The Master of Arts in Applied Geography
Minimum requirements to be considered for admission to the M.A. in geography include a bachelor's degree with 12 hours of geography coursework, including one course in human geography, one in physical geography, one in regional geography, and one in either cartography, remote sensing, GIS or statistics; acceptable scores on the GRE Exam, three strong letters of recommendation, and a personal statement that summarizes your background and interests in pursuing an advanced degree in geography.
Promising students who do not meet the formal requirements for full admission may, upon departmental recommendation, be granted provisional admission. Full graduate standing will be granted when the student satisfactorily completes prescribed courses or otherwise removes deficiencies as outlined by the Director of Graduate Studies or the Graduate School. All special conditions must be satisfied no later than upon the completion of 15 semester hours of graduate credit. A graduate student admitted provisionally is not eligible for appointment to an assistantship or fellowship until full graduate standing is achieved. For students without the required geography background, courses in human, physical, regional, and techniques courses may be taken with us prior to beginning the formal Master's degree. If you do not have an undergraduate major in geography we encourage you to discuss possible deficiencies with us before you apply.
Application deadlines for submission of ALL requirements using “Apply Yourself”; are: FALL: January 20 if you wish to apply for an assistantship, May 1st if you are not applying for an assistantship; SPRING: September 15 if you wish to apply for an assistantship and November 1 if you are not applying for an assistantship.
The Master of Arts in Applied Geography has 3 program options: Thesis, Internship Project, or Non-Thesis.
- 34 graduate credit hours, including GEO 601, GEO 620, and GEO 699
- One-half of all coursework (17 hours) at the 600 - 749 levels
- Comprehensive Exam
- Thesis Defense
- 34 graduate credit hours, including GEO 601, GEO 620, and GEO 695
- One-half of all coursework (17 hours) at the 600 - 749 levels
- Comprehensive Exam
- Internship Project
- Internship Presentation
- 37 graduate credit hours, including GEO 601 and GEO 620
- One-half of all coursework (18 hours) at the 600 - 749 levels
- Comprehensive Exam
- Professional portfolio must be complied; this consists of a resume, personal statement, and two research papers (one tradional, one applied)
The master's degree requires a minimum of 34 hours of graduate-level coursework; all but 17 credit hours must be at the 600-749 levels.
- Required courses are: GEO 601 and GEO 620; GEO 695 Internship (3-6) or GEO 699 Thesis (3-6)*
- Electives are: 24 - 33 hours
*The non-thesis option requires 37 hours of coursework, excluding GEO 695 and GEO 699. The non-thesis option is a terminal degree program.
Students coming into our programs without an undergraduate degree in geography must complete four undergraduate courses in geography to help ground themselves in the discipline. One course in each of the following sub-disciplines is required, in addition to completing the advanced degree requirements:
- Physical Geography: GEO 103; GEO 106
- Regional Geography: GEO 104; GEO 330; GEO 340; GEO 344
- Cultural Geography: GEO 105; GEO 301; GEO 306
- Geographic Techniques: GEO 121; GEO 603
These courses may have been taken previously as part of an undergraduate program; if this is not the case, they may be taken at UNCG, in any other approved geography department, or in some cases by correspondence. Please consult the Director of Graduate Studies for more information or course approvals.
GEO 601 is a one (1) credit hour course that provides an overview of major research trends in geography, particularly as they relate to the graduate program and faculty in the department. As an entry point into the graduate program, its purpose is to help transition you from being primarily a user of geographical knowledge to someone who is situated to contribute professionally to the knowledge base of the discipline. It consists of field trips to orient you to the region and to faculty research, conference attendance requirements, and colloquium and lecture attendance/participation. All master's students must take this course as a requirement of the Master's degree; this should occur the first Fall semester in which they are enrolled. Doctoral students are encouraged to take this course during their first Fall semester as well to become acquainted with the region and faculty.
The Director of Graduate Studies serves as the temporary advisor for all incoming graduate students unless otherwise pre-assigned. Additionally, incoming students are required to meet with the Graduate Director for an orientation meeting at the beginning of the semester. The purpose of this initial meeting is to discuss your goals, help you plan a course of study, and to anticipate the timing of important graduate school and departmental deadlines.
By the end of the first year, you will be required to select a permanent advisor, with that advisor’s consent. You may request a change of advisor at any time usually based on a substantial change of topic. This may entail a delay in your graduation. Following any change in committee membership, it is the student's responsibility to immediately notify affected faculty and request permission to include any contribution of the faculty in their final work. After 12 credit hours, or at the end of their first year of study, a student may constitute a committee. After completion of 18 credit hours, failure to do so may indicate lack of progress toward a degree. Students are free to discuss project ideas with various faculty members. Faculty contribute their time and expertise in the valuable production of graduates, serving in the capacity of committee members as well as primary advisor, which should be respected by all involved in this critical process. In accordance with the investment of substantial time and intellectual property in project development, the advisor-advisee relationship should be formalized by signing the appropriate "Committee Appointment" form. The student needs to have a topic and a written paragraph summarizing their intended research, which is then signed by the intended advisor and committee.
Please note that faculty committees do NOT normally meet during the summer, periods between semesters, or during the first or last week of any semester. Committee approvals of work/proposals may be significantly delayed if you fail to recognize this in your planning.
Graduate students should consult clearly and methodically with their advisor to plan their schedule of major due dates to complete their written work in order to graduate in optimal time. Be sure to give your committee members several opportunities to periodically read your work, providing plenty of time for them to respond to you and for you to make requested changes. Schedule a time to meet with each committee member face to face to discuss your work and their suggestions. Always send your work to your advisor to approve before release to the committee. Plan to graduate at the end of Fall or Spring semester, as faculty are frequently elsewhere during the summer. Be aware of all the due dates on both the Graduate School and Department of Geography web pages; compliance with these is your responsibility.
Please note that each program undertaken requires a separate plan of study to be filed.
Every graduate program undertaken, including the post-baccalaureate certificates, requires you to file a plan of study outlining all the courses you will take or have taken to meet the requirements of your degree. A preliminary form must be filled out and signed by the Director of Graduate Studies during your first year in the program. A final plan, which documents any changes that occurred must be signed and filed with the Graduate School when you apply for graduation.
Please note that each program undertaken requires a separate plan of study to be filed.
In some instances, work completed at other institutions may be counted towards your degree. If you propose the transfer of credit, it must be recommended by your dissertation committee before the Graduate School will credit the work to your program. The maximum amount of credits transferable is approximately 9 credit hours. The following conditions also apply:
• Courses must have been taken at a recognized, accredited graduate school
• Courses may NOT have been used to complete the requirements for another degree
• Courses must have been taken within the 7-year time frame of the degree
• A 3.0 or better grade must have been earned on all transfer credit
• The credit must be recorded on an official transcript that is on file with the Graduate School
• Transfer credits must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee and by the Dean of the Graduate School
• Transfer credit must be necessary to meet specific degree requirements
• A maximum of 9 credit hours may be transferred
An independent study consists of guided readings, research and individual project work completed under the direction of a member of the geography department. They offer students the opportunity to complete an in-depth study of an area in geography that is not covered by a regular course in the geography curriculum. These studies are not designed to substitute for regular coursework.
Eighteen hours of graduate coursework must be completed before a student is eligible to enroll in GEO 690 – Research Problems in Applied Geography (Master's) or GEO 790 –Independent Geographic Research (Doctoral). Students must also have at least a 3.0 average in their graduate coursework and the prior approval of a faculty member to enroll – faculty must fill out a form granting you approval to register (forms generally available in the front office). No more than three credit hours of independent study may be earned in any given semester, and not more than six semester hours may count towards satisfying the minimum requirements for a master’s or doctoral degree.
A full-time student load per semester is nine credit hours. Students receiving financial support from the University are expected to enroll in a minimum of six semester hours in a graduate degree program. Students must have been admitted to the University unconditionally and have maintained a B (3.0) average. Service hours may not exceed 20 hours per week in total. Full-time graduate students may not be employed for more than 20 hours per week inclusive of assistantship hours. Normally a student who has a fellowship or service appointment will not work outside the University. Only under extraordinary circumstances, with the recommendation of the department and approval of the Dean of The Graduate School, a student who has a fellowship or service appointment may be granted special permission to work outside the University.
Full-time assistantships in Geography are classified as GA (graduate assistant) or TA (teaching assistantship). Master's candidates are automatically classified as GA; doctoral students are classified as TA. Normally, a 20-hours assistantship will consist of one of the following:
- complete responsibility for one or two sections of a course (Ex. GEO 103)
- teaching two or three lab sections of a course (Ex. GEO 106L)
- serving as a technical assistant in a course (Ex. GEO 121)
- serving as a lab assistant in the research lab
- some combination of technical assistance and lab assistance
Please note that assignments are made based on a balance of Departmental needs, student skills, and schedules. Students holding assistantships are evaluated yearly. Students holding assistantships are evaluated yearly. Master’s students making adequate progress towards their degree and meeting their work requirements consistently and with positive evaluations can expect to receive a total of two years of funding. Doctoral students in similar circumstances can expect to receive a total of four years of funding. Specific details regarding criteria for receiving continued funding are described in the checklist in the Appendix X
A critical aspect of the graduate experience is participation in events beyond the coursework requirements. Thus, graduate students are expected to go to professional conferences, attend colloquiums and are highly encouraged to present and/or publish from their theses and dissertations. Travel funds in support of graduate students travel is periodically available from the Graduate School or the Geography Department but is typically quite limited. Please be aware that evaluation for continued and future funding includes regular attendance at departmental events such as colloquiums.
Promising students who hold a baccalaureate degree but do not meet the formal requirements for full admission may, upon departmental recommendation, be granted provisional admission. Full graduate standing will be granted when the student satisfactorily completes prescribed courses or otherwise remove deficiencies as outlined by the Director of Graduate Studies or the Graduate School. All special conditions must be satisfied no later than upon the completion of 15 semester hours of graduate credit. A graduate student admitted provisionally is not eligible for appointment to an assistantship or fellowship until full graduate standing is achieved.
One of the milestones of the MA program is the successful completion of your comprehensive exams taken after the completion of 18 hours of course work. The comprehensive exam is a written examination customized for each individual student. This is NOT an open book exam and the internet is NOT to be used. The graduate director, a member of the graduate studies committee and/or another faculty member will monitor the exam. The exam consists of three sets of questions; each set is written by a member of your committee. Questions are related to coursework taken with that committee member and/or research completed with that individual. The exam is scheduled for four hours and is normally scheduled on the Thursday or Friday after the Spring and Fall breaks. The Department of Geography requires that you set up the comprehensive examination committee one semester prior to taking the exam. Submit the form to the Director of Graduate Studies once all signatures have been obtained.
Thesis Defense: When you have successfully completed all other requirements for the degree, the chair of your thesis committee will, in consultation with the other committee members, schedule your final oral thesis defense. You have to inform the department when you are doing your defense two weeks before the date so they can publish the thesis title, date, time and location. The defense takes place during the semester you plan to graduate and must be successfully completed no later than the published UNCG date of completion of thesis defenses (mid-November/mid-April). Expect to make modifications to your thesis followint the defense, so schedule your defense well in advance of this deadline! Defenses are typically scheduled for one hour, but may run shorter or longer, at the discretion of your committee. In a typical defense, which is open to the public, you will be asked to summarize your research. Following your summary, committee members and the audience may ask questions. When there are no more questions, the committee will ask you to step outside while they deliberate. Then they will call you back in to inform you of the outcome, which will either be a pass, conditional pass or, rarely, fail.
Internship Presentation: When your internship is completed to the satisfaction of your committee, you and your advisor will schedule your presentation with the Geo Club advisor. The presentation takes place during the semester you plan on graduating and must be successfully completed no later than the published departmental date for completion of internships (mid-November/mid April). Presentations are typically scheduled for the last Wednesday of the semester during the Geo Club meeting time. Depending on the number of presenters, presentation time may run as little as 10 minutes or as long as 20. In a typical presentation, which is open to the public, you will be asked to summarize your research. Following your summary, committee members and the audience may ask questions. When there are no more questions, the committee will ask you to step outside while they deliberate. Then they will call you back in to inform you of the outcome, which will either be a pass, conditional pass or, rarely, fail.
The Professional Portfolio. The professional portfolio is the capstone project for the non-thesis track. This option requires compiling a set of materials that showcase your knowledge, skills, and problem-solving capabilities in the field of geography. The goal of the portfolio is to emphasize your ability to design, manage, operate, and report on projects, as both technical and project management skills are required for professional employment in our discipline. Your portfolio must contain the following:
- One page summary of interests, professional & academic experiences, & career goals
- Traditional research paper (minimum of 15 pages) that includes an introduction, literature review, analysis, results, discussions and conclusion,
- Application study that required the collection of primary or secondary data, the management and storage of that data, statistical or GIS analysis of that data, graphic illustrations, and the necessary verbal explanations to present the study
The Non-Thesis Committee. To graduate with the non-thesis option, you must have a non-thesis committee in place that oversees the development of your professional portfolio. This committee should be comprised of the individuals for whom you wrote the portfolio papers and/or with whom you have had significant amounts of classwork. Once you have identified 3 faculty members who best fit within this constraint, fill out the Non-Thesis Committee form and submit it to the Director of Graduate Studies.
Graduating. Your degree requirements are not fulfilled until you make all the corrections required by your committee members, your advisor reads and approves the corrections, and you submit the final corrected and formatted product to the Department. One bound copy of the finished portfolio must be filed with the department. It is also customary to provide each committee member with a bound copy for their libraries.
Fully admitted students will become academically ineligible to continue in The Graduate School under any of the following circumstances:
- Grades of U, F or WF are received in any 6 semester hours
- Grades of C+ or C are received in 9 semester hours
- Any grades of U, F or WF is received in combination with 6 semester hours of C+ or C grades, or,
- The required 3.0 for graduation is not achieved within the minimum number of semester hours required for the degree of certificate
Fully admintted students in Post-Baccalaureate and Post-Master's Certificate programs will become academically ineligible to continue in an approved certificate program when any of the following circumstances:
- Any grade of U, F or WF is received,
- Grades of C+ or C are received in more than 3 semester hours
- The required 3.0 for graduation is not achieved within the minimum number of semester hours required for the certificate.
The Geosciences Education for Teachers concentration is directed towards students and educators interested in expanding their expertise in teaching geosciences. Completing the Master's of Arts in Applied Geography with this concentration requires students to combine the core requirements of the M.A. degree with courses emphasizing the knowledge and skills needed to teach geosciences at the middle grades, secondary grades, and community college levels. The required core courses, formal reviews and examinations are the same as for the Master of Arts degree in Applied Geography, non-thesis, course-work option-with a competency portfolio. Within this framework, students will complete 38 credit hours by taking the required courses specified below. Note that GEO 560 and GEO 570 will be field course experiences for the GET concentration and students will present their portfolios as part of GEO 560 and GEO 570. (Students' competency portfolios will becomprised of self-selected geosciences instructional modules designed while students were enrolled in GEO 607, 608, 609, 610 and 611.
Required Core Courses (38 hours)
- GEO 560 Seminar in Regional Geography (Field Course) (3:1:6)
- GEO 570 Applied Physical Geography (Field Course) (3:1:6)
- GEO 601 Research Trends in Geography (1:1)
- GEO 607 Earth Science for Educators (5:3:6)
- GEO 608 Weather and Climate for Educators (5:3:6)
- GEO 609 Hydrology for Educators (5:3:6)
- AST 609 Solar System Astronomy for Teachers (3:3)
- GEO 610 Physical Geology for Educators (5:3:6)
- GEO 611 Natural Hazards and Society for Educators (5:3:6)
- GEO 620 Spatial Analysis (3:3)
This concentration is directed towards students who have an interest in preserving and enhancing the quality-of-life of urban areas and dealing effectively with growth and development issues. Students completing this concentration will combine the core requirements of the master's degree in applied geography with courses emphasizing the knowledge and skills required to provide effective leadership in urban and economic development for metropolitan areas. The required core courses, electives, research courses, and formal reviews and examinations are the same as for the Master of Arts degree in applied geography. Within this framework, the following 15 hours must be completed.
Required Core Courses (12 hours)
- GEO 502 Urban Planning (3)
- GEO 522 Seminar in Population and Urban Studies (3)
- GEO 533 Regional Economic Development(3)
- GEO 622 GIS Applications in Urban Planning (3)
Elective Courses (3 hours) --- Choose one from following:
- GEO 602 Regional Planning (3)
- GEO 631 Transportation Planning (3)
- PSC 620 Urban Development Policy (3)
- PSC 630 Community and Economic Development: Theory and Practice (3)