Special Considerations for Geography Major

Geography is a very popular and important field of study overseas, so there are many options available. From short-term, faculty-led programs to full-year enrollment at a foreign university, there are plenty of opportunities to earn major credit, fulfill introductory classes, complete upper-level courses, or explore electives. Other exciting opportunities include language study, gaining insight into different environmental, geographical, and social perspectives, learning about a different culture, or doing an internship in another county.


Students using GPS

In general, we encourage Geography majors to study abroad later in their college experience. However, the specific year and semester that you decide to go overseas will depend on the Geography track (GIS, Environmental Studies, or Social Change) you choose to follow. Below, we've listed some general guidelines for Geography majors as well as tips pertaining to each track. For more information, including specific instructions for GIS Geography majors, visit the "Special Considerations" and "Recommended Programs" sections of this MAP, contact your major advisor, and review your four-year plan.

Freshman

Although we generally do not encourage Geography students to study abroad until after their first year, the summer between freshman and sophomore year provides an excellent opportunity to participate in a short-term program. This option is especially good for students studying either Environmental Studies or Geography and Social Change. Going abroad early in your college experience can lay the groundwork for the development of foreign language skills that can culminate in fluency in later classes at the University of Iowa or during a second trip abroad. Explore our website and visit with a study abroad advisor to discuss your options.

Sophomore

Sophomore year is a good time to start planning your study abroad experience. During your sophomore year, you should decide on the type of a program you would like to go on, and set objectives for your experience abroad. Discuss the options available to you with a study abroad advisor and do some research at the Study Abroad Resource Room to make sure that the classes you want to take overseas match your degree requirements.

In addition, if you are following either the Environmental Studies or Geography and Social Change track, the second semester of your sophomore year can be a good time to go overseas and complete General Education requirements or core classes for your Geography major.

Perhaps the best time for Geography students to study abroad is during their junior or senior year of college.

Junior

The first semester of your Junior year is a great time to go abroad. Juniors will likely choose a program that is focused on Geography major credit. Consider going abroad to take the beginning courses in your chosen track and complete any remaining General Education program requirements. Remember, while many foreign institutions will offer some geography courses, not all will have classes related to the track you are following at the University of Iowa, so spend time researching your options by visiting the "Recommended Programs" section of this MAP and meeting with study abroad advisor. Junior year is also a great time to go abroad to work on special project or thesis research.

Senior

Senior year, especially your first semester, can be a great time to study abroad if you've planned ahead and discussed course and thesis options with your advisor. Seniors will likely choose a program that is geared toward their track. Also, consider taking courses that are not offered by the University of Iowa and that enrich your understanding of Geography by exploring the specific issues facing the countries or regions you are studying.

General Education Component

Most study abroad locations will offer course work that will count towards Humanities and Social Sciences GERs.

Major Course Work - Required Courses for Geography

Early planning is the key to successfully finding equivalencies for your major requirements on a study abroad program. Classes offered by our partner universities will provide you with a perspective on your field that is unique to the country and culture where you are studying, and that will augment the perspectives you receive in the US classroom. Geography majors are required to take:

One of these:

044:001 Introduction to Human Geography 4 s.h.
044:010 The Contemporary Global System 4 s.h.

  • It is recommended that you take these courses at the UI. However, some overseas classes will be accepted. Talk with your academic advisor for more information.

All of these:

044:003 Introduction to Earth Systems Science 4 s.h.
044:005 Foundations of GIS 3 s.h.
044:019 Contemporary Environmental Issues 3 s.h.

  • It is recommended that you take these courses at the UI. However, some overseas classes will be accepted. Talk with your academic advisor for more information.

One of these:

044:150 Senior Project Seminar 3 s.h.
044:151 Senior Thesis 3 s.h.

  • These must be taken at the UI. But, study abroad during a previous semester would be a good foundation for an undergraduate thesis.

One 3 s.h. course offered by the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science and numbered 22S:025 or above. The following are recommended:

22S:025 Elementary Statistics and Inference 3 s.h.
22S:102 Introduction to Statistical Methods 3 s.h.

  • These courses can both be taken abroad. Or, one could be taken at the UI, and the other overseas.

BS Geography Majors have to fulfill one of tracks below:

22M:015-22M:016 Mathematics for the Biological Sciences/Calculus for the Biological Sciences 8 s.h.
22M:021-22M:022 Calculus and Modeling I-II 8 s.h.
22M:025-22M:026 Calculus I-II 8 s.h.
22M:031-22M:032 Engineering Mathematics I-II: Single Variable Calculus/Multivariable Calculus 8 s.h.

  • These courses can also be taken abroad. Both can be taken overseas, or they can be split between the UI and a foreign university.

Electives

Electives are an excellent opportunity to earn Geography credit. Many classes offered abroad are transferable, but check with your academic and study abroad advisor as you are planning to make sure.

Double Major

If you are a double major, make sure that you are staying in contact with both of your advisors so that you meet all of your various degree requirements.

The UI Department of Geography offers degrees in Environmental Studies, Geographic Information Science, and Geography and Social Change. Both the Environmental Studies and the Geography and Social Change tracks are conducive to study abroad. However, the GIS track is very reliant upon technology, and the UI has excellent labs. So, while comparable facilities may be found overseas, it is unlikely that you will find better. However, you could go overseas to work on your language requirements or GERs, complete research, or do an internship. Talk with your academic and study abroad advisors for more information - there are lots of study abroad options out there!

The programs listed below were chosen because they offer a diverse representation of issues in geography, strong basic science courses, unique cultural experiences, or specialized internship options. While we suggest you look at these highlighted programs first, feel free to explore all UI study abroad programs or visit an online directory of study abroad programs.

As the UI Department of Geography works with Study Abroad, the specific program recommendations listed here may change, so check with your advis0r for the latest updates.

The programs listed below are divided into four categories:

I. General Geography Programs
II. Programs especially strong in GIS
III. Programs especially strong in Environmental Studies
IV. Programs especially strong in the study of Geography and Social Change

There is some overlap between these sections, and before making any decisions, you should discuss programs and courses with a study abroad advisor and your major advisor.

 

I. General Geography Programs

Africa

University of KwaZulu-Natal Exchange

At the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), Geography is studied as a part of the School of Environmental Sciences, and courses are taught at all of the University’s campuses: Westville, Pietermaritzburg, and Howard College. Specific fields of study at UKZN include Environmental Science, Soil Science, Agrometeorology, Agricultural Extension and Rural Resource Management. UKZN is also home to The Centre for Environmental Management and The Centre for Environment, Agriculture, and Development. 

ISEP University of Ghana

The Department of Geography at the University of Ghana offers undergraduate courses Human and Physical Geography, including Population Resource, Environment, Transportation, Tourism, Urban Studies, Gender Issues and Climatology. For more information, visit the ISEP web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Australia

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia

The University of Newcastle

At The University of Newcastle, the Discipline of Geography is taught by the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and includes Human Geography, Development Studies, and Environmental Management. Physical Geography is taught through the School's Discipline of Earth Sciences. Specific courses open to those interested in studying Geography include:

  • Biological Science
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences (a blend of Physical Geography and Geology)
  • Geography
  • Marine Science
  • Mathematics
  • Photonics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sports Science and Physical Activity
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Living Systems (Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration)
  • Physical Systems (Air, Land and Water)
  • Social Systems (Sustainability, Policy and Futures)

For a full list and explanation of available courses, visit The University of Newcastle Geography website.

University of Tasmania

The University of Tasmania School of Geography and Environmental Studies offers classes in the areas of Aquaculture, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geography and Environmental Studies, Geology, Mathematics, Microbiology/Immunology, Physics, Plant Science, Psychology and Zoology. For a full list of courses, visit the School of Geography's homepage.

Denmark

Aalborg Exchange

Aalborg University offers a number of courses across the curriculum conducted in English for its Danish student population. Students can therefore gain exposure to the European problem-based approach to university level studies by taking classes alongside local students with no need to be fluent in Danish. Aalborg’s program in Culture, Communication and Globalization (CCG) has courses of interest for Geography students.

France

ISEP Programs

The Université de Caen, Université de Picardie Amiens, and the Université de Rennes II all offer courses in Geography and related fields. For example, at Caen, students can study environmental technology & forest management, geography, geology, and even oceanography. Students interested in any of these programs should have previously taken several French courses. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Iceland

The University of Iceland Exchange

The University of Iceland has established a year-long program in Geology/Geography. The University of Iceland conducts research and offers courses in more than a dozen subject areas related to the study of geography.  The University is also home to an experimental geochemistry laboratory and an experimental petrology lab.

India

Semester in South India

Based in Mysore, this UI fall semester program in southern India features field trips, classes, and independent study. For the first two months of the program, students take classes at the Swami Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (SVIIS). Then, students are given several weeks' time off for travel. Finally, students complete a month-long independent research project or an internship.

Ireland

Iowa Regents Semester in Cork, Ireland

University College Cork (UCC)


University College Cork

The Geography Department at UCC has links to social sciences, hard sciences, and liberal arts, allowing for an incredible breadth and depth of study. Students can study geomorphology, climate and meteorology, soils and biogeography, marine environments, Earth resources, environmental management and the impacts of people in the environment, quantitative methods and cartography, meteorology, climatic change, atmospheric studies and climate modeling, economic geography, geohazards, glacial and cold regions geomorphology, political geography, and Quaternary and palaeoenvironmental studies.

Korea

Ajou University

Courses taught in English include environmental and urban engineering, and urban studies. For more information on this exchange, visit the Study Abroad office.

Ewha Woman's University

Many of the International Studies courses are offered in English. Classes of interest to Geography majors might include international development, environment trade negotiations, and human resource development. There are also other classes in the Natural and Social Sciences taught in both English and Korean. For more information, contact the Study Abroad office.

Mexico

Environment, Development and Culture in Mexico Summer Program

This program is provided through a partnership with the University of Kentucky Department of Geography. This intensive course offers students the chance to conduct field studies, visit and interact with villages, and study both the history and the future of this unique environment. For more information, visit the University of Kentucky's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

New Zealand

The University of Waikato

At Waikato, Geography is taught as part of the Bachelor of Social Science (BSocSc) degree. Courses (called "Papers") include:

  • People & Place: Introduction to Social & Cultural Geography
  • Resources and Environment
  • Introduction to Population Studies
  • The Practice of Social Science Research
  • Principles of Environmental Planning
  • Contemporary and Cultural Geographies
  • Regional Geography: Pacific Islands
  • Maori Lands and Communities
  • Tourism Environments
  • Information Technology and Cartography
  • Research in Human Geography
  • Geographies of Tourism Planning and Development
  • Hazards, Risks, and Impacts
  • Gender, Place, and Culture
  • Colonial Treaties and Tribal Lands: Comparative Studies
  • GIS

For more information, visit the University of Waikato's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Switzerland

ISEP Programs

At the Université Fribourg, students can study geography, geology, mathematics, mineralogy, paleontology, and petrography. Classes are offered in both French and English. Fribourg is known for its highly structured courses and it's well-respected research institutes. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

At the Université Lausanne, courses are offered in geography, geology, and geophysics. Strong French language skills are recommended. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

United Kingdom

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales

University of Wales - Swansea

The Geography Department at Swansea University, as part of the School of the Environment and Society, aims to be one of the foremost international centres for research in Human and Physical geography. The Department has won numerous awards in recent years for teaching and research. Classes offer students practical, hands-on experience as well as a chance to expand their knowledge of discipline-specific theory. The Swansea Geography Department currently specializes in the following areas of study:

  • Environmental and Climate Change
  • Land Surface Processes
  • Glaciology
  • Social and Cultural geography
  • Urban, Social and Economic Policy
  • Geoinformatics: Satellite Earth Observation and Geography
  • Information Systems

Please see the Swansea University Geography Department undergraduate brochure for a full list of courses.

University of Strathclyde Exchange

The University of Strathclyde was founded in 1796, and today, is located in the heart of Glasgow. It is a comprehensive university offering courses in a wide variety of topics. For more information, visit the University's web site. For information on Geography and related coursework, visit their Department of Geography and Sociology's web site and the web site of the BSc Environmental Health programme.

Queen's University Belfast

QUB’s School of Geography, Archaeology and Paleoecology is home to one of the larger Geography departments in the UK, with approximately 150 graduates per year and an academic staff of 22.

Classes taught include:

  • Contemporary Approaches to Geographical Enquiry
  • Landscape and People in the Past
  • Sustaining the Biosphere
  • Geographies of Economic Restructure/Social Change
  • Water, Atmosphere and Society
  • Geographies of Uneven Development
  • Vegetation Studies for Conservation
  • Landscapes of Power
  • Sea-level Change: Past, Present and Future
  • Geography of Third World Urbanisation and Sustainable Development

For a description of these and other courses offered at QUB, please visit their Geography homepage. For more information, please visit QUB's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Semester at Sea

University of Virginia

Semester at Sea is a study abroad program designed to incorporate a global semester into an undergraduate experience. Classes meet daily while at sea, and classes average from twenty to thirty students and are conducted with emphasis on maximum student involvement. The required student load during the 100-day fall or spring semester is twelve credit hours (four courses). The maximum academic load permitted is fifteen credits. For the 65-day summer program, the required course load is nine credits (three courses). Geography 1000: Global Studies is required for all students. Global Studies is a multi-disciplinary course that provides an overview of the areas and issues encountered during the study abroad experience. In addition to Global Studies, students choose from approximately seventy courses in the fall or spring, and thirty in the summer, both lower and upper division, offered through the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Courses of possible interest to Geography majors include: Geography, Economic Geography, Introduction to Cultural Geography, Modern Asia: Development Issues, Urban Geography, Environmental Studies, Global Ecology, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Geology, Environmental Influences on Business, and Population Ecology. For more information, visit the Semester at Sea web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

 

II. Programs Strong in GIS

Australia

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia

The University of Newcastle

At The University of Newcastle, the Discipline of Geography is taught by the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and includes Human Geography, Development Studies, and Environmental Management. Physical Geography is taught through the School's Discipline of Earth Sciences. Specific courses open to those interested in studying Geography include:

  • Biological Science
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences (a blend of Physical Geography and Geology)
  • Geography
  • Marine Science
  • Mathematics
  • Photonics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sports Science and Physical Activity
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Living Systems (Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration)
  • Physical Systems (Air, Land and Water)
  • Social Systems (Sustainability, Policy and Futures)

For a full list and explanation of available courses, visit The University of Newcastle's Geography web site.

Iceland

The University of Iceland Exchange

The University of Iceland has established a year-long program in Geology/Geography. The University of Iceland conducts research and offers courses in more than a dozen subject areas related to the study of geography.  The University is also home to an experimental geochemistry laboratory and an experimental petrology lab.

New Zealand

ISEP Direct at Massey University

University of Iowa students can enroll at New Zealand's Massey University through ISEP. Within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the School of People, Environment and Planning has staff who specialize in environmental studies, geography, resource planning, and a variety of other related fields. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

United Kingdom

University of Hull Exchange

The University of Hull is known for its first-class facilities and excellent location in Scarborough. Areas of study include environmental studies, human geography, physical geography, and geography's intersections with history, business, archaeology, marketing, and even sports science. For more information visit Hull's Geography and Environmental Studies website.

 

III. Programs Strong in Environmental Studies

Australia

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia

The University of Newcastle

At The University of Newcastle, the Discipline of Geography is taught by the Faculty of Science and Information Technology and includes Human Geography, Development Studies, and Environmental Management. Physical Geography is taught through the School's Discipline of Earth Sciences. Specific courses open to those interested in studying Geography include:

  • Biological Science
  • Chemistry
  • Earth Sciences (a blend of Physical Geography and Geology)
  • Geography
  • Marine Science
  • Mathematics
  • Photonics
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Sports Science and Physical Activity
  • Sustainable Resource Management
  • Living Systems (Biodiversity, Conservation and Restoration)
  • Physical Systems (Air, Land and Water)
  • Social Systems (Sustainability, Policy and Futures)

For a full list and explanation of available courses, visit The University of Newcastle Geography website.

France

ISEP Programs

ISEP facilitates exchanges with several French universities that offer classes that might be of interest to Geography majors pursuing the Environmental Studies track. At the Université de Savoie's Chambéry campus, courses are offered in international business, transport, and tourism & leisure, while at the Le Bourget campus, students can study construction & environmental engineering and geology. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

At the Université de Caen, degrees are offered in Earth Sciences and Regional Planning, which include coursework in environmental technology & forest management, geography, geology, and oceanography. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Finally, at the Université du Havre, students can take courses on health, safety & environmental studies and logistics & transport. For more information, visit ISEP's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

India

Semester in South India

Based in Mysore, this UI fall semester program in southern India features field trips, classes, and independent study. For the first two months of the program, students take classes at the Swami Vivekananda Institute of Indian Studies (SVIIS). Then, students are given several weeks' time off for travel. Finally, students complete a month-long independent research project or an internship.

Spain & Spanish-Speaking

SIT Ecuador: Comparative Ecology and Conservation

SIT offers students the chance to study abroad, build language skills, take courses, and develop their own research project. In this program, students participate in an intensive language class, a seminar focusing on comparative ecology and conservation, an environmental field study seminar, and then work on an independent project. For more information, visit SIT's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

SIT Ecuador: Culture and Development

This SIT program looks at history, politics, and economics, cultural anthropology, environmental issues, geography, ecology, and development issues. In addition to working on an independent project, students take an intensive course in Spanish, a culture and development seminar, and a field study seminar. For more information, visit SIT's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Saint Louis University Madrid Campus

Through Saint Louis University, you can study Earth Science in Madrid. Classes offered include: Earth Systems I and II, Introduction to Oceanography, Introduction to Environmental Science, Water: Our Precious Resource, Environment and Development in Latin American, and Global Change. For more information, speak with a study abroad advisor and visit Saint Louis University's web site.

CIEE Spain - Palma de Mallorca Liberal Arts Program

This CIEE program is located on the island of Mallorca at the Universitat des les Illes Balears (UIB). UIB was founded in 1978, and now has approximately 15,000 students. Courses of possible interest to Geography majors specializing in Environmental Studies might include: Analytical Chemistry and the Environment, Climatology, Engineering in Rural Surroundings, Environmental Technology, Technology and the Environment, Technology and Gardening and Landscaping, and Environmental Studies Applied to Tourism.

 

IV. Programs Strong in the Study of Geography and Social Change

Panama

SIT Development and Conservation

This SIT program focuses on tropical ecology, marine ecology and conservation, sustainable development, and the environmental and social issues facing Panama today. In addition to this course work, students participate in intensive language study, take a field study seminar, and develop their own independent study project. For more information, visit SIT's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

Peru

SIT Indigenous Peoples and Globalization

SIT offers students the chance to go abroad, study a language, take courses, and then develop their own research project. This SIT program offers Spanish and Quechua classes, a seminar on indigenous peoples and globalization, and field study seminar, and the chance to develop and independent project. For more information, visit SIT's web site and talk to a study abroad advisor.

SIT offers a variety of similar programs in other Latin and Central American countries, please meet with a study abroad advisor to learn more.