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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Geography & the Environment

Degree Programs

Geography & the Environment


Research Proposal Presentation

MA Thesis Proposal Presentation: Each student is required to prepare and present a research proposal and have it formally approved by the student's faculty committee. Masters thesis students are encouraged to have proposals presented and approved by the time that a student would be finishing with his/her substantive course work, which is equivalent to having completed 32 quarter-hours toward the Masters degree.

If a Masters thesis student does not have an approved proposal by the end of the quarter in which the student has completed 32 quarter-hours, the student is placed on academic probation, and is given one additional quarter to have a proposal approved by the student's committee. If the proposal has not been approved by the end of the quarter following the student's completion of 32 quarter-hours of Masters degree coursework, the student's program will be terminated due to insufficient progress toward the degree.

The student may, however, file a petition before the eighth week of that quarter requesting an extension of probationary status for one additional quarter. If this petition is granted, the student must have a proposal approved by the eighth week of the next quarter to continue in the program. If not, the program is automatically terminated.

If a student has encountered severe extenuating circumstances beyond the student?s control, a petition may be filed to extend probationary status subject to approval by the Department Chair and Departmental Director of Graduate Studies.

Final Oral Examination

Upon completion of required course work, proposal approval, and the thesis, each student will undergo a final oral examination. A final oral examination may not be scheduled until at least the second quarter following the quarter in which the research proposal was approved (the summer may count as a quarter; though, no examinations should be scheduled in the summer). The final oral examination is to be conducted at least two weeks before the end of the quarter in which the degree is to be awarded (prior to eighth week of the quarter). This exam is usually about two hours in length and is composed of a 15-20 minute presentation by the student, followed by questions from the committee. In all cases, the exam will address course work and the thesis research. The examining committee is composed of the advisor, at least two other Geography faculty members, and a tenured University faculty member serving as the University?s representative.

The core of the MA degree is the formal course work and the thesis research. A master's thesis is the product of rather extensive scientific research and must be prepared according to an established format. The thesis should be of publishable quality, though professional publication is not a requirement. Several papers from master's theses completed in this department, however, have been published in professional journals.


Please refer to the Geography Graduate Handbook by year of your program acceptance and the Graduate Policies from the Office of Graduate Studies; or you can go to their website for more information and deadlines at