Geography, MA

Top geography graduate program in North America preparing students for careers in academic, non-profit, and public sectors

Our Master of Arts program in geography gives students a critical perspective on contemporary trends in geography, develops research skills, and provides beginning to advanced training in the discipline. Our faculty offer concentrations in urban, cultural, political and economic geography; community geography; political ecology, resource geography and environmental history; historical geography and geohumanities; climate science, biogeography and geomorphology; and geospatial technologies.

Esteemed faculty as mentors

We take graduate student mentoring seriously in both scholarship and teaching. Our faculty work closely with graduate students at each step of our program, from individualized coursework to research design and fieldwork to the presentation and publication of results. We also prioritize classroom teaching experience for graduate students, particularly through their work with faculty as teaching assistants.

Program requirements

The program consists of 30 graduate credits, at least half of which must be at the 600 level or above. Students may write a master's thesis or two master's papers and may count either option as six thesis credits toward their required total. Most students complete the master’s degree in two years.

The M.A. program assumes a basic foundation in geography, including work in human, environmental, and physical geography, as well as in relevant methods. Students without such a background must do additional work, such as attending courses, auditing, or reading. Additional work is flexible and may be customized according to a student’s interests and schedule.

The student's advisor and committee approve the topic for and supervise the research and writing of the master's thesis or two-paper option, the final drafts of which must be defended in a formal defense involving the student’s committee.

Complete degree requirements are outlined in the Course Catalog for the Master of Arts in Geography.

Student learning outcomes

Maxwell’s master’s program in geography prepares graduates with the skills and experience to excel after graduation. Students gain invaluable hands-on experience conducting research and leading classroom instruction, providing a strong foundation on which to build throughout their career.

Students in our program will learn how to:

  1. Design and conduct independent research in their chosen field in the discipline.
  2. Communicate the results and significance of their research in both written and oral form.
  3. Examine social and environmental processes, with a particular focus on space and place, critical theory, practical application, analysis and intervention.
  4. Examine social and environmental processes, with a particular focus on space and place, critical theory, practical application, analysis and intervention in chosen field within the discipline of Geography.
  5. Follow established ethical guidelines for research and teaching.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Spatial Analysis Certificate of Advanced Studies

Interested master's students also have the option to enroll in the Department’s 12-credit C.A.S.

>> Learn more about the C.A.S. in GIS and Spatial Analysis

Combined Master's Degrees in Geography and Public Administration

To concurrently earn an M.A. in Geography and a Master's in Public Administration, students must complete a total of 56 credit hours, of which a minimum of 34 have to be in Public Administration courses. The degree typically takes 3 years to complete. The student must apply separately to both programs. Funding support is available from Geography and from Public Administration. In exceptional cases, a funding package for 3 years of support can be negotiated after acceptance to both programs.

For additional information, please contact the Geography graduate studies director, Dr. Matt Huber, and the Public Administration International Affairs administrator at PAIA.

Ready to join our Maxwell Geography community?

Visit our How to Apply page for information about the admissions process and resources.