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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Geography & the Environment

Degree Programs

Geography & the Environment

Basic Structure

Your program will consist of formal course work as well as a completion of a final project.  You will need to work with a faculty advisor and a faculty committee to determine the appropriate course work and nature of your project.

Faculty Advisor and Committee

Upon entering the graduate program, each student is initially advised by the Director of Graduate Studies for the department.  The student should identify a Thesis Program advisor during the student's first quarter in the program.  Shortly thereafter, the student and his/her advisor should begin to assemble the student's committee.

Soon after identifying a faculty advisor, the student meets with the advisor to create his or her program. The student is advanced to degree candidacy after the program has been planned, a timetable has been arranged and the project proposal has been presented and accepted by the student's committee. Although the program subsequently may be modified in a minor way, both the student and the advisor/committee should assume that it would be followed. Should the student's area of interest for project research change significantly, the student's program will be subject to committee and departmental review, and a determination will be made whether the department can support the new topic. If so, a new program and a new committee must be formed. If not, the department may decide that the student's program be terminated.

A written proposal is usually presented to the student's committee after most course work is complete and the student is ready to begin the project. Formal presentation of the proposal to the committee is required, and should take place no later than the quarter in which the student completes a total of 32 credit hours of coursework. This written proposal must be in the hands of all faculty and/or committee members at least two weeks prior to the presentation. Following the proposal presentation and review of the written proposal, the committee will convey their assessment and recommendations directly to the student's advisor. The advisor will then meet with the student and together they will determine changes necessary to render the project acceptable to the committee.

Regarding course GEOG 4993 Project: the student may not register for this course until successful completion of GEOG 4020 (Geographic Research Methods) and acceptance of the proposal by the committee.

Review of Project

The project is directed by the permanent advisor and evaluated by at least the two other members of the committee. Sometimes, an additional reader within the department or from another university or agency may be consulted to enhance the quality of the work. All suggestions and comments should flow through the advisor to the student. The advisor pronounces the project acceptable for final presentation. The final draft, including tables, graphics and illustrations in final form, must be available to the committee at least three weeks prior to the final project presentation evaluation. This means that the final draft, as approved by your advisor, must be made available to the committee before the fifth week (midpoint) of the quarter in which you wish to schedule your final project presentation.

A final project presentation/evaluation is required which focuses on the project. This project demonstration must take place before the deadline established by the Office Of Graduate Education for that quarter in which the degree is to be awarded, which is two weeks before the end of the quarter.


The Graduate School at the University establishes various deadlines for graduation at the end of a particular academic quarter. The student must be aware of these deadlines. In any event, the project and all other degree requirements must be completed no later than five years from the time a student has started the master's program. NO EXTENSIONS WILL BE GRANTED BY THE GEOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT.