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Geography (PHD) 
Program Description

SGD also offers a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) minor in Geography for Ph.D. students majoring in other disciplines at UA. This program consists of a minimum of 12 units of graduate coursework in geography, including a maximum of 3 units of independent study. Students considering the Ph.D. minor in geography should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies and with potential SGD committee members at an early stage about coursework and preparation for the comprehensive examination. For more information about the Ph.D. minor in geography, see the graduate program handbook.

The Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Geography is a specialized, research-oriented degree which requires a qualifying examination (waived for students who meet certain minimum requirements), at least one year of coursework (minimum of 18 credits) in addition to a Masters degree, and approximately three years of independent study and research culminating in a dissertation. Under the direction of their faculty committee and in consultation with the graduate advisor, doctoral students design an individualized program of coursework and independent study in preparation for their comprehensive examinations, which are typically taken after two years of study. Upon successful completion of the exams, the student prepares a dissertation proposal which must be approved by the faculty committee. This proposal may also form the basis for requesting external funding for research. The final requirement for the Ph.D. degree is a dissertation involving original research. During students’ time in the School, they will gain an understanding of the history and core concepts of the discipline, and range of  research methodologies.  They also have opportunities to obtain  teaching experience and  training in professional skills,. Potential applicants should be sure to review these webpages and our faculty interests before applying. While some faculty have research grants and may offer students both employment and research opportunities related to those projects, the majority of students design their own Ph.D dissertation topics and are encouraged to seek their own funding for field research and writing up the results. Our students have been remarkably successful at securing funding for their dissertations.

Department/Academic Unit(s)

School of Geography and Development -

Graduate students in the School of Geography and Development (SGD) benefit from the broad range of faculty expertise and strong links to interdisciplinary research centers across campus. Our work spans the discipline, from physical geography (climate science, dendrochronology, remote sensing, spatial science), to human-environment (political ecology, water policy, climate change) to human geography (development, state theory). Our shared commitment to collaboration and community makes for a lively and engaged department.

SGD offers M.A. and Ph.D. degrees, two professional master’s degrees, and participates in several graduate certificate programs

College of Social & Behavioral Sciences  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Elizabeth S Cordova
Graduate Program Coordinator
Elizabeth S Cordova
Director of Graduate Studies
Carl J Bauer
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Christina M Inocencio
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

GRE (no required minimum but scores should be above average)
Letters of recommendation (minimum 2, 3 preferred)- Confidential
Statement of purpose
Complete transcripts
List of courses currently enrolled in and not on transcript

Standardized Tests

TOEFL (for international students). Either a score of 550 [PB], 79 [IBT], or IELTS [composite score of 7, no subject area below a 6]. To be considered as a TA, a citizen of a non-English-speaking country must demonstrate proficiency in spoken English via examination. This requires a score of at least 26 on the speaking section of the IBT TOEFL.

NOTE: A master's degree is required for admission to Ph.D. program (applicants without master's degrees who are interested in the Ph.D. need to initially apply for the master's degree).

Financial Aid

Every effort is made to provide some kind of financial support for incoming graduate students.
Teaching and research assistantships and graduate tuition waivers, available on a competitive basis, are used to waive nonresident tuition, registration fees, and/or health insurance premiums. Teaching and research assistantships offer a half-time academic year stipend that is competitive with other geography programs around the country. Incoming students may also apply or be nominated for one of several available fellowships (e.g., see the Carson Scholars Program).

Admissions Deadlines

Domestic Applicants:

  • Fall: January 5
  • Spring: There is NO spring admission

International Applicants:

  • Fall: January 5
  • Spring: There is NO spring admission
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832
ETS Major Field Code(s) for this program: 2203
NRC Taxon(a) for this program: Geography

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements

Minumum credits: 36
Core coursework: GEOG689, History of Geographic Thought
GEOG500, Research Design
2 Advanced Methods Courses
Language requirements: A doctoral student who proposes to undertake research in or on a non-English speaking area is required to demonstrate the necessary language skills before taking the comprehensive exam. A language test will normally be arranged by the student's mentor, and be approved by the student's advisory committee.
Other requirements: Please see our Graduate Handbook at

Minor Requirements

The doctoral minor in geography (for Ph.D. students majoring in other disciplines) comprises a minimum of 12 units of coursework in geography, including at least one of the Ph.D. core course requirements (GEOG 500, GEOG 689 or an advanced methods course); and a maximum of 3 units of independent study. The program must be pre-approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. Students considering the minor in geography should consult with the potential minor committee member(s) at an early stage, regarding coursework and preparation for the comprehensive examination. The participation of the committee member(s) must be agreed to by mutual consent through discussion with the faculty member(s) concerned.

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 41%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 6.00
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 40%
Enrollment Percent Female 60%
Enrollment Percent International 16%
Enrollment Percent URM 9%

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Last revised 14 Jun 2017