BS in Geography: Physical Geography
Why specialize in Physical
Physical geographers study the earth-atmosphere
system to understand the
interrelated processes responsible for patterns of
physical phenomena observed in weather, climate,
vegetation, soils and landforms. Physical geographers
integrate knowledge of the four major spheres of
the Earth's system, namely the hydrosphere, biosphere,
lithosphere, and atmosphere to seek
to understand how it
was formed, determine its current state and predict its
Examples of questions that physical
geographers try to
- What are rocks and minerals?
How do they originate?
- Why do physical landscapes vary
across the United States and the world?
- How can we predict when and where
volcanoes will erupt and the extent of damage?
- How are mountains built and what are
the origins of oceans?
- How old is earth and how has it
changed over time? Future changes?
- Why are oceans salty? Where do the
waves with the best break occur?
- Where does the groundwater found in water wells come
- Why do some thunderstorms produce tornadoes?
- What keeps mesoscale convective
- Why are some
summers/winters hotter/colder and drier/wetter than
- How can numerical weather
prediction models be improved?
can we improve forecasting flash floods?
- What constitutes a drought?
- Is global
- Is there a relationship
between global warming and hurricane intensities?
Our graduates can be found working for the United
States Geologic Survey, Maryland Department of
Environment, engineering firms throughout the
Mid-Atlantic, and in private industry as environmental
consultants. Graduates have been slowing the erosion of
coastal beaches along the US Gulf, and cleaning up the
environment of Aberdeen Proving Ground. Our graduates
have attended and received degrees from some of the
finest graduate schools in North America, including
Johns Hopkins School of Engineering, McGill's Geography
Department and many major State Universities, including
the University of Delaware, University of Maryland,
College Park, and Mississippi State University
Former majors also enjoy employment as research
scientists and university faculty. For example:
- Jeff Dorman - NASA, Wallops Island,
- Dr. Chad Kauffman - Associate
professor, California University of Pennsylvania
Dr. Karen Patterson - Staff Scientist, Naval
Oceanographic Office (NAVOCEANA), Stennis Space
- Dr. Brent Skeeter - Professor and
Chair, Salisbury University, Salisbury, Maryland
- Dr. Peter Soule - Professor,
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
- Dr. Kay Williams - Associate
Professor, Shippensburg University, Shippensburg,
What is the Program of Study?
Our program stresses the interaction between
atmospheric science and their applications
to solving environmental problems. Thus, students
complete courses in both earth science as well as
meteorology and climatology, as well as a common
geography major core. The coursework required for
this track provides a solid undergraduate knowledge of
geography with an earth and atmospheric science focus
which serves as a strong foundation for students
continuing on to graduate studies or onto a career in
One key feature of our coursework in
Physical Geography track is
our commitment to field work and experiential studies.
Our physical geography instructors take students to
local farms to study soils and hydrology, Pennsylvania
and New York to study the remnants of glaciation, and
Assateague Island National Seashore to study coastal
Geography Core Requirements
from the following; at least 1
course must be a weather/climate course*: