Why Study Geography?

Students pose with UMW banner on study abroad trip to Morocco with Dr. Rouhani.

Students pose with UMW banner on study abroad trip to Morocco with Dr. Rouhani.

Geographers explore our world! We do this by synthesizing our knowledge of the natural environment with an understanding of how people create the places in which we live. This exciting field includes the study of:

  • Natural Hazards
  • Urban Environments
  • Sustainable Development
  • Political Culture
  • Economic Geographies of Globalization

To gather and analyze information on such topics, Geographers use :

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – see this site for over 1000 GIS Applications & Uses!
  • Satellite Imagery
  • Field Measurement and Observation
  • In-depth Interviewing Techniques

What is Geography?

Geography is the study of the interaction between people and their environments, both natural and human. Geographers examine the places and regions resulting from such interaction and analyze the spatial characteristics of all manner of cultural, economic, political, and physical processes and relationships.

What will I learn from my Geography Major?

Geography encompasses many different areas of study. At UMW, Geography majors take classes that concentrate on cultural, political, economic, and physical aspects of places across the globe. We learn how humans interact with their environment. Maps are one tool that geographers use to study this interaction, but geography itself is not the study of maps.

Within the context of a liberal arts education, the Geography Department at UMW encourages students to take multidisciplinary approaches to understanding and working within the human and environmental processes and patterns that make up our world. At the same time, students learn valuable communications and technical skills applicable to wide range of careers.

What can I do with my Geography Degree?

The knowledge and skills gained by majoring in Geography position graduates for careers as geospatial analysts, planners, researchers, and teachers. Mary Washington alumni with degrees in Geography currently work for a range of federal agencies, local and state governments, industry leaders in geospatial technologies, and service organizations. In addition, many alumni have excelled in top graduate programs. Read profiles of Geography Department alumni.

Common employers for geography majors include:

  • Intelligence Agencies
  • City, Regional, and State Planning Departments
  • Environmental, Engineering, or Architectural Consultation Firms
  • Manufacturing Firms
  • Government Agencies (Census Bureau, USGS, EPA, National Parks, NOAA)
  • Schools and Teaching Academies
  • Cartographers GIS Consulting Companies
  • Non Profits
  • Graduate School

UMW geography majors have gone on to a wide variety of careers. These jobs include teaching, working for GIS and mapping companies, consulting and engineering firms, as well as numerous non-profit and government organizations. Majoring in geography prepares graduates for work in many different areas, as students have experience studying both the human and physical dimensions of the world. Many graduates also choose to continue their education in graduate schools, studying everything from meteorology to political geography.

Positions held by Geography alumni:







  • Customer Success Manager – TemperPack (manufacturer of sustainable packaging products)
  • Program Manager – Next Tier Concepts (intelligence and defense technical contractor)
  • Recruiting Coordinator – Steampunk (a technical recruiting firm for government contracts)

These are some of the positions held by our alumni a diverse companies and agencies. These positions held by our alumni shows the wide range of career opportunities available to geography majors.