PhD Program in Geography

The PhD is a highly individualized degree that emphasizes advanced training and research. Students develop and demonstrate both depth and breadth in geographical inquiry. They gain an understanding of the major epistemological and methodological questions that have shaped the development of geography as a discipline and master a set of research methods that are appropriate to their area of specialization. Students acquire a detailed understanding of a particular sub-field of geography, conduct and disseminate independent research in that sub-field and broaden their backgrounds through study in one or more allied disciplines.

The program is intended to lead students into innovative research as demonstrated in research seminars, independent investigations, and the completion of a dissertation. The student's academic performance must be marked by initiative, intellectual integrity, a sense of problem, and critical acumen.

Students can enter the PhD program through two routes: 1) after earning a Master’s degree, or 2) after earning a Bachelor’s degree. The degree requirements for each option are described separately.

Admission to the PhD is limited to those who have achieved distinction in previous undergraduate and graduate work (a 3.2 GPA on a 4 point scale is a generally accepted criterion) and who have demonstrated the determination and initiative required for doctoral success.

Strong letters of recommendation are essential. International applicants whose native language is not English must meet English Proficiency Requirements for admissions for University of Illinois. International students who would like to be considered for teaching assistantships must submit a TOEFL taken within the last two years and meet the requirements for International Teaching Assistants set by the Graduate College. Graduate College regulations preclude review of any application from a foreign student that does not include a TOEFL score.

An application to the PhD program includes: a completed online application; three letters of reference; official transcripts from all academic institutions attended; plus official TOEFL results from applicants for whom English is a second language.

Effective for the Fall 2020 admission cycle, our Admissions Committee will no longer consider Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores when evaluating applicants to our graduate degree programs.

Students currently in the Geography Master's program at Illinois who wish to apply to the Geography PhD program will need: three letters of recommendation, official transcripts from all graduate and undergraduate schools attended; a statement of purpose; in addition to a petition signed by your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

Students Entering with a Master's Degree

Accelerated PhD Program, Students Entering with a Bachelor's Degree

Geography PhD Requirements - University of Illinois Academic Catalog