Geography students at Sacramento State explore Earth’s natural and cultural landscapes using methods from the natural sciences and the social sciences. Students study climate, weather, landforms, water resources, plants and animals, and at the same time, peoples, societies, economies, and cities. Geography's approach to these phenomena emphasizes their interrelationships and spatial patterns, which overlap in intricate ways and give rise to distinctive places and regions. Students work with quantitative and qualitative data from a variety of sources, including published censuses and maps, aerial imagery, field and lab work, surveys and interviews. They use a variety of tools, including Global Positioning Systems (GPS), Geographic Information Systems (GIS), and other computer applications to collect, display, and analyze spatial data. Students of geography study and address complex issues, especially those with a human-environment interface, such as climate change, resource degradation, urban growth and design, globalization, immigration, ethnic and territorial conflict. Geographical understanding is applied at different scales, from the local to the global, and regional expertise is cultivated.
Lower division offerings in physical geography, cultural geography, and geographical techniques introduce students to the discipline. At the upper division level, students can choose among regional classes on many parts of the Earth, topical classes on subjects from meteorology to transportation, and technique classes that include GIS, map making, spatial analysis, remote sensing, and field work. Majors select a concentration in a geographic subfield. Although not required, the department encourages students to take elective courses and/or pursue a minor complementary to their geographical interests.