College Natural and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Earth Science and Geography


Bachelor of Arts








Ashish Sinha, Department Chair

Michael Ferris, Rodrick A. Hay, John Keyantash, Brendan McNulty, Ralph H. Saunders


John Hearn

Instructional Support Tech Office: NSM F-129, (310) 243-3368

Department Office: NSM B-202, (310) 243-3377


Program Description

The Geography program is one of two programs housed in the Department of Earth Science and Geography. Geography studies the spatial distribution of features across Earth’s landscape, such as the location of landforms, water bodies, and the organization of climate zones. It also considers the human landscape including how populations are distributed, why they migrate, and the ways they alter natural and urban environments. As a tool to advance these spatial analyses, the Geography program teaches the use of both traditional and computer-based geotechnical skills (geotechniques) such as cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS).

Geography at CSUDH emphasizes “hands-on” learning, and many department courses feature field trips. The expertise and international focus of the faculty provide opportunities for engaged students to learn about and participate in diverse research projects ranging from ecosystem disruption in the Mojave Desert, mapping river systems in California, or studying the effects of population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity.


The Earth Science and Geography Department has a map library containing several thousand map sheets. The department also has two dedicated computer laboratories, the Earth Sciences Spatial Analysis Laboratory (ESSAL) which acts as a center for remote sensing and GIS-based research projects, and a teaching laboratory which provides computer-based teaching with an emphasis on geotechniques. These labs provide sophisticated image processing and spatial analysis software as well as libraries of satellite imagery and spatial databases. Additional equipment includes Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers, advanced instruments for field data collection, and a weather station that collects meteorological data for the campus.

The faculty has expertise in landscape change, remote sensing, and geographic information systems; hydrology and atmospheric science; plate tectonics and field geology; natural resources; and economic, political and historical geography. The broad expertise of the faculty provides an unusual opportunity for undergraduate students to work closely with their professors and gain “hands-on” experience within domestic and international research projects.

Academic Advisement

Majors should consult with their advisor prior to registration each semester. Records of students' progress toward the degree are maintained in the CMSPeopleSoft. Students should check their progress regularly.


For high school students, the best preparation for the Geography major is a well-rounded program of high school courses in humanities, social sciences, science, mathematics, and written and oral communication skills. Community college transfer students should have completed introductory physical and a human/cultural geography course. Introductory courses in the physical, biological and social sciences are recommended.

Career Possibilities

Many societal problems have geographic dimensions and training in geography provides essential skills for solving them. Geographic skills such as GIS, the analysis of remote-sensed imagery and other geotechniques are in high demand from governments, non-governmental organizations, and private industry alike and at local, regional, national, and international levels. Opportunities include environmental consulting, planning and zoning; urban and regional planning; resource management and conservation; energy; air and water quality management; secondary (middle and high school) teaching; and a wide array of social service firms and agencies. The geographic toolkit has many applications.

Geography is an appropriate major for students preparing for a career in teaching Social Science at the secondary level as part of an approved "Subject Matter Preparation Program." Completion of such a program is the first step toward meeting CA state requirements for a teaching credential. Interested students should consult with an appropriate advisor for current information as program requirements for the "Subject Matter Preparation Program" in Social Science change regularly.

Graduation With Honors

An undergraduate student may be a candidate for graduation with Honors in Geography provided he or she meets the following criteria:

  1. A minimum of 36 units in residence at CSU Dominguez Hills;
  2. A minimum grade point average of at least 3.5 in all courses used to satisfy the upper division requirements in the major;
  3. Recommendation by the faculty of the Earth Science and Geography Department.


Bachelor of Arts in Geography

Total Course Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree

See the "Requirements for the Bachelor's Degree" in the University Catalog for complete details on general degree requirements. A minimum of 40 units, including those required for the major, must be upper division.

Elective Requirements

Completion of elective courses (beyond the requirements listed below) to reach a total of a minimum of 120 units.

General Education Requirements (55-62 units)

See the "General Education" requirements in the University Catalog or the Class Schedule for the most current information on General Education requirements and course offerings.

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement

See the "Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement" in the University Catalog.

Minor Requirements

Students completing this major will need to complete a minor in another field.

Major Requirements (34 units)

The following courses (or for lower division courses, their approved transfer equivalents) are required for all candidates for this degree:

A. Required Courses (19 units)

1. Lower Division Required Courses (6 units):

GEO 100. Human Geography (3)

GEO 200. Physical Geography (3)

2. Upper Division Required Courses (13 units):

GEO 310. Geomorphology (3)

GEO 357. Urban Environmental Geography (3)

GEO 370. Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 415. Geographic Information Systems (3)

EAR 490. Senior Seminar in Earth Sciences (1)


B. Elective Courses (15 units)

Choose (at least) five courses from among the following:

GE0 305. Cartography (3)

GEO 315. The Weather (3)

GEO 350. World Geography (3)

GEO 360. North America (3)

GEO 370. Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 380. Biogeography of Southern California (3)

GEO 408. Remote Sensing and Image Interpretation (3)

GEO 412. Rivers and Streams (3)

GEO 415. Geographic Information Systems (3)

GEO 416. Earth's Climates (3)

GEO 420. Natural Resources (3)

GEO 433. Environmental Analysis and Planning (3)

GEO 495. Special Topics in Geography (3)

EAR 376. Field Mapping (3)

EAR 460. Global Change (3)


Minor in Geography (18 units)

To meet this requirement, the student must complete the lower division courses listed below. Where appropriate, these courses may be used to meet the General Studies or major requirement.

A.  Lower Division Required Courses (6 units):

GEO 100. Human Geography (3)

GEO 200. Physical Geography (3)

B. Upper Division Requirements (12 units)

Select 12 units of upper division Geography courses.


Certificate Program in Geotechniques (12 units)

The geotechniques certificate is designed to prepare students for public and private sector employment involving the collection, input, processing, and analysis of spatial databases for research and management purposes. To qualify for the certificate, candidates must demonstrate their competence in the use of remote sensing and geographic information systems technologies and their application to problem solving. Students majoring or minoring in Geography may complete the certificate requirements by taking the appropriate courses as part of their regular programs.

Select 12 units from the following courses:

EAR 376. Field Mapping (3)

GEO 305. Cartography (3)

GEO 370. Numerical Methods in Geography (3)

GEO 408. Remote Sensing and Image Processing (3)

GEO 415. Geographic Information Systems (3)

GEO 495. Special Topics in Geography (3)


Course Offerings

Lower Division

The credit value for each course in semester units is indicated for each term by a number in parentheses following the title. For course availability, please see the list of tentative course offerings in the current Class Schedule.

GEO 100         Human Geography (3).

Cultural, physical, and biological earth systems.  Emphasizes human geography and adaptation to physical habitats.

GEO 200         Physical Geography (3).

Classical natural systems, including earth-sun relationships, atmospheric flows, terrestrial biogeography, landforms, and processes of change; introduction to modern monitoring methods using maps, satellite reconnaissance, and geographic information systems.

Upper Division

GEO 305         Cartography (3).

Principles, techniques, design and production of maps and graphs for data presentation. One hour of lecture and six hours of lab per week.

GEO 310         Geomorphology (3).

Study of landforms created by geologic, volcanic, weathering, fluvial, karst, coastal and other processes acting on the land surface and ocean floor.

GEO 315         The Weather (3).

Composition, structure, general circulation, and storms of all latitudes.  Clouds, rain, visibility, winds, and other meteorological observations and micrometeorological observations.

GEO 350         World Geography (3).

Study of the world's regions: population distribution, landforms and natural resources, urban and non-urban relationships, connections of trade and transportation, plus selected case studies involving water resources, boundaries and environmental impacts.

GEO 357         Urban Environmental Geography (3).

A survey of key environmental issues affecting Los Angeles and other cities with special emphasis on environmental policy and local ordinances designed to mitigate urban environmental issues including air pollution, water resources, parks and waste management.

GEO 360         North America (3).

Physical, regional and cultural geography of the United States, Canada and Mexico .  Emphasizes human-environment interaction; contemporary patterns of population distribution, resource exploitation, transportation, agricultural and industrial production.

GEO 370         Numerical Methods in Geography (3).

Prerequisites: CSC 101 and MAT 009 (or equivalents).

Principles of data reduction and analysis in the natural sciences.  Practical techniques to understand spatial data sets using computer software.  Topics include matrices, summary statistics, distributions, transformations, hypothesis testing, contouring, regression and curve-fitting.

GEO 380         Biogeography of Southern California (3).

The distribution of plant and animal species with emphasis on native plant and animal populations in Southern California and recent changes to the region's flora and fauna.

GEO 405         Advanced Cartography (3).

Prerequisite: GEO 305 or equivalent is recommended.

Planning and preparing maps, graphics, photographs, and models.  One hour of lecture and six hours of lab per week.

GEO 408         Remote Sensing and Image Processing (3).

Interpretation of physical and cultural features, resources, environmental factors from photographic and specific sensor imagery. One hour of lecture and six hours of activity per week.

GEO 412         Rivers and Streams (3).

Detailed study of the hydrologic cycle: precipitation, runoff, evaporation, infiltration, and groundwater. Geographic inventory of global, state and national water resources. Field measurements and case studies.

GEO 415         Geographic Information Systems (3).

Prerequisites:  Basic computer knowledge, CSC 101 or equivalent.

Techniques of data acquisition, processing, analysis and display as pertain to geographic information systems.  Includes practical applications based on various forms of geographically referenced data.  One hour of lecture and six hours of laboratory per week.

GEO 416         Earth's Climates (3).

Characteristics and distribution patterns for the climates of Earth, with emphasis on the physical geographic reasons for the world's climates. The relationship of specific climates to biomes, agriculture, diet, housing, dress and lifestyle. Physical and biological proxies for measuring climate. Historical and current trends in global climate.

GEO 420         Natural Resources (3).

Atmospheric, hydrologic, ecologic and geologic principles; economic and environmental considerations in air, water, soil, food, timber, wildlife, nonmetallic and metallic resources.

GEO 433         Environmental Analysis and Planning (3).

Federal and State requirements, required inputs, presentation formats, procedures for review and acceptance of environmental reports.  Methods of assessing air quality, noise, water pollution and traffic problems.

GEO 494         Independent Study (1-3).

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Independent Study of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the supervision of a member of the Geography faculty.

GEO 495         Special Topics in Geography (3).

Selected topics in Geography with course content to be determined by instructor. Repeatable course.

GEO 498         Directed Research (1-3).

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor.

Directed research of a particular geographic or environmental problem under the direction of a member of the Geography staff.

Infrequently Offered Courses

The following courses are scheduled on a "demand" basis. Students should consult the department office for information about the next schedule offering.

GEO 336         Land Use (3).

Sequential, compatible, and conflicting land uses.  Zoning and regulation.  Impacts of public and private uses.  Social and economic benefits from alternative land use.

GEO 346         Political Geography (3).

The characteristics, patterns, and interactions of contemporary political processes and organizations over the world.  Cohesion, unity, disunity, growth and historical persistence from the locality, through nations and transnational groupings to the world.

GEO 359         Geography of California (3).

The physical, cultural and regional geography of California. The land and its modifications. Spatial distribution of resources. Population, migration and urbanization. Problems and prospects.