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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information


Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences

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

*E. A. Wingert, PhD (Chair)—cartography, remote sensing
*D. Beilman, PhD—biogeography, long-term ecology, terrestrial carbon accumulation, paleoenvironmental change
*Q. Chen, PhD—remote sensing, geographic information systems, geostatistics, spatially-explicit modeling
*T. W. Giambelluca, PhD—climatology, hydrology
*H. Jiang, PhD—cultural geography, environment, perception of nature, China
*R. Jones, PhD—political geography, globalization, borders, sovereign state system, nationalism, South Asia
*S. M. Jorgensen, PhD—evolutionary biogeography, landscape and ecological genetics, conservation
*M. G. McDonald, PhD—agricultural change, social theory, political geography, Japan
*M. McGranaghan, PhD—computer cartography, geographic information systems
C. Mora, PhD—interlinks between biodiversity patterns, processes, threats and human welfare
*M. A. Ridgley, PhD—resource systems analysis, decision science and support, risk assessment
*A. Rieser, LL.M.—fisheries management law and policy, marine conservation, law of the sea
*K. Suryanata, PhD—political ecology, agricultural geography, natural resource management, Third World
*R. A. Sutherland, PhD (Associate Dean)—geomorphology, soil erosion, water quality
*B. Szuster, PhD—coastal resource management, environmental impacts assessment, marine recreation, Thailand

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

B. A. Gibson, PhD—GIS, remote sensing, biodiversity, environmental interactions
P. Jokiel, PhD—coral reefs
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
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 16 core credit hours including:

  • GEOG 101/101L, 104, 151, 380, and 493

In addition to the core requirements, each student must elect one of three of the following streams and complete at least 21 credit hours in the upper division courses specific to each stream.

  • Environmental stream:
    two environmental geography courses
    • GEOG 300, 302, 303, or 309
    one geotechnical course
    • GEOG 370, 376, 387, or 388
    one human geography course
    • GEOG 322, 325, 330, or 335
    three upper division environmental geography courses (two from the list below)
    • GEOG 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 411, 412, or 413
  • Geotechnical stream:
    two geotechnical courses
    • GEOG 370, 376, 387, or 388
    one environmental geographycourse
    • GEOG 300, 302, 303, or 309
    one human geography course
    • GEOG 322, 325, 330, or 335
    two upper division courses from the list below
    • GEOG 470, 472, 476, or 489
  • Human stream:
    two human geography courses
    • GEOG 322, 325, 330, or 335
    one environmental geography course

    • GEOG 300, 302, 303, or 309
    one geotechnical course
    • GEOG 370, 376, 387, or 388
    three upper division human geography courses (two from the list below)

    • GEOG 421, 423, 424, 425, 426, 435, or 436

Individual programs are designed in consultation with the undergraduate advisor.

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to www.manoa.hawaii.edu/ovcaa/programsheets/.



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; environmental geography; and geotechnology.

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 management and systems; (c) conservation, 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 environmental 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 and law students in good standing, and community professional practitioners who hold a bachelor's degree who meet minimum admissions requirements are eligible 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. Minimum of 15 credit hours in graduate courses in a departmental field of specialization (course work taken at the MA/MS level may be used in partial fulfillment of this requirement);
  4. Minimum of 6 credit hours in research methods or techniques (statistics, cartography, remote sensing, GIS, quantitative or qualitative methods, computer applications, field methods, experimental methods, laboratory techniques or bibliographic techniques);
  5. Passing of written and oral comprehensive examinations; and
  6. Submission and defense of a satisfactory dissertation.

GEOG Courses