Ph.D. in Geography

The University's geography Ph.D. program delves into the science behind pressing human and human-environment issues, at both regional and global levels.

Program at a glance

Admissions cycle: Fall
Application deadlines: Feb. 1
Assistantship types available: Teaching, Research
Graduate Director: Tom Albright

Why choose this Ph.D. in geography?

The University Department of Geography prepares Ph.D. students for professional careers in academia, government, industry and non-profit sectors -- with alumni represented in each of these. Department of Geography faculty members possess a range of interdisciplinary strengths and expertise in the areas of human, human-environment and physical geography, supported by the use of computational technologies such as geographic information systems, remote sensing, modeling and data analytics. The faculty is renowned for its teaching and mentoring, with individual members having garnered university, state and national teaching awards.

Department research specialties include:

  • Hydrologic modeling
  • Cultural geography
  • Political geography and geopolitics
  • Qualitative methods
  • Human-Environment relations and political ecology
  • Urban and regional planning
  • GIS and geotechnologies
  • Humanistic and economic geography
  • Climatology
  • Biogeography, wildlife, and landscape ecology
  • Natural resource management and conflict
  • Conservation science and planning
  • Paleoclimatology

These specialties in physical and human-environment geography are supported by a dendrochronology laboratory and palynology laboratory for paleo-climate reconstruction; the Nevada State Climate Office and geospatial and conservation laboratories that study biodiversity, ecosystems and urban growth patterns and processes using GIS, remote sensing and spatial statistics. The Department has multiple computational and data servers; two computer labs and equipment for field studies focusing on mountain environments, climatology, environmental reconstruction and water resources.

In addition to examining problems unique to Reno, northern Nevada and the Western United States, recent research projects have taken faculty to diverse locations including China, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Namibia, the Arctic and Nicaragua. To explore faculty members' individual research areas, visit the Department of Geography faculty page.

How do I apply?

A master's degree in geography or a related discipline is required for admission into the geography Ph.D. program. A maximum of 24 credits of coursework from a master's degree program or previous post-baccalaureate graduate studies program (with grades of B or better) may be allocated toward the doctoral degree. These credits are subject to the approval of the advisory committee and the graduate dean.

Applications for the Ph.D. program must be submitted through the Graduate School and must include:

  • A graduate admission application form, including fees
  • An official copy of GRE scores (optional)
  • Official college transcripts

Applicants must also send to the Department of Geography a statement of purpose and goals and three letters of recommendation. Prospective students are urged to contact potential graduate advisers among Department faculty well ahead of application deadlines.

Applications received in full by Feb. 1 will be considered for the fall semester.

Is funding available?

The Department of Geography offers graduate teaching assistantships. During the spring semester, eligible applicants can apply for these positions for the following academic year. Teaching assistantships last for one year, and renewals are contingent upon the student's performance.

Additionally, the Department of Geography regularly offers graduate research assistantships. Funded typically by external research grants, individual faculty choose the recipients of these assistantships. These positions are typically advertised both within the department and outside of the University for recruiting new students.

Visit the Department of Geography graduate assistantships page to learn more.

What's next?

View the Geography graduate program handbook.

You can learn more about this program by contacting the graduate director below. If you are ready to begin at the University of Nevada, Reno, you can apply now.

Tom Albright, PhD
Graduate Director, Department of Geography
(775) 784-6673

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