Master of Arts in Geography

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Graduate Advisors: Jason Henderson, Andrew Oliphant, Nancy Wilkinson

Admission to the Program

For admission to the graduate program, a student must meet the general University requirements as stated in the Bulletin. For unconditional admission to the M.A. program in geography, a student must have completed an undergraduate major in geography with a minimum GPA of 3.25 in the major. An applicant with a GPA of 3.25 or better in a major other than geography may qualify for admission as a conditionally classified graduate student. The conditional status is removed upon completion of core degree courses in physical and cultural geography, introductory statistics, introductory GIS, and an upper division geography course on advisement, with a grade of B or better in each course. Units earned for remedial or prerequisite course work are not applied toward the graduate degree.

In addition to the general application and grade transcripts that are sent to the graduate studies office, the department requires a detailed Statement of Purpose, GRE scores and two letters of recommendation. Check the department website for details on how to apply to the program; materials must be submitted in one packet. Personal interviews with the graduate advisors and appropriate department faculty are recommended.

Written English Proficiency Requirements

The University has a requirement for written English proficiency that is to be assessed at two different levels.

Level One

A score of 4.0 or better on the Analytical Writing portion of the GRE is taken as an indication of Level One writing proficiency. Any student whose GRE AW is 3.5 or lower is required to undertake remedial course work which does not appear on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC).

Level Two

Satisfactory completion of GEOG 895 or GEOG 898.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to fulfilling all University requirements, students must complete the required curriculum outlined below. All graduate seminars and all courses used on the Advancement to Candidacy (ATC) with the exception of GEOG 895 and GEOG 898 must be taken on a letter grade basis and have earned a B- or better. Not more than 3 units of independent study (GEOG 899) and 1 unit of independent study (GEOG 699) may be included on the ATC. Internship (GEOG 688) units do not appear on the ATC. Each student must consult with the appropriate graduate advisor regularly and design an individual program leading towards the culminating experience requirement (thesis or research paper). For advancement to candidacy, the student must select a culminating experience committee comprised of two or three members, at least two of whom must be from the department, and present a research proposal to department faculty. Note that culminating experience committee members may have specific requirements for methodological background courses (e.g. the choice of GEOG 701, GEOG 702 or GEOG 705), so this should be considered when planning your course schedules.

Upper division courses offered by the department may be included with the approval of the graduate advisor. Depending upon a student's background and/or objective, additional courses in geography or related fields may be required on advisement.

Geography (M.A.) — Minimum 30 units

Program (12 - 13 units)

Select one of the following:3-4
Geographical Analysis
Field Methods in Human Geography
Field Methods in Physical Geography
GEOG 801Scope and Method in Geography 13
GEOG 810Seminar in Physical Geography3
GEOG 820Human and Social Geography3

To be taken by the student during the first year after admission to classified graduate status.

Graduate Seminars in Geography (6 - 12 units)

From the following:

(A seminar may be repeated for credit provided that it covers a different topic area and is offered by a different instructor)

GEOG 815Seminar in GIScience3
GEOG 832Seminar in Urban Geography3
GEOG 858Seminar in Environmental and Land Use Planning3

Courses in Geography or Related Fields (3 - 9 units)

Graduate seminars and courses or upper division courses on advisement

Select one of the following:
GEOG 895Research Project (and Master's Comprehensive Oral Examination)3
GEOG 898Master's Thesis (and Oral Defense of Thesis)3

Master’s Oral Examination

A two-hour oral examination is required of all students. One hour is devoted to the research topic (GEOG 895) and a second hour focuses on a discussion of six foundation works in the discipline selected on individual advisement. The examination or either of its parts may be repeated only once. Students must have completed all course work prior to taking the oral examination which can be scheduled only during the fall and spring semesters. Examination guidelines are available from the graduate advisor.

Research Proposal

The department requires all M.A. students to present a proposal of their research for culminating experience to faculty and peers within a semester of filing the Proposal for Culminating Experience. The object is to provide students with useful feedback in the critical developmental stage of the research experience. Students present a twenty minute synopsis of their research ideas to faculty and fellow graduate students focusing particularly on linking the research to a broader theoretical framework and presenting a methodology design to achieve the specifically stated objectives. This is followed by ten minutes (maximum) for questions and comments. Proposal presentations are scheduled as needed.