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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Colleges of Arts and Sciences Program Requirements

Professional Programs



College of Social Sciences
Social Sciences 445
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8465
Fax: (808) 956-3512
E-mail: uhmgeog@hawaii.edu
Web: www.geography.hawaii.edu


*Graduate Faculty

*M. A. Ridgley, PhD (Chair)—resource systems analysis, environmental decision making, water resources, coastal and marine resources
*S. D. Chang, PhD—China, urban development
*G. A. Fuller, PhD—population (fertility, policy aspects), geography of prophylaxis (fertility control, population and political instability)
*T. W. Giambelluca, PhD—climatology, hydrology
*J. Goss, PhD—urbanization, built environment, social theory, Southeast Asia
*M. G. McDonald, PhD—agricultural change, social theory, political geography, Japan
*M. McGranaghan, PhD—computer cartography, geographic information systems
*B. J. Murton, PhD—cultural and historical geography, tropical agrarian systems, South Asia
*K. Suryanata, PhD—political ecology, agricultural geography, natural resource management, Third World
*R. A. Sutherland, PhD—geomorphology, soil erosion, water quality
*B, Szuster, PhD—environmental impact assessment, coastal resource management (especially in SE Asia), tropical aquaculture, cumulative environmental effects
*L. Wester, PhD—plant geography, biogeography of islands, human-plant relationships
*E. A. Wingert, PhD—cartography, remote sensing

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

K. W. Bridges, PhD—computer cartography
P. Jokiel, PhD—coral reefs
J. O. Juvik, PhD—climatology, biogeography, resource management, humid tropics
J. Liu, PhD—tourism, regional development
M. D. Merlin, PhD—biogeography, natural history of Hawai‘i

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

J. Fox, PhD—social forestry
J. Maragos, PhD—coastal and marine resources
J. R. Morgan, PhD—marine geography
T. A. Siddiqi, PhD—energy technology, environmental policy

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in geography, MA in geography, PhD in geography, Graduate Certificate in Ocean Policy

The Academic Program

Geography (GEOG) provides a broad perspective on human and physical phenomena that define and transform the surface of the Earth. It explores the complexity of and interrelationships among the cultures, economies, histories, ecologies, and physical state that characterize particular places and how such relationships vary across space. Three themes (the operation on interlocking systems of the natural environment; the relationship between environment and society; the nature of place and space and the relationships and processes defining and changing them) focus upon the myriad challenges in the contemporary world, such as global environmental change, its causes, and its implications for the human experience; resource management and regional development in the Third World; regional conflict fed by ethnic, religious, economic, and territorial differences; the making of resource and locational decisions; and the collection, processing, display and communication, and management of spatial information. The department is uniquely placed to examine these issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Hawai‘i’s historical, sociocultural, economic, and environmental context provides a fascinating setting for learning and research and can serve as a springboard into the wider region.

Students with a geography degree have gained both a holistic understanding of the world and a specific set of concepts and methodologies that can be applied to a wide range of career opportunities dealing with environmental and resources issues, location and resource decision-making, planning and policy questions, and the display of information on maps and through geographic information systems in all levels of government, private firms, nonprofit organizations, and international agencies.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


Students must complete 37 credit hours including:

  • GEOG 101/101L, 151, 375, 380, and 390
  • One upper division course in each subdiscipline:
  • human geography (GEOG 305, 312, 314, 321, 324, 325, 326, 328, 330, 335, 336, 385, 409, 410, 411, 412, 415, 420, 421, 425, 435, 455)
  • physical geography (GEOG 300, 301, 303, 309, 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 409, 410, 411, 412, 420)
  • Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific regional problems (GEOG 340, 352, 353, 355, 356, 365, 366, 368, 453, 468)
  • cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GEOG 370, 375, 387, 470, 472, 475, 476, 480, 487, 488)
  • Three additional upper division courses concentrated in one of four subdisciplines listed above

Individual programs are designed in consultation with the undergraduate adviser.



The minor in geography requires 15 credits of upper division course work in geography, which should include at least one course in three of four areas: human geography; physical geography; Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific regional problems; and cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems.

Graduate Study

The department offers programs of graduate study and research leading to the MA and PhD degrees. Faculty interests and supporting strengths of UH Manoa provide advantages for study of the following general topics: (a) environmental studies and policies; (b) resource systems; (c) population, urbanization, and regional development; (d) cartography, remote sensing, and geographic information systems; and (e) Pacific and Asian regional problems.

Applicants are expected to have a broad-based undergraduate education encompassing basic courses in the physical sciences, social sciences, and humanities. They should have a firm grasp of the fundamentals of physical and human geography and of basic cartographic and quantitative techniques. Intended candidates for the MA or PhD need not have an undergraduate major in geography; students from related fields are welcome, but any subject-area weakness must be remedied by course work.

Holders of graduate degrees in geography are employed in research and administrative positions in county, state, federal, and international agencies; research positions in private business, especially consulting firms; and teaching positions in secondary schools, community colleges, colleges, and universities.

Master’s Degree

Applicants for admission to the MA program in geography must provide two transcripts, GRE scores (General Test only), completed application forms (available from the department, the Graduate Division, and the Web), and three letters of reference.


The department offers a Plan A (thesis) program. In consultation with an advisory committee, the candidate plans a coherent program of study drawn from departmental offerings and pertinent courses from other UH Manoa departments and programs. Each MA student must complete a minimum 31-credit program, including:

  • 7 credit hours of core classes (GEOG 692, 695, 696)
  • 15 credit hours in the chosen field of specialization
  • 3 credit hours in advanced research skills
  • 6 credit hours in GEOG 700 Thesis Research

Ocean Policy Certificate Program

The wise use and careful stewardship of the ocean require people with multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary advanced education in the natural and social sciences. This program is designed for classified graduate students, law students, and community professional practitioners who wish to complement their existing degree or curriculum. An advisory committee assists each student in custom-designing a 21-credit (minimum) program that draws on marine-related courses in law, geography, agricultural and resource economics, oceanography, costal management, civil and ocean and resources engineering, geology and geophysics, meteorology, botany and zoology, and includes an interdisciplinary seminar and two practica (one each in natural science and social science). For further information and applications, contact the department.

Doctoral Degree

The PhD program is highly selective, and admission is based upon demonstrated competence in previous work and promise of research ability. In addition to the materials required for MA admission, PhD applicants must submit representative samples of research writing and a comprehensive statement of professional goals and objectives.

Students who have completed MA degrees in fields other than geography may be considered for admission to the PhD program. If admitted, however, they must undertake any remedial course work recommended by the department.


The PhD program consists of advanced courses and research seminars in the department, independent reading and research, and work in related disciplines. Each candidate will be expected to have taken the core program required for MA candidates or its equivalent. In addition, the following are common elements of all geography PhD programs:

  1. Attendance and participation, while in residence, in the geography colloquium;
  2. Familiarity with the general development of geographic thought (GEOG 695);
  3. 30 credit hours in a major field and 15 credit hours in a minor field of departmental specialization (course work taken at the MA level may be used in partial fulfillment of this requirement)
  4. Fulfillment of a research skills requirement including (a) one language and (b) 9 credit hours in research technique courses (quantitative, computer applications, cartography, remote sensing, field, bibliography, or laboratory) or a second language;
  5. Passing of written and oral comprehensive examinations; and
  6. Submission and defense of a satisfactory dissertation.

GEOG Courses