Geography and Environmental Studies

A professor stands and looks over a map that is laid out across a table.


Geographers use social and natural sciences to creatively study and solve multidisciplinary problems such as climate change and environmental justice, stewardship of natural resources, and sustainable city and rural planning for diverse populations. Human-environment interaction is at the core of geography. Many of our courses address sustainability and climate resilience issues related to wildfire, ecosystem health, global and local food systems, civic engagement, urban development, and environmental policy. The department has a state-of-the-art computer lab for geospatial technology as well as applied field opportunities at the University’s ecological reserve—one of the largest and ecologically diverse in California.

The department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree, four minors, and two certificates. Our engaged faculty and staff guide students in well-rounded and high-impact learning both inside and outside the classroom.


The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies supports a multitude of hands-on field projects and research opportunities in geography coursework. Students put their learning into action in local and campus projects such as the South Campus Project and have presented prize-winning research at professional conferences. Resources for student research and professional development include a dedicated computer lab where students can learn basic to advanced skills in geographic information science and an internship program with diverse opportunities including city and county planning, geographical information system, and natural resource stewardship.

Staff and faculty provide orientation to students working at the department’s GeoPlace mapping center, where their work serves campus needs for mapping in teaching and research. Opportunities for active engagement in environmental planning and stewardship occur under faculty leadership at the University’s ecological reserves and in partnership with private and public entities.

Generous support from department alumni has created several opportunities for scholarships and awards as well as for career development.

Students have sustained an active geography club that has promoted career training activities, speaker series, field trips, and opportunities for environmental activism on campus and in the community.


Our graduates work in public environmental and planning agencies, tribal organizations, nonprofit organizations, and private consulting businesses. Examples of recent employment are the U.S. Forest Service; CalFire; Caltrans; the City of Chico; Butte, Glenn, and Yuba counties; and companies such as Apple and Google, where geospatial technical skills are highly valued. Other students go on to complete graduate degrees within and beyond California State University, Chico.

Geography graduates are especially well-positioned for newly emerging green jobs, such as sustainability managers in private industry.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2021 median pay for geographers is $85,220; for urban and regional planners is $78,500; for cartographers and photogrammetrists is $68,900; for conservation scientists and foresters is $63,750; and for environmental scientists is $76,530 per year. Many of these professions are projected to grow in the next 10 years.