In 2005 the Department of Geography celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent department at Brigham Young University. While the department itself was not separate until mid-century, courses in the subject were offered at the founding of Brigham Young Academy. In fact, geography was one of the core subjects taught by Karl G. Maeser, first president of the University. Nonetheless, faculty members associated with geography were part of the combined geology and geography department until a formal division between the two was made in 1955 with the geography department composed of three full-time faculty. This separation of Geography from Geology formally recognized the fundamental differences between the two disciplines. Whereas Geology concerns itself primarily with the earth's natural structure, Geography's interests are primarily with the surface of the earth as modified over time by human action, the resulting landscape and human characteristics of each place, and the connections between them.

The ensuing years brought several changes to the department. The department expanded in 1957 by adding two new faculty members and the department moved from the Eyring Science Center to the David O. McKay Building. In 1960 the department awarded its first Masters degree as an independent department and also saw the department have its offices moved to the Jesse Knight Building and the Smith Family Living Center for two years. 1962 saw the move of the department to the Heber Grant Building (the testing center) where it remained until its move to its present location in the Kimball Tower in 1981. New emphases were added in 1976 when both the planning and travel and tourism programs were created. 1980 saw the establishment of a weather station that is still in use today while the Geographic Information Systems lab was created in 1987.