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Geography and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Overview

Geography is a lot more than maps and memorizing state capitals. Geography and its high tech cousin, Geographic Information Systems or GIS, is a blend of social and natural science that helps make sense of how our physical and social surroundings impact the way we live.

Geographers analyze transportation patterns to determine the best way to design roads and transit systems. They work with public health agencies to look at the societal factors that contribute to the spread of disease. They partner with emergency management officials to develop the plans and routes that help evacuate regions before catastrophic events and quickly restore critical services and supplies in the aftermath.

In short, studying geography and GIS trains you to solve complex problems, and the skills you develop can be translated to virtually every field and industry. The career outlook for geographers is strong - job growth is projected to increase seven percent by 2026.

At Hofstra, your professors will help you focus your studies on the regions, topics or technologies that interest you most. Our GIS program is home to state-of-the-art facilities with professional grade software and hardware including ESRI’s professional ArcGIS software Suite, ENVI remote sensing software, Adobe graphic design software, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and web-based maps with Mapbox.

Along with high-tech resources, our program emphasizes experiential learning through an active network of student clubs and organizations, as well as strong internship, fieldwork and study abroad opportunities, including a semester-long trip through Europe.

Curriculum

Hofstra offers three geography-related degrees, including two that focus on GIS.

The BA in Geography is a liberal arts degree that is appropriate for students who want a career that involves qualitative research of communities and cultural phenomena. You’ll examine the ways communities interact with their environment and how that shapes public policy and government institutions, impacts businesses, education, health and economic development.

The BA in Geography with a specialization in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) provides general geography majors with a thorough grounding in this fast-growing, high-tech field,

The BS in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)  is better suited for students with a mind for processing data. It offers technical-oriented, professional-grade training in GIS and geospatial technologies, and requires significant math, statistics and natural science coursework. Unlike the major in geography, the GIS degree requires a minor or a second major in an area outside geography. Some popular choices among our GIS students include civil engineering, biology, journalism, and political science.

Hofstra also minors in geography, geography/GIS, computer science and GIS, which is an introduction to coding and GIS, and in global studies.

Up-to-date information about required classes and more is available in the Hofstra Bulletin.

BA in Geography Requirements

Recent Alumni Outcomes

Students who earn their degrees in geography or GIS have job opportunities in a variety of roles and industries. Geography and GIS majors are prepared for careers that focus on location, which can include demographic research, urban planning, community development, crisis management, international business, real estate, engineering, finance, public policy, and education.

Recent Hofstra alumni are working at such places as:

  • Metropolitan Transportation Association (MTA-NY)
  • Apple
  • Big Blue Ocean
  • RMB Drafting
  • Monroe County (NY) Department of Planning and Development
  • FirstEnergy Corp. (Ohio
  • Teach for America

Geography is great preparation for graduate degrees in a wide range of fields and recent Hofstra geography and GIS alumni are furthering their education at such institutions as:

  • Columbia University
  • Penn State University
  • Northwestern University
  • Hunter College
  • Albany State University
  • University of Illinois
  • University of South Florida
99% are employed, grad school or both
89% accept a position within six months
$46K median salary
Get More Info on Program Outcomes

Experience

Geography student and teacher

The geography and GIS programs regularly host lectures, social gatherings and study groups, celebrating events such as Geography Awareness Week with programming that highlight the impact of globalization and the ways that geography and GIS can be used to analyze and address such issues as national security, climate change and storm preparedness and public education inequities.

Geography and GIS students are encouraged to tackle independent research with the guidance of faculty, and often have opportunities to present that research at Hofstra's bi-annual Undergraduate Research Day and at regional academic conferences.

High-achieving geography students are invited to join Mu Kappa, Hofstra's chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographical honor society. Get Global is a student club that focuses on career development and academic interests.

Students are also encouraged to pursue study abroad opportunities, including Hofstra's European Odyssey, which is run a semester-length study abroad program in which a dozen selected students travel with faculty throughout Western and Eastern Europe by minivan. The goal is to study the geographical, historical and contemporary topics in at least 10 countries and cultures, with students meeting not only local residents but also politicians and policy makers, professors and other students.

About two-thirds of geography and GIS students complete at least one internship before they graduate. Recent alumni have completed internships at a variety of organizations including:

  • American Association of Geographers
  • American Geographical Society
  • Fresh Air Fund
  • United Nations
  • Citizens Committee for NYC
  • Newsday
  • Nassau County Department of Human Services
  • Nature Conservation Council of New South Wales
  • WaterAid America

Meet CJ BURKA

 
 

CJ Burka was a triple major in geography, global studies and political science. She calls geographers “the most misunderstood people and the most helpful.” Her focus on human geography focused on behavior, cultural norms and political motivations. A past president of Get Global, CJ completed a summer internship with the American Association for Geographers in Washington DC.