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Undergraduate Degrees

Degrees offered by the OU Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability (DGES) provide a solid base for a variety of careers. By combining the study of (a) environmental issues and research methods, (b) social, economic, energy and policy considerations, and (c) digital technologies and their applications, our degrees prepare graduates to better comprehend and contribute to addressing real-world social and environmental issues. Our degrees are in three major areas:


Learn More About Our Undergraduate Degrees!

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental Sustainability addresses how societies can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. The degree offers three different areas of concentration: culture and society, planning and management, and science and natural resources.

What is an Environmental Sustainability Degree?

Environmental sustainability studies how human societies can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Achieving this goal requires balancing short- and long-term needs related to jobs and economic growth, societal well-being, and environmental health. 

Climate change, habitat destruction, pollution and the overuse of natural resources have contributed to a human environment that may no longer be sustainable Only by using modern scientific methods and by integrating scientific research with an understanding of the global economy and governmental institutions can we expect to understand and manage a natural environment that will be sustainable, supporting and enhancing the quality of life for generations to come. Skilled professionals educated in the principles of environmental sustainability are essential to the effective management of the natural environment.  These professionals will be qualified for numerous sustainability-related positions in government, the private sector, the non-profit sector, and education. Because many managers in these sectors have only a vague understanding of sustainability, persons with degrees in environmental sustainability are positioned very well to achieve important leadership positions, setting agendas for long-run sustainability at the local, regional, national, and global levels.

Degree Options

Students may pursue either a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in any of the following options:

  • Science and Natural Resources
  • Culture and Society
  • Planning and Management

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  • Sustainable community planner
  • Green economic developer
  • National Park ranger
  • Municipal water conservation program manager
  • Green team leader for city government
  • Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality
  • Oklahoma Water Resources Board
  • United States Environmental Protection Agency
  • United States Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Officer


  • Green energy entrepreneur
  • Corporate social responsibility manager
  • Environmental consultant
  • Energy auditor
  • Environmental journalist
  • ISO certification specialist


  • Executive director of a local environmental nonprofit
  • State-level engagement coordinator for Greenpeace
  • Fundraising and grant writer for Sierra Club
  • Communications manager for World Wildlife Fund
  • Advanced Environmental Scientist & Specialist - New Mexico Environment Department
  • 911 GIS Specialist at Association of Central Oklahoma Governments
  • Environmental Health & Safety Specialist - University of New Mexico
  • Environmental Programs Specialist II at OK. Dept. of Environmental Quality 
  • Air Quality Program Coordinator at Choctaw Nation of OK 
  • Assistant Hydrologic Scientist at Oklahoma Water Survey in Norman 
  • Energy & Environment Research Assistant at the Houston Advance Research Center (HARC)  
  • Senior Environmental Field Technician at Trinity River Authority in Dallas 
  • Wilderness Medicine Instructor with SOLO (Stonehearth Open Learning Opportunities) in New Hampshire 
  • Environmental specialist at the Oklahoma Water Resources Board 
  • Program and Operations Associate at Trees for the Future in Silver Spring, MD 
  • Environmental Scientist/ Planner at Guernsey in OKC 
  • Environmental Lab Analyst at SGS North America in Anchorage, Alaska 
  • Public Assistance Specialist II at Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management 
  • Technology Support Specialist The State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources 
  • Right of Way Associate at Coates Field Service, Inc. in OKC 
  • Traffic Control Inspector/Quality Control at New York City DOT 
  • Professional Technician at the City of Oklahoma City (Storm Water Quality) 
  • Multimodal assistant planner at Association of Central Oklahoma Governments in the transportation department 
  • Field data collector technician 
  • Environmental Education with the Casper Mountain Science Program in Casper, Wyoming 
  • Planning and grants specialist at Cleveland Area Rapid Transit (CART) in Norman 
  • City Planner for the City of Amarillo 
  • Field Scientist at Terracon in Katy, TX 
  • Health and Safety Executive (HES) Officer. Innospec Oilfield Services in OKC 
  • Associate Planner and Program Coordinator at the Office of Sustainability in OKC 
  • Brown Field Coordinator at Absentee Shawnee Tribe, Office of Environmental Health and Engineering  
  • Stormwater Fellow at Monroe County, IN Government
  • Master of Environmental Science from Civil Engineering and Environmental Science at OU 
  • Master of Natural Resources and Sustainable Development (NRSD) in WDC, American University School of International Service (SIS) 
  • Masters of City and Regional Planning Program, UNC; Graduate Asst. UNC Highway Safety Research Center on safe routes to school 
  • Master of Urban Planning at NYU 
  • Master of Environmental Sustainability in the O'Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University 
  • Master of Arch in Landscape Architecture at OU 
  • Master of Regional and City Planning at OU 

Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Geographic Information Science is one of the most rapidly expanding areas of study and employment in the U.S. addresses how geographic information systems and remote sensing (aerial photography and satellite imagery) are used for gathering, analyzing and visualizing all forms of geographically referenced information.

What is a GIS Degree?

Students pursuing degrees in geographic information science (GIS) use data to map, model, and analyze various problems related to geography and meteorology. Integrating advanced computer technologies, people, and detailed information about location, geographic information science reveals spatial relationships, patterns and trends in maps that lead to better decision making in dozens of professional fields, including agriculture, defense and intelligence, environmental sustainability, forestry, law enforcement, and health and human services.

Location-based data are central to 80 to 90 percent of all governmental information and to a wide range of business endeavors.  Students who major in geographic information science study the science and technology of gathering, analyzing, interpreting, distributing and using geographic information.  The U.S. Department of Labor declared geospatial technology as one of the twelve targeted industries that are high growth, high demand, and economically vital for the nation.  Lending itself to both physical and social sciences, geospatial technology is applied across a broad range of sectors.  Career opportunities span academia, government, industry and non-governmental organizations and include careers in agriculture, forestry, urban planning, land use, soil mapping, energy & utilities, redistricting, identifying and monitoring surface and ground water, flood damage assessment and relief measures, and consumer industries like in-car navigation systems.

Degree Options

  • Cartographic Design
  • Computer Programming
  • Data Analysis, Integration, Mining and Visualization
  • Database Design and Management
  • Disaster Response
  • Environmental Analysis and Management
  • Intelligence Analyst
  • Imagery Analyst
  • Logistics Planning and Support
  • Planning (Urban, Transportation, Resources)
  • Project Management
  • System Administration
  • Web Mapping
  • Geographic Information Science Manager - Oklahoma County
  • Parcel Fabric Administrator / ESRI Enterprise Agreement Administrator - Oklahoma County Assessors Office
  • Planning and Research Intern - Association of Central Oklahoma Governments
  • GIS analyst & Executive Assistant at Milford Corporation/Snyder Properties, LLC/ GMS Energy, LLC 
  • Floodplain Mapping Specialist at the Kansas Department of Agriculture - Division of Water Resources 
  • GIS Specialist and IT assistant at the City of guymon, Oklahoma 
  • GIS Analyst at CBRE in Dallas 
  • GIS Technician at Apple via Apex Systems in Austin, TX 
  • GIS Technician at CC Environmental in Norman 
  • Technology Support Specialist The State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources  
  • GIS Specialist at Oklahoma Dept of Transportation 
  • GIS Analyst at Dewberry Consulting LLC in Dallas 
  • Field data collector technician with GUY Engineering in Tulsa 
  • GIS technician at Okie811 
  • Software engineer at Tailwind in OKC 
  • GIS Technician at the 9-1-1 Dept. of the Association for Central OK Government 
  • Geospatial Imagery Analyst at US Navy Reserve 
  • Cartography Technician at Garmin in Kansas City 
  • Design Technician at Charlotte County in Florida 
  • GIS Analyst at Williams in OKC 
  • GIS Analyst at KAMO POWER in OKC 
  • GIS Analyst I at Chesapeake Energy in OKC 
  • GIS Technician at Chickasaw Nation in Ada, OK 
  • GIS Analyst II at Williams in San Antonio, TX 
  • GIS Analyst at Muscogee Creek Nation 
  • GIS Analyst at Absentee Shawnee Tribe; Office of Env. Health and Eng. 
  • GIS Contractor, OGE Energy 
  • GIS Specialist, Oklahoma Dept. of Transportation
  • Master of Arch in Landscaping at OU 
  • Master of Science in Geography and Environmental Sustainability at OU
  • Master of Geography at Texas A&M
  • Master of Geotechnical Engineering at OU
  • Master of Linguistics at The University of Texas
  • Master of Public Health at the OU Health Sciences Center


Geography is an integrative field that studies people and the world in which they live and the discipline consists of two primary fields: human geography and physical geography. Both of these disciplines use GIS technologies and other analytical tools such as statistics, modeling and qualitative approaches.

What is a Geography Degree?

More geographers than ever before are being hired in dozens of different fields. All levels of government hire geographers, who work for local and state economic development or planning offices, conduct research in recreation and park use, or map land use from satellite images. Many geographers at the federal level work for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Department of State. Geographers also conduct marketing studies, plan transportation routes, understand international markets, advise businesses on the best location for new stores, work in real estate and urban planning, and determine environmental risks associated with site locations. From electric companies to wind-power farms, from forestry to telecommunications, real-time mobile interactive geographic technologies and databases are emerging as the backbone of large-scale management systems for industries with distributed assets and mobile workforces.

Geographers integrate knowledge of culture, society and the economy with understanding of the earth’s physical system and biosphere in order to provide a holistic perspective on human-environment relationships. This integrative perspective is vital to understanding and addressing the world’s complex problems, including renewable energy, environmental change, and indigenous cultures in a globalizing world.

Geography faculty bring a rich history of expertise to the study of cultural, historical, political, economic, environmental, and applied physical geography. This focus on the human-environment interface complements and enhances the mission of the College by bridging the social and atmospheric sciences. Climatology, resource management, and wind energy are just a few of the many career opportunities available with a degree in geography.

Degree Options

  • Climatologist
  • Community Developer
  • Community Resources Specialist
  • Emergency Management
  • Environmental Impact Analyst
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Facilities Planner
  • Geointelligence Specialist
  • Historic Preservationist
  • Hydrologist
  • Land Economist
  • Land Use Analyst
  • Location and Siting Analyst
  • Logistics Analyst
  • Map Analyst
  • Map Curator / Librarian
  • Natural Hazards Analys
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Site Researcher
  • Urban and Regional Planner
  • Water Resources Specialist
  • Digital Communication Manager at the European Roma Rights Centre
  • Analyst at Inegra Realty Resources
  • Assistant Planner at Association of Central Oklahoma Governments
  • Associate GIS Analyst at Gulfport Energy Corp.
  • Associate GIS Tech at OGE Energy Corp
  • Bicycle & Pedestrian Coordinator at OK Dept. of Transportation 
  • Broadcast Meteorologist at TEGNA 
  • Community Development Specialist at City of Bethany
  • EHS Data Analyst I at Chesapeake Energy
  • Emergency Management Specialist, Kinston, North Carolina
  • Engineering Tech at OGE Energy Corp
  • GIS Tech at Aerotek
  • Environment Project Specialist at Professionals Service Industries
  • Environmental Services at Frito Lay
  • Geospatial Analyst at Jeppesen
  • GIS & Mapping Specialist at Reagan Smith Energy Solutions
  • GIS Analyst at ConocoPhillips
  • GIS Analyst at Enercon Services
  • GIS Business Analyst III at Kalibrate
  • GIS Mapping Specialist at Reagan Smith Energy Solutions 
  • GIS Specialist at Meshek & Associates
  • GIS Specialist at ONEOK
  • GIS Specialist at Zayo Group
  • GIS Technician at Adecco Group
  • Environmental Health Fellow with the U.S. EPA .
  • Land Mapping Technologist at Encana Corporation
  • Forensic Meteorologist at Weather Decision Technologies
  • Mapping Support Specialist at Innovative Systems
  • Marketing & Sales Coordinator at Weather Decision Technology
  • Mesonet Calibration Lab Technician at Oklahoma Mesonet
  • Officer in the U.S. Navy 
  • Project manager at Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce Regional Chamber of Commerce
  • Sustainable Development & Transportation Planning at North Central Texas Council of Governments System 
  • Technician, General Dynamics Information Technology
  • Technical Specialist at Baker Hughes
  • Transportation planner with the North Central Texas Council of Governments
  • Ph.D. in Geography at the University of Maryland
  • Ph.D. in Professional Counseling at Oklahoma State University
  • Law Student at Penn State University
  • Master of Arch at OU in landscape Arch and Urban Planning
  • Master of Arts in Geography at The Univeristy of Oklahoma 
  • Master of Science in Geography at The University of Oklahoma
  • Master of Public Health at The University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center
  • Master of City and Regional Planning at the University of North Carolina 
  • Master of Public Admin at George Mason
  • Master in Geography and Spatial Planning at the University of Luxembourg


A minor in Envrionmental Sustainability (pdf) equips you with critical concepts and practical skills about how societies can meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. This minor focuses on how individuals, organizations and societies can achieve the critical balance between economic, environmental and socio-political forces related to resource management.

This minor provides you with practical skills about how Geographic Information Science (pdf) is used to gather, analyze and visualize all forms of geographically referenced information for use in everyday applicatrions such as emergency management, location analysis, real estate rout planning, etc. The minor focuses on different aspects including the use of maps as a communication tool, visualization of different types of spatial data, the study of satellite observations and aerial photgraphs and geospatial analysis of complex societal problems.

A minor in Geography (pdf) provides a broad overview of the human-environment relationship over time and space. You will learn how physical geography influences the nature, types, patterns and distribtion of human activities as well as how human/cultural geography influences how people perceive and use the envrionment and resources around them. Additional topics include the factors motivating patterns of interrelationships and interactions among the global population.

A minor in Physical Geography (pdf) gives you a broad knowledge of the Earth's physical features, including climate, landforms, ecosystems and natural hazards. This minor focuses on different aspects including biogeography- the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through time, Geomorphology- the origins and evolution of the Earth's landforms and Climatology- the study of the climate and how it impacts the envrionment, people, and society.

The Hydrologic Science Minor is designed for students who are interested in expanding their understanding of the role of water in our environment. The minor requires a minimum of 15 semester credit hours, to include at least one course each from Meteorology, Geography, and Civil or Environmental Engineering. No more than (9) hours may come from any one discipline.

The Climate Adaptation Minor is for students who want to focus on climate adaptation.

5-Year Accelerated Degree Programs

The department now offers accelarated Master's programs with any of our undergraduate degrees and a Masters in Regional and City Planning.

Regional + City Planning Program Information


Jamie Steele

Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability
Academic Advisor
(405) 325-8736