Geography Major | Geography Minor

General Distribution Requirement

All geography courses count toward the general distribution requirement in social science except courses numbered GEOG 116, GEOG 614, GEOG 624, GEOG 634, and GEOG 644GEOG 120 and GEOG 116 count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and US identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information about general distribution requirements and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The geography department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations for the department are available from either the department office or the Academic Programs and Advising Office.


Over the past several years the department, in cooperation with the Career Development Center, has sponsored preprofessional internships in a variety of natural resource and planning agencies, consulting firms and community organizations. In some internships, students are paid for their work.

Further Preparation

To meet requirements for graduate study, students with majors or minors in geography should select supplementary courses from the social sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities and fine arts in consultation with their department advisors. It is also desirable that students preparing for graduate study take an advanced GIS course, e.g., GEOG 364 - GIS and Community Partnerships or GEOG 365 - Urban GIS or GEOG 366 - GIS for Global Urban Environments, GEOG 368 - Health GIS, GEOG 377 - Qualitative Research Methods and one of the 400-level research seminars in the department.

For other opportunities in related areas of study, see the catalog description of urban studies, international studies, environmental studies, computer science, community and global health, and various area studies programs.


The National Council for Geographic Education Award for Excellence of Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding senior majoring in geography. The David A. Lanegran Award, named for the longest serving member of the department, is presented to a student or students in recognition of significant contributions to the community life of the department. The Hildegard Binder Johnson Prize in Geography, named for the founder of the department, is awarded annually to academically outstanding students in geography. In addition, exceptional majors and minors in geography are eligible for membership in Epsilon Kappa, the Macalester chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the national honor society in geography. 

Topics Courses

GEOG 194, GEOG 294, GEOG 394, GEOG 494 

Examination of special topics of interest to faculty and students, such as a study of the processes by which the spatial environment is cognitively organized by people, geographical problems in economic development, regions of the world, etc. To be announced at registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.

Geography Major

Major Requirements

The geography major consists of nine required courses and supporting courses in other departments. The classes comprising the major will be selected in a manner that builds from the introductory classes to the advanced seminars and will include the following: a) one foundation course: GEOG 111 - Human Geography of Global Issues or GEOG 113 - World Regional Geography: People, Places and Globalization; b) two research methods courses: GEOG 225 - Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, GEOG 378 - Statistical Research Methods in Geography; c) one area studies course (see the clarification below on this requirement); d) four intermediate courses -- 200 or 300 level; and e) one advanced seminar course: GEOG 473 - Historical Geography of Urbanization, GEOG 474 - Urban Geography Field SeminarGEOG 475 - Medical Geography Seminar, GEOG 476 - Transportation Geography Seminar, GEOG 477 - Comparative Environment and Development, GEOG 478 - Cities of the 21st Century: The Political Economy of Urban Sustainability, or GEOG 479 - Migrants, Migration and the Global Landscape of Population Change 

The area studies course requirement may be satisfied by taking one of the following: a regional geography course in the department (e.g., GEOG 242 - Regional Geography of the US and Canada, GEOG 243 - Geography of Africa: Local Resources and Livelihoods in a Global Context, or GEOG 249 - Regional Geography of Latin America); an approved study abroad program; or the student may petition to count a comprehensive area studies course in another department for regions not covered by the geography department. If the student selects a non-geography course to fulfill this requirement, such a course does not count as one of the nine geography courses required for the major.

The senior capstone requirement in geography will be satisfied by completing one 400-level advanced geography seminar course. GEOG 377 - Qualitative Research Methods is strongly recommended for majors planning to attend graduate school.

The department supports four types of emphases within the major: 1) urban and economic geography, 2) nature-society geography, 3) cultural and political geography, and 4) geographic information sciences (GIS). Majors should take care to sample a breadth of courses across the discipline, while striving to develop depth in one of these areas through a few courses. That said, it is not a requirement to have a specific focus within the geography major.

Geography Minor

Minor Requirements

A minor in geography may be achieved by completing five courses selected in consultation with a department faculty member. One of these five courses must be GEOG 111 - Human Geography of Global Issues or GEOG 113 - World Regional Geography: People, Places and Globalization.

A minor in geography with an emphasis in GIS/Cartography may be achieved by completing five courses, four of which must be in the Geography department:

Required course:

GIS courses in Geography (Choose 3):

GIS-related courses in Geography or other disciplines (Choose 1):