About the Department

The Department of Geography at the University of Nevada, Reno emphasizes the study of landscape change and human-environment interactions in arid and mountainous environments. The Department emphasizes the integration of human and physical geography and encourages the use of geospatial technologies (GIS, remote sensing, and cartography). Our department has a strong physical geography component that seeks to understand patterns and process within nature. We have strengths in cultural and historical geography that seek to understand patterns and process within societies. Where studies of nature and society meet, we study the effects of human ideas, systems, and activities on the environment. And, looking at human-environment interactions from a different perspective, our work also encompasses how the environment establishes contexts and constraints for human ideas, systems, and activities. Our approach encourages problem solving that utilizes spatial reasoning and the analysis of questions at multiple spatial scales: local, regional, national, and global.

The Land Use Planning Policy program prepares students for planning research or professional practice. The curriculum is multi-disciplinary: taking full advantage of a wide-range of planning and planning-related courses offered in Geography and in over 20 other disciplines campus-wide. The Land Use Planning Policy program offers emphases in three critical sub-fields of land use planning--environmental planning, growth management, and historic preservation--and stresses in all areas a holistic policy approach for addressing the planning challenges of the twenty-first century.

Facilities and Labs - The Department of Geography houses a dendrochronology laboratory and palynology laboratory for paleoclimate reconstruction, the Nevada State Climate Office and geospatial laboratories that studies ecosystem and urban growth patterns and processes using GIS and spatial statistics. The Department has an extensive map collection, two computer labs, and equipment for field studies focusing on mountain environments, climatology, environmental reconstruction, and water resources.

Serving Nevada - The Department of Geography is the only program in Nevada that grants university education and college degrees in geography. The curriculum contributes to the higher education to all interested Nevadans with a full array of geographic offerings. Recognizing the varied needs and nature of Nevada students, the Department supports the University Core Curriculum, the degree at night program, non-degree enrollees, and instructs many non-majors, in addition to students seeking geography majors and minors.

The Local Area - Reno is uniquely situated for the study of geography, located 30 miles from the capital of one of the nation’s most rapidly growing states. Reno offers access to the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, and the high desert and mountains of the Great Basin.

Students in the Geography 700 Class, Fall 2009 [Photo by Jean Dixon]


Our Academic Programs

The Department of Geography offers two undergraduate degrees, a Bachelor of Arts with a major in Geography and a Bachelor of Science with a major in Geography. Which degree is more appropriate for any given student depends on prior preparation and academic orientation. Study specializations include: biogeography, climatology, cultural and international studies, cartography and computer mapping, geographic information systems (GIS), urban and regional planning, and water resources.

All students complete a core within geography that provides a broad background in the discipline and prepares them for pursuing either degree.

The geography core courses include:

GEOG 103

Physical Geography

GEOG 106 

Introduction to Cultural Geography

GEOG 200

World Regional Geography

GEOG 210R     

Introduction to Geotechniques

GEOG 311 or 312  

Map Interpretation or Cartography

GEOG 314

Field Methods

GEOG 325 

Research Methods

GEOG 418 

Geographic Thought


The Bachelor of Arts program emphasizes proficiency in a broad range of geographic course work. This degree program also develops skills in a foreign language. Students take 21 credits of electives from courses in the department.

The Bachelor of Science program emphasizes proficiency in physical geography, geospatial methods, and human/environment interactions. This degree program also develops skills in mathematics and statistics. Students take 21 credits of electives from approved courses in the department.

Students are encouraged to develop with their advisors an individualized program of study within these degrees.  All students are required to have a minor.