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Geography and the Environment

PhD in Geography

People walking on a shoreline with sheep and flamingos in the background

Program Requirements

Students entering the Ph.D. program with master's degrees from other universities are expected to have or to acquire qualifications equivalent to those normally achieved by a Syracuse University M.A. in geography. The student must maintain a 3.0 grade point average. Please see the Course Catalog for a complete list of requirements.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 72 credits of approved graduate work in geography and related fields, which includes the following:

  • Up to 30 credits accepted for the master's degree
  • 12 credits in dissertation research
  • At least 24 credits of coursework must be taken in residence at Syracuse
  • At least two-thirds of the coursework (not including the dissertation) must be at the 600 level or above

This program usually takes four-six years to complete.


Students must submit a dissertation proposal to their advisory committee for approval. Students must also take qualifying exams, designed to demonstrate competence in three topical fields. The exam has a written and an oral portion, designed to cover the specific subfields identified by the student in consultation with the advisor and advisory committee. Once a student completes all required coursework, defends their dissertation proposal and passes their qualifying exams, they advance to candidacy (i.e. ABD, or “all but dissertation").

The dissertation, which must be defended in a formal dissertation defense, should be an original scholarly contribution to the field and may be highly varied in methodology, topic and style of presentation.

Meet Our Ph.D. Students

Maxwell Hall exterior columns
Nicole Gonzalez

Nicole Moeller Gonzalez

Marxism, labor and environmental movements; Matt Huber advisor
Xiwei Guo

Xiwei Guo

Fluvial geomorphology, sedimentology, river restoration, human-environment interactions; Peng Gao advisor
Mirella Pretell

Mirella Pretell

Political ecology, resource extraction, Indigenous movements, Peruvian Amazon; Tom Perreault advisor
Jihyuk Park

Jihyuk Park

Political geography, critical geopolitics, state and nationalism, East Asia; Natalie Koch advisor
Sohrob Aslamy

Sohrob Aslamy

Political economy, political geography, urban space, Afghanistan and Central Asia; Tod Rutherford advisor
Headshot of Maddy Hamlin

I’ve really found an intellectual home in geography. It is a small field in the U.S., yet one I think is important and well-positioned to tackle some of the major issues we’re facing, from climate change to mass incarceration.”

Madeleine Hamlin ’17 M.A./M.P.A.

2021 Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation Emerging Scholar; doctoral student, geography

Public housing violence research earns top honor for PhD candidate

Future Professoriate Program

The Future Professoriate Program (FPP) aims to foster a sense of community among graduate students while allowing them to hone skills related to teaching, research and professional identity development. The purpose of the FPP is to help graduate students develop professionally by means of workshops, annual in-house conferences and a mentored independent teaching experience. Students who complete these activities and produce a teaching portfolio can receive the University’s Certificate in University Teaching. These endeavors are seen as complements to the training in scholarship and teaching that are regular parts of graduate education.

PhD graduation ceremony with Dean Van Slyke
Geography and the Environment Department
144 Eggers Hall