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Geography & Environmental Studies

The Geography and Environmental Studies program is part of the School of Geography & Earth Sciences, an internationally recognized centre for research, education and training. The School houses both award-winning researchers and dedicated teaching faculty who are considered to be some of the most experienced faculty in Canada.

Based upon your interest and background, you will be able to select a program of courses which will emphasize either human geography or environmental studies, or a combination of both.

Programs offered by the Geography and Environmental Studies program are designed to provide a background to the study of many of the world’s most pressing challenges (e.g. globalization, inequality, urbanization, climate change, resource depletion, etc.), how existing conditions have evolved and make predictions about their future evolution.

photo of John Williams

John Williams

B.A. Honours, Political Science, B.A. Geography, McMaster University2012

Project Manager for the Hamilton Conservation Authority

“With a Social Sciences degree you feel you can change the world—fast. Working here allows me to effect local-level positive change through an organization whose goals align with the preservation of our environment and way of life. At McMaster I learned that being a complete person, balancing life and studies, is an important part of academic success.”

What is Human Geography?

The discipline of Human Geography examines the spatial organization of people and their activities, and the environments in which they occur. An undergraduate degree in Geography & Environmental Studies equips students with an ability to:

  • appreciate the physical & cultural characteristics of places in an increasingly globalized world;
  • understand the evolution of people, their ideas and activities, their places, and their environments over time;
  • and understand the spatial distributions and complex connectivity of people and places.

Focus of Study

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analysis
  • Urban Geography & Planning
  • Geographies of Health and Population Studies
  • Environmental Issues
  • Economic Geography and Transportation Studies

Geography & Environmental Studies Degree Options

All Social Sciences students start off in Level I. At the end of first-year, students who meet the requirements outlined below can pursue one of the following degree options in Geography & Environmental Studies:

  • Honours B.A. Geography
    Level I Grade Point Average of 5.0 (C) including an average of at least 5.0 (C) in six units from GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3, ENVIRSC 1A03, 1B03, 1C03, 1G03.
  • Honours B.A. Geography & Environmental Studies
    Level I Grade Point Average of at least 5.0 (C) including an average of at least 5.0 (C) in six units from GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3, ENVIRSC 1A03, 1B03, 1C03, 1G03.
  • Combined Honours in Geography & Another Subject
    Level I Grade Point Average of 5.0 (C) including an average of at least 5.0 (C) in six units from GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3, ENVIRSC 1A03, 1B03, 1C03, 1G03. Satisfaction of admission requirements for the Honours program in the other B.A. subject.
  • B.A. in Geography
    Grade Point Average of 3.5 including an average of at least 4.0 (C-) in six units from GEOG 1HA3, 1HB3, ENVIRSC 1A03, 1B03, 1C03, 1G03.


The School of Geography & Earth Sciences also offers the following Minors that can be taken alongside another degree program:

  • Minor in Geography
  • Minor in Environmental Studies
  • Minor in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

Geography & Environmental Studies Program Details

Build Your Skills

Experiential Opportunities

As a complement to lectures, students benefit from inquiry components in most courses, through small-group tutorials, hands-on labs (such as in our Geographic Information Systems courses), and problem-based assignments throughout our programs.  Students are also offered a variety of field course and field trip opportunities at all levels of the Geography & Environmental Studies program. 

Students in Level 1 have many opportunities to explore neighbourhoods, urban development projects, and sites of interest across Hamilton.  Between Levels 2 and 3 students can choose from one of two field camp courses, one which is focused on the changing urban geography of Toronto and the other which is centred around understanding environmental issues in the local Dundas Valley area.  Students in Level 4 have additional experiential opportunities; during this past year, some students traveled to San Francisco to conduct supervised urban field research focusing on the linkages between the city, population, economy, politics and culture and the shape of urban development. Previous trips included New York City, Chicago, and Montreal.

Experiential education is an important component of the Geography and Environmental Studies programs; there are also multiple opportunities for internships and service-learning placements.

Our graduates have been successful at finding interesting and rewarding careers in a range of fields in both the public and private sectors

Examples of career paths include:

  • Urban Planning

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Analyst

  • Transportation Management

  • Environmental Assessment

  • Policy Analyst

  • Data Analyst

  • Education/ Teaching

  • Lawyer

  • Humanitarian Organizations

  • Administration/ Management

  • Emergency Management

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