Academic Programs Catalog

College of Social Science

Graduate Study

The Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences offers programs in the discipline of geography leading to the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

Students who are enrolled in master’s or doctoral degree programs in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences may elect an Interdepartmental Specialization in Cognitive Science. For additional information, refer to the statement on Interdepartmental Graduate Specializations in Cognitive Science. For additional information, contact the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences.


Geography - Master of Science

The master's program in geography is designed to enable the student to achieve professional competence in the discipline. This program is intended to increase substantive and technical proficiency.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

All students seeking the master's degree in geography are expected to have completed courses in physical, human, and regional geography; in quantitative methods; and in geographic information science. Applicants who have not completed all of these requirements may be admitted provisionally, and must remedy all course deficiencies before the degree is granted. Any course work complete to correct course deficiencies may not be counted towards the requirements for the degree.

REGULAR STATUS:  The requirements for admission to the program include:

  1. A bachelor's degree from a recognized college or university preferably with an undergraduate major in geography or at least 14 credits in geography and related fields.
  2. A grade–point average of at least 3.40 at the time of application in both (1) all geography courses and (2) all courses completed during the junior and senior years.
  3. Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination General Test.

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Geography

The Master of Science in Geography is available only under Plan A (with thesis). The student must complete a total of 30 credits distributed as follows:

               
1. Both of the following courses (7 to 9 credits):  
  GEO 886 Research Design in Geography 3
  GEO 899 Master's Thesis Research 4 to 6
2. One of the following four seminars (3 credits):  
  GEO 871 Seminar in Physical Geography 3
  GEO 872 Seminar in Human Geography 3
  GEO 873 Seminar in Human-Environment Geography 3
  GEO 874 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 3
3. Complete 3 or 4 credits in a geospatial technology course at the 400 level or 800-level. A list of courses available to fulfill this requirement is available from the student's guidance committee. Course work used to fulfill this requirement must be taken while enrolled as a graduate student at Michigan State University.  
4.

Complete 3 or 4 credits at the 400 or 800- level in an area of cartography, geographic information science, remote sensing, quantitative methods, qualitative methods, world language, or programming. A list of courses available to fulfill this requirement is available from the student’s guidance committee. Course work used to fulfill this requirement must be taken while enrolled as a graduate student at MSU. The course used to fulfill requirement 3. above may  not be used to fulfill this requirement.

 
5. Complete an additional 10 to 14 credits of course work taken inside or outside of the department. The course work must be approved by the student’s guidance committee.  
6. Presentation of a research paper or poster at a professional meeting.  
7. Pass a final oral examination in defense of the thesis.  



Geography - Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. program in geography is designed to develop the student's ability to conduct original research with special reference to:

  1. understanding of scientific inquiry.
  2. knowledge of the geographic discipline.
  3. understanding of a specialized area of geography such as people/environment, physical geography, regional development, or economic–regional science.
  4. proficiency with analytical and technical skills particularly with respect to spatial data analysis and manipulation.
  5. skills in communicating the results of research.

In addition to meeting the requirements of the university and of the College of Social Science, students must meet the requirements specified below.

Admission

Admission to the doctoral program is based upon an evaluation of the student's academic records related to both the bachelor's and master's degrees, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores, letters of recommendation, written statements, and other pertinent information such as professional experience and related achievements. Typical entrants to the doctoral program present a grade–point average of 3.60 or higher in a recognized master's degree program, which usually includes a thesis, and satisfactory scores on the GRE.

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Geography

The student must:

1. Complete at least 56 credits while enrolled in the doctoral program including the following courses:
a. The following courses (6 credits):
GEO 886 Research Design in Geography 3
GEO 986 Theory and Methods in Geography 3
b. At least two of the following four seminars (6 credits):
GEO 871 Seminar in Physical Geography 3
GEO 872 Seminar in Human Geography 3
GEO 873 Seminar in Human-Environment Geography 3
GEO 874 Seminar in Geographic Information Science 3
c. One advanced-level tool course. 3
Tool courses may be in such areas as computer science, foreign language, statistics or mathematics, cartography, remote sensing, geographic information science and social science or physical science research methods. The courses may be administered by the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences or by another department or school.
d. Courses that focus on a specialized area of geography and related course work (17 or 18 credits)
2. In consultation with the student's guidance committee, submit a manuscript to a refereed journal.