2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Apr 23, 2024  
2023-2024 Graduate Course Catalog

Geography, PhD

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The doctoral program in geography provides an opportunity to develop expertise in a range of topics across human geography, nature-society geography, community geography, physical geography and geospatial methods. Our faculty members work closely with the small group of doctoral students admitted each year to mentor them in publishing, grant writing, fieldwork and teaching.

We take the training of doctoral students as both scholars and educators very seriously. Students in our doctoral program are fully funded. Our graduate courses are small and provide students a grounding in both foundational and cutting-edge aspects of the discipline. We work with our doctoral students to create innovative and robust research projects designed to prepare them for careers in academia and beyond. We also provide opportunities for our students to gain teaching experience, both as teaching assistants and as instructors of record.

Graduates from our doctoral program become faculty in geography and cognate disciplines, or enter other fields in the nonprofit, public and private sectors. Our department has an excellent track record of placing graduates in academic positions.


Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Design and conduct original, publishable, and theoretically and methodologically rigorous research in their chosen subfield in the discipline
  2. Communicate the results and significance of their research in both oral and written form through the doctoral dissertation (a major and original contribution to the field of Geography)
  3. Communicate the results of research in a variety of formats both oral and written
  4. Demonstrate understanding of Geography as an academic discipline, including core concepts such as space, place, and scale, as well as major sub-fields such as human geography, physical geography, environmental geography and geo-spatial analysis
  5. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of their chosen field of study within the discipline of Geography, including relevant analysis, critical theory, and practical application
  6. For those entering the academy: demonstrate expertise as an instructor of geography in an undergraduate setting, including design lessons, lead student discussions, and evaluate undergraduate students’ written work fairly and effectively

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 M.A. in geography. The student must maintain a 3.0 grade point average. The Ph.D. degree requires a total of 72 credits of approved graduate work in geography and related fields. The 72 credits include up to 30 credits accepted for the master’s degree and 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. All doctoral programs in geography are research-oriented.

Students must submit a dissertation proposal to their advisory committee. The proposal must be approved by the committee in a formal defense prior to taking the qualifying exams. 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.  The order of the proposal defense and qualifying exams (i.e., which should be done first) may be determined by the student in conjunction with their advisor and advisory committee.

The dissertation itself should be an original scholarly contribution to the field and may be highly varied in methodology, topic, and style of presentation. It must be defended orally.

Specific Course Requirements (9 credits)

Choose either Option A or Option B.  Other geography classes may count toward the methods requirement, but must be approved by the Graduate Director, the course instructor, and the student’s advisor.  To count a course not in the list, students must submit a petition to the faculty form.   


Two Seminars (700 or above) from different Geography facutly, and one spatial methods/techniques course.  


One Seminar (700 or above) and two spatial methods/techniques courses:

Graduate Coursework (45 Credits)

at the 600 level or above.

Dissertation (12 Credits)

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