Physical Geography, Minor

Department of Geography, Planning, and Recreation

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

This minor examines global environments and looks at how physical dynamics, such as climates, landforms, vegetation, and soils affect biological and social systems. Topics include mapping, and approved electives open the door for exploring GIS, atmospheric effects, and urban geography.

  • A minor is earned in conjunction with a bachelor's degree.

    To receive a minor (18 - 24 units) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses from one or more subject matter areas with a cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0. At least 12 units of the minor must be unique to that minor and not applied to any other minor.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Students may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

No more than fifty percent of the units used to satisfy minor requirements may be used to satisfy major requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 18
Major GPA C

Purpose Statement

If you want to engage more with our fascinating physical environment, a minor in physical geography may connect well with your major studies. You will take various introductory and intermediate-level courses that focus on the earth's hydrosphere (water systems), biosphere (life zones), atmosphere (weather and climate), and lithosphere (physical landforms and processes). All of this is coupled with geospatial technologies including geographic information systems and various research assignments and applied projects. To truly understand the complex interactions within our global and local environments, a minor in physical geography will certainly fill that need.

Student Learning Outcomes
The student will be able to: 

  1. Identify the diversity of fields, information, and tools used in the study of physical geography
  2. Explain, in general terms, the major cycles and systems of the Earth
  3. Relate processes at local scales to broad patterns observed at continental and global scales
  4. Apply several field, laboratory, and geospatial techniques used to study weather and climate, water, soils, vegetation, and Earth surface processes and landforms
  5. Apply critical thinking skills and knowledge of the geosciences to help plan for ongoing environmental change (natural and anthropogenic)

Minor Requirements
  • Take the following 19 units with a Grade of "C" or better in each course:
    Contact the Geography, Planning, and Recreation Department to be assigned a minor advisor.
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.