Feb 26, 2024  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Major, PhD

The doctoral program is for those who have demonstrated proficiency in conducting independent research. The department is particularly well-qualified to direct graduate work in location analysis and transportation geography; urban and economic geography; population, migration, and demography; geographies of race, ethnicity, and social justice; climate change and environmental history; human-environmental interaction; and the geography of the natural environment (especially biogeography and geomorphology); and Geographic Information Science. The faculty is qualified to direct students from a variety of approaches ranging from historical, qualitative, and social theoretical to quantitative, computational, and geospatial. The department is particularly well-qualified to direct graduate research in geography of the natural environment (especially biogeography, paleoclimatology, and geomorphology), spatial analysis (especially location analysis, environmental modeling, and geographic information science), and human geography (especially economic, urban, transportation, population, and cultural). 

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • Completion of a Master’s Degree is expected prior to full admission into a Ph.D. program.
  • Although new graduate students may begin during any term, the Fall semester is strongly recommended.
    • The application deadline for Fall term is February 1.
    • However, to be assured consideration for first-round departmental funding offers for Fall semester, all application materials for domestic and international applicants must be received by December 15th.
  • A 3.00 (4.00 scale) or higher undergraduate grade point average is normally required for admission to a graduate degree program.
  • Official transcripts of all previous college work and a minimum of three letters of recommendation are required.
  • No single criterion will dominate but the aggregate should provide strong evidence of ability and potential.
  • Foreign students without degrees from an accredited U.S. institution must submit TOEFL scores (minimum of 550 PBT or 95 iBT required for admission) or IELTS (minimum of 7.0 required for admission). Official scores required prior to admission.
  • Admission to the geography graduate program is subject to the availability of space and faculty advisors.

Credit Hours Required

  • Minimum of 72 graduate credit hours beyond the Bachelor’s
  • Minimum of 48 graduate credit hours beyond the Master’s

Required Courses

  • Course requirements for the degree shall be determined by the student’s faculty committee in accordance with specific interests and needs.
  • GEOG 600 , minimum of 24 credit hours
  • The program must include GEOG 415 , GEOG 504 , GEOG 515 , GEOG 599 , 9 credit hours of 600-level seminars, and (at each offering during residency) GEOG 501 .
  • A minimum of 9 credit hours must be earned in cognate fields [e.g. History (HIST), Sociology (SOCI), Computer Science (COSC), Statistics (STAT), Civil Engineering (CE), Geology (GEOL), Ecology (EEB)], with courses selected for their relevance to the special fields.
  • PhD students whose master’s-level work was in a field other than geography and for whom the master’s area remains close to their PhD specialty areas may petition to substitute geography credit hours in courses outside of their specialty areas for up to 3 of the 9 required outside credit hours.
  • Competency in quantitative (GEOG 515 ) /qualitative methods (GEOG 516  / GEOG 599 ) is required.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Examinations required for admission to candidacy include a written comprehensive examination, consisting of two written examinations in which the student will be tested on his/her knowledge of two special fields and related areas of geography, and an oral examination on the student’s program, the special fields and related areas, and the dissertation proposal. All parts of the written comprehensive examination should be taken within the same semester.
  • A final oral examination of the dissertation is required. The exam covers the dissertation and any parts of the program of study specified for examination by the Doctoral Dissertation Committee. 

Additional Information

  • The department participates in the Interdisciplinary Watershed Minor program designed for both undergraduate and graduate students. See Watershed Minor , housed in the Herbert College of Agriculture, for program details.