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

students and advisor studying map

This option allows highly-qualified students to enter our Master’s degree program with the intention of continuing for a doctoral degree. It emphasizes academic, research, and professional development tailored for the PhD degree so that students can move quickly into doctoral studies.

The program is designed to take approximately 5 years, although actual time to degree varies by student. Alternatively, students with a Bachelor's Degree may wish to consider applying to our Master's program with a view to applying to the PhD program in their second year.


Students enter the PhD program intending to work with a particular faculty member, who then serves as their primary advisor and committee chair. The advisor, who may be any member of the GGIS graduate faculty, will aid the student in formulating a tentative degree program comprising the most appropriate courses according to their background, interests, and career objectives. The student and advisor should meet regularly to discuss progress and future plans. Effective communication between student and advisor are critical for success. Either the student or the faculty advisor is free at any time to request a change in advising assignment.

Early in the fall semester of the second year, the student and their advisor will select two additional faculty members to serve on the student’s Advisory Committee. The student, advisor, and other committee members will meet at the end of this semester and near the end of every semester thereafter (until the student earns a Master's degree), each time discussing the student’s progress with him/her and reporting that progress to the Graduate Committee through the advisor. Changes to the Committee may be made at any time with approval of both the student and advisor.

PhD Requirements

The Graduate College requires that at least 96 hours of graduate coursework be completed for the PhD degree. Graduate coursework is defined as courses at the 400-level or above. The program of study for the PhD for students entering the program with a Bachelor’s degree has two distinct phases. The first two years are primarily devoted to coursework and completion of a research paper of publishable quality which is reviewed by the student’s committee.

Based on the research paper and the student’s performance in the program, the committee decides whether or not the student is eligible to continue in the PhD program beyond the second year. At this stage a student may be awarded a Master's Degree without being given permission to continue in the Geography program. The second phase of the program involves completion of PhD requirements including additional course requirements, the departmental qualifying exam, University Preliminary Exam and dissertation defense and deposit.

All graduate students are required to maintain a 3.0 (B) or better GPA. Any required course must be passed with an A or B grade. Although the students are informed of their status during their entire graduate program, the primary responsibility for meeting Graduate College and departmental requirements, and for insuring good progress toward degree completion, lies with the student.


Geography doctoral Degree Requirements, Entering with an approved BS/BA degree