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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography


Master's Program Requirements

The Department of Geography awards both the MA and MS degrees. The MA is typically awarded to students who specialize in Human Geography subject areas in their coursework and/or who utilize qualitative methods in their thesis research. The MS is typically awarded to students who specialize in Physical Geography or GIScience in their coursework and/or who utilize quantitative methods in their thesis research.

Coursework, Course Load, and Coursework Planning

Master’s students are required to complete a minimum of 31 credit hours. This includes a minimum of 25 coursework credit hours, plus 1-6 hours of thesis preparation credit hours (799). At least half of the credit hours on the Master’s Program of Study, exclusive of thesis preparation, must be earned in courses numbered 700 and above.  Students should consult the Graduate Bulletin for information about transfering credit hours from another graduate program and about re-certifying courses more than six years old for inclusion in the Master's Program of Study. 

Coursework requirements include:

1. Core Course (1 credit hour)

GEOG 740 — Research Trends in Geography

2. At least one course in each disciplinary cluster (9 credit hours)

The disciplinary cluster areas are as follows:

  • Physical/Environmental
  • Human/Regional
  • GIScience

A complete listing of courses that fall into each of these three categories is available here. All courses used to fulfill this requirement must have a GEOG prefix. The classification of certain courses may change depending on the content taught in a given semester. Students may not use GEOG 595, 705, 706 or 805 to fulfill course cluster requirements for the Master’s degree.

3. Specialized Course Work (15 credit hours minimum)

Master’s students should consult with advisors in selecting appropriate specialized courses for their degree program.  No more than 6 credit hours of independent study in Geography (GEOG 705 or 706) may be included on the Master's Program of Study.  No more than 9 credits of independent study with any designator may appear on a Master's Program of Study.

4. Thesis Preparation (GEOG 799) (1-6 credit hours)

After successful completion of coursework requirements and the successful defense of a thesis proposal, students may enroll in thesis preparation hours (GEOG 799). Master’s students may not enroll in thesis credit hours until they have successfully defended a thesis proposal and completed any remediation required by the thesis committee (see details below). 

For planning purposes, the university considers 9 credit hours during a regular session to constitute a full load for students without an assistantship, and 6 credit hours to constitute a full load for students with an assistantship. In order to complete the 31 required credit hours in 4 semesters, the department recommends that Master's students take 9-10 credit hours for the first two semesters.  Students holding an assistantship during a summer term must enroll in at least one credit hour. Please note that the minimum residency requirement for the Master’s degree is two regular semesters or the equivalent in summer sessions (see Graduate Bulletin for details).

In planning course work each semester, students should consult with their advisors using a Master’s Program Worksheet. Students and advisors should keep a copy of the worksheet and should update it each semester. After consulting with the advisor, the student must fill out an Advisement Form in order to register for the next semester’s courses. Students will not be cleared for registration until the advisement form has been filled out, signed by the advisor and student, and submitted to the graduate program coordinator, Mr. Capers Stokes.

Within the first 12 months of full-time enrollment in the Master’s program, students must file a completed Master’s Program of Study Form (M-POS) with the Graduate School. If necessary, an approved Master’s Program of Study can be modified with a Program Adjustment Form (POSA).