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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography

Graduate Awards and Scholarships

Graduate students may qualify for several awards and scholarships offered by the Department, the Graduate School, the College, and other campus units. This is not an exhaustive list of awards available to Geography graduate students. Students are encouraged to explore the websites of government agencies, non-profit organizations, professional associations (including the American Association of Geographers), and research institutes for further information about funding opportunities.

In addition to the below awards, students might also wish to set up a meeting with an advisor in the Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs to learn more about funding programs for graduate students in Geography. 

The Grace and Allan Davis Scholarship Endowment

The Grace and Allan Davis Scholarship Endowment award is granted to students majoring in Geography with an emphasis in  GIScience (including remote sensing and cartography). Preference is given to married students with children that have financial needs. If there are no GIScience students in this category, then married students with financial needs, regardless of disciplinary focus, will be considered next, followed by single students with financial needs. Graduate students will be given preference over undergraduate students. The minimum award is $500.  Applicants should compose a brief (1-2 page) letter explaining his/her accomplishments and financial needs by April 15.  This letter should be sent via email to the Chair of the Awards Committee.

The Paul E. Lovingood Award

Dr. Paul E. Lovingood Jr., a Distinguished Professor Emeritus of the Department of Geography, retired in 1988 after twenty-seven years of service. His generous gift to the Educational Foundation enables the Department to present an annual award of $500 to the author of the outstanding Geography graduate research paper.  Submissions are due by April 15 and should be sent via email to the Chair of the Awards Committee.


Departmental Teaching Awards

The Department recognizes its outstanding Graduate Instructors and Lab Assistants with these awards.  Graduate students who are serving as instructor of record for a course may nominate themselves for the Instructor Award.  Applicants should submit a course syllabus, course evaluations, and a brief (1-2 page) teaching statement that describes the student's general teaching philosophy and his/her teaching methods and approaches.  These materials should be submitted to Chair of the Awards Committee.  A maximum of two Instructor Awards will be given each academic year.  Faculty members whose courses have lab sections may nominate graduate students for the Lab Instructor Award.  The faculty member should compose a brief letter to the Chair of the Awards Committee explaining why the student should be considered for the award.  A maximum of two Lab Assistant Awards will given each year.  All nominations should be submitted by May 10.  These awards come with a small monetary prize. 


Departmental Travel Awards

The Department wishes to encourage student travel to domestic and international conferences.  All students presenting a sole- or first-authored conference paper or poster are eligible for a Departmental Travel Award, though priority is given to PhD students. The amount of this award varies between $150 and $250 per year, depending on departmental resources.  Students interested in applying for Departmental travel funds should notify Mr. Capers Stokes via email early in the Fall semester of their intention to present a paper or poster at a conference during the academic year.  Students should state the name and date of the conference and the title and abstract of the paper they intend to present.  Graduate students will receive a reminder early in the Fall semester to submit their travel funding requests.  Students are advised that the use of travel funds requires the completion of a Travel Authorization (TA) form (available on campus computers only) prior to travel and the submission of Travel Reimbursement Voucher (TR-V) along with travel receipts.  The TR-V is available in the Forms Library.  Students should note that the Department does not provide travel funding for SEDAAG.


Graduate School Travel Awards

The Graduate School offers travel funding to PhD students who are presenting sole- or first-authored papers or posters at academic conferences.  PhD students are only eligible to receive these funds twice during their time at USC.  The Graduate School offers up to $500 for domestic travel and $800 for international travel (please note that students must clear their foreign travel plans with the Study Abroad Office well in advance of their departure date). There are four application cycles per year; students have a one-week period in each cycle in which to submit their applications.  Students submit applications electronically via the Graduate Management System (GMS).  Students should consult the Graduate School website for more information about elibility, policies, and procedures for these awards.  Students are advised that the use of Graduate Student travel funds requires completion of a Travel Authorization form and a TR-V with receipts (see above).


Trustee Fellowships

The Graduate School administers several Trustee Fellowships.  The largest is the Rhude M. Patterson award ($5,000), which is given each year to two outstanding female graduate students in the humanities and social sciences.  Female graduate students at the master's or PhD level working in human geography and nature-society areas of the discipline qualify for this award.  All Geography graduate students are eligible for several other smaller Trustee awards, including the Royal ($2,500), Reeves ($750), and Parkinson ($750) fellowships.  Nominations for these fellowships are prepared and submitted by the Graduate Director.  The Graduate School limits each program to two nominations, which must be ranked by the Graduate Director.  Nominees may be asked to provide a CV and a research statement.  The due date for all Trustee Fellowships is typically in early March.  Students should consult the Graduate School website for further information.


Other Graduate School Awards

In addition to the Trustee Fellowships, the Graduate School administers the Dean's Award for Excellence in Leadership, the Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Awards, and the Oustanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award.  Each of these awards comes with a monetary prize.  Applications for these awards are typically due in early March.  Students should consult the Graduate School website for further details.


The Dean's Dissertation Fellowship

The College of Arts and Sciences offers 6-8 awards to doctoral students in the final stages of research and writing.  The fellowship is worth $25,000 and can be used to cover a student's living expenses, as well as research expenses.  The Department can nominate no more than two students for this award.  The nomination packet includes a letter from the student's advisor, a research statement, a dissertation abstract, and a CV.  The Graduate Director collates these materials, along with a cover letter, and submits them to the Dean's Office. The due date is usually late March or early April.  Students interested in this opportunity should consult with the Graduate Director at the start of the Spring semester.  Students should also be aware of the Bilinski Fellowship, which is administered in conjunction with the Dean's Dissertation Fellowship, but which is only open to students in the humanities and social sciences.  The application procedure for the Bilinski Fellowship is similar to the Dean's Dissertation Fellowship, and Bilinski applicants can also be considered for the Dean's Dissertation Fellowship without submitting a separate application.   The Dean's office circulates  information about these awards to Graduate Directors during the Fall semester.   


Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC)

SPARC is administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research (VP-R).  The award provides $5,000 to support doctoral research. SPARC funds can be used to pay for salary, supplies, travel and other costs essential to completing and promoting student projects. The SPARC program requires all applicants to complete and submit a competitive grant proposal.  The Office of the VP-R also requires SPARC applicants to attend an application workshop. The student's advisor is listed as PI on SPARC applications and is responsible for submitting the application via USCeRA.  The due date for the SPARC application is in November.  More information can be found on the VP-R's website. The VP-R also sponsors the Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award, which honors PhD students who have made considerable contributions to their field of study.  This honor does not carry a monetary award, but it is very prestigious and is awarded to only a dozen students at the University.  Students who feel they may be qualified for this award (or their advisors) should contact the Graduate Director early in the Fall semester about the nomination process.  Information about this program can be found on the VP-R's website.


 Walker Institute Fellowships

The Walker Institute for International and Area Studies offers awards for graduate students (master's and PhD-level) conducting international research.  The Ceny Walker Graduate Fellowship provides up to $3000 for overseas fieldwork, and the International Experience Award provides up to $1000 for travel.  There are also specific awards for students working in the Islamic World and East Asia.  In past years, there have been two award deadlines (Fall and Spring semesters) for the Ceny Walker Graduate Fellowship.  Students should consult the Walker website for further information about eligilibity, requirements, and deadlines.