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Geography Graduate Handbook

Table of Contents

View handbook as pdf.



Program of Study

  • M.A. and M.S. Course Requirements
  • Credit Hour and Course Requirements

The Thesis

  • Thesis Committee
  • Thesis Proposal
  • The Written Thesis
  • Proposal and Thesis Defenses


Grades and Standing in the Program

  • GPA Requirements
  • Annual Review
  • Graduation

Financial Assistance and Fees

  • Graduate Recruitment Scholarships
  • Graduate Assistantships
  • Work Performance and Renewal of Financial Aid

Code of Conduct

Departmental Operational Policies and Procedures

  • News, Information, and Email
  • Graduate Office Space and Desktop Computers
  • Keys and Mailboxes
  • Photocopying and Printing
  • Departmental Office

Service and Participation Opportunities

  • Graduate Student Departmental Representative
  • Graduate Student Senate (GSS) Representative
  • Graduate Student Member of the Colloquium Committee
  • Social Media Coordinator
  • Geography-Sponsored Student Associations

Travel Funds and Research Awards

  • Departmental Funding for Conference Travel
  • Isaac Sindiga Memorial Fund for Geography
  • Geofest and Achievement Awards

Upon Completion of the Program


The Geography Department has prepared this convenient handbook to assist students in completing their master's program in geography, and to communicate major policies and procedures that affect Geography graduate students. Much information also is available elsewhere on the department’s website. Students should thoroughly familiarize themselves with this handbook's contents and the department's website, and refer to both as questions arise. For further assistance, students should not hesitate to consult the graduate committee chair or their adviser. Students also should read the section about the geography program in the current Ohio University graduate catalog. For guidance on what is expected of students as members of the Ohio University community, review the student code of conduct, including information regarding academic misconduct, found online at the Division of Student Affairs, Department of Community Standards.

The Geography Department offers a number of possible specialties at the graduate level:

  • Cultural-Political Ecology
  • Geographical Techniques (GIS, Geovisualization)
  • Cultural-Historical Geography
  • Biogeography
  • Economic Development/Globalization
  • Climatology and Meteorology
  • Gender and Development
  • Geomorphology
  • Migration
  • Urban Geography
  • Environmental Assessment
  • Resource Management and Sustainability
  • Land Use and Environmental Planning
  • Agriculture and Food Resources

The geography master's program typically requires two years (four semesters) to complete, and consists of coursework as well as researching and writing a thesis under faculty supervision. Graduate students receive credit only for classes at the 5000 level or higher; courses at the 4000 level or lower are not graduate level.


Individual welcome interviews for new graduate students and a group orientation for all geography graduate students and faculty are held just prior to fall semester, usually on the Friday before classes start. Welcome interviews acquaint the graduate committee with new students and serve as each student’s initial advising session for developing a program of study. During the welcome interview, students will be assigned an interim academic adviser. This is their temporary adviser until you arrange for a faculty member to supervise their thesis; the thesis supervisor will then serve as the academic adviser. Students' academic advisers, whether interim or permanent, help them select courses, plan a program of study, assess options, and strategize on handling any academic deficiencies noted in the welcome interview. The academic adviser is available to answer students' questions as well as offer academic advice.  

Determining who will become their thesis supervisor results from students' conversations with individual geography professors whose interests are similar to theirs. Once students have identified a faculty member they would like as their supervisor, they must ask if that person would agree to assume the responsibilities of serving in that capacity. The thesis adviser should specialize or have expertise in the systematic geographic subfield, method, or technique that will be the focus of a student's thesis. If, after identifying a permanent adviser, a student's primary research interests change substantially to one better represented by a different professor, it may be possible to change advisers.



Full-time students at Ohio University take between 12 and 18 graduate credit hours per semester. There is no cost differential whatsoever between 12 and 18 graduate credit hours. The department requires all students receiving a graduate assistantship (GA, TA, or RA) or a Graduate Recruitment Scholarship (GRS) to enroll in 18 graduate credit hours per semester. This applies to students supported by the department or by other units at the university. A course load of more than 18 credit hours is considered an overload by the Graduate College. An overload requires special permission from the college and incurs additional tuition costs that are not covered by financial aid for which the student is responsible.

Graduate student tuition and fees must be paid within 30 days of registration. Students on assistantships or scholarships should be aware that registering early for the next term could mean that payment will be due before receipt of their first stipend payment for that term. Be sure to plan accordingly.

Code of Conduct

All graduate students need to pay close attention to university regulations and procedures, especially regarding the student code of conduct, rights to privacy, and sexual harassment. Information on the student code of conduct is found online. Teaching assistants in particular need to maintain a sense of professionalism and adhere to the university’s privacy policies regarding students’ personal information. Among other things, this includes maintaining the confidentiality of any student’s health issues, disability status, and grades, whether for a course, lab, or assignment. Personal relationships with faculty, or with students who you supervise, should not occur. According to the university’s statement on sexual misconduct, "consensual romantic or sexual relationships in which one party retains a direct supervisory or evaluative role over the other party are unethical, create a risk for real or perceived coercion, and are expressly a violation of this policy." Such interactions can compromise students' ability to teach or learn effectively, participate fully in our program, and realize their professional goals. Students should read the university’s policy on sexual misconduct in full.

Student who feel they are being subjected to harassment of any type, or that they are being asked to perform tasks beyond what is reasonable to expect given their graduate appointment, should contact the graduate chair, department chair, their adviser, or university authorities, such as the Office of Institutional Equity, immediately.

Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty (e.g., cheating on exams, falsifying information) are unacceptable forms of behavior for graduate students as well as undergraduate students. When a faculty member judges that plagiarism or academic dishonesty has taken place, action will be taken against the student or students committing the offense. Additional action by the graduate committee is possible. Academic misconduct may result in failing an assignment or course, referral to the Ohio University Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility, and the possibility of being dropped from the program.

When students are accused and judged guilty of plagiarism or other forms of academic dishonesty, they may follow the established appeal process. For more information, contact the department chair and consult the information available online at the Office of Community Standards and Student Responsibility.

Upon Completion of the Program

After a student's final revised thesis has been submitted to the Graduate College, he or she must complete and submit to the department chair the Exit Survey, located on the Courses & Resources page. You must also return all keys to the department's administrative specialist, and do so before you leave town. Finally, we love to hear from our alumni, and encourage you to keep in touch with the department.