Undergraduate Studies


We often marvel at the intricacy of the honeycomb and are astounded by the industry of an animal as small the honeybee creating a built environment with such regular geometry. From the rural landscape to cities, from the individual firm to multinational corporations, the world humans create is every bit as intricate and astounding. The curriculum in Urban/Economic Systems explores how we structure and organize our activities and built environments, how the locations of our activities are conditioned by the physical environment, and how the geography we build through our activities influences interaction-between nations, regions, cities, and even people. An understanding of urban and economic geography has important value also to the decisions we make on how to use our earth-from matters like where to site a fire station or store to the design of livable cities and the preservation of limited land resources.

Students having completed the undergraduate degree in Geography with a specialization in Urban/Economic Systems are career professionals in: urban & regional planning, retail site location analysis, economic development, transportation planning, market demographic analysis, real estate assessment, land-use planning, tax assessment, emergency services planning, census, health services planning, community development, and logistics, and have pursued graduate degrees in geography, city & regional planning, regional science, and business administration.

The major in Geography with specialization in Urban/Economic Systems consists of 24 semester hours of required coursework bridging the human, environmental, and mapping traditions of Geography and 12 semester hours of electives chosen from among courses in city systems, transportation, urban geography, population geography, land use planning, and location analysis. Many of these courses have a strong practical focus, and several are also options within the GIS curriculum. Students with career interests in urban/regional planning or business geographics are encouraged to develop additional analytical skills through the Certificate in GIS. Class sizes in courses required for the Geography major average between 35 and 50, while enrollments in Urban/Economic Systems electives are often between 10 and 20. Northern Illinois has vibrant and dynamic economy and is an ideal setting for the observation and study of modern cities and the tension between metropolitan growth and rural quality. Our location - adjacent to the Chicago and Rockford metropolitan areas - provides unparalleled access to internship, work-study, and other career development opportunities.

Undergraduate Coordinator Thomas Pingel

Undergraduate Catalog Geography Major