Geography and Environmental Studies


Learn about the natural and man-made geography around you. Analyze and share environmental data to shape the world and create a more safe and sustainable future for all.

Why Study Geography and Environmental Studies?

Geography is more than memorizing country names and state capitals. It's about understanding our physical surroundings, from the weather to soil samples. To do so, you'll learn to interpret natural and man-made patterns in the places we live.

You'll analyze a wide variety of data—from tree canopy density to fire risk zones. Your discoveries will help create safe environments and fight geographical inequalities. Your skills will help you work for nonprofits, universities, governments and planning firms.

Why Study Geography and Environmental Studies at CSUN?

Bigger and Better

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at CSUN is one of the largest in the nation. Along with excellent faculty, we have a wide variety of classes to help you shape your major. We also have extensive field and lab equipment, including drones, which you will learn to use in and out of the classroom.

Field Studies

As a Geography and Environmental Studies major, you will learn practical skills beyond the campus setting. You will hone your skills in diverse environments—from Death Valley to international settings like the Island of Vanuatu. With your professor and classmates, you will collect real data and practice sampling techniques. You will use advanced laser-based surveying equipment, advanced sediment analysis, drone imagery, and other tools. Through this experience, you will be able to gain the skills to jumpstart your career.

Cutting-edge Technology

The Geography and Environmental Studies Department ensures that students have access to leading technology. We house two state-of-the-art geospatial computer labs where you'll be able to practice using these technologies in classes and for your own research projects. These labs host a variety of software packages that students will learn including (but not limited to):

  • GIS software (ArcGIS Pro, QGIS)
  • Remote Sensing software (Imagine, TerrSet)
  • Data Science software (R, Python, Geoda+)


What You'll Learn

As a Geography and Environmental Studies major, you'll learn to survey, analyze and map natural and man-made features. You'll also study how humans and the environment interact, and propose how we can live more healthy, sustainable lives.

By earning a degree in geography and environmental studies, you'll learn many practical skills including:

  • Field observation and data collection
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping
  • Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
  • Drone technology
  • Land use and map analysis
  • Stream sediment analysis
  • Topographic surveying and weather station instrumentation
  • Presentation graphics and professional report writing

From your core classes, you will be able to focus on the subjects that interest you while receiving a strong background in geography. You will learn about:

  • The physical world
  • Weather and climate
  • People and places around the world
  • The Earth and its resources
  • Climate change
  • Water resources
  • Field observation, recordings and analysis

In your upper-division classes, you'll continue to shape your major. You'll study a variety of subjects such as:

  • Cultural, environmental, economic or urban geography
  • Maps, graphics and spatial analysis
  • Regions of the world, including Los Angeles, Latin America or China
  • River restoration, coastal geomorphology and water quality
  • Natural hazards, conservation and sustainability


Careers & Outcomes

A CSUN Geography and Environmental Studies major can launch your career in a number of fields. You can work for nonprofits, government agencies or private companies as a geographical analyst or GIS administrator. You can also become a teacher that teaches social studies or geography. Your degree can also provide a foundation for pursuing advanced or professional degrees in social, environmental, or physical sciences, or in law.

Common career paths include:

  • GIS analyst
  • Urban planner
  • Environmental consultant
  • Conservationist
  • Sustainability analyst/manager
  • Forest ranger
  • Hydrologist/water scientist
  • Teacher
  • Drone pilot
  • Surveyor
a CSUN drone preparing for takeoff

Let's check the weather.

Learn to program and maintain the Geography and Environmental Studies Department's Weather Network. You'll help collect atmospheric data from stations all over Southern California. Gain technical and data analysis skills while also knowing if you need to bring an umbrella tomorrow.

Teach Social Studies

Your geography and environmental sciences courses can help you become a middle school or high school social studies teacher. Combine your major program with the Single Subject Social Science Subject Matter Program to meet requirements for entering a Single Subject Credential Program. Talk to your advisor about coordinating the two programs. View our Social Science Subject Matter Program for Secondary School Teachers (.pdf) for more information.

Explore Related Programs

Scroll back to the top of the page