PhD in Geography: Program Information and Requirements

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs in geography are designed for aspiring researchers and scholars. They offer students the opportunity to learn the history and theories of geography, develop research skills, and specialize in a geography subdiscipline.

Essential Information

There is an immense selection of geography subdisciplines, such as urban or social geography, so PhD programs in this field can vary significantly not only from school to school, but within schools. A notable volume of classes may be required, especially for students coming to the PhD program without prior geography coursework.

PhD programs in geography will most likely require at least a bachelor's degree for admission. Some may require a master's degree and/or a degree in geography as well. GRE scores are also usually required. Most degree programs require the completion of a dissertation, as well as teaching experience.


Doctor of Philosophy in Geography

Geography PhD programs include subdisciplines that lead to significantly different degree outcomes. Some of the most common subdisciplines are urban geography, biophysical geography, natural resource geography, human geography, climatology, cartography, environmental studies, and geomorphology. Most doctoral degree geography programs require candidates to teach undergraduate students, either as a teaching assistant or lab instructor. In addition to research and dissertation work, students in geography PhD programs complete coursework intended to develop their understanding of the field. Typical coursework includes the following:

  • Geographic thought and colloquium
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Maps and graphs
  • Theory and methods in geography
  • Remote sensing
  • Advanced cultural and political geography

Popular Career Options

Graduates of geography PhD programs are qualified for work in education, as well as a variety of careers that require extensive mapping knowledge and analytical skills. Job titles may include the following:

  • Professional geographer
  • Geography professor
  • Research scientist
  • Government employee
  • Non-profit

A Ph.D. in Geography can help prepare students for a variety of different careers, depending upon their interests and areas of specialty. Prospective students should make sure that they look into the areas of focus and specific requirements before deciding on where to apply.

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Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

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    West Virginia University
  • 2
    University of Southern Mississippi
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    University of North Carolina at Greensboro
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    University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • 5
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • 6
    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • 7
    University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • 9
    University of Colorado Boulder
  • 10
    University at Buffalo

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