Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences

Understand our world...

Davis Hall Geography is the study of place and location, why things are where they are and how a location’s characteristics affect natural processes, the environment and human activities. It explores how we interact with, alter and manage the physical environment. To our ancestors, simple questions like, “Is there familiar foodstuff over the next hill?” or “Which trail will take me to the trading post?” were often matters of survival. Though the questions we face today are more complex, Geography is a practical science that not only helps us understand our world, but adapt to and thrive in it.

Come and find your place in the world!

More than Maps

More than Maps!Yes, we study maps, but there is far more to Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences than that! Undergraduates may choose from two separate emphases: Geography and Geomatics. Geography answers such questions as “Where are we?” and “What kind of place is this?” as well as “How do people interact with their environments?” and “How are people, goods and ideas transported from one place to another?” It explores the geographic conditions that influence everything from a region’s economy to its social development.

Student Experiences

With a Student Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, a Geography Club and a Soil Judging Team, the fun never ends! We are also home to an Advanced Geospatial Lab, Biogeography Lab, Cartography Lab and a Soil Analysis Lab.

Get Real

Research and internship opportunities provide the “real world” experience that will give you a distinct advantage in the work place. Our students have interned as business analysts, ecologists, GIS technicians, planning officers, soil analysts, transportation planners, weather forecasters and zoo keepers. They have held research positions with NOAA and the National Weather Service, helped build the NIU Campus WebMap and Huskie Bus Tracking System, conducted morphometric analysis of Martian valley networks and built models of traffic flow for urban areas. Our graduates work for the U.S. Geological Survey, the NOAA Climate Service and the National Weather Service. They are property analysts, city and urban planners, land use specialists and forest and soil ecologists.

What can I do with this degree?

Graduates with degrees in Geographic and Atmospheric Sciences can work for:

  • Federal agencies, such as the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, NOAA, the CIA, the Department o fState or the military
  • Companies in the transportation, utility, real estate or marketing sectors
  • State agencies dealing with agriculture, natural resources and planning and development
  • Regional and local government, particularly in city and county planning
  • Educational institutions

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for geographers is expected togrow 35% through 2020, much faster thanother occupations.

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I absolutely love the geographic and atmospheric sciences department. I did an undergraduate degree in the department and it has always felt like I was with friends and family. We collaborated, celebrated and appreciated together

— Ata Shakir, B.S. 2005, M.S. 2012

Without his guidance, patience and encouragement, I know I would not be where I am today in my own career.

— Tamara Houston, physical scienctist for NOAA's National Climatic Data Center



Degree Information

Students can earn a B.S. or B.A. degree with emphasis in geography by selecting electives from GIS & mapping science, natural environmental systems, urban-economic systems, or area studies or by sampling from across our entire curriculum. We also offer the B.S. degree with emphasis in geomatics.

Geomatics is the science of measurement, representation, analysis, management, retrieval and display of geographic data pertaining to the physical Earth and human built environments. The emphasis in geomatics blends coursework in land surveying with additional courses in GIS, mapping science, and spatial analysis. Our curriculum has been approved by the Illinois Public Land Surveyors Association. Students completing the program will qualify for the Surveyor In-Training [SIT] examination and potential careers in a wide variety of surveying and mapping science related fields. The department also offers an undergraduate Certificate in Geographic Information Systems and a minor in Geography.

Who Studies Geography?

Energy Ball

Contact Information

Department of Geography
Davis Hall, Room 118
Northern Illinois University
DeKalb, IL 60115

Ph:  (815) 753-0631
Fax: (815) 753-6872