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Geography Master of Science (M.S.)

Program Name and Number: Geography - MS4239

Program Overview

  • Physical geography subfields
  • Geographical techniques
  • Thesis or non-thesis option
  • Preparation for Ph.D. program
  • Preparation for work in local, state, or federal government agencies, nonprofit organizations, consulting companies, educational institutions, and private industries
  • Careers in GIScience, global navigation (GPS), remote sensing, cartography, environmental, natural science, or social science specialists or managers

Students in the M.S. program emphasize one or more parts of the geographic discipline that are considered science because of their subject matter, or are using the scientific method, typically with quantitative techniques, to study geographic problems that might be approachable from more than one perspective.

Students specializing in the physical geography subfields or the geographical techniques typically pursue the M.S. degree, as do students focusing on the natural or social science aspects of environmental geography.

With regard to the M.S., the department has particular strengths in biogeography, geomorphology, climatology, meteorology, environmental geography, environmental planning, GIS, remote sensing, and cartography.

M.S. students may choose the thesis or non-thesis option, and typically do so in consultation with their selected program adviser. With either option, the student works closely with his or her adviser and two other advisory committee members, and takes the research and writing course in their first fall semester.

Thesis Option: The thesis option requires coursework, mostly in the first year, culminating in the defense of the thesis proposal at the end of the second semester. Any remaining courses are taken in the second year along with research credit hours for completing the research and writing of the thesis. The thesis defense and the advisory committee’s final approval of the thesis typically occur in the student’s fourth semester.

Non-Thesis Option The non-thesis option requires additional coursework compared with the thesis option as well as passing comprehensive exams on three areas of specialization. The comprehensive exams are taken in the student’s fourth (last) semester.

Career and Professional Opportunities

Graduates with an M.S. in Geography have a wide variety of professional opportunities in addition to pursuing doctoral degrees. Graduates may work in local, state, or federal government agencies, nonprofit organizations, consulting companies, educational institutions, and private industries as GIScience, global navigation (GPS), remote sensing, cartography, environmental, natural science, or social science specialists or managers. Some positions have a fieldwork component.

Graduation Requirements

The thesis option for the M.S. in Geography is designed to be a two-year program and requires:

  • 40 credit hours (minimum) consisting of at least 28 hours of coursework (count includes required courses) and 12 hours of thesis research; a maximum of two courses from outside the department may count toward the degree.
  • Geographic Research and Writing (GEOG 5000)
  • Two seminars, with at least one from a physical geography or geographical technique subfield
  • At least one geographical technique course
  • 12 additional hours in coursework, including at least two courses designated by the department as appropriate for the M.S. degree
  • Successful defense of both a thesis proposal (end of first year) and the thesis (end of second year)

The non-thesis option for the M.S. in Geography, designed to be a two-year program, requires:

  • 40 credit hours (minimum) consisting of at least 40 hours of coursework (count includes required courses); a maximum of two courses from outside of the department may count toward the degree.
  • Geographic Research and Writing (GEOG 5000)
  • Two seminars, with at least one from a physical geography or geographical technique subfield
  • At least one geographical technique course
  • 24 additional hours in coursework, including at least two courses designated by the department as appropriate for the M.S. degree
  • Comprehensive exams at the end of the second year on three topics selected in consultation with the advisory committee

Program Mission

The M.S. degree in Geography prepares students who are emphasizing the physical geographic subfields, the scientific method, and/or the geographical techniques for professional positions in government, nonprofit organizations, or the private sector, or for further studies toward a Ph.D.

Program Learning Objectives

Graduates of this program will demonstrate

  • Knowledge and understanding of current theories, approaches, methods, and techniques in their chosen geographical subfields and an understanding of how those fit into the history and context of the discipline as a whole
  • The ability to apply their knowledge and understanding of geographical theories, approaches, methods, and techniques to ask and solve meaningful research questions in an objective fashion
  • The ability to communicate effectively through oral, written, and graphical means the purpose, methods, results, and significance of their own research and the related published research of others

 

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