Ph.D. Degree

College of Graduate Studies requirements:

  • Minimum of 78 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree, 52 credits must be in courses numbered 500 or above
  • 39 of the 78 credits must be in courses other than 600 level (Doctoral Research and Dissertation)
  • 100 and 200 level courses may not be used
  • 300 level courses may be used only in topic areas supporting the research.

Department of Geography requirements

All students must complete the following courses (or have completed equivalent classes in other programs) with grades of “B” or better:

  • GEOG 591, History & Philosophy of Geography (Fall semesters)
  • STAT 431, Statistical Analysis
  • GEOG 507, Spatial Analysis and Modeling (Spring semesters, STAT 431 is pre-req)
  • Two 3-credit geography seminars at the 500 level (eligible courses include GEOG 508, GEOG 535, GEOG 540, GEOG 550, GEOG 584, all courses offered as 3-credit GEOG 501 (Seminar), most courses offered as GEOG 504 (Special Topics) – inquire at the dept office for specific cases)

A minor is required in a field outside of Geography, consisting of not less than 12 credits earned in a field related to the individual's interests in Geography.

Other Requirements for Graduation

Pursuant to the Graduate College guidelines, students should assemble a graduate committee and file a graduate Study Plan (a list of coursework agreed upon by the graduate committee) within their first year in the program. A student’s graduate committee is typically comprised of three faculty from the Department of Geography and one external member of the UI graduate faculty.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students may not register for Dissertation Credits (GEOG 600) until they advance to candidacy by passing the preliminary exam and obtaining committee approval of their dissertation proposal.

Preliminary exams MUST be taken no later than the 4th semester or upon completion of 24 credits after enrolling in the program. Preliminary exams consist of written questions contributed by each committee member, followed by a comprehensive oral exam.

Upon successful completion of the preliminary exam, the written dissertation proposal must be orally presented to the department, defended by the student and approved by the student’s graduate committee.

Entrance Requirements

Applicants must satisfy these minimum requirements:

  • Masters degree from an accredited institution
  • Acceptable GRE scores (most of our students have a combined verbal/quantitative score of at least 1150)
  • All applicants whose native language is not English are required to take the TOEFL and score better than 550 (paper-based) or 213 (computer-based).

Additionally, admission into the program is dependent on the availability of a geography faculty member to serve as major advisor in the topic area of the student’s research emphasis. Students are encouraged to contact directly those faculty members whose research interests overlap with their own. It is especially important for Ph.D. students to identify faculty members whose research expertise is a good match with their interests.

Deficiencies

A committee will evaluate incoming undergraduate background to determine if any additional fundamental courses in either physical or human geography should be taken. This is done on a case-by-case basis to provide breadth in Geography. Students with a B.A. or B.S. degree in Geography as may others with a degree in Geography may already satisfy this requirement.

The plan for deficiencies should be approved by the student’s committee and the department chair. Any coursework required to remove the deficiencies should be taken as early in the student’s program as possible.