Graduate - FAQ


Q. What financial aid is available?

The Department has limited funding availability to incoming and ongoing students. We have several teaching assistantships, two or three scholarships, and research assistantships.  A number of jobs and internships are available through our community partners in the city and region.

Q: What are my chances of getting an Assistantship?

We only admit students to begin in the fall term, and the first deadline for applying is January 15. Applications received by that date are considered in the first group of students for Graduate Teaching Assistantships. Since financial aid is very limited, if you are not in the first group to apply, there is very little chance of getting an assistantship. There is sometimes an opportunity to work on a grant-funded research project with a specific faculty member (Graduate Research Assistantship)...another good reason to make contact with potential faculty members early!

Q. Is there a minimum GRE score?

No, the GRE is not required. However, if you have taken the GRE and wish to submit the scores, please include them with your application. 

Q. Is there a Minimum TOEFL score?

All graduate students are expected to be proficient in the use of English.  For students whose native language is not English, this proficiency must be demonstrated by meeting the minimum score requirements for the TOEFL or IELTS. A minimum score of at least 550 paper-based, 213 computer-based, or 80 internet-based with a subscore of 18 in Critical Reading and Writing is required for the TOEFL. An overall score of 6.5 is required on the IELTS exam, with a 6.5 on both the Reading and Writing sections.

Q: How do I apply to the PhD Program?

As part of the School of the Environment (SOE), we offer a Doctoral degree in Earth, Environment, & Society. The SOE Program involves faculty from Biology, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Economics, Geography, Geology and Physics. Students interested in the Ph.D. program should begin by contacting the Geography faculty member(s) whose interests align with their own and who might serve as advisor.  All applications should go through the School of the Environment.

Q: Can I do the GIS Certificate while doing a Master’s degree?

Yes. While many students pursue just the Certificate, many Master’s students pursue the Certificate simultaneous with their Master’s degree. The application process is slightly different if you are already in a program, so check in with the department for details.

Details of the program are available on the GIS Certificate web page.

Q: Can I apply if my undergraduate degree is not in Geography?

Yes. Many incoming graduate students enter the program with a degree in a field other than geography.  We welcome applications from students regardless of major.  We do, however, expect incoming graduate students without a background in geography to develop a thorough grounding in the discipline. Students in this situation are admitted with “departmental conditions“ and are required to develop competency in three areas: physical geography, human geography, and maps and geographic information.  We offer two foundation-building options:

OPTION 1. Before the start of the fall term or as soon as possible thereafter, complete 4-credit, upper-division Geography classes, taken for undergraduate credit from each of the subject areas identified in your “conditional admission” letter (one or more of GEOG 380 Maps and Geographic Information; Physical geography; Human geography).

OPTION 2. As a graduate student, audit (with instructor’s permission) each course you need to remove conditional status. Register for 1 credit of GEOG 505 (Readings and Conference) for each course and complete an assignment that demonstrates your mastery of the subject matter in consultation with your GEOG 505 faculty advisor (generally the course instructor).

Q: Can I get my core Geography classes done as a quick-admit (now “non-degree seeking”) student before applying next year?

While we do strongly recommend having foundational classes before you start the program, it is quite common to apply for the program first, then take the classes either in the summer before you start, or in those first few terms.  The positive side of going non-degree-seeking at first is that you would get a good feel for the department before deciding to apply (and also for faculty to get to know you).  The downfall of starting as a non-degree-seeking is, obviously, that we cannot guarantee you will get in to the program even if you do have all the core classes.

Info on the non-degree seeking option is pasted below. If you do start in the Fall (as non-degree-seeking), make sure you start talking to one or more potential Advisors when you get here, so you are prepared to meet the priority application deadline for the grad program, January 15th.  

“Non-Degree Seeking” Admission:
Enrollment is available to Non-Degree students. In fulfillment of the University mission, Non-Degree status is a means of access to higher education for those who seek courses for edification and enrichment, or to restart a college program.  As a Non-Degree student, you are not formally admitted to the University, but you may enroll in as many as eight credits in Fall, Winter, and Spring, and up to 21 credits in Summer. Certain courses that require a prerequisite or formal University admission are not available to Non-Degree students.

Q. What if I am not a US citizen?

Non-U. S. citizens should contact the Admissions Office for International Student admissions forms, and information about J-1 visas. All International Graduate Student application materials are available at: