Required Courses / Tracks

Required Courses & Tracks

GES BA Program
  • GES majors must take 41 credit hours of GES courses; 21 must be upper-division
  • To fulfill the Compass Curriculum Summit Experience requirement, students must take one of the following:
    • Field Studies in Geography (GES4460)
    • Geographical Summit (GES4900)
    • Honors in Geography (GES4970)
    • Senior Thesis (4990)
  • Digital Earth (GES2050), Intro. to GIS (GES3030) and Intro. to Remote Sensing (GES3060) satisfy the geospatial requirement
    • Important note regarding Digital Earth (GES2050) -- Digital Earth is the least rigorous of the three courses that satisfy the geospatial requirement and as such is the recommended option for students who are not planning to earn the GIScience Certificate and who are not necessarily interested in incorporating geospatial technologies into their career.

Required Courses (revised Fall 2015)

Course # Credit Hrs. Course Name
GES1000 4 Environmental Systems: Climate and Vegetation
GES1010 4 Environmental Systems: Landforms and Soils
GES1980 4 World Regional Geography
GES1990 4 Introduction to Human Geography
GES2050, GES3030, GES3060 4, 4, 4 Pick one: Digital Earth, Intro. to GIS, Intro. to Intro. to Remote Sensing
GES4460, GES4900, GES4970, GES4990 3 to 4 Pick one: Field Studies in Geography, Geographical Summit, Honors in Geography, Senior Thesis (these courses fulfill the Compass Curriculum Summit Experience requirement)

Tracks - What Are They?

Courses offered in GES cover the physical and social sciences as well as geospatial techniques. We have arranged many of our course offerings into one of four different tracks. Tracks are suggested sets of courses that students might want to take according to their specific interests in the field of geography. The tracks are:

  1. Human and Cultural Dynamics
  2. Physical Systems
  3. Environmental and Sustainability Studies
  4. Geospatial / GIScience

Scroll down to see the groups of courses listed by track. If you have any questions about tracks, please contact a GES faculty member.

Non-Track Courses

Students who specialize in specific tracks pick a certain number of credits from these courses.

Regional Courses

Regional courses provide an understanding of select regions around the world through analysis of the historical, cultural, and environmental essence of place.

Course # Credit Hrs. Course Name
GES3800 3 Regional Geography of the Pikes Peak Area
GES3820 3 Mexico, Central American, and Caribbean
GES3830 3 Geography of Colorado
GES3860 3 Introduction to Human Geography
GES3900 3 Historical Geography of the British Isles
GES4460 1 to 6 Field Studies in Geography: (Varies)


Tools Courses

Tools courses provide skills required for research, writing, and analysis in the social and natural sciences

Course # Credit Hrs. Course Name
GES2050 4 Digital Earth
GES4000 4 Statistical Analysis in Geography
GES4110 4 Introduction to Field Techniques
GES4160 1-4 Teaching Geography
GES4170 4 Discovering Place
GES4770 3 Development of Geographic Thought


1. Human and Cultural Dynamics - pick two or more courses from Group A and pick five or more courses from Group B.

Students who choose this track will emerge with an in-depth understanding of the forces shaping human environments. Students explore urbanization, population growth and decline, ethnic and racial segregation, social equity, international migration, globalization, and the geography of American culture, from the built landscape to food, wine, and music. This track prepares students for careers with state and metropolitan governments in public policy, city planning, and regional development, as well as with international development agencies, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

Course # Credit Hrs. Group Course Name
GES3400 3 A Geopolitics
GES3510 3 A Cultural Geography
GES3600 3 A Geography of American Music
GES3610 3 B Urban Geography
GES3730 3 B Population Geography
GES3850 3 A Historical Geography of the US
GES3920 3 B Geography of Food
GES3980 4 A Places and Faces: Geographic Issues in Film
GES4010 3 B Technological Devpt. and Economic Geog.
GES4560 3 B Cultural / Political Geography
GES4600 3 B The Cultural Landscape
GES4620 3 B Race, Ethnicity, and Place
GES4640 3 B MegaCities
GES4680 4 B Inequality, USA
GES4750 3 B Recreation, Tourism, and Environment
GES4760 3 B Women's Space / Women's Place
GES4780 3 B Global Migration
GES4910 3 B The World of Wines and Vines

Subtotal: 21 credits

Choose 1 regional course (3)

Choose 2 tools courses (6) or
Choose 1 tools courses (3) and chose 1 geospatial course (4)

Total: 30-31 Credits

2. Physical Systems - pick at least one course from Group A and pick four or more courses from Group B.

The Physical Systems track emphasizes systems such as the creation and distribution of landforms and soils, atmospheric movement as it relates to climate, and the factors related to the distribution of plant communities. After successfully completing this track, a GES graduate will have the background to work in such natural-resource oriented jobs such as park ranger/interpreter, physical science technician, natural resource manager, or an environmental educator.

Course # Credit Hrs. Group Course Name
GES3200 4 A Practical Meteorology
GES3250 4 A Geography of Climate Change
GES4220 3 B Biogeography
GES4260 4 B Advanced Biogeography
GES4270 4 B Plant Communities / Western US
GES4280 4 B Plant Communities / Western US
GES4290 4 B Plant Communities / Colorado
GES4310 4 B Principles of Geomorphology
GES4320 4 B Mountain Environments
GES4340 4 B Soils
GES4510 3 B Applied Hydrology

Subtotal: 24 credits

Choose 1 regional course (3)

Choose 2 tools courses (6) or
Choose 1 tools course (3) and choose 1 geospatial course (4)

Total: 33-34 credits

3. Environmental and Sustainability Studies - pick at least one course from Group A and pick four or more courses from Group B.

Today’s college graduates are tomorrow’s leaders in how we can live sustainably on a finite planet. The Environmental and Sustainability Studies Track (ESS) emphasizes an array of geographical topics designed to address the needs of the 21st century: how to identify, connect with, and preserve certain places; what it means to value and conserve resources; and whether we should broadly embrace new goals of environmental restoration. With coursework primarily in human and environmental geography that includes fieldwork and experiential learning, the ESS track prepares students for a variety of post-graduate directions: in conservation or environmental advocacy, wildlife or land management, environmental analysis or consulting, public policy, or graduate studies.

Course # Credit Hrs. Group Course Name
GES3170 4 A Saving Place
GES3410 3 A Resource Management and Conversation
GES4650 4 A Restoration Geographies
GES3500 3 B Nature and Society
GES4420 4 B Conservation and Public Lands
GES4450 3 B Analysis of Environmental Systems
GES4480 3 B Environmental Problems of Colorado
GES4500 3 B Water Resources / Problems
GES4550 3 B Disasters and Society
GES4750 3 B Recreation, Tourism and Environment

Classes from other tracks - Depending on the number of courses you take from the first two groups above, you may also pick from the following classes to reach 21-22 credits: GES3250: Climate Change; GES4170: Discovering Place; GES4280: Plant Communities; GES4320: Mountain Environments; GES4560: Cultural/Political Ecology; GES4610: Urban Geography; GES4620: Race, Ethnicity, and Place; GES4730: Geography of Population; GES 4920: Geography of Food.

Subtotal: 21-22 credits

Choose 1 regional course (3)

Choose 2 tools courses (6) unless you already took GES4170. Otherwise, 
Choose 1 tools course (3) and choose 1 geospatial course (4)

Total: 30-32 credits

4. Geospatial / GIScience - take both courses in Group A and pick four or more courses from Group B.

The Geospatial / GIScience track prepares students to become experts in spatial analysis using the latest geospatial technologies. Students will become proficient in visualization, geographic information systems (GIS), image processing, and customization of GIS for programming, database development, and delivery via the internet. Students completing this track will be well prepared for a wide variety of jobs in both the private and public sector using GIS and related geospatial technologies.

Course # Credit Hrs. Group Course Name
GES3030 4 A Intro. to Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
GES3050 4 A Intro. to Cartography
GES3060 4 B Intro. to Remote Sensing
GES3100 3 B Digital Field Mapping with GPS
GES4070 4 B Geovisualization
GES4080 4 B Advanced GIS
GES4090 4 B Image Processing
GES4120 4 B Internet GIS
GES4130 4 B GIS Programming

Subtotal: 23-24 credits

Choose 1 regional course (3)
Choose 1 tools course (3)

Total: 29-30 credits