The department of Geography at UGA is a leading center of scholarship on the physical and social processes that shape our world. We offer a Ph.D. in Geography.

Degree Type: Doctoral

Degree Program Code: PHD_GEOG

Degree Program Summary:

Global patterns of resources, population, culture, and economic systems. Factors contributing to these patterns and distinctions between the technologically advanced and less advanced regions of the world. Geographic factors underlying multiculturalism and ethnic relationships in the United States. Spatial development and organization of culture; population growth, migration, and urbanization; and the spatial dimensions of political, economic, and social processes. Geography opens doors to a wide variety of careers such as international business representative, environmental manager, business location/allocation expert, market researcher, community development and planning specialist, surveyor, mapmaker, satellite image analyst, weather forecaster, natural resource manager, and cultural or environmental interpretive specialist. Our graduates find rewarding careers and are well compensated. Average starting salaries for geography graduates are in the top quarter of all programs in Arts and Sciences. Average starting salaries of our graduates are also greater than starting salaries for a majority of programs in business. A significant number of our majors continue their education with graduate studies in geography or related disciplines.

The Department of Geography offers graduate programs leading to the MA, MS, and PhD degrees with specialization in physical and human geography and in geographic information science (GIS). The department’s strengths are in biogeography, geomorphology, quaternary studies, geoarchaeology, and climatology; social theory, labor studies, political economy, and gender; population, urban, economic, social, and development geography; and cartography, photogrammetry, remote sensing, and GIS.

The department has strong ties with the College of Environment and Design; the Center for Archaeological Sciences; the Marine Sciences, Asian Studies, Women’s Studies, and African Studies programs; the Humanities Center; the Institute of Government; the Terry College of Business; and the Institute for Behavioral Research. As a member of the Inter University Consortium for Political and Social Research, the University supports a host of resources and services for social science research. Housed in the Department of Geography is the Center for Remote Sensing and Mapping Science (CRMS), which undertakes interdisciplinary research projects requiring the development of image and map data and their processing technologies, for applications in the physical, biological, and mapping sciences.

More than sixty graduate students from the USA and overseas are currently in residence. The MA and MS degrees require 7 core hours and a minimum of 18 elective hours, in addition to 6 hours of research and thesis writing. Programs of study tailored for either the MA or MS degree are designed in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. Normally, students with primary interests in physical geography or geographical techniques pursue the MS degree, whereas students with primary interests in human geography pursue the MA degree. For the PhD, the department requires a minimum of 30 credit hours (including 4 core hours if not already taken in the MA or MS degree) and either a reading knowledge of one foreign language or credit for two additional techniques courses.

Geography has excellent teaching and research facilities in a building shared with the Department of Geology. The faculty and graduate students have available to them a number of laboratory spaces. The Geomorphology Laboratory, primarily designed for standard wet chemical and mechanical analyses of soil, sediment, and plant materials, includes a separate work area with PCs, balances, and microscopes. The Plant Microfossil Laboratory is designed principally for the extraction of pollen grains from sediments and includes a separate microscope facility. The TL/OSL Dating Laboratory, a state of the art facility that can be used to date sediments and archaeological materials, has a RISØ TL/OSL DA 15 glow oven/sample changer equipped with a blue light OSL attachment. Other equipment includes a low level beta counter, three alpha counters, and alpha and beta irradiators. The Tree Ring Laboratory has a fully automated stage and computer-controlled microscope imaging system for measuring and analyzing tree cores. The Climatology Research Laboratory (CRL) includes multiple workstations with software packages for climatological analysis. CRL also maintains a NOAAport satellite receiver of real-time meteorological observations, radar imagery, and GOES imagery. Additionally, CRL operates an HPPT satellite receiving station ingesting AVHRR imagery. A variety of microclimatological instrumentation is also available for student use.

In addition to a word processing facility for graduate students, the department maintains separate laboratories for introductory GIS and cartography; advanced GIS, remote sensing and photogrammetry; and spatial analysis and economic geography. Each laboratory is equipped with state of the art computers, both PCs and workstations, on a local area network with digitizers, scanners, printers, and plotters with current software in all areas. CRMS also maintains a complex computer network and extensive software for remote sensing, GIS, and photogrammetric applications. The department owns three vehicles for regional travel and field trips.

Locations Offered:

Athens (Main Campus)

College / School:

Franklin College of Arts & Sciences

346 Brooks Hall
Athens, GA 30602




Graduate Coordinator(s):

Phone Number:


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