The Department of Geography offers master's programs of study across a range of systematic, regional, and technical fields, and an innovative Ph.D. program focused on the urban environment. The department's strengths lie in three areas of expertise that are incorporated into the programs at both master's and Ph.D. levels. These areas are:
- Urban Development. This area primarily emphasizes the role of economic systems as well as cultural and social forces that shape the landscape and dynamics of urban areas. Courses examine such issues as urban growth and change, race and ethnicity in the city, cultural and physical aspects of urban planning process, and the geography of urban political decision-making.
- Physical Geography and Environmental Studies. This area addresses the interactions among natural forms and processes on the earth's surface and human connections with those natural phenomena. Course work in this general area discusses the distribution and analysis of earth surface landforms and processes (geomorphology), soils (pedology), plants and animals (biogeography) and long-term atmospheric patterns (climatology). Emphasis is placed on the relationship between the physical environment and people, incorporating studies of, for example, natural hazards, conservation, and environmental change, and paying particular attention to the manifestations of these relationships and processes in the urban environment.
- International Interests: Department faculty members have varied international interests and experience, for example, in Canada, the Caribbean, China, Latin America, South Asia, and Western Europe.
In addition to these departmental strengths, individual faculty members apply their expertise in topics such as historical geography, ethnic studies, remote sensing, GIS and cartography to problems of the city.