About Geography and Regional Planning

John Benhart

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the department's website, and thank you for your interest in geography and regional planning at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Our programs train undergraduates and graduate students in the disciplines of geography and planning.

Geography focuses on the investigation of the distribution of natural and human-created phenomena over the Earth's surface. Geographers are interested in documenting where things are and in trying to explain and analyze geographic distributions. Planning involves working to further the welfare of people and the communities that they live in by creating sustainable, equitable, efficient, and aesthetically pleasing living environments in the present and future. Planners work in various settings and at many different scalesfrom rural areas to very large cities, as well as suburbs and resort areas. In a nutshell, planning involves integrating the desires of a community's citizens with professional methods of analyzing population trends, economic patterns, and infrastructure availability to develop a sustainable plan for future development.

The career prospects in the fields of geography and planning are presently very good. In geography, there is a high demand in the public and private sectors for graduates who have the skills to work with geospatial technology and geographic databases. There are also many opportunities for students who would like work in environmental science/management or are interested in building sustainable local and regional economies. Planners are needed at all levels of governmentlocal, county, regional, state, and federaland are crucial players in decision-making processes. Planning jobs are available anywhere in the country, from Indiana, Pennsylvania, to San Diego, California.

Our geography undergraduate program includes a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and a minor in which students receive instruction in aspects of the discipline. The B.A. program is organized into concentrations, or areas of emphasis, that students can pursue. These are Geographic Information Systems/Cartography, Environmental Geography, Economic Geography, and a General Geography concentration where students can choose any combination of electives. The Regional Planning undergraduate program offers Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees in the following concentrations: Environmental Planner and Land Use Planning/GIS.

The department's master's program includes both Masters of Science (M.S.) and Master of Arts (M.A.) options, as well as thesis and non-thesis options. The M.S. degree program is organized into tracks similar to the undergraduate program. These are: GIS/Cartography, Environmental Planning, and Regional Planning. The M.A. program has the same core courses as the M.S., but it provides the student with the opportunity to choose from elective courses. Financial aid opportunities in the form of assistantships and fellowships are available every academic year and must be applied for by March 1 of the academic year of your planned enrollment.

Currently, there are approximately 100 undergraduates and 20 to 25 master's students in the department. Our majors are assigned advisors whom they meet with every semester and know personally, and the small class sizes in our program create a productive learning environment. All of the faculty members in our department have earned doctorates and are experts in their various fields. Departmental facilities include two computing laboratoriesthe James A. Payne GIS/Cartography Laboratory and the Spatial Environmental Analysis Laboratory (SEAL)which contain state-of-the-art GIS, remote sensing, and Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) capabilities as well as global positioning systems (GPS) and environmental monitoring equipment.

Please contact any of our faculty or staff with any further questions that you may have regarding our program. We have designed the department's homepage and associated websites to provide as much information as possible, but we would welcome additional inquiries via e-mail, phone, or personal visit (please contact Missy Bair, the departmental secretary, at mbair@iup.edu to set up a visit). We look forward to seeing you on the ground floor of Leonard Hall on the IUP campus soon.


John Benhart, Jr.
Department Chair