Geography graduate programs

Unearth and analyze the complex relationship between humans and their environment and the spatial dimensions of our world’s most pressing challenges.

Geography M.S.

The M.S. in Geography is a two-year program of study that allows students to pursue advanced coursework across a range of subfields of geography (see Department research areas) while conducting independent research or a professional project in coordination with a faculty adviser.  Two degree plans are available: Plan A (31 credits) includes a thesis on original research; Plan B (36 credits) replaces the thesis with a professional paper.

Geography Ph.D.

The Ph.D. in Geography is a specialized, research-focused degree that prepares students for professional careers in academia, government, private industry and non-profit sectors – with alumni represented in each of these. The program trains students to design and carry out original research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Students complete a minimum of 72 credits, of which a maximum of 24 can be transferred from the master’s degree. In the first two years of the program students generally take coursework in their area of specialty and prepare for the comprehensive examination. Students then research, write, and defend their dissertation, enrolling in a minimum of 24 dissertation credits.

Admissions cycle:

Application deadline:
December 15


Why choose geography at the University of Nevada, Reno

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 span the full range of the discipline, including:

  • Hydrologic modeling
  • Urban and economic geography
  • Cultural and historical geography
  • Political geography and geopolitics
  • Qualitative methods
  • Human-Environment relations and political ecology
  • Urban and regional planning
  • GIS and geotechnologies
  • 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 theDepartment of Geography faculty page.

View Department of Geography faculty


How to apply

Applications for the M.S. and Ph.D. programs 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
  • A statement of purpose and goals
  • Three letters of recommendation

Prospective students are urged to contact potential graduate advisors among Department faculty well ahead of application deadlines.

Applications received in full by December 15 will be considered for the fall semester.

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.

Start your application


Funding opportunities

The Department of Geography offers several 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.

University financial information

The University of Nevada, Reno offers an excellent value for graduate work. To view the most current information about tuition, fees and more, visit the Graduate School's webpage.

Graduate student tuition and fees

Ready to join the Department of Geography?