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  • Available as major (B.A. degree) and minor
    Are you curious about people and places where they live? Do you adapt rapidly to new developments in technology? Do connections between people and the environment fascinate you? Pursue a degree in geography and open your door to our world. 

  • Geography is the bridge between the physical and cultural worlds. Geographers observe and measure the human use of the earth to better understand our changing environment, society and culture.

    If you enjoy a multi-disciplinary study with many applications, geography is for you. Grow in your understanding of basic physical systems that affect our lives every day: sun, water cycles, wind and ocean currents, movement of the Earth.

    Understand more about how human and physical systems have affected the surface of the Earth. See the relationships between the structure of the Earth and society.

    Learn about the location of places and their physical and cultural characteristics. Place historical and current events in the context of where they happen.

    Study the development of people, ideas, places and environments across time. Gain insights into our global interdependence.

    Appreciate the value of Earth’s resources and the importance of our wise management of them.

    Use the benefits of research and technology to address the “big picture” problems of today’s world. Increase your awareness of global issues. Develop a new sensitivity to differences among cultures. Understand more about the complexity of environmental issues and their impact on our lives.

    At Olivet, you can: 

    • Strengthen your skills in computer mapping using GIS technology.
    • Learn to use the latest GPS equipment.
    • Analyze the impact of weather patterns using our computerized weather system.
    • Benefit from the extensive collection of maps available for your research.
    • Study comparative economic systems, anthropology, global issues, urban/rural sociology, weather.
    • Interact with professors from several disciplines, including history, geology, business and behavioral sciences.
    • Sharpen your computer, research and analytical skills as you complete your research projects.
    • Work with specialized geography software.
    • Improve your skills in preparing oral and written reports.
    • Gain experience in doing field work in real-world settings. 
    • Learn to use geographic techniques, such as mapping, gathering satellite-derived information, collecting field data and performing statistical analysis.
    • Study land masses; climate; land, sea, air, plant and mineral resources; human populations; environmental changes and how people adapt to them.

    Putting knowledge to work

    ACCA (Associated Colleges of the Chicago Areas) Student Symposium: Do an independent research project, prepare an abstract and then give an oral presentation of your results at the annual symposium.

    Two research options for science and mathematics students: 

    • Pence-Boyce Research Program Fellowships — Named to honor two Olivet professors, Elbert Pence (physics) and Fannie Boyce (mathematics), and funded by alumni and friends of Olivet
    • Olivet Research Associates Program – Set up to fund research in science and mathematics

    Work closely with a faculty member on a forward-looking, 10-week research project during the summer. Projects may be theoretical, lab or field studies. Receive a stipend so you can work full time on your project.


    With a degree in geography, you will find many opportunities to work worldwide in today’s global economy. Employers in government, business, industry and education appreciate the versatility and diverse knowledge that our graduates possess. And working with humanitarian and non-profit organizations will give you the opportunity to combine your faith with your career.

    GPS and GIS specialists continue to be in high demand. Almost every city of any size has adopted this technology for locating natural and manmade features.

    A geography-related career may be for you if you are:

    • observant
    • detail-oriented
    • creative
    • comfortable using computers
    • able to translate ideas into images
    • interested in the Earth and its people
    • good with teamwork
    • eager to travel and learn more about our world
    • enjoy working with people
    • excited about recording and applying what you learn

    Many of our graduates go on for further study in graduate school programs.

    Possible career fields include: defense industry, marketing, economic development, waste management, emergency management, research, real estate and consulting.

    Possible jobs include: professor; leader of academic tours; writer of travel guides, promotional literature and articles; urban planner; community developer; cartographer; GIS specialist; climatologist; environmental project management; writer/researcher; emergency program manager; demographer; library/information scientist; national park service ranger; real estate appraiser; specialist in defense data analysis

    Possible employers include: federal, state and regional government agencies and departments; real estate developers; scientific and research groups; forestry, mining, environmental, architectural, surveying and engineering firms; defense contractors; waste management companies; outdoor recreation areas; banks; community development consultants; public utilities; insurance companies; law firms; museums; cultural and historical preservation organizations; colleges and universities; international humanitarian and non-profit organizations; consulting firms; research institutes; retail and tourism business groups

    Olivet helps you connect with potential employers through internships,, Olivet’s annual Job Fair, and other resources.

    Association of American Geographers (AAG) provides extensive career resources for you: job announcements, fellowship and internship opportunities and a job fair at its annual meeting.

    Geography is part of the Department of History and Political Science and the Department of Chemistry and Geoscience within the College of Arts and Sciences. 

  • Geography
  • Geography-related professions have a projected growth rate of more than twice the national average for other professions between now and 2018.