Page Updated: 10/08/2012

Geography Programs at Universities in Washington State, the US and Canada


The following is 'my take' on geography and geography-related undergraduate programs at 4-year universities. Once you have identified a university that has a program that is interesting to you I recommend visiting the department, meeting with the advisor and some faculty and sitting in on some classes.  Let me know if you want introductions to geographers at 4-year colleges.  Make the best use of your money by taking courses that count towards your 4-year college degree as well as fulfilling OC's degree requirements.

All the best, Susan Digby

Washington State Geography Programs

University of Washington (Seattle)

The geography department focuses on the human side of geography, social justice, sustainability and economics. They also do some GIS work as it relates to human geography and students are in demand from outside agencies. See for an overview of the program and for a list of undergraduate courses. If you are interested in UW Seattle the UW advisor,  Rick Roth (, suggests that you sit in on some classes and talk to faculty.  They are a strong research department but some of the faculty have received teaching awards. The department also has very strong contacts with the Seattle community with internship opportunities.  You can transfer up to 25 geography credits.  There is no on-line (distance)  education.

Central Washington University (Ellensburg)

Central has a large geography department that focuses on a wide range of physical geography issues and economic geography, You can study towards a BA in Geography, and/or a GIS certificate. They also have a MS program in Resource management Many courses involve fieldwork in the spring quarter. See what they have to offer at Central has an active geography club, the core of which comes from the GIS program. The geography department takes both research and engaging teaching seriously.  Student posters from capstone classes are presented at a university-wide seminar every spring that anyone can attend. If you are interested in understanding more about the program, contact Marilyn Mason, There are a few distance education classes.

Eastern Washington University (Cheney near Spokane)

Eastern has a smaller geography department and their foci are GIS which is taught online, cultural/historical geography and physical geography (wetlands, soils and traditional surveying).  They offer an academic program  BA in geography, a 25 – 28 credit certificate in GIS (online, see and an interdisciplinary Wetlands Certificate (31 – 33 credits) that involves a lot of fieldwork.  EWU also has a very active geography club which has a very evident esprit des corps.  Contact Pam or 509-359-2433 for further information about the department or to talk to geographers in the department.

Western Washington University (Bellingham)

Western Washington University’s  small cadre of geographers  are housed within Huxley College of the Environment.  Their  focus is on geomorphology (particularly  soils) and economic geography.  They offer a BA in Geography and a BA in Geography/Social Studies Their Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies programs are similar to 'Huxley on the Peninsula' that we are more familiar with however there is a wider selection of courses.    There is no on-line (distance)  education.

Evergreen State College (Olympia)

Like Huxley, Evergreen is  little different from a 'standard' university.  They don't have departments like Geography or Biology instead they have programs that are based around a theme and hence involve several disciplines. In their words: 'Instead of taking several classes at once, at Evergreen you select an academic program in which you will learn how to explore a central idea or theme that's interesting to you.'  Areas of study for 2012/2013 can be found on However there are some geographers at Evergreen and geography courses are part of course offerings with environmental studies.   Because this institution is quite different from others it is important that you take a tour, see and I recommend sitting in on some classes.

University of Washington (Tacoma)

UW Tacoma does not have a geography department but geographers are alive and well in the interdisciplinary Urban Studies Program,

They have two degree paths: Urban studies (BA) which has a strong social justice component, Sustainable Urban Development (BA) which is more planning oriented, and a GIS option (25-credit certificate program).  They are planning to develop an on-line GIS option. Within the urban studies program 4 or 5 courses are offered online and more are planned.  The GIS is very much a ‘critical GIS’ in addition to providing a strong suite of skills.  Student posters from the capstone classes are very impressive.

UW Tacoma also has an interdisciplinary Environmental Studies Program, and an Environmental Science program Both of these programs involve working on community projects.

Pacific Lutheran University

Pacific Lutheran does not have a geography department but they have an Environmental Studies program that involves interdisciplinary learning and they have ongoing watershed programs.  If you want to go into sciences at PLU you will transfer more efficiently if you have the DTA Associate of Arts from Olympic College rather than a Associates of Science.

Western Washington: Huxley College on the Peninsula

Located in Poulsbo and Port Angeles, Huxley on the Peninsula allows students to stay near home and study for a BA in Environmental Planning and Policy or a BS in Environmental Sciences, see  There is no geography offered. Students interested in Huxley should consult which outlines courses students should take at OC if they want to transfer.  Additionally please meet with Nancy Bluestein-Johnson who has a table at the Bremer Center most months, see for dates and her contact information.  Classes are largely held at night.

Washington State University (Pullman)

No geography but an Environmental and Natural Resources program,


Outside Washington State (a small selection)

University of California Los Angeles has a great department that is strong in both physical and human geography, see

University of California Berkeley also has a great geography department that is strong in both physical and human geography, see

University of Oregon has a geography department that offers both physical and human geography,

Close-by in Canada

A very small selection appears below; there are a lot of large geography departments in Canadian universities as geography is regarded as a more major discipline.

University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC) has a large geography department, see

Simon Fraser (Vancouver, BC) also has a large geography department, see


University of Victoria, (Victoria, BC) see also has some interesting courses and research.  They have a large department involved in both physical and human geography. They are involved in many international projects.