Study Community and Environmental Planning at the University of Montana
Community planning and resource management — especially in mountain environments — are complex. Urbanization, sprawl, population and conservation of natural resources all present significant challenges. In the community and environmental planning concentration of the geography major at UM, you’ll gain the skills to help urban and rural communities meet these challenges and become more healthy, vibrant and sustainable places.
The geography degree leverages UM’s unique location in the Rockies to offer opportunities for hands-on, field-based learning and research you won’t find anywhere else on Earth. This includes 25,000 acres of land managed for student and faculty research and learning, including Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Our faculty members are leading experts in diverse disciplines of geography who have worked all over the world and have particularly strong expertise in the Rocky Mountain West, the Himalayas and the country of Bhutan.
of W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation graduates are employed or in graduate school
acres of land managed for faculty and student research and learning
estimated average salary of UM bachelor’s in geography graduates
Other degree options for geography at UM
- Bachelor of Science in Geography
- Bachelor of Science in Geography – Physical Geography
- Master of Science in Geography
- Minor in Geography
What can you do with a geography degree?
One of the benefits of earning a degree in geography is its versatility. From community planning jobs, to careers in environmental planning and management, our graduates go on to diverse careers in the public and private sectors, helping communities to navigate their futures. Our alumni also pursue advanced study in community planning, environmental planning and policy, and related fields.
What you’ll learn in the geography - community and environmental planning concentration
This concentration provides a geographic knowledge base and focused training in community planning and development (land use, environmental, urban, rural, transportation) and natural resources management. You’ll learn how to gather and use data to address challenges facing urban and rural communities. You’ll also develop strong leadership and communication skills that will help you succeed as a professional.
This program will prepare you for a variety of community and environmental planning jobs, as well as other careers involving geography including:
- City/community planner
- Transportation planner
- GIS analyst
U.S. News and World Report ranks geographer ninth in Best Science Jobs, and reports a median salary of $81,540 for this career.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, urban and regional planners earn an average of $74,350 per year, nationally. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) managers can expect to make $74,000 on average.
Beyond the classroom: Experiential learning in the geography degree program
As geographers who specialize in community and environmental planning, we tackle big challenges. For example:
- Studying how urban land use changes impact drinking water.
- Helping community food banks design more efficient delivery systems.
- Optimizing new community garden locations to improve access for lower income households.
When you major in geography at UM, you can count on opportunities to get out from behind your desk and apply your studies in the field, to solve real problems and make a difference you can see.
Field-based learning in the geography degree
Study physical geography, national park management and more in a field-based course that will have you exploring Glacier National Park and the North Fork of the Flathead River. Examine water resource issues currently facing the western United States. Learn field techniques used by geographers and planners in making field observations and in collecting data. These are just a few of the experiences you can expect as a geography major at the University of Montana.
Undergraduate research in the community and environmental planning concentration
Faculty members, often in collaboration with students, conduct research and engage in projects related to:
- Access to services
- Community centered planning
- Community vitality
- Environmental hazards
- Rural return migration
- Water resources management
- Habitat conservation and management
Career development in the geography degree
Develop your professional network and connect with potential employers as you pursue your bachelor’s degree in geography at UM.
Many of UM's geography majors find job opportunities through internships and other experiential learning projects. Our faculty members also bring numerous and diverse professional connections to the program and are here to help you navigate your career options.
Student organizations for geography majors
The Montana Geographic Alliance (MGA) is a network of students, educators and professionals committed to promoting geographic education in Montana. The Geography Club at the University of Montana is another great way to network with peers and make new friends.
Scholarships for geography majors
We offer a number of scholarships through the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. Geography students are also eligible for Franke Sustainability Fellowships, which fund study abroad and research experiences focused on sustainability. Explore scholarship opportunities for geography majors at UM.
Explore classes for the geography program
Establishing ethical, inclusive, healthy and sustainable human-environment interactions is at the core of the community and environmental planning curriculum. Coursework explores topics such as community planning principles and processes, environmental planning, community analysis, transportation planning, water policy, sustainable cities, rural economic geography and more.