 1774 (800:064) or STAT 1772 (800:072) or SOC 2020 (980:080); junior standing. (Same as STAT 3778/5778 (800:171g))(Odd Springs)

GEOG 4350/5350 (970:175g). Global Positioning System Field Survey Methods — 3 hrs.

Utilization of global positioning system (GPS) to collect, process, and analyze geographic data. GPS theory and techniques including field survey experiences. Applications within an integrated geographic information system (GIS) framework. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 4360/5360 (970:165g). Thematic Cartography — 3 hrs.

Application of cartographic principles and techniques in compiling thematic maps. Emphasis on cartographic production; essentials of computer mapping and map reproduction. Lecture, 2 periods; lab, 2 periods. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 4370/5370 (970:173g). Remote Sensing of the Environment — 3 hrs.

Examination of physical basis of Remote Sensing and various sensing systems available for monitoring, mapping, measuring, and identifying phenomena on the earth's surface. Emphasis on non-photographic systems operating within the electromagnetic continuum. Various modes of multispectral scanning. Lecture, 2 periods; lab, 2 periods. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 4380/5380. Satellite Image Processing — 3 hrs.

Scientific and computational foundation of digital image processing techniques for extraction of earth resources information from remotely sensed satellite data. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 4370/5370 (970:173g); junior standing. (Even Springs)

GEOG 4520/5520 (970:171g). Issues in the Teaching of Geography — 3 hrs.

Strategies and methods for teaching geography and incorporating geographic perspective in social studies courses. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Odd Falls)

GEOG 4550 (970:180). Senior Seminar in Geography — 3 hrs.

Examination of specific topics through application of geographic principles and analysis. Discussion of readings during first half semester and student presentations during second half semester. Research paper required. Prerequisite(s): 21 hours of geography. (Spring)

GEOG 4560 (970:181). Professional Seminar — 1 hr.

Issues and opportunities involved in transition from undergraduate to professional life. Design and completion of essential documents including resume, professional portfolio, graduate program applications, and standardized examinations. Prerequisite(s): junior standing. (Fall)

GEOG 6000 (970:202). Graduate Colloquium — 1 hr.

Weekly presentations by a faculty member, visitor, or student. May be repeated for maximum of 2 hours. (Fall, Spring)

GEOG 6010 (970:294). Nature of Geography and Its Research Methodology — 3 hrs.

Analysis of various currents of thought concerning the nature and scope of geography and the way they have changed over time. Examination of various geographic research methodologies in the context of these philosophical issues. (Spring)

GEOG 6285 (970:285). Readings in Geography — 1-3 hrs.

Prerequisite(s): consent of department head. (Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 6286 (970:286). Studies In: (Variable Topics).


GEOG 6299 (970:299). Research.

(Fall, Spring, Summer)

GEOG 6550 (970:280). Seminar — 3 hrs.

Topics listed in Schedule of Classes. May be repeated on different topics. (Variable)

GEOG 6598 (970:298). Directed Research Project — 3 hrs.

Research leading to research paper for students in the non-thesis option. Prerequisite(s): GEOG 6010 (970:294). (Fall, Spring, Summer)