Master of Science in Geography

Program Rationale:
The master's program in Geography is based on students' interests and faculty expertise. Each graduate student’s planned program of study is custom-designed to provide the best possible preparation for the career or future PhD study chosen by the student.

Program Emphases:

Students enrolled in the M.S. in Geography program may emphasize any of the following areas:

  • urban and regional planning
  • environmental studies
  • travel and tourism
  • cultural and world regional geography
  • computer mapping or geographic information systems

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes:

The graduate program in Geography strives to achieve the following goals:

  1. to create an environment in which students learn about the breadth, depth, and complexity of the human experience through the study of Geography;
  2. to produce students who have an informed appreciation and understanding of geographical thought, its philosophical background and debates, and the interpretation of geographical literature;
  3. to produce graduates who have an informed appreciation and understanding of the research methods in geography and the social sciences in general by completing a research thesis or project under academic supervision and guidance; and
  4. to prepare students for professional careers or further studies and research in Geography.

Each Geography MS graduate on completion of their degree will have achieved the following learning outcomes to a satisfactory level as judged by the appropriate performance indicators established for use in the program assessment of student achievement.

  1. demonstrate an ability to develop a research proposal and carry out independent research
  2. have an in-depth understanding and mastery of the literature in Geography and in at least one geographic subfield
  3. demonstrate an ability to present and defend research work in oral, written and graphic forms
  4. demonstrate technical skills in the collection, analysis and mapping of geographic data, critical-thinking skills, plus written and verbal communication skills
  5. apply geographic knowledge and skills to a range of problems faced by businesses, industry, government, etc.
  6. write effectively and persuasively about the key principles, theories, and issues of geography, especially in the student's area of specialization; thesis plan A students will be able to write at an advanced scholarly level.

Course and Capstone Requirements:

Students enrolled in the graduate program must comply with all requirements in the current graduate catalog.

Students select Plan A, B, or C.

Plan A, which requires 30 credits, includes a thesis (GEOG 599); 12 credits of core courses, including GEOG 500, 514 or 516 or 518, 530 or 542, 598; 9-12 credits of geography electives selected in consultation with an advisor; and 3-6 credits of electives selected from other disciplines in consultation with an advisor. Thesis guidelines are available from the appropriate Dean’s office.

Plan C, which also requires 30 credits, includes a special project (GEOG 595) instead of a thesis.

Others may select Plan B, in which a comprehensive exam and GEOG 597 is completed instead of a thesis or special project. The 30 credits required are the same as in Plan A (thesis) and Plan C (special project) except that GEOG 597, as well as the comprehensive examination, substitutes for GEOG 599 and GEOG 595, respectively, in the Plan B (comp exam) option.

Geography Electives:
9 credits of directed electives in geography.
(Up to 9 credit hours total may be 400-level courses that are listed in the graduate catalog.)

Global Sustainability Specialization:

30 credits total, plus any additional prerequisite courses.

Program Rationale:
The M.S. in Geography: Global Sustainability Specialization is designed to enable students to examine global environmental, social, and economic challenges facing society and to explore possible sustainable solutions to these challenges.

Program Learning Outcomes:
Graduate students will:

  • Demonstrate the ability to explain sustainability in the global context.
  • Demonstrate an empirical grasp of the human-environment relationship.
  • Be able to apply geographic theories and methods to research and communicate sustainability issues.
Course and Capstone Requirements:
Core Geography Courses (12 credits):
GEOG 500 Graduate Studies in Geography
GEOG 530 Graduate Internship in Geography
GEOG 598 Research in Geography
GEOG 595 (Plan C) Special Project in Geography
GEOG 599 (Plan A) Thesis;
Plan B not available
Specialization Courses (9 credits):
SUST 500 Social, Political, and Ethical Dimensions of Sustainability
SUST 501 Contemporary Challenges in Environmental Sustainability
SUST 502 Science for Sustainability
Geography Electives:
9 credits of directed electives in geography.
(Up to 9 credit hours total may be at the 400-level courses that are listed in the graduate catalog.)

Each graduate student’s planned program of graduate study is custom designed to provide the best possible preparation for the career selected, and can include practical work experience to apply classroom theory.

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