Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. Geography seeks to understand where things are found, why they are there, and how they develop and change over time. The purpose of the Master’s in geography online program is to provide a framework for students to gain proficiency in at least one of the systematic branches of geography, and at least one primary research technique, and a basic understanding of geographic information systems (GIS) and geographic information science program. Master’s degree work incorporates formal classwork, seminars, and hands-on research experience.

A few of the biggest dilemmas while deciding to do a master’s in the program are which program to pursue, which school to pick, which university to enroll into. And then there are other considerations such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. We at OMC went through all these matrices and created a list of the best online masters in geography. See the ranking below:

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College Name & Address Tuition Graduation Rate

Texas A & M University, College Station

JKW Administration Building, Suite 200, College Station, Texas 77843

$6,775 83%

George Washington University(on-campus)

1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052

$31,770 85%

University of Southern California

University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089

$47,880 92%

Johns Hopkins University(on-campus)

3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218

$57,010 94%

Salisbury University

1101 Camden Ave, Salisbury, Maryland 21801

$8,769 69%

South Dakota State University(on-campus)

1004 Campanile Ave, Brookings, South Dakota 57007

$8,083 59%

Florida Atlantic University

777 Glades Rd, Administration Bldg., Room 339, Boca Raton, Florida 33431

$5,467 56%

University of Maine

168 College Avenue, Orono, Maine 04469

$8,298 56%

Northern Arizona University

1900 S Knoles Dr, Babbitt Administrative Center, Room 200, Flagstaff, Arizona 86011

$10,309 57%

Georgia Southern University(on-campus)

1332 Southern Drive, Statesboro, Georgia 30460

$4,986 54%

Northwest Missouri State University

800 University Drive, Maryville, Missouri 64468

$6,167 54%

University of North Alabama

One Harrison Plaza, Florence, Alabama 35632

$6,660 50%

The University of West Florida

11000 University Parkway, Pensacola, Florida 32514

$7,088 48%

University of Central Arkansas

201 Donaghey Ave, Conway, Arkansas 72035

$5,018 46%

The University of Montana(on-campus)

Missoula, Montana, Missoula, Montana 59812

$5,076 44%

University of Colorado-Denver

1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217

$6,786 44%

Northeastern Illinois University(on-campus)

5500 N Saint Louis Ave, Chicago, Illinois 60625

$7,790 23%

Pennsylvania State University

128 Outreach Building, University Park, Pennsylvania 16802


Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Most Masters in online Geography degree programs are focused on a curriculum that includes geography labs and geographic field trips. The setting for a Master in Geography is interactive between the environment, faculty, and peers. Students will experience coursework that examines geography economics, urban and rural geography, climatology, and cultural geography. Students will likely be required to complete a thesis or dissertation to earn the Master in Geography degree.

There would typically be a few variants of a master’s in geography, with subjects changing according to the specialization of the degree. Also, the core subjects remain the same but the electives change depending on the specialization and degree type pursued. The credits required would typically be around 36, and the time taken to complete the course would be around 24 months.

There are two-degree types that can be pursued depending on the field of study. They are discussed below:

MA in Geography: When specialization deals with the geography of cities, space, and society the degree type is generally a master’s in Arts. MA programs in geography are flexible, research-intensive, and student driven.

MS in Geography: When specialization deals with geographic information systems/science, rivers, watersheds, and landscape dynamics the degree type is generally a master’s in science. MS programs work in geography incorporates formal classwork, seminars, and hands-on experience.

Area of Focus Description Careers This Concentration prepares for
MA in Geography and Environmental Studies This master’s degree analyzes environmental and spatial interrelationships. Develop proficiency within the broad scope of environmental policy, planning, and management, or the geographic realm of spatial analysis. • Environmental professional

• Geographer

• Regional planner

• Industrial development specialist

• Analyst

Master of Arts in Geography and Urban Studies Students analyze critical problems in communities around the world through a theoretically informed and data-driven, integrative curriculum with multiple interdisciplinary perspectives. Community organizing and social change efforts, economic development, environmental management, geographic systems management, and public administration.
MS in Geographic Information Science Students build flexible, cross-disciplinary expertise around a strong Geographic Information Science core while acquiring business knowledge and professional skills. The business curriculum includes technology management, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance, project and/or process management. This program is designed for careers in business management using geospatial technologies.
MA in Geography This MA program is flexible, research-intensive, and student driven. Students come to the program from a variety of backgrounds and are mentored by outstanding scholars in human geography and geographical computational science. This program is designed for careers in government, the private sector, or non-profit organizations, based on the expertise they develop in a specific field of study.

A master’s in geography would have common core courses for most of the credits, but per the specialization, the elective subjects would vary. Below we would discuss a few subjects learned in a master’s in geography online program, and the skills attained.

Curriculum Skills Gained
History and Theory of Urban Studies This course provides students with the foundational knowledge to pursue graduate studies in the interdisciplinary field of Urban Studies. It surveys the historical and philosophical bases of contemporary urban studies and introduces contemporary explanatory frameworks and associated critiques in the social sciences.
Geographic Inquiry This course familiarizes students with the theoretical, conceptual, and methodological debates underlying the use of spatial analysis in the social sciences. Students explore how place, space, and scale are conceptualized and utilized to examine urban processes as well as different approaches to spatial representation, including visual, mathematical, digital, and cognitive.
Critical Issues in Globalization, Sustainability, and Social Justice This course explores the theories, facts, and debates related to globalization, sustainability, and social justice, the themes that are critical to understanding contemporary urban conditions and dynamics. It provides students with an overview of a wide range of issues, in several U.S. and international settings, and at several spatial scales.
Geospatial Tech & Society Examines the use of geographic information systems (GIS), geographical positioning systems (GPS), and other geospatial technologies in everyday life with emphasis on their implications for social, economic, and environmental change.
Digital Cartography & Map Design Instruction and practice in the basic techniques of map-making followed by a consideration of problems involved in the construction of maps for presentation in a reproduced form (i.e., printed, photographed); the selection of proper source materials for the base and body of the map.
Techniques of Remote Sensing Introduce remote sensing techniques to identify features and phenomena at the surface of Earth with aircraft and satellite platforms. The covered topics include remotely sensed data and major sensor systems, optical, thermal, LiDAR, and hyperspectral remote sensing, techniques for image enhancement and image classification, and applications of remote sensing in various domain fields.

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Thus, accreditation in essence is enforcement of quality. Read more about Accreditation.

Hence, to ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly to be eligible for US federal student aid one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

Most master’s in geography online typically takes anywhere between 16-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. In doing an accelerated program, students can save money on tuition. One can refer to such a program here. Typically, for a master’s in geography, students need to take 30 – 36 hours of credits.

Even though every master’s in geography online will have a specific requirement, generally speaking, a master’s in geography online would require a bachelor’s degree majoring in geography or physical geography, GPA of around 3 in undergraduate work.

Below are a few free university programs:

Keeping in mind the cost of education these days and the amount of debt that each student carries it is of prime importance how you choose to fund your master’s in geography online program. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For further reference, students can refer to this link here for scholarships.

It might happen that someone does not qualify for a scholarship, for such candidates if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your master’s in geography is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid. Here is a link to the application for FAFSA Application.

After completion of this course, graduates can work in positions are Geographer, Demographer, Cartographer, Forest manager, Tourist guide translator, Regional planner, etc.

Some of the very reputed universities and institutes demand a minimum of 50% aggregate marks in graduation as qualifying criteria to secure admission in this course and also conduct entrance examinations to get admission to their MA (Geography) degree course.

Post a master’s in data science online, one can delve into many roles in the geography field. This could vary from a GIS analyst role at an entry-level to a town planner role at the top of the hierarchy. There would be other intermediary roles in between. Below is a list of roles and salaries with their responsibilities highlighted.

Occupation Median Annual Salary (US $) Job Growth (2019-2029) Job Description
Urban and Regional Planner $75,950 11% Urban and regional planners develop land use plans and programs that help create communities, accommodate population growth and revitalize physical facilities in towns, cities, counties, and metropolitan areas. Urban and regional planners use a variety of tools and technology in their work. They commonly use statistical software, data visualization and presentation programs, financial spreadsheets, and other database and software programs. Geographic Information System (GIS) software is used to integrate data, such as for population density, with digital maps. Urban and regional planners may specialize in areas such as transportation planning, community development, historic preservation, or urban design, among other fields of interest.
Cartographers and Photogrammetrists $68,380 4% Cartographers and photogrammetrists collect, measure, and interpret geographic information to create and update maps and charts for regional planning, education, and other purposes. Cartographers and photogrammetrists use information from geodetic surveys (land surveys that account for the curvature of the Earth’s surface) and remote-sensing systems, including aerial cameras and satellites. Some also use light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) technology.
Geographers $85,430 -1% Geographers study the Earth and the distribution of its land, features, and inhabitants. They also examine political or cultural structures and study the physical and human geographic characteristics of regions ranging in scale from local to global. Geographers use several technologies in their work, such as GIS, remote sensing, and global positioning systems (GPS). Geographers use GIS to find relationships and trends in geographic data. These systems allow geographers to present data visually as maps, reports, and charts.
Software Consultants — for developing GIS software $74,980 – as of 2004 Not known GIS developers focus on creating GIS software and managing GIS databases. These workers have many job titles, including GIS developer, programmer, or analyst. Computer science is the most important part of their work, but understanding mapmaking and geography helps developers know how the software should work and how it will be used.

The geography vocation typically doesn’t need a certification nor a mandatory license to practice their craft. But organizations put a lot of value on professional certifications while hiring candidates. If one has completed a master’s in geography it would not be a bad idea to pursue one of the certifications relating to their field of work or a graduate certificate in geography. A few of such are discussed below:

Certification Description
Geographic Information Science Graduate Certificate This graduate certificate prepares students for employment in federal, state, and local government positions that require GIS skills. The certificate has been found suitable for the needs of business and industry, including those corporations that serve as contractors to governments in the United States and overseas.
Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) This certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) will develop the student’s geographic awareness and geospatial technology skills while expanding his career opportunities. This certificate combines research with extensive hands-on experience using the latest data sourcing and online GIS learning techniques, leveraging the best GIS software, and working with spatial data in a real-world context. Graduates will be able to go beyond the basic analysis of GIS data and be able to develop solutions for some of the industry’s most complex problems.
Geographic Information Systems Certificate The Univ of Pittsburgh Department of Geology and Environmental Science offers a Certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). GIS is a computer-based system that allows students to display virtually any type of information that can appear on a map. If one has precise geographic coordinates, you can plot census data, geologic data, species data, historical data, economic data, and any other sort of information you can find onto maps that may highlight topography, geographic features, bedrock or surficial geology, ecologic setting, satellite imagery, etc.
Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation The Graduate Certificate in Remote Sensing and Earth Observation is designed for GIS practitioners who lack formal education in the technologies and methods associated with remote sensing, image analysis, and terrain modeling. The program explores theory and techniques for the effective use of remote sensing in a wide variety of geospatial applications, such as the environment and energy, water and other natural resources, agriculture and forestry, urban and regional planning, transportation and infrastructure management, defense and business intelligence, homeland security, and emergency response.

A master’s in geography is a gateway to an industry with huge potential. But to further their careers and keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, professionals can become members and hence accredit themselves with a professional organization in their chosen career field of geography. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional geography associations keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations. We discuss few such organizational bodies below:

Certification Description
American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing Founded in 1934, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) is a scientific association serving thousands of professional members around the world. Our mission is to advance knowledge and improve understanding of mapping sciences to promote the responsible applications of photogrammetry, remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), and supporting technologies.
The American Association of Geographers (AAG) The American Association of Geographers (AAG) is a nonprofit scientific and educational society founded in 1904. For more than 100 years the AAG has contributed to the advancement of geography. Its members from nearly 100 countries share interests in the theory, methods, and practice of geography, which they cultivate through the AAG’s Annual Meeting, scholarly journals.
National Geographic Society The National Geographic Society uses the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Here educators and students come together to learn, explore, and protect the earth.

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