geography

Cartography and GIS, also known more broadly as geographic information science, studies and develops digital technology and the theory behind it to help people work with geographic information. This broad area interfaces with work from the physical and social sciences. It is a field devoted to the acquisition, management, analysis, visualization, and representation of geospatial data. It is a relatively new discipline that incorporates geography, cartography, spatial analysis, and related fields such as geovisualization, geodesy, geocomputation, cognition, and computer science. At the present time professionals trained in geographic information science are very much in demand by federal agencies, state and local governments, and private firms.

Exploring the field of geographic information science at UW–Madison is easy. Interested students are strongly encouraged to take introductory courses in the field. The Department of Geography offers four intro courses in geographic information science:

Students who intend to declare their major as cartography and GIS need to schedule an appointment with the geography undergraduate advisor, Joel Gruley, at jgruley@wisc.edu.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

College of Letters & Science Breadth and Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)

Students pursuing a bachelor of science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science curriculum. View a comparison of the degree requirements here.

Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS

Mathematics Two (2) 3+ credits of intermediate/advanced level MATH, COMP SCI, STAT
Limit one each: COMP SCI, STAT
Foreign Language Complete the third unit of a foreign language
Note: A unit is one year of high school work or one semester/term of college work.
L&S Breadth
  • Humanities, 12 credits: 6 of the 12 credits must be in literature
  • Social Sciences, 12 credits
  • Natural Sciences, 12 credits: must include 6 credits in biological science; and must include 6 credits in physical science
Liberal Arts and Science Coursework 108 credits
Depth of Intermediate/Advanced work 60 intermediate or advanced credits
Major Declare and complete at least one (1) major
Total Credits 120 credits
UW-Madison Experience 30 credits in residence, overall
30 credits in residence after the 90th credit
Minimum GPAs 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison
2.000 in intermediate/advanced coursework at UW–Madison

Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR

Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements and do not need to complete the L&S breadth and degree requirements above.

Requirements for the Major

30 credits IN GEOGRAPHY

Core4
Quantitative Methods in Geographical Analysis (offered only in spring)
Introduction to Statistical Methods
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Introduction to Cartography
An Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Colloquium for Undergraduate Majors (offered only in fall)
Electives—three courses from:9
Graphic Design in Cartography
Interactive Cartography & Geovisualization
Geospatial Web and Mobile Programming
GIS Applications
GIS and Spatial Analysis
Topical Breadth—one course from each area: 19
Physical Geography
People–Environment Geography
Human Geography or Area Studies and Global Systems
College-level mathematics8
Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing
Introduction to Geocomputing
Total Credits30
1

Course is listed in more than one subarea. Students must choose the subarea in which they want to count the course.

tOPICAL BREADTH AREAS

Physical Geography

The locational arrangements of earth phenomena and their interaction as physical systems:

GEOG/​ENVIR ST  120 Introduction to the Earth System3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  127 Physical Systems of the Environment5
GEOG/​GEOSCI  320 Geomorphology3
GEOG/​ATM OCN  323 Science of Climate Change3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  325 Analysis of the Physical Environment4
GEOG/​GEOSCI  326 Landforms-Topics and Regions3
GEOG 329 Landforms and Landscapes of North America3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  331 Climatic Environments of the Past3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts 13
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography 13
GEOG 344 The American West 13
GEOG/​GEOSCI  420 Glacial and Pleistocene Geology3
GEOG/​GEOSCI  523 Quaternary Vegetation Dynamics3
GEOG/​SOIL SCI  525 Soil Geomorphology3
GEOG/​SOIL SCI  526 Human Transformations of Earth Surface Processes 13
GEOG/​GEOSCI  527 The Quaternary Period3
1

Course is listed in more than one subarea. Students must choose the subarea in which they want to count the course.

People–Environment Geography

The human use, perception, and modification of environments:

GEOG/​ENVIR ST  139 Living in the Global Environment: An Introduction to People-Environment Geography3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​SOIL SCI  230 Soil: Ecosystem and Resource3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  309 People, Land and Food: Comparative Study of Agriculture Systems3
GEOG/​ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST  332 Global Warming: Science and Impacts 13
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  337 Nature, Power and Society3
GEOG/​BOTANY  338 Environmental Biogeography 13
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  339 Environmental Conservation4
GEOG 340 World Regions in Global Context 13
GEOG 344 The American West 13
GEOG/​C&E SOC/​ENVIR ST  434 People, Wildlife and Landscapes3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  439 US Environmental Policy and Regulation3-4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  460 American Environmental History4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  469 The Making of the American Landscape 14
GEOG/​SOIL SCI  526 Human Transformations of Earth Surface Processes 13
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  534 Environmental Governance: Markets, States and Nature3
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  537 Culture and Environment4
GEOG 538 The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence, and Development4
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  557 Development and Environment in Southeast Asia 13
1

Course is listed in more than one subarea. Students must choose the subarea in which they want to count the course.

Human Geography

The location and organization of human settlements and activities:

GEOG 101 Introduction to Human Geography4
GEOG 301 Geography of Social Organization3
GEOG/​URB R PL  305 Introduction to the City3-4
GEOG 318 Introduction to Geopolitics3
GEOG 340 World Regions in Global Context 13
GEOG 348 Latin America 14
GEOG 349 Europe 13
GEOG 355 Africa, South of the Sahara 13
GEOG 358 Human Geography of Southeast Asia 13
GEOG/​ENVIR ST/​HISTORY  469 The Making of the American Landscape 14
GEOG 501 Space and Place: A Geography of Experience3
GEOG 510 Economic Geography4
GEOG 518 Power, Place, Identity3
GEOG 566 History of Geographic Thought3
1

Course is listed in more than one subarea. Students must choose the subarea in which they want to count the course.

Area Studies and Global Systems

The ways in which regions, places, and landscapes have acquired distinctive characteristics and problems as a result of their locations and resource potentials and of their settlement, appraisal, and use by particular peoples and cultures:

GEOG/​HISTORY/​LCA/​POLI SCI/​SOC  244 Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines4
GEOG/​HISTORY/​LCA/​POLI SCI/​SOC  252 The Civilizations of India-Modern Period4
GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SLAVIC  253 Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey4
GEOG/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SLAVIC  254 Eastern Europe: An Interdisciplinary Survey4
GEOG/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​C&E SOC/​HISTORY/​LACIS/​POLI SCI/​SOC/​SPANISH  260 Latin America: An Introduction3-4
GEOG/​AFRICAN/​AFROAMER/​ANTHRO/​HISTORY/​POLI SCI/​SOC  277 Africa: An Introductory Survey4
GEOG 340 World Regions in Global Context 13
GEOG 342 Geography of Wisconsin3
GEOG 344 The American West 13
GEOG 348 Latin America 14
GEOG 349 Europe 13
GEOG 355 Africa, South of the Sahara 13
GEOG 358 Human Geography of Southeast Asia 13
GEOG/​ENVIR ST  557 Development and Environment in Southeast Asia 13
1

Course is listed in more than one subarea. Students must choose the subarea in which they want to count the course.

Residence and quality of work

2.000 GPA in all GEOG and major courses

2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 2

15 credits in GEOG, taken on the UW–Madison campus

2

 GEOG courses designated Intermediate/Advanced are upper level.

Honors in the Major

Students may declare Honors in the Cartography and Geographic Information Systems Major in consultation with the Cartography and Geographic Information Systems undergraduate advisor.

Honors in the Cartography and Geographic Information Systems Major Requirements

To earn a B.A. or B.S.  with Honors in the Major in Cartography and Geographic Information Systems students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:

  • Earn a 3.300 overall university GPA
  • Earn a 3.300 GPA for all GEOG courses, and all courses accepted in the major
  • Complete a two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in GEOG 681 Senior Honors Thesis and GEOG 682 Senior Honors Thesis, for a total of 6 credits.

University Degree Requirements

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.

Advising

Students with questions about the major, courses, and careers are encouraged to contact the geography undergraduate advisor, Joel Gruley, at jgruley@wisc.edu.

Careers

Cartography and GIS, and geography more broadly, are remarkably interdisciplinary fields that span the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The types of careers that cartography and GIS can prepare students for thus reflect this diversity. Geographic information scientists work across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, and commonly work in the following fields, where they acquire, manage, analyze, visualize, and represent geospatial data: environmental policy, conservation, and management; digital cartography; urban and transportation planning; economic and community development; geospatial intelligence; food security; historic preservation; environmental hazards management; demography and human health; human migration and displacement; journalism; international conflict resolution; tourism.

Professors Burt, Cadwallader, Cronon, Downey, Kaiser, Knox, Mason, Naughton, Olds, Ostergren, Turner, Williams, Zhu

Associate Professors Alatout, Dennis

Assistant Professors Baird,  Gibbs, Marin-Spiotta, Ozdogan, Robertson, Roth, Schneider, Woodward, Young