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Geography, PHD

At a Glance: program details

Get on the map with this program offering a unique research environment that places your focus on location --- the heart of geography, urban planning, climatology and GIS. Here, you can engage with distinguished faculty to tackle the pressing environmental and societal challenges facing the world today.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Geography

The specialized academic and professional training students receive in the PhD program in geography is sound graduate background for further specialization or for immediate employment. The program has sufficient flexibility to allow for individual needs and interests, allowing students to create a plan of study that fits their personal and professional goals.

In addition to innovative coursework, the state-of-the-art Spatial Analysis Research Center and Urban Climate Research Center offer students the opportunity to work with exceptional faculty on diverse research projects. Students have the opportunity to work alongside some of the brightest minds in geography, including four members of the National Academy of Sciences and rising talent in the fields of climate science, sustainability and environmental science, urban heat island research, GIS and more.

Students in the program have the ability to build a path of knowledge that reflects their personal interests within the realms of geography. Students benefit from a wide variety of coursework and research opportunities in four broad interdisciplinary themes that span the expertise of the faculty within the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning:

  • computational spatial science
  • earth systems and climate science
  • place, identities and culture
  • sustainability science and studies

Additional Details

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 84 credit hours, a written comprehensive exam, an oral comprehensive exam, a prospectus and a dissertation

Required Core (3 credit hours)
GCU 585 Geographic Research Design and Proposal Writing (3)

Electives or Research (43 credit hours)

Methods or Statistics Electives (6 credit hours)

Skills Electives (6 credit hours)

Specialization Electives (9 credit hours)

Other Requirement (5 credit hours)
GCU 529 Contemporary Geographic Thought (3)
GCU 591 or GPH 591 Seminar: Geography Colloquium (1)
GCU 591 or GPH 591 Seminar: Geography Colloquium (1)

Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
GCU or GPH 799 Dissertation (12)

Additional Curriculum Information
Doctoral students entering with a bachelor's degree must complete 84 credit hours. These hours include 72 credit hours of coursework and research at ASU and 12 dissertation credit hours.

Doctoral students entering with a master's degree must complete 54 credit hours. These include 42 credit hours of combined coursework and research hours at ASU and 12 dissertation credit hours.

Coursework and research hours are selected by the student in consultation with an advisory committee. The program recognizes that other graduate-level courses are offered at ASU. Advanced courses are often taught in omnibus courses, courses that have rotating content and whose content is not reflected in their titles. Students may include these courses in their curriculum with approval of the program directors.

The other requirement course, Seminar: Geography Colloquium, is taken twice, once in each of the first two semesters of the program, for one credit hour each. Other courses may be used with approval of academic unit.

Up to six credit hours of 400-level coursework may be applied toward the plan of study.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in any field, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. personal statement
  4. resume
  5. three letters of recommendation
  6. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

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.

The personal statement must address four items:

  1. What specialty in geography does the applicant wish to pursue, and why?
  2. What aspects of the applicant's education (a description is needed) will enable the student to pursue this specialty?
  3. What additional training does the applicant believe can be obtained at Arizona State University to realize the applicant's educational and career goals?
  4. Applicants should provide any other information they feel should be considered in their application for admission, e.g., research experience or information which might be drawn from the applicant's resume.

Letters of recommendation must be from three faculty members who can attest to the applicant's academic achievements.

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Application Deadlines



Session A/C
In Person
December 15th

Career Opportunities

Professionals with expertise in geographical sciences research, theory and practice are in high demand across sectors and industries, including institutions of higher education, consulting firms, government agencies, research facilities and community organizations. Skills in geographical data analysis, mapping and climate science are valuable to businesses and institutions relying on research-based approaches to solve complex real-world problems.

Career examples include:

  • atmospheric, earth, marine or space sciences professor or instructor
  • environmental scientist or specialist
  • geographic information systems technician
  • geophysical data technician
  • geoscientist
  • geospatial information scientist or technologist

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.