Graduate Programs Chicago and Geography

What better place to advance your studies of Geography than in Chicago, the nation's third largest metropolis and the geographic core of the nation's economy. The city offers a wide variety of research and career opportunities. Major libraries, research collections, and foundations call Chicago home, while a diversified economy provides job opportunities in a wide number of areas.

Chicago State University -- conveniently situated 10 miles south of the Loop on the city's far South Side -- is at the center of a diverse and changing environment that poses a number of questions for geographers to answer. What are the long-term effects of industry on the nearby Lake Calumet wetlands? What role does the Calumet industrial region play in the nation's drive towards a service oriented economy? Can the local development needs of predominantly African American and Hispanic communities be met with equality and fairness? How can teachers best bring global perspectives to local classrooms?

Geography at Chicago State University

Geographers at Chicago State University have a great deal of experience working to answer these questions, and as a comprehensive Geography department, they ask many more about the region, the nation, and the world. The department'sFrederick Blum Neighborhood Assistance Center serves as the focus for many of these efforts. TheCalumet Environmental Resource Center (CERC) serves as a unique information clearinghouse of environmental and economic development resources pertaining to the Calumet region of southeast Chicago and northwest Indiana.  The department is housed in the Daniel Hale Williams Science Center. The GIS laboratory with its Linux and Windows-based systems provide user access to state-of-the-art Geographic Information Systems, Remote Sensing, and computing applications including ArcGIS, ERDAS Imagine, and SPSS.  Several data sets are housed in the laboratory for student use including satellite imagery for the past three decades covering Illinois and large portions of neighboring states and census data.  Access to geocoding software and Trimble and Garmin Global Positioning Systems (GPS) equipment are also available for student projects.  The University is also a US Geological Survey (USGS) Map Depository, with emphasis on the Midwest, of the 1:24,000 and 1:100,000 series topographic maps.

Student Life at CSU

A very active student organization, the CSU Geographical Society, sponsors field trips and subsidizes attendance at annual Association of American Geographers meetings. 

The Chicago State University campus is highly accessible by automobile, bus and elevated commuter railroad. Chicago State University's new Residence Hall houses both graduate and undergraduate students. In addition, the city of Chicago has a range of housing by styles and cost.

The Department works closely with students in developing research assistantship and internship opportunities. International students must complete a CSU declaration and certification of financial support form and provide an official copy of TOEFL scores if English is not their native language. For more details, contact Chicago State University's Graduate Studies Office at (773) 995-2404. 

Geography After Chicago State University

Some examples of recent employment by graduates of CSU's Geography Department include:

  • GIS Manager for the City of Chicago
  • GIS Analyst for a local engineering firm
  • GIS Analyst for ESRI, the leading GIS software company
  • Community Organizer for a southside Chicago neighborhood organization  
  • Teachers of Geography in universities, colleges, high schools, and elementary schools
  • Data Analyst for a national insurance company
  • GIS Analyst for a global electronic mapping company 

M.A. in Geography Program (33 Hours):

Admission Requirements

  • Fulfillment of the general requirements for admission to the graduate program at Chicago State University, which includes attainment of a 3.0 GPA at the undergraduate level.
  • Completion of a minimum of 15 semester credit hours of undergraduate geography courses, including one course in physical geography or equivalent, one course in human geography or equivalent, and one course in research methods or statistics. The department may prescribe additional prerequisites on a case-by-case basis. Students must also satisfy prerequisite requirements for specific graduate courses.

General Requirements

  • Completion of 33 credit hours of graduate courses.
  • Successful completion of a research thesis, written under the direction of a departmental specialist in the thesis area. The thesis represents six credit hours of the 33 required hours. The student may  receive an incomplete grade on the thesis until the completion of the thesis and its acceptance by the thesis committee.

Specific Requirements 

  • Students must take Geographic Inquiry (GEOG 5860), Geographic Measurement Techniques (GEOG 5880),
    and electives to be selected with the advisor’s approval. 

M.A. in Geography with Geographic Information Systems Concentration (33 hours):

Admission Requirements

  • Fulfillment of general university requirements for admission into graduate programs at Chicago State University, which includes attainment of a 3.0 GPA at the undergraduate level.
  • Students who lack at least 3 hours of computer programming and 3 hours of introductory GIS may be required to make up these deficiencies. The requirements to complete the program are as follows:

Course Requirements


  • GEOG 5860 Geographic Inquiry
  • GEOG 5880 Geographic Measurement Techniques


  • GEOG 5820 Environmental Remote Sensing
  • GEOG 5830 Advanced GIS
  • GEOG 5810 Cartographic Design and Visualization
  • GEOG 5840 Digital Image Processing and Analysis
  • GEOG 5850 GIS Applications


  • GEOG 5500 Urban Geography
  • GEOG 5530 Neighborhood Development
  • GEOG 5540 Community Analysis
  • GEOG 5520 Principles and Practices of Urban and Regional Planning
  • GEOG 5841 GIS Database Development and Management
  • GEOG 5842 GIS Programming and Customization
  • GEOG 5851 GIS Internship


  • GEOG 5991 Thesis I
  • GEOG 5992 Thesis II 

Students with previous degrees/certificates in GIS seeking admission into the M.A. in Geography with Geographic Information Concentration program should consult with the graduate advisor about their program of study.

M.A. in Geography with Geographic Information Systems Concentration Information Sheet (PDF File)
M.A. in Geography with Geographic Information Systems ConcentrationInformation Sheet (Word File)