NMSU: Department of Geography
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New Mexico State University
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Geography

Undergraduate Student FAQs

What is geography?
What kinds of geography can I study?
How do I know if geography is the field for me?
Why should I become a geography major?
How can I become a geography major?
Do I have a choice in what I study?
What kinds of skills will geography teach me?
Who hires geographers?
How many credit hours do I need for a geography undergraduate degree?
How many faculty and students are there in Geography at NMSU?
What facilities and equipment does the Geography Department have?
Why should I study geography at NMSU?
Can I come by and check out the department?
What do I need to do to get a recommendation from my professor or others?
Whom do I contact if I have additional questions about the geography undergraduate program?


Q: What is geography?

A: Geography is an extremely diverse, dynamic, and multidisciplinary field that seeks to understand the Earth with all of its human and environmental complexities. Geography is the study of “what is where, why there, and why care?”

Q: What kinds of geography can I study?

A: You can study four major areas of geography:

  • Physical geography (e.g., climate, landforms, ecosystems)
  • Human geography (e.g., culture, economics, transportation)
  • Human-environment relationships (e.g., conservation, sustainability, National Parks)
  • Geographic information science and technology (e.g., cartography, geographic information systems, remote sensing)

Individual geographers work within and across these divisions every day. As an undergraduate Geography major, you will take classes in all four areas.

Q: How do I know if geography is the field for me?

A: Excellent question! Have a look at our Why Geography? page to find out. In addition, consider taking one of the following as your first geography class: Geography of the Natural Environment (GEOG 111G), World Regional Geography (GEOG 112G), Culture and Environment (GEOG 120G). During your class, speak to your professor about the major. Drop by the department for a tour!

Q: Why should I become a geography major?

A: To make a difference in the world and to have a great career. Geographers are much in demand in all sectors of the economy. Starting salaries are highly competitive because of the knowledge and skills geographers bring to a job. You will earn a great living and create a life you are proud of. For more information, have a look at our "Why Geography?" page.

Q: How can I become a geography major?

A: If you are already a student at NMSU, simply complete this Request for Change of Major form. If you are not yet a student at NMSU, have a look at our Admission Process page for information. We would love to have you join the department and help you get a job when you graduate. Talk to us anytime if you have any questions or concerns.

Q: Do I have a choice in what I study?

A: Yes, once you have completed a limited number of core geography courses common to all geography majors, you can select your “Emphasis Area” based on what you enjoy most:

  • Human-Environment Relationships (HER)
  • Geographic Information Science and Technology (GIS&T)

For more information about these emphasis areas, click here. For more information about specific courses we offer, click here.

Q: What kinds of skills will geography teach me?

A: Geography provides highly marketable academic and life skills. For a long and yet incomplete list of those skills, have a look here.

Q: Who hires geographers?

A: Geographers may find work in a variety of employment sectors, including:

  • Federal Government: Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Federal Highways Administration, U.S. Aid for International Development, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, etc..
  • State Government: Fish and Game Departments, Departments of Transportation, Natural Resources Agencies, State Historic Preservation Offices, Social Services, Community Development, etc.
  • City and County Government: Land Use Planning Offices, Economic Development, Road Department, Law Enforcement, etc.
  • Private Sector: environmental consulting, engineering firms, land development companies, business location planning, marketing, etc.
  • Non-Profit Sector: National Geographic Society, The Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, community housing programs, disaster relief groups, etc.
  • International: United Nations, Amnesty International, travel and tourism, etc.

For more information about the kinds of careers we will prepare you for, have a look at our "Why Geography?" page.

Q: How many credit hours do I need for a geography undergraduate degree?

A: You need 128 credit hours to earn an undergraduate degree from NMSU. Depending on your emphasis area, between 41 and 47 of these hours are required for the bachelor of science in geography. For more information about degree requirements, click here.

Q: How many faculty and students are there in Geography at NMSU?

A: We have six full-time and two part-time professors. There are currently 70 Geography undergraduate majors and 22 graduate students. Six of the graduate students are Teaching Assistants who will help you in lab sections of your Geography classes.

Q: What facilities and equipment does the Geography Department have?

A: The department has excellent facilities and equipment, including:

  • Breland 178: Spatial Applications Research Center (geospatial work, students hired)
  • Breland 184: Geography field laboratory (small labs and equipment storage)
  • Breland 185: Geography classroom (small classes and labs)
  • Breland 192: Geography computing laboratory (40 computers and excellent software)
  • Breland 194: Geography conference and seminar classroom (small classes)
  • Departmental vans for field trips
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS), compasses, and other field equipment

Q: Why should I study geography at NMSU?

A: There are many reasons why you should study geography at NMSU. We offer a diversity of interesting courses and field trips, have excellent facilities and lots of equipment, support four student organizations, provide numerous student awards and research opportunities, and - importantly - we are a group of faculty and staff dedicated to help you achieve your goals. For more information, have a look at our Why Geography? page.

Q: Can I come by and check out the department?

A: Yes, anytime. Just contact a professor or the departmental secretary Susan Demar at 575-646-3509 or sdemar@nmsu.edu. A professor would be glad to show you around the place and talk about the Geography major.

Q: What do I need to do to get a recommendation from my professor or others?

A: The answer to this question depends on who you ask to give you a reference. However, if you follow these guidelines, you should be successful.

Q: Whom do I contact if I have additional questions about the geography undergraduate program?

A: You may contact any of the Geography Department Professors. We'd all be glad to help you.