Geography FAQ

FAQs for Geography Majors

Q: May I take Geography classes before I declare the major?
Yes, there are many Geography courses offered to students of all majors and class levels. To declare Geography as a major, students need to have completed two Geography classes and have at least a 2.0 overall grade point average; see the Undergraduate Admissions Description.

Q: What sort of undergraduate degrees are offered in Geography?
The Department offers three undergraduate degrees: a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geography, a BA in Geography with an Emphasis in Geographic Information Science, and a Bachelor of Science (BS) in Physical Geography. The majors are designed to provide a fundamental background for students seeking an interdisciplinary understanding of our planet and the varied human and natural systems that interrelate within it. For more, see Majoring in Geography.

Q: Can I take courses outside of Geography for credit towards the major?
A maximum of eight upper division units from related fields may be included for Geography credit for a BA, selected without petition from a list of approved alternatives in the department office (see Related Courses) or from other related courses by petition.

Q: How do I declare a major in Geography?
Make an appointment with the Undergraduate Advisor, who will review your transcript and determine course requirements, and help you create an academic plan for earning a degree in Geography.

  • If you are changing from one major to another within the College of Letters and Science and you have not yet completed 155 units, you will leave the petition in the department, and the department will forward the approved petition to the Office of the Registrar.

Q: What is an “add code” and how do I get one?
Approval (add) codes are a means for an academic department or course instructor to allow a student to register, bypassing registration restrictions on the course. Examples of restrictions a code will bypass are:

  • Instructor or department approval required prior to registration
  • Major limitations
  • Level limitations
  • Closed or full classes

Geography faculty/instructors are responsible for distributing add codes for their courses. To request one, you must contact the instructor of the course.

Q: What other majors combine well with Geography for a double major?
Environmental Studies is the most common and most complementary double major with Geography. Other majors that are compatible with Geography include Computer Science, Earth Science, Statistical Science, Business Economics, Biological Sciences, Linguistics, and many more. Students with interest and talent in two separate major fields may propose completion of a double major. In their proposal, they must estimate the number of units they will need to complete in satisfying degree requirements and the term in which they will become eligible to graduate. In general, double majors are approved for students who demonstrate that they can meet all degree requirements without exceeding 200 units of credit from all institutions attended. Students who receive approval for a double major will be allowed to continue their studies at UCSB only through the final quarter listed on their proposal. Up to 8 units may be applied simultaneously to the upper-division requirements of majors. See

Q: Please explain the procedure for graduation.
Progress checks are an evaluation of academic work completed toward meeting degree requirements, and you are strongly advised to have a Progress Check audit with the undergraduate advisor at least two terms before graduation. For comprehensive details regarding the requirements for graduation, rules and regulations, declaration of candidacy, degree evaluation, commencement ceremonies, and the issuance of diplomas, see “The Path to Graduation” at

Q: I would like to participate in the Education Abroad Program. Will this affect my graduation in any way?
Because there is usually a delay in processing grades for courses completed abroad, students participating in the Education Abroad Program during their senior year may need to postpone declaring candidacy to graduate at least one quarter beyond the final academic term abroad. For more information, see the Undergraduate Advisor and the EAP web site at

Q: What sorts of jobs can I get with a degree in Geography?
Geography majors are among the most marketable of all majors, according to placement counselors. As the Association of American Geographers Career Guide points out, Geography’s theories and methods provide analytical techniques applicable to a wide range of questions asked over a broad spectrum of occupations. For students planning to end their formal education with the bachelor’s degree, a major in Geography provides marketable skills and the broad perspectives on environment and society that enable graduates to move beyond entry-level positions. Geography also provides a sound foundation for students who plan to enter graduate work in a variety of fields, from geography and the physical and social sciences to business, land use planning, law, and medicine. Geography majors find work as public sector transportation planners; environmental impact analysts; airline route specialists; import / export and shipping logistics planners; geodemographic analysts and marketers; strategic planners in banking, insurance, and real estate; software developers; web designers and programmers; urban and regional planners; computer cartographers using Geographic Information Systems; international trade consultants; teachers at all levels; studies of satellite imagery/remote sensing, climate change analysis, and land use/ land cover change; and much, much more. The following links provide fascinating commentaries on people with geographic training who make use of their knowledge in careers one might not expect to find them in: “Hidden Geographers” and “Geography Jobs.”

Q: How do I take a class for directed readings or independent study?
Choose a professor with research interests similar to your own and discuss your idea for a research project with them. Once you have both agreed on the work to be done, you will need to meet with the undergraduate advisor who will check that you have all of the prerequisites completed. You will then complete the Geography 198/199/199RA Course Proposal Form, sign it, have the professor sign it and return it to the Geography Office for the Chair’s signature. Undergraduate Advisor, who will then issue an add approval code for registering for the units. A copy will be kept on file in the Geography department. NOTE: The prerequisites for Geography 198, 199 & 199RA are as follows: 1) upper-division standing (junior or senior), 2) minimum 3.0 GPA in the preceding 3 quarters, 3) at least 2 upper-division Geography courses completed, and 4) instructor and departmental approval.

Q: How do I get keycard access to Geography labs?
Please see Smart Authorization Keycard access to select labs.