Thesis | Department of Geography and the Environment


Students should familiarize themselves with the appropriate graduate school requirements for the M.S. degree, which are listed in the graduate catalog. In particular, students should read and understand the following sections: admission of continuing students and re-admission of graduate students; policies; continuous enrollment; probation and suspension; grade changes; Master's degree requirements; and financial aid and scholarships. Also, students should check both the main office and email for announcements of upcoming events, deadlines and other opportunities. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of relevant procedures and deadlines.

The M.S. degree requires a total of 36 semester credit hours. Every student is required to take three "core courses" (nine semester credit hours), which involve education in geographic theory (GEOG 5160), research design (GEOG 5800), and a quantitative methods course (GEOG 5190/5185). The M.S. degree culminates in a graduate thesis and public defense of the thesis.

Students are required to write, submit and defend a thesis proposal to their graduate committee. Students are strongly encouraged to defend their proposal in their second semester of graduate study, and must defend no later than their third semester.

  • Students must enroll in 6 semester credit hours of GEOG 5950 - Master's Thesis. These hours count towards the total 36-hour requirement.

  • Students are required to present and defend the results of their thesis to their graduate committee. The presentation is open to the public while the defense is limited to the student's thesis committee. Students are strongly encouraged to defend their thesis no later than the fourth semester.

Students should give committee members AT LEAST two weeks to read thesis proposals and three weeks to read theses before giving their presentation or defense. It is therefore important for students to plan ahead to meet filing deadlines.

Degree Plan

By the end of the first semester, or before 9 semester credit hours, students must file a degree plan (in conjunction with the major advisor and the graduate advisor). The degree plan sets out the courses completed and those that will be taken to satisfy the requirements of the M.S. in Geography degree.

Major Professor and Graduate Committee

Students may change advisors at any time, although it requires some paperwork and the filing of a new degree plan. Students are strongly encouraged to select a graduate committee (typically the major professor and two additional members) by the beginning of their second semester, and must select a graduate committee no later than the first half of the third semester in consultation with their major professor. If the student selects an optional minor, students may consider adding a faculty member from the department from which the minor will be obtained.

Thesis Proposal

Students must complete a thesis proposal to the satisfaction of their graduate committee by the end of their second semester, or before completing 18 semester hours. Defense of the thesis proposal must occur no later than the third semester.