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Our geography PhD program offers a path to building the skills, knowledge and abilities needed for a career focused in research or post-secondary teaching. In addition to innovative coursework, our graduate students also have opportunities to work with our exceptional faculty on interesting and diverse research projects. We offer 4 years of funding to selected applicants.
The program admits students who have completed a masters’ degree, and also offers an option for students with strong potential to enter the PhD program directly after completing a bachelors’ degree.
Faculty and graduate students focus their research in one of broad interdisciplinary themes:
The breadth of the school’s faculty exposes graduate students to a marked variety of research interests and methodologies.
The faculty currently includes two members of the National Academy of Sciences, a National Science Foundation CAREER award winner, a past executive officer of the Association of American Geographers and a Guggenheim scholar, as well as ASU Regent's Professors, a Gilbert White Chair, President's Professor and Foundation Professor, and members of national and international committees and panels such as the National Research Council Geographical Sciences Committee and Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC).
The Geography PhD program admits in the fall only.
To apply to the PhD in Geography program next fall, complete the Graduate Admissions online application beginning September 1. As a part of the application you must submit:
In addition, you be asked to submit your Official Transcripts, email addresses for Letters of Recommendation, GRE and English proficiency (non-native English speakers)
December 15, 2017- Priority deadline for admission and funding consideration.
Those who apply by December 15, 2017 will be considered to receive funding to attend our annual Visit Day which will be hosted late February or early March.
January 15, 2018 - Final application deadline. Applications received after January 15 may be reviewed only if space in the program is available.
Only complete applications will be reviewed. A complete application consists of:
All application materials must be received on or before this date to be considered for fall admission. Please allow sufficient time for submission and processing of relevant test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
For additional questions about admission, please see our geography FAQ page.
Send any documents that may not be uploaded to either of the addresses below:
The School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning admits students to its Geography Ph.D. program with either a Master's or Bachelor's degree in Geography or a related field. We welcome applicants without Geography degrees. Incoming students must demonstrate or attain competence in cartography and quantitative methods, and complete other basic coursework that will enable them to pursue graduate studies in their area of specialization.
Note: Ph.D. students entering with a Bachelor's degree may earn a M.A. degree upon the successful completion of 30 semester hours at ASU, including two required courses (GCU 529 Geographic Thought, GCU 585 Advanced Research Methods) and one seminar (GCU/GPH 591), registration in colloquia for two semesters, and passing the School's Research Requirement.
To advance in the Ph.D. program, earn a M.A. degree, or both, post-Bachelor's Ph.D. students must:
After completion of these criteria, students may do either or both of the following:
Students who do not pass the research requirement, or who prefer not to attempt the research requirement, may petition the Graduate School to switch to the M.A. program, transfer their credits to it, and complete a Master's thesis.
Doctoral students in the Geography program complete the steps toward their Ph.D. in the following order:
Doctoral students must satisfy a Research Requirement by the end of their 4th semester, via one of two options:
Research Examination (RE) Option
The research examination tests the ability to do independent research. Ph.D. students who choose to do the research exam will prepare a statement of their area of specialization in geography and complete an intensive two-week research project culminating in a written paper, administered by the Graduate Research Examination Committee and the student's adviser. The examination is appraised on the ability to:
One re-examination may be permitted pending approval by the examining committee and the School Director.
Submitted Paper (SP) Option
The submitted (or published) paper option requires that the student submit a paper meeting the following requirements:
Any previously published paper meeting requirements 1-5 can satisfy the SP option. This includes papers written at another department or university, co-authored with non-ASU authors, or based on a Masters thesis completed elsewhere.
For the SP option, students must include a form filled out and signed by their advisor approving the student’s first-authored submitted manuscript. The student must also attach the paper and a copy of the confirmation letter or email from the journal.
For more details about program requirements, as well as school policies and resources available to graduate students, see the SGSUP Graduate Programs Handbook.
Core courses: All Geography PhD students take the following courses:
* GCU 529 may be waived and substituted with an alternative course, subject to department approval.
¹ GCU 529 is a required course for the Master of Arts in Passing (MIP). Students entering the program without a master’s degree, who are planning on applying for the MIP, should take GCU 529.
To see the variety of geography courses offered at ASU, visit the online catalog. Search for courses with the prefix GCU (Cultural Geography), GIS (Geographic Information Science), or GPH (Physical Geography).
Since field of geography is highly interdisciplinary, graduate students find relevant courses many other programs as well, including:
Balling has a long history of conducting research on the climate change issue with a special interest in blending in applications involving Geographic Information Systems.
Batty is a distinguished visiting professor with the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning. He is director for the Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis and professor of planning at University College London.
Professor Bob Bolin blends hazards geography, political ecology and critical theory to study environmental justice and human vulnerability to environmental and technological hazards.
Boone's research contributes to ongoing debates in sustainable urbanization, environmental justice, vulnerability, and global environmental change.
Cerveny, professor of geographical sciences, also serves as Rapporteur on Extreme Records for the United Nations/World Meteorological Organization with the responsibility for researching and verifying global weather records.
Dorn, professor of geography, is also co-coordinator of the Arizona Geographic Alliance, a K-12 outreach program to promote geographic education in Arizona.
Hallie Eakin's research interests include household vulnerability and sustainability of adaptations to global change, governance, globalization, rural development, sustainable food systems, and agricultural change.
Fotheringham is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and Academia Europaea whose work focuses on the analysis of spatial data in relation to a variety of areas including health data, crime patterns, and migration.
Frazier's research focuses on the use of remotely sensed data and spatial analysis to generate information about the disturbance and recovery of forests.
Georgescu's interests are on human-environment interactions, with research aimed to improve understanding of phenomena related to urbanization-induced landscape change. He is a member of the Urban Climate Research Center.
Gober is the founding co-Director of the National Science Foundation's Decision Center for a Desert City and previously served on the National Research Council's Committee on Geographical Sciences.
Hondula, assistant professor and member of the Urban Climate Research Center, researches the societal impacts of weather and climate, including efforts to learn how individuals experience and cope with extreme heat.
Dr. Michael Kuby specializes in transportation, energy, optimal facility location and network design models, and alternative fuels, stations, and vehicles. His research has been funded by NSF, US Dept of Energy, and NASA.
Francisco Lara-Valencia's major areas of inquiry include socio-environmental vulnerability, urban health, regional development, binational planning, and the role of community networks on sustainable development.
Larson's work primary focuses on human and regional geography, including work studying refugee populations in Central America.
Kelli Larson, a professor of geography and sustainability, focuses her work on human-environment interactions and the implications for water governance and urban sustainability.
Li, a senior Fulbright Scholar to India, focuses her research on ethnic geography, highly-skilled international migration and transnational connections. She is the author over 90 journal articles and book chapters.
Li's work in geographic information science aims to develop integrated and smart cyber-infrastructure to revolutionize knowledge discovery. Li is a 2015 recipient of the National Science Foundation's CAREER award.
Kevin McHugh is a cultural geographer with research interests in geographical thought & theory, geohumanities, post-phenomenology, and more-than-human geographies in the Anthropocene.
Meerow combines the disciplines of geography and urban planning as she researches how to make cities more resilient in the face of climate change as well as other social and environmental hazards.
Myint, an expert in remote sensing and GIS, uses these skills to investigate urban land use land cover, urban climate, drought, desertification and deforestation, among other issues.
Nelson's work currently focuses on using spatial and spatial-temporal analyses to track wildlife movement and active transportation. She is also the founder of BikeMaps.org, a crowdsourcing app for bike safety and ridership.
O hUallachain's research interests include economic, industrial location, urban and regional economic development.
Pasqualetti is an energy geographer specializing in the societal aspects of energy, especially renewable energy.
Pijawka's research focuses on sustainable planning and design, disaster management and recovery, environmental justice, and Native American community planning.
Sailor's work focuses on the intersection of climate with the built environment. He currently serves on the American Meteorological Society's Board on the Urban Environment and International Association for Urban Climate.
Salon researches travel behavior and the built environment, climate policy for transport, and government and transit agency institutions with the goal to inform policies that reduce global automobile dependence.
Schmeeckle's interest is in landscape mechanics with a primary focus on fluvial geomorphology, sediment transport, and surface water processes.
Shaeffer, a principal lecturer of geography, teaches the introductory World Geography course and numerous specialized regional geography courses.
Tong's research primarily focuses on the use of spatial analytics including spatial optimization, geographic information system, and spatial statistics to support urban and regional studies concerning location.
Turner studies human-environment relationships from the ancient Maya to contemporary sustainability science. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, among other honors.
Walker is a geomorphologist and surficial geologist well known for his expertise in sediment transport and erosion, aeolian geomorphology, coastal geomorphology, environmental fluid dynamics, and sand dune ecosystems.
Webster's current interests are in comparative city building and urban dynamics, urban competitiveness and resilience, and peri-urbanization with a primary geographic focus on East Asia.
Her research interests include: shape and pattern analysis, geographic information science, applications of GIS to urban environment, urban remote sensing and water resource management.
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of
The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.
The application deadline is January 15, 2018. All application materials must be received on or before this date to be considered for fall admission. Please allow sufficient time for submission and processing of relevant test scores, transcripts, and letters of recommendation.
Complete applications received by December 15, 2017 will be considered to receive funding to attend our annual Visit Day which will be hosted late February or early March.
The School of Geographical Scienes & Urban Planning will consider all PhD applicants for multi-year guaranteed funding packages. This funding is competitive. Most offers are made in March. Funding typically consists of four or five year packages in the form of 20hr/week research or teaching assistantships that include full tuition remission and health insurance.
For information about additional options for financing your education, please see How to pay for your graduate college.