Transfer students

We welcome you to explore our home page at to learn all about the department—the program, the faculty, the students, our activities, research that our people are doing—and even to look at some gorgeous photography. Just for transfer students, we have gathered here a summary of things we think you’ll find useful to get started, whether you are just exploring the major or beginning to fulfill your major program requirements. Please contact the advisors below with any questions not answered here, or even if you just want to talk about Geography as a major.

Advisor contact information

Marjorie Ensor
Student Academic Advisor

517 McCone Hall
Hours: 8:00-12 noon and 1:00-5:00 Monday-Friday
Drop in or make an appointment.
Phone: 642-3904

2009-2010 Advisors TBA
2008-2009: Professor Robert Rhew
Asst. Prof. and Undergraduate Faculty Advisor
539 McCone Hall
E-mail for appointment:
Phone: 643-3579

2008-2009: Professor Nathan Sayre
Asst. Prof. and Undergraduate Faculty Advisor

589 McCone Hall
Office hour signup sheet posted on office door.
Phone: 643-4084

The Student Advisor, Marjorie Ensor, will help you to plan and execute your course work in the major program and answer questions concerning requirements and course substitutions. The Designated Undergraduate Faculty Advisors may be consulted on any other questions concerning the major during their office hours or by special appointment. Students are also encouraged to seek substantive advice on academic matters from other faculty who share their interests or with whom they have had classes.

Getting to Know Us

There is no general orientation to the program; it is done on an individual basis by the Student Advisor, Marjorie Ensor. However, there is an all-department reception in the Fall of every year on Wednesday of the first week of classes. As a prospective student or just declared major, you are welcome to come and meet other undergraduates and grad students who may someday be your GSIs (Graduate Student Instructors), as well as Geography Department faculty and staff. If you arrive in the Spring semester, there is another chance to meet folks at the Department Picnic in late April or early May.

Another way to meet current majors is to go to BUGs meetings and events. BUGs stands for Berkeley Undergraduate Geographers. Field trips, picnics and potlucks, movie nights, and lunch time talks are some of the activities organized by BUGs. It is open to all students interested in geography. For events and meeting times, check their bulletin board located next to 135 McCone or visit the web site at

Getting Started with Coursework

Some tips and information about requirments of the major

If students have not completed three lower division courses in Geography at their community college, they can take GEOG 40 (physical geography) and GEOG 4 (which can substitute for a world geography requirement) in summer school. If they would like to get a jump start on upper division courses, GEOG 130 and 138 are generally offered in summer and both satisfy the human geography requirement.

Because GEOG 140A is required for the Earth System Science focus, because it can be offered irregularly, and because it is a prerequisite to 140B, majors choosing that option should take it as soon as it’s offered.

Students choosing the Economic, Culture and Society focus should take GEOG 110 or GEOG 130 as soon as they can because either is required for that option.

Methodology Requirement

Regarding the methodology requirement: Plan ahead! Methodology courses teach you how to "do" geography rather than think or theorize about it. It is the practice of geography that will help inform all of your geographic scholarship. Here are some tips about what methodology courses to take and when:

• Physical field methods (GEOG 180): Offered in the Spring only. Involves long-weekend field trips. Open to physical or human geographers.

• Urban field methods (GEOG 181): This course is frequently oversubscribed. If you enter Cal in the Fall and cannot get a place in the class, take it the following Fall, being sure to enroll during Phase I when you will have priority.

• Cartographic Representation (GEOG 183): Take Cartography as soon as you can. It is always offered in the Fall. You will be able to intern in the class the following year to get experience and polish your skills. There are also freelance opportunities administered by the cartography instructor for students who excel in cartography.

• Advanced Cartographic Methods: GIS For Cartographers (GEOG 187): Advanced cartographic methods will focus primarily on data acquisition, manipulation, analysis and representation using GIS software and vector-based illustration software, in the service of geographical analysis. Some field research will be required.

• GIS (GEOG C188): Always offered in the Fall. If you are not particularly computer savvy but want to master GIS, consider taking ESPM 72 before taking GEOG C188.

Additional tips

Students should consult the Student Advisor, Marjorie Ensor

  • if they could not take all three prerequisites or their equivalents as listed on ASSIST at their community college. Substitutions are possible for transfer students.
  • if they cannot take two or more courses they want because of schedule conflicts. The UMA will know about course rotation patterns and can help students make decisions about which to take first.
  • for the chart of classes planned for the coming year in order to better plan the whole year’s curriculum.
  • to see if there are any one-time-only classes that will count for a particular focus requirement.

Graduate School

Transfer students are usually top students. Many are already committed to the idea of going on to graduate school, either right after their B.A. or a bit later on. These last two years of college may be the most important in terms of earning a competitive grade point average and getting to know professors who can write recommendations to support graduate applications. Every Fall the Geography Department offers a workshop on "Applying to Graduate School" which is immensely helpful in demystifying the process with lots of sound, practical, and often inside advice. The folks at Letters & Science have also put together a plan for what you can be doing now to prepare yourself. Check out this comprehensive plan, but don’t let it intimidate you:

Study Abroad

It is not surprising that many Geography majors choose to study in other countries as part of their undergraduate education. Transfer students who want to fit in a semester of study abroad will have to plan carefully. In fact, you can begin exploring your options before you even arrive at Cal. Go to to explore the Education Abroad programs in various countries. Summers may be your best best, although those programs tend to focus on learning the language of the country. Another doable option is to go abroad in your last semester. You can also consider non-EAP programs, although you may want to check on whether UC Berkeley will award you credit for study there.


Internships are a good way to get work experience, to polish your skills, and to learn about careers you are considering. Sometimes they are also the gateway into a paying job at the organization where you intern. We strongly encourage our majors to try to fit this experience into their curriculum. Again, transfer students will have to plan carefully how and when they will intern during their years at Berkeley. The Career Center on campus is an excellent resource for advice about internships and for listings of openings. Their website at even offers tips on creating your own internship.

For undergraduates: