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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Geography


Ph.D. Program Requirements

Coursework, Course Load, and Coursework Planning

The doctoral degree requires a minimum of 33 post-master’s-degree credit hours. This includes a minimum of 21 hours of coursework plus a minimum of 12 hours of dissertation preparation (GEOG 899). At least one-half of the credit hours listed in the student’s Doctoral Program of Study, exclusive of dissertation credits hours, must be in courses numbered 700 or higher.  Students should be aware that courses more than 10 years old must be re-certified for inclusion on the Doctoral Program of Study. Students wishing to re-certify courses or to transfer credit from another program to their Doctoral Program of Study should consult the Graduate Bulletin

The 21 credit hours of coursework requirements include:

1. GEOG 801 — Contemporary Approaches to Geography (3 credit hours)

2. An advanced techniques course, taken at the 700 level or above, appropriate to the student’s specialization and dissertation topic and selected with advisor approval (3 credit hours).  Students may use a course outside of Geography to fulfill this requirement.

3. An 800-level advanced seminar in area of specialization (3 credit hours).  Students may use an 800-level course outside of Geography to fulfill this requirement.

4. Additional courses at the graduate level including at least one course outside of Geography (12 credit hours).  No more than than 6 credit hours of independent study in Geography (GEOG 705, 706, or 805) may appear on the Doctoral Program of Study.  No more than 9 hours of independent study with any designator may appear on the Doctoral Program of Study.

Please note the following: 

  • Doctoral students must have completed a statistics course (GEOG 531 or the equivalent) either at the Master’s or the Ph.D. level, in order to advance to candidacy.
  • Doctoral students who did not complete a thesis as part of a master's degree program are strongly encouraged to take GEOG 740: Research Trends in Geography (1 credit hour).
  • Students may not enroll in dissertation credit hours (GEOG 899) until they have successfully defended a dissertation proposal and completed any remediation of the proposal required by the committee (see details below).

The University considers 6 credit hours to be a full load for PhD students holding an assistantship, and 9 credit hours for students who do not hold an assistantship (see information below under 'The Dissertation' about special enrollment status for students nearing the completion of their degrees).  Ph.D. students on assistantships during the summer must be enrolled in at least one credit hour. The doctoral residency requirement is satisfied with 18 hours of coursework taken in 3 consecutive major semesters. Enrollment in a summer term is not required to maintain continuity, but credit hours earned during summer terms will count toward the 18 hours required for residency.

In planning coursework each semester, students should consult with their advisors using a Doctoral Program Worksheet. Students and advisors should keep a copy of the worksheet and should update it each semester.  Each semester, students will fill out an Advisement Form with the advisor 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 and submitted to the graduate program coordinator (Mr. Capers Stokes). The advisement form must be signed by the student and the advisor.  

Within the first 24 months of full-time enrollment, students must complete and submit a Doctoral Program of Study Form (D-POS). The D-POS is a list of courses that satisfy degree requirements. This form requires the signatures of the Department Chair, the student's advisor, the Graduate Director, and the Dean of the Graduate School. If necessary, an approved program of study can be modified with a Request for Program Adjustment Form (POSA).