The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is a 4 to 5 year graduate program that prepares students in geographic research and teaching.  Our program is research-focused, and designed for students seeking a career in academia, and for public, private, and non-profit sector positions that require advanced research skills.   Students can enter the program with advanced standing from their previous graduate education (e.g., M.A. or M.S.), and in limited cases directly from the B.A. or B.S.  The Ph.D. program of study leads to:

  1. Knowledge of the discipline of geography
  2. Broad knowledge of a subfield of geography and its literature; and
  3. Specific expertise in the subfield

The first provides a basis for communication with professional colleagues across the discipline.  The second represents the general area in which the Ph.D. holder seeks employment, and the third represents the area of most active research involvement.  Typical areas of concentration for students in our department include spatiotemporal data modeling, environmental modeling and simulation, geovisualization, spatial decision support systems, health-environment interactions and disease outcomes, ecosystem services, ecological diversity and function, environmental remote sensing, and environmental hazards.

Admission to candidacy occurs after two years of coursework and successful completion of a comprehensive examination (written and oral components).  Prior to the comprehensive examination, each doctoral student submits an Area of Concentration Bibliography to their Ph.D. committee. The bibliography is a critical synthesis of research in the student's subfield.  Following completion of the comprehensive exam, the student submits a dissertation proposal to the dissertation committee for critical feedback and approval. After proposal approval, the student then completes and defends the dissertation.

For more information about the doctoral program, please refer to chapter 4 of our Graduate Student Handbook, or contact the Director of Graduate Studies.