The Department of Geography brings a holistic perspective to the physical and human processes that shape the world around us. Geographers strive to understand how people interact with, are shaped by, and in turn help shape, our world.
The department engages in cutting-edge research across the breadth of the discipline, excelling at providing field-oriented, hands-on experience. It also trains its students to be top scientists as well as citizens of the broader world to which we’re all connected.
The field’s unique spatial perspective on natural environment and human activity ties to other fields in the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. Geographers are interested in a wide range of phenomena and often work in interdisciplinary teams to focus on environmental change, global development, and other social, and economic issues, and resource use in an increasingly complex and interdependent world.
Geography is, in essence, the study of the interactions between people and their environments, both natural and human. Those who study geography are explore our world by examining the places and regions resulting from that interaction and analyze the spatial characteristics of all manner of cultural, economic, political and physical processes and relationships.
Often considered the best subject to study and the degree most likely to hold the key to the world's problems, Geography is an interdisciplinary field that allows for a diverse education, plenty of hands-on experience, field experience and engaging research opportunities and a solid foundation for whatever may come after undergraduate education.
And the geography department at the University of Colorado Boulder is recognized as one of the best in the world, ranking #1 in the United States and #13 in the world by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and "Earth and Environmental Sciences" and "Earth Sciences" at CU Boulder, more broadly, ranking #9 among all institutions by Nature Index and #1 by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, respectively. As well, their research into remote sensing is ranked #21 in the world by the most recent U.S. News and World Reports.
Their faculty members are also frequently recognized with awards and honors, including three Professors of Distinction, a Distinguished Professor, a Distinguished Research Lecturer, two Guggenheim fellows, multiple Fulbright recipients, and numerous fellows for the National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, Geological Society of America, American Meteorological Society, Andrew W. Mellon foundation, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union. They've also had various faculty members deliver a keynote address at a science forum at the White House; help author the report to the President on climate change; receive a gold medal research award from the Russian Geographical Society; and are home to a former Chief Scientist for NASA. They are often quoted in major magazines and have published numerous papers involving groundbreaking research.
The Department of Geography at the University of Colorado Boulder is one of the few geography programs to maintain an active research profile in most of Geography's subfields, and offers undergraduate research concentrations in each, including:
Their diverse faculty also include several who have joint affiliations with institutes and centers like the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), the Institute of Behavioral Science (IBS), the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies, the Center for Latin American Studies and the Center for Asian Studies, and other departments like Sociology, Environmental Studies and International Affairs.
For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in geography, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work:
The skills and knowledge of the geographer are in demand, leading graduates to entry-level positions in such areas as land-use planning, urban and regional planning, environmental analysis and monitoring, location analysis for the siting of facilities, remote sensing using satellite imagery, international development, and a wide variety of spatial analyses of issues in transportation, recreation, population, and resources.
The major may also serve as preparation for graduate study leading to specialized applied and theoretical work in geography or advanced work in business, law, public affairs, planning, education, and other professions. You may find the career resources page on the geography website useful for more information about careers in geography.
Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation.
According to the 2019-20 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:
At CU Boulder, Geography graduates earn more than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by Payscale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $87,313, based on a pool of 582 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount, however, is slightly less than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during the same stretch.
Job growth for 2016-2026 is projected to be 6 percent, slightly less than average for all job categories.
The Department of Geography has an extensive alumni network working in a variety of industries across the globe. Some alumni of the program include: