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Degree, Minors and Certificates Offered

General Information

Undergraduate Programs

Requirements for Undergraduate Degrees from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences



College of Social Sciences
Saunders Hall 445
2424 Maile Way
Honolulu, HI 96822
Tel: (808) 956-8465
Fax: (808) 956-3512


*Graduate Faculty

*H. Jiang, PhD (Chair)—cultural geography, environment, perception of nature, China
*D. Beilman, PhD—biogeography, long-term ecology, terrestrial carbon accumulation, climate change
*Q. Chen, PhD—remote sensing, geographic information systems, geostatistics, spatially-explicit modeling
*T. W. Giambelluca, PhD—climatology, hydrology
*R. Jones, PhD—political geography, globalization, borders, sovereign state system, nationalism, South Asia
L. C. Kelley, PhD—remote sensing, political ecology, land use
*C. Mora, PhD—interlinks between biodiversity patterns, processes, threats and human welfare
*M. Mostafanezhad, PhD—cultural politics of tourism, politics of consumption, Thailand
*Y. Qiang, PhD—GIscience, visual analytics, geocomputation, human dynamics
*A. Rieser, JD, LL.M.—marine environmental governance; marine science and policy; political geography of the oceans; ocean policy and climate change
*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

Emeritus Faculty

S. Chang, PhD—geography of China
M. Chapman, PhD—population geography, Pacific studies
R. Fuchs, PhD—climate change and adaptation, Asian cities
G. Fuller, PhD—population growth, geography of fertility
N. Lewis, PhD—medical geography
B. Murton, PhD—human geography, indigenous studies
M. Ridgley, PhD—resource management
L. Wester, PhD—biogeography, Southeast Asia
E. Wingert, PhD—cartography

Adjunct Faculty

Eisinger, Douglas, PhD—atmospheric pollution
Gomez, Basil, PhD—geomorphology
Merlin, Mark, PhD—biogeography, natural history of Hawai‘i

Cooperating Graduate Faculty

E. Franklin, PhD—marine ecology, coral reefs, fish and fisheries, computational and quantitative methods, invasive species
M. D. Merlin, PhD—biogeography, natural history of Hawai'i

Affiliate Graduate Faculty

H. Diaz, PhD—global climate research, atmospheric conditions
J. Fox, PhD—social forestry, resources, Southeast Asia
A. Ziegler, PhD—water resources, hydro-ecological processes

Degrees Offered: BA (including minor) in geography, MA in geography, PhD in geography

The Academic Program

Geography (GEOG) provides a broad and flexible academic program that explores the human and environmental systems that shape the surface of the Earth. The discipline investigates the interaction of culture, society, ecology and physical environments that characterize particular places and studies how these relationships vary across space. The undergraduate program at UH Manoa focuses on three interlocking subdisciplines: human geography, environmental geography, and geographic technologies. Human geography investigates the cultural, economic, and political processes that shape human experiences on the Earth; the relationship between the environment, society, and culture; and the nature of place in the Asia-Pacific region. Environmental geography engages in a systematic study of the Earth’s physical environment (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere) and considers the challenges associated with natural resource management and global environmental change. Geographic technologies include the study of cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), and remote sensing science.

Students who study geography obtain a holistic understanding of the world and a set of methodological tools that can be applied to a wide range of domestic and international career opportunities. Geographers are involved in environmental planning, natural resource management and social policy development with all levels of government, private firms, non-profit organizations, educational institutions, and international agencies. Hawai‘i’s unique historical, socio-cultural and environmental context also provides a fascinating setting for geographical investigations into the wider Asia-Pacific region.

Undergraduate Study

Bachelor’s Degree


The geography major requires at least 31 credit hours including:

Core Required Courses (19 credit hours)

  • GEOG 101, 101L, 151 or 102, 104, 325, 380, 493

Elective Upper Division Specialization Courses (12 credit hours)

At least 12 credit hours (6 credits at the 400 level) drawn from the following list of courses. Students are encouraged to focus on courses within environmental geography, human geography, or geospatial technology, or to develop a combination of courses to fit their interest.

  • Environmental Geography: GEOG 300, 302, 303, 305, 309, 310, 400, 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, 408, 409, 410, 411, 412, 413, 414, 415
  • Human Geography: GEOG 320, 322, 324, 330, 335, 421, 422, 423, 424, 425, 426, 432, 435, 436, 453
  • Geospatial Technology: GEOG 370, 376, 388, 389, 470, 472, 476, 489
  • Asia-Pacific Region: GEOG 340, 352, 353, 355, 356, 365, 366, 368
  • Directed Studies (with approval and under the supervision of faculty): GEOG 399, 468, 490, 492, 499

For information on a Bachelor Degree Program Sheet, go to



The minor in geography requires 15 credits of upper division course work in geography, which should include at least one course in each of the three 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, 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 30-credit program, including:

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

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