Master of Science Degree (in Geography) Degree Program

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Geography

The general requirements for the M.S. degree are those of the Graduate School as stated in the Graduate School Bulletin. In addition the following are required:

1. Course Credits: The M.S. degree requires 30 graduate course credits of which 22 must be in Geography (including thesis credits). The M.S. degree normally takes two years to complete; a 12-month option is available for students who have established a foundation in Geography (see 5 and 10 below).

2. Core Course (3 units): GEO-SCI 604 Geographic Theory and Analysis, a one-term seminar normally taken during the first term in residence.

3. Methodology (3 units): One graduate course in methodology and techniques (not necessarily limited to courses offered in the Geography program). Eligible courses include those primarily concerned with cartography, computer methods, statistics, survey research, qualitative research methods, geographic information systems, remote sensing, or photogrammetry. Other methodology courses may be approved to meet this requirement upon request to the Geography faculty. This requirement may not be satisfied through an independent study or special problems course.

4. Graduate Breadth Requirement (9 units): In addition to the requirements outlined above, students must take three additional courses at the 600 level or above with three different Geography faculty members. These courses must be 3 or more credits each. A 500-level course may be substituted with permission of the student’s committee chair and the graduate program director.

5. Each entering student is interviewed by the faculty and assigned a temporary adviser. Any deficiencies in the student’s preparation for graduate study, such as lack of a foundation in the field of geography, are identified at the beginning of the student’s program and appropriate courses may be required. The student works out a proposed program of study with the temporary adviser. Progress in that program is reviewed each semester by the faculty as a whole.

6. Master’s Committee: Each student formally constitutes and meets with a master’s committee before the completion of the second semester. The M.S. committee consists of a committee chair from the Geography program and at least one other Geography faculty member.

7. Thesis or or Non-Thesis Options: A candidate may elect a program with or without a thesis. The former is appropriate for those with strong focused research interests. The thesis is recommended by the faculty for most students. Students choosing the fifth year (12-month) Geography M.S. option must choose the non-thesis degree program.

No later than the end of the third semester, a student must have either a thesis or non-thesis proposal approved by their committee.

8. Requirements Specific to the Thesis Option:

If the thesis option is selected:

a. the candidate must deliver an informal lecture on the thesis subject in a Department Seminar or equivalent public forum.

b. Thesis Defense: The candidate must pass an oral thesis examination (defense). Note that the thesis proposal must be filed with the Graduate School at least four months before the defense takes place.

c. Limit on “Independent Study” credits: Under the thesis option, no more than 6 credits, in addition to thesis credits, may be earned through independent studies (596, 696) or special problems (597, 697) courses.

d. Thesis Credits: Under the thesis option, the student may elect to register for as many as 10 thesis credits (GEO-SCI 699), which are counted toward the 30 required graduate credits.

e. 600- to 800-level courses: The Graduate School regulations require that at least 6 credits be earned at the 600- to 800-level for the thesis option.

9. Requirements Specific to the Non-thesis Option:

a. If a non-thesis option is selected, the student must propose by the end of the third semester a major paper, set of papers, or equivalent project satisfactory to his or her committee.

b. Non-thesis General Examination: In addition to completing such a paper or project to the committee’s satisfaction, the student must pass a General Examination administered by at least three members of the department’s Graduate Faculty. A general examination may be administered orally, in writing, or both. It must include questions from at least two major subfields of geography.

c. Limit on “Independent Study” credits: Under the non-thesis option, no more than 12 credits may be earned through independent studies (596, 696) or special problems (597, 697) courses.

d. No thesis credits (GEO-SCI 699) are accepted under the non-thesis option.

e. 600- to 800-level courses: The Graduate School regulations require that at least 12 credits be earned at the 600- to 800-level for the non-thesis option.

10. Fifth-year Geography M.S. (12-month option): Students with a strong background in geography can complete a Geography M.S. degree in 12 months by fulfilling the 30-credit M.S. program requirements in two semesters and a summer using the non-thesis option.

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