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.

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 Considerations and Programs sections of this MAP, contact your major advisor, and review your four-year plan.

First Years

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 Health and Society. 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.

Sophomores

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 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 Health and Society 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.

Juniors

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 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.

Seniors

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

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:

GEOG:1010 Introduction to Human Geography 3 s.h.
GEOG:1090 Globalization and Geographic Diversity 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.

All of these:

GEOG:1020 The Global Environment 3 s.h.
GEOG:1021 The Global Environment Lab 1 s.h.
GEOG:1050 Foundations of GIS 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, in addition to any course required to fulfill a track requirement:

GEOG:1060 Geography of Asia, From Japan to Pakistan 3 s.h.
GEOG:1070 Contemporary Environmental Issues 3 s.h.
GEOG:1090 Globalization and Geographic Diversity (if not chosen above) 3 s.h.
GEOG:2110 Population Geography: Societies in Flux 3 s.h.
GEOG:2130 World Cities 3 s.h.
GEOG:2910 The Global Economy 3 s.h.
GEOG:2950 Environmental Conservation 3 s.h.

One of these (not required for GISci track students):

GEOG:3340 Ecosystem Services: Human Dependence on Natural Systems 3 s.h.
GEOG:3500 Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing 3 s.h.
GEOG:3520 GIS for Environmental Studies 3 s.h.
GEOG:3540 Introduction to Geographic Visualization 3 s.h.
GEOG:3560 Spatial Analyses of Wind Energy 3 s.h.
GEOG:3570 Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR): Principles and Applications 3 s.h.
GEOG:4010 Field Methods in Physical Geography 3 s.h.
GEOG:4020 Field Methods: Mapping and Mobile Computing 3 s.h.
GEOG:4150 Health and Environment: GIS Applications 3 s.h.
GEOG:4650 Simulation in Environmental Geography 3 s.h.
GEOG:5129 Information Systems for Resource Management 3 s.h.

One of these:

GEOG:4030 Senior Project Seminar 3 s.h.
GEOG:4995 Honors 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. Keep in mind that GEOG:4030 is offered only in spring semesters.

One of these (at least 1 s.h. required):

GEOG:3400 Iowa Environmental Policy in Practice 3 s.h.
GEOG:3992 Undergraduate Research (including through ICIGO or independent research) arr.
CCP:1201 Academic Internship 1-3 s.h.

BA Geography Majors must take one of these (or a statistics course equivalent to or numbered above one of these):

GEOG:1065 Introduction to Spatial Analysis: Patterns and Processes 3 s.h.
PSQF:4143/STAT:4143 Introduction to Statistical Methods 3 s.h.
STAT:1020/PSQF:1020 Elementary Statistics and Inference 3 s.h.
STAT:1030 Statistics for Business 4 s.h.
STAT:2010 Statistical Methods and Computing 3 s.h.
STAT:2020 Probability and Statistics for the Engineering and Physical Sciences 3 s.h.
STAT:3510 Biostatistics 3 s.h.

  • You may be able to find equivalencies for some of these abroad. Talk to an academic advisor in the Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science for more information.

BS Geography Majors must complete 9 s.h. of statistics courses via one of the following options:

Option 1
One of these sequences:
PSQF:4143 & 6243 Introduction to Statistical Methods & Intermediate Statistical Methods 7 s.h.
BIOS:5110 & 5120 Introduction to Biostatistics and Design & Analysis of Biomedical Studies 6 s.h.
STAT:2010 & 3200 Statistical Methods and Computing & Applied Linear Regression 6 s.h.
and one of these:
EES:4870 Applied Geostatistics 3 s.h.
MATH:1380 Calculus and Matrix Algebra for Business 4 s.h.
MATH:1460 Calculus for the Biological Sciences 4 s.h.
MATH:1550 Engineering Mathematics I: Single Variable Calculus 4 s.h.
MATH:1850 Calculus I 4 s.h.

Option 2
One of these:
PSQF/STAT:4143 Introduction to Statistical Methods 3 s.h.
STAT:2010 Statistical Methods and Computing 3 s.h.
and one of these sequences:
MATH:1440 & 1460 Mathematics for the Biological Sciences - Calculus for the Biological Sciences 8 s.h.
MATH:1550 & 1560 Engineering Mathematics I: Single Variable Calculus - Engineering Mathematics II: Multivariable Calculus 8 s.h.
MATH:1850 & 1860 Calculus I-II 8 s.h.

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 Health and Society. Both the Environmental Studies and the Health and Society 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 that applies GIS to an important problem. Talk with your academic and study abroad advisors for more information - there are lots of study abroad options out there!

You can start your search with the recommended programs below, but feel free to browse our program database for other possibilities. The specific programs recommended below may change, so check with your major advisor and Study Abroad for the latest updates.

All students who study abroad must be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Each program listed has coursework taught in English unless otherwise stated. In addition, each program has specific eligibility requirements that may include GPA, prerequisites, and/or class standing. For more information about the program, click on the button below the program description.

Oceania

Australia

TEAN Australia: University of New South Wales (UNSW)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The UNSW School of Biological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences provides students with a strong grounding in present biological, ecological, and environmental problems and their effects on biodiversity. They offer over 50 classes in the fields of biology, earth science, climate science, and geography. UNSW offers an exciting academic experience that takes students out of the classroom and places them in the field. Courses include Biodiversity & Conservation of Natural Resources, Advanced Techniques in Remote Sensing, Coral Reefs & Climate Change, Applied Geochemistry, and Australian Soil Use and Management.

Iowa Regents Semester in Australia: University of Tasmania (UTAS)
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

Studying at the University of Tasmania means unparalleled access to a diverse range of environments. The multidisciplinary nature of their study options means that students can gain knowledge and skills to apply to myriad challenges, communities, and industries around the world. Field experiences are a strong component of this course of study. Tasmania is a living laboratory, with a fifth of it in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Areas and 42% in protected areas, all of which are accessible straight from the campus door. Courses include Natural Environment Field Techniques; Fire, Weeds & Ferals: Conserving Nature in Protected Areas; Bridging Science & Policy for Sustainability; Conserving Nature in Landscapes; and Global Geographies of Change.

New Zealand

TEAN New Zealand: University of Otago
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

The School of Geography at the University of Otago has a robust environmental management program that has a science focus with a core of physical geography courses. Environmental management fuses the understanding of natural environmental systems with knowledge of the methods and techniques necessary to manage human activities to ensure sustainable uses of resources and minimal impact on people, communities, and the environment. Students are also introduced to the basics of social and environmental science through fieldwork and practical courses in research methods. Courses include Physical Geography; Human Geography; Resource Evaluation and Planning; Climate Change: Present and Future; Plants, People and the Environment; and Field Research Methods.

TEAN New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Calendar Year

Victoria University offers both Environmental Science and Environmental Studies degrees. Students can take advantage of teaching and research input from the University’s own Climate Change Research Institute and Antarctic Research Centre. Students can study a range of topics including climate change, urban green spaces, Māori resource management, and the impact of humans on Antarctica. Courses include Environment and Resources: New Zealand Perspectives; Environmental Policy and Governance; Ice and Climate; Islands and Oceans: People, Power, and Place; Quaternary Environmental Change; and Advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

Africa

Madagascar

SIT Madagascar Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management
Fall, Spring

Madagascar is one of the world’s globally recognized “megadiverse” countries, with flora and fauna not found anywhere else on earth. Students explore environmental challenges, conservation, and development across an array of ecosystems including tropical rainforests, mangroves, and dry deciduous forests in multiple economic and cultural contexts. This program has prerequisite of at least three semesters of college-level French courses. Courses include Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management Seminar, Malagasy, French for Natural Sciences, Environmental Research Methods and Ethics, and either an Internship or Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program. Internship placements are in biodiversity and natural resource management organizations.

South Africa

IES Cape Town University of Cape Town
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Students will enroll in the top-ranked university in South Africa - the University of Cape Town (UCT) and take a service-learning course in either health or sociology with IES. In the Faculty of Science, the Department of Environmental and Geographical Science aims to further knowledge, understanding, and management of interactions between humans and their social, biological, and physical life-support systems. Courses include Introduction to Earth and Environmental Sciences, Geography Development and Environment, Atmospheric Science, Sustainability and Environment, and Climate Change and Predictability.

Europe

Iceland

University of Iceland Exchange
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Due to Iceland’s geographical position in the North Atlantic, and its geotectonic position over a mantle plume and astride the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, geological and tectonic processes are extraordinarily rapid and easily observed. The University of Iceland has a Faculty of Earth Science and a Faculty of Life and Environmental Sciences. UI students can take many courses in environmental science, geography, and sustainability that are not offered at the University of Iowa. Courses include Glacial Geology, Mineralogy, Current Crustal Movements, Introduction to Geophysics, Volcanology, Soil Science, Natural Hazards: Physical Processes, Remote Sensing and Environmental Monitoring, and Cartography and Map Design.

United Kingdom

Lancaster Exchange Program
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

Through the Lancaster Exchange Program, students enroll at Lancaster University, living and studying on campus with their British peers while fully immersed in the local culture. Lancaster’s Geography and Environmental Studies department is ranked 7th in the UK and offers dozens of environmental science and geography courses across all levels. Courses include Africa: Geographies of Transformation; Atmosphere, Weather & Climate, Coral Reef Ecology, Geographical Information Systems: Principles and Practice; and Volcanic Processes Field Course.

Iowa Regents Semester in Wales
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

With the Iowa Regents Semester in Wales program, students enroll at Swansea University. Swansea’s highly rated Geography department allows students to enroll in courses exploring human and environmental geography, as well as geographic information systems, from a Welsh perspective. Swansea’s upper-level coursework in geography is particularly strong. Courses include An Introduction to Data Visualization, Animating Migration Theory, Geographies of Language, Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, and Regional Economic Development and Policy.

Ireland

Iowa Regents Semester in Ireland
Fall, Spring, Academic Year

The Iowa Regents Semester in Ireland offers students the opportunity to enroll at the University College Cork (UCC), one of the oldest universities in Ireland. UCC offers a variety of geography courses at introductory, intermediate, and advanced levels. Courses include Advanced Geographical Information Systems, Coastal and Marine Geomorphology, Environmental Analysis: Field Data Course, Geography as Human Ecology, Introduction to Geographical Information Systems, and Introduction to Physical Geography.

Latin America

Costa Rica

CIEE Monteverde Sustainability & the Environment
Fall, Spring, Summer

On this program, students dig into today’s pressing environmental issues and focus on Costa Rican history, environmental studies, and sustainability. Semester students take three biological and environmental courses taught in English, a Spanish language course at one of nine levels, and an internship. Fall and spring program courses include Conservation and Sustainability Internship, Tropical Conservation Biology and Policy, Costa Rican Natural History, and Sustainability: Environment, Economy, and Society. Summer students take Sustainable Economic Development or Environmental Engineering (each three credits) or both courses for an eight-week experience. Learning takes place in both the classroom and in the field as students travel around Costa Rica.

CIEE Monteverde Tropical Ecology & Conservation
Fall, Spring, Summer

This program is ideal for students who love the outdoors and are committed to fully immersing themselves in academics, nature, and the local culture. Semester students take three biological and physical science courses taught in English, a Spanish language course at one of nine levels, and an independent research course. Fall and spring courses include Tropical Diversity, Tropical Community Ecology, Humans in the Tropics, and Independent Research in Ecology. The eight-week summer program immerses students in tropical biology and ecology and allows them to conduct independent research in a specific area. Learning takes place in both the classroom and the in the field as students travel around Costa Rica.

USAC San Ramón Program
Fall, Spring, Academic Year, Summer

This program is designed for science majors interested in learning more about health, ecology, and conservation biology. A minimum of one year of general biology is required. Students augment their coursework by enrolling in several related field study courses that give them hands-on experience. Courses include Environmental Policy, Natural History of Mesoamerica, Plant Taxonomy, Society and Environment, Sustainable Development: Women and the Environment, Tropical Conservation Biology, Tropical Marine Biology, and Tropical Ecology.

Ecuador

SIT Ecuador Comparative Ecology and Conservation
Fall, Spring

Students who participate in this program live like biologists exploring the Amazon Basin, the Andes Mountains, cloud forests, the Pacific Ocean coastline, and the Galápagos Islands of Ecuador. All courses are taught in Spanish, and students need to have completed four semesters of college-level Spanish or the equivalent to participate. Courses include Conservation and Sustainability Practices in Ecuador, Comparative Tropical Ecology, Spanish for the Natural Sciences, Environmental Research Methods and Ethics, and an Independent Study Project (ISP). The ISP provides an opportunity to study in greater depth an aspect of academic interest relating to the program.

Asia

India

SIT India Sustainable Development and Social Change
Fall, Spring

This program revolves around two critical global issues of study: Climate & Environment and Development & Inequality. Students will explore India’s socioeconomic development and the new urgency in rethinking development to shape a sustainable global future. This interdisciplinary program offers an understanding of social, political, environmental, and economic change in India after independence. Students will take the following courses: Development Approaches and Distributive Justice, Sustainable Futures: India and Beyond, and Hindi. Students will also complete a Field Methods and Ethics course in preparation for their Independent Study Project (ISP).