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Academics / Undergraduate Program / Info for Majors and Minors

Info for Majors and Minors

To complete an undergraduate program a student must satisfy University, College of Arts and Sciences, and Department of Geography requirements. To be awarded a baccalaureate degree (in geography a student can earn a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree) each student must complete 120 semester hours of courses acceptable to the College. At least 90 of these hours must be in Arts and Sciences courses and 39 hours must be in geography. Also, a student must have at least a 2.0 (on a 4 point scale) grade point standing to graduate. Students pursuing a B.A. or a B.S. degree in geography should ensure that they fulfill the UK Core requirements. Suggested programs of study for specific interests or career paths within geography are available from geography faculty.


Geography Major Requirements

The Geography major has been redesigned to be career- and skills-oriented. Students must choose among three tracks: Mapping & GIS, Environment, and Cities & Societies.


View the bulletin for the Geography B.A. and the Geography B.S.


Geography Minor Requirements

The minor in geography requires a minimum of 18 hours taken within the department. At least 15 hours must be at the 200+ level. All geography minors should work closely with a departmental advisor in coordinating geography with the chosen major or majors. View the bulletin for the Geography Minor.


Mapping & GIS Minor Requirements

The Mapping & GIS minor requires 18 credits hours with (GEO 109, 309 and 409 required, 9 credits) and nine credits of electives. View the bulletin for the Mapping & GIS Minor.


Urban Studies Minor Requirements

View the bulletin for the Urban Studies Minor.


The Society of Geographers

This society is an organization for undergraduate majors and minors that was founded in 1983. The purpose of the Society is to provide a social and academic meeting ground for students with common goals and interests. Each year the undergraduates elect officers for the Society, and members generally have monthly meetings and sponsor a number of social activities during the academic year. In the past they have sponsored field trips, guest speakers, spaghetti and pizza dinners, travel to national and regional professional meetings, study groups for exam week, and advising groups that tutor other students enrolled in geography classes. Society membership is an excellent way to develop one's professional interests as well as make friends. All majors are strongly urged to join the group and participate in its organized activities. The Director of Undergraduate Studies, or another designated faculty member, serves as the Society advisor.


Gamma Theta Upsilon

Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU) is an International Geographical Honor Society that recognizes high academic achievement by geography undergraduates, graduates, and faculty. Established in 1931, this society has grown to include over 200 college and university chapters and over 50,000 members worldwide. The Sigma Chapter of the University of Kentucky was chartered in 1948, and the number of qualified undergraduate initiates has grown dramatically in recent years. Eligible students will be contacted by Dr. Lynn Phillips, who is the Sigma Chapter's Faculty Sponsor.


Professional Organizations

Undergraduate Majors are urged to begin developing their professional interests early on. This would include joining an appropriate professional organization such as the Association of American Geographers (AAG), and the Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG). Special student membership rates are available for nearly all professional organizations. For example, the membership cost for SEDAAG is only $7.00, for which you receive the Southeastern Geographer, a regional scholarly research journal, a newsletter, and eligibility to participate in student honors sessions at the annual meeting. Many organizations, such as the AAG, sponsor several student award competitions and also provide career opportunity services at their annual meetings, where students can schedule interviews with potential employers.


Geography Undergraduate Research

There are many opportunities to conduct research in the Department of Geography. Discuss options with the Director of Undergraduate Studies. There is also available funding in the College of Arts and Sciences.


Honors and Awards

Each year the Geography Department recognizes outstanding student achievement through awards given to majors. The awards announcement has become a traditional part of our annual Geography in the Bluegrass Day celebration each spring semester. You will notice that some awards require completion of special projects that therefore involve some planning if you wish to be considered. In addition to those listed below, the College of Arts and Sciences and the University sponsor numerous awards and scholarships. We suggest that you contact the Dean's Office for a list, and consult the section on awards in the University Bulletin.


Departmental Awards


1. The Joseph R. Schwendeman Award (named for the Department's first Chairperson)

Requirements: Student must be a declared geography major with at least 60 hours of undergraduate course work and 18 hours in geography course credits. This award will be presented to the student with the highest grade point average for overall coursework as determined by Arts and Sciences or Registrar's records. In case of a tie, the award will go the student with the highest GPA in geography courses. The student's name will be engraved on a special plaque that is displayed in the departmental office.


2. Gyula Pauer Cartography Project Award (named for the Department’s first Cartography Lab Director)

Requirements: Student must be a declared geography major with at least 60 hours of undergraduate course work. Students who wish to be considered for this award should assemble a portfolio of maps prepared in conjunction with any geography class, appropriate internship, or independent study courses they have taken. The quality of work submitted is the principal criterion used in making the award. This means overall quality, indications of technical maturity, and an indication of potential as a professional. This recognition will include a cash award.


3. Outstanding Undergraduate Student Research Paper Award

Requirements: Student must be a declared geography major with at least 60 hours of undergraduate course work. Research papers prepared for geography courses or presented at regional or national professional meetings are eligible for consideration. The quality of the research problem and the writing and presentation of findings are the principal criteria used in making the award. This includes originality and relevance of the work, and professional potential as indicted by the project. This recognition includes a cash award.


4. Withington Human/Cultural Geography Award (Sponsored by Dr. William A. Withington, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky)

Requirements: This award, which may be awarded at each of the Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral levels, recognizes outstanding student writing in topics following the traditional cultural/behavioral theme in geography. This recognition includes a cash award.


5. Thomas M. Geoghegan Award (Sponsored by the UK Geographical Society in memory of former undergraduate major Tommy Geoghegan)

Requirements: This award recognizes exceptional dedication and spirit to undergraduate studies in geography. Candidates are in their sophomore or junior year.


6. Raitz Scholarship (Sponsored by Prof. K. Raitz, Professor Emeritus, University of Kentucky)

Requirements: This prize is awarded by the Department of Geography to support academic merit and diversity among undergraduate students in the Department. This recognition includes a cash award.


7. Departmental Honors (this award is given by Arts & Sciences at the discretion of the department)

Requirements: The Department will recognize graduating seniors with GPAs of 3.5 or higher, both overall and within the department, for Honors each year.


8. Undergraduate Enrichment Award (established in honor of the department's 75th anniversary)

Requirements: See eligibility and application instructions, here.


Nondepartmental Awards


1. AAG Specialty Group Undergraduate Paper Awards.

There are 39 formal Specialty Groups within the Association of American Geographers that support interests ranging from Africa and Aging to Transportation and Urban. Many of these Groups sponsor student award competitions each year. Details on these Specialty Group Awards are provided in the AAG Newsletter. Students may also contact a faculty member in the department for additional information.


2. GTU Robert G. Buzzard Scholarship.

Gamma Theta Upsilon provides this annual scholarship, in the amount of $500, for superior scholars in geography. The Buzzard Scholarship is for undergraduate seniors who have been accepted to, and will be enrolled in a graduate program in geography. All active GTU members are eligible. Contact Dr. Lynn Phillips for information.


3. GTU Benjamin F. Richardson III Scholarship.

Gamma Theta Upsilon provides this annual scholarship, in the amount of $500, for undergraduate juniors and seniors having either career or graduate school aspirations in geography. The Richardson Scholarship is based on service to GTU and the local chapter's department and noteworthy academic performance. All active GTU members are eligible. Contact Dr. Lynn Phillips for information.