Bachelor of Arts in Geography

Geographers study physical and biological environments, human societies, and their spatial interactions, and utilize both environmental science and social science perspectives. Geographers seek to analyze the processes, spatial patterns, and consequences of human-environment interaction and address issues of sustainability, using maps, fieldwork, and geospatial technologies such as GIS to solve real-world problems. Areas of study within geography include resource management, physical geography, environmental studies, methods of geographic analysis, human geography and urban and land-use planning. The undergraduate major core courses introduce foundational concepts in physical and human geography, as well as field methods and geographic information science. An upper-division distribution requirement gives students more focused work in physical geography, human geography, regional geography, and applied geography or methods. Each student also develops a 12-unit set of electives related to a coherent area of interest based on their career goals.

Program Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of core concepts and theories in physical geography. In GEOG 101, GEOG 313, and GEOG 314, students will relate global circulation patterns to spatial climate variability. In GEOG 101 and GEOG 316, students will relate biomes with climate, geologic events, and evolutionary history. In GEOG 101 and GEOG 312, students will interpret landscapes, identifying landforms on maps, imagery, and in the field.
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of core concepts and theories in human geography. In GEOG 102, GEOG 423, and GEOG 600, students will learn the spatial dependency between humans and the environment. In GEOG 102, GEOG 432, and GEOG 433, students will use site and situation to analyze the emergence and growth of a city. In GEOG 102, GEOG 434, GEOG 455, and the 500 series, students will critically evaluate how local processes relate to global processes.
  3. Students will be able to identify and investigate a significant geographic question and present findings in a coherent and well-developed project.
  4. Students will be able to critically evaluate the interactions of human activities with a given resource across time and space at variable scales.
  5. Students will be able to apply quantitative and technical skills to the analysis of a geographic problem or question.

Geography (B.A.) – 39-43 Units

Core Requirements (12 Units)

GEOG 101Our Physical Environment3
GEOG 102The Human Environment3
or GEOG 107 World Regions and Interrelations
GEOG 205Geographic Techniques3
GEOG 500GWPhysical and Human Dimensions of Climate Change - GWAR3

Capstone (3 Units)

GEOG 690Senior Seminar in Geography and Environmental Science3

Distribution Requirement (12-16 Units)

One course from each of the following four areas:

A. Physical Geography – 310-399 numbered courses in Geography

B. Human Geography – 400-level courses in Geography

C. Human-Environment Interaction in a Regional Context

GEOG 550Geography of the United States and Canada3
GEOG 552Geography of California3
GEOG 575Emerging China3
GEOG 646The Geography of Marine Resources4
GEOG 647Geography of Water Resources4
GEOG 648Management of National Parks and Protected Areas4
GEOG/USP 651San Francisco Bay Area Environmental Issues4

D. Techniques or Applied Geography -- courses from either Geographic Techniques – Geog 601-639 or Applied Geography – Geog 640–668. Note: while some of these courses also apply to the 'Human-Environment Interaction in a Regional Context' area, they cannot double count towards the major.

Note: Course used to satisfy distribution requirements cannot be double-counted as a guided elective.

Electives (12 units)

Units of upper-division geography electives consisting of a minimum of three courses chosen on advisement. These courses will be organized around coherent areas of study within geography. Students are encouraged to meet with a B.A. Geography major adviser to develop their theme to best prepare for suitable careers. Some areas of study are listed at  On advisement, appropriate upper-division courses from other departments and programs may be included.


  1. A minimum of 40 upper-division units must be completed for the degree (including upper-division units required for the major, general education, electives, etc.). A student can complete this major yet not attain the necessary number of upper-division units required for graduation. In this case, additional upper-division courses will be needed to reach the required total.
  2. Students are advised that the CR grade is acceptable in any two courses to be counted for the geography major. No more than one course counted toward major requirements may be completed with a grade less than a C-.

Complementary Studies

All Bachelor of Arts students must complete 12 units of complementary studies in courses outside the primary prefix for the major, and not cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major. Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the complementary studies requirement.

An additional way to satisfy the complementary studies requirement for students in the geography major is to meet with an adviser to identify courses other than GEOG, and not cross-listed with GEOG, which would serve to complement each student’s area of interest. Four units from complementary studies will also double-count toward units in the major.

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major adviser about how transfer units and SF State units can best be applied to this requirement to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Humanities LD 3 C2
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD 3 E
Ethnic Studies LD 3 F
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), a major or minor, or an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities LD or UD 3 AERM
Environmental Sustainability LD or UD 3 ES
Global Perspectives LD or UD 3 GP
Social Justice LD or UD 3 SJ

Note: LD = Lower-Division; UD = Upper-Division.

First-Time Student Roadmap (4 Year)

The roadmaps presented in this Bulletin are intended as suggested plans of study and do not replace meeting with an advisor. For a more personalized roadmap, please use the Degree Planner tool found in your Student Center.

First-Time Student Roadmap

Transfer Student Roadmap (2 Year)

For students with an AA-T in Geography.
GEOG ADT Roadmap

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Geography

California legislation SB 1440 (2009) mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). 

Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper-division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower-division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals 60 units and in most cases includes completion of all lower-division General Education requirements and at least 18 units in a specific major. (The Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Science AS-T degrees defer 3 units in lower-division GE area C and 3 units in lower-division GE area D until after transfer.) Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and continue in a "similar" major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab on the degree requirements page for the major. The roadmap displays:

  • How many lower-division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower-division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on the award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower-division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California Government

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), please visit Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine:

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower-division major requirements for this major;
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government requirements.

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 semester units/90 quarter units required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper-division transfer (for example, if a course was not passed on the first attempt or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California Community College of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower-division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding the award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower-division General Education in Areas C and D until after transfer to focus on preparation courses for the major. This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.

Transferring From Institutions Other Than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower-division General Education requirements. Note that, as described below, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3, and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower-division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. To review more information about the A3 requirement, please visit

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.