Geography is the science of place and space – the earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments. Geographers ask where things are located on the surface of the earth, why they are located where they are, how places differ from one another and how people interact with the environment. This is a discipline that bridges the social sciences and natural sciences and that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics cites as a growing career field.
The Geography (BS) - Geographic Information Systems degree develops basic geographic principles as well as specific knowledge related to Geographic Information Systems, which is an exceedingly employable skill in the growing geography job market. GIS allow geographers to use data to interpret different data sets and their relation to geography. For example, GIS can be used to map water runoff to better understand water quality in a geographic area.
Employment: Graduates find jobs with municipalities, non-profit organizations, government agencies and private companies. Employers include Metropolitan Planning Commission of Knoxville, Tenn., Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Park Service, Lowe’s Hardware, Arcadis and CIAT.
Students are required to complete a computer programming and application course, an internship, and 45 hours of core geography classes including:
- Communication Geographic Information
- Environmental Remote Sensing
- Digital Image Processing
- Principles of Geocomputation
- Town, City and Regional Planning
Students must also complete 18 hours of elective classes with at least one class in each of the following sub-sections:
- Physical Geography
- Human geography
- Regional Geography
A minor is not required. Popular minors include:
- GIS Certificate
- A foreign language
Engagement Outside the Classroom
- The Student Planners Association (SPA) and Appalachian Geographical Society are student-run, university-recognized organizations consisting of major and non-major members who are interested in fellowship, outings, fun and learning more about planning and geography.
- Gamma Theta Upsilon Honor Society is an international honorary academic society for geographers founded in 1928. To join, you must be enrolled in any of the geography majors and meet one of two GPA requirements.
- North Carolina ArcGIS Users Group is a non-profit organization that creates a forum for the exchange and distribution of knowledge, techniques, and data for people across North Carolina using associated with ESRI and GIS software.
- North Carolina Geographic Alliance - Since 1987, the North Carolina Geographic Alliance has sought to enhance geographic education in North Carolina Schools. Over the years the NCGA has produced teaching materials, provided professional development, and advocated for geography as an integral part of the curriculum.
Appalachian is committed to introducing students to different cultures and teaching them how to live and interact in a global society. There are currently faculty-led trips to study planning and community development in Ecuador and Peru. Dr. Baker Perry also takes 15 students to study climate change in the Andean region each summer.
There are no admission requirements beyond admission to Appalachian State University.
- Appalachian GIS students are required to complete an internship to gain practical experience.
- The Department of Geography and Planning has a strong sense of community – faculty and students work closely together and alumni remain networked with the department for interns and new hires.
- Undergraduate students have many opportunities to work with faculty on research projects including: dating of log cabin construction. See more research
- Students graduate with a GIS certificate, which makes them even more employable in a high-demand job market.
- The Department of Geography and Planning offers a graduate certificate in planning and a Master of Arts in Geography.
- Students can pursue Appalachian’s accelerated master’s program and receive their graduate certificate in planning or Master of Arts in Geography in one year as opposed to two years by taking graduate coursework during their senior year.
Number of Students
Approximately 60 students in the Department of Geography and Planning
Method of Delivery
- GIS Analyst
- GIS Specialist
- GIS Modeler
- GIS Manager
- Director of GIS Laboratory
- GIS Design and Applications Developer
Dr. Kathleen Schroeder