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Geographic Information Science (Doctoral)

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Working closely with a dedicated faculty that is recognized nationally and internationally for its research, mentoring, and teaching accomplishments, students embark on a journey of professional development that includes research and teaching opportunities. The department also hosts or plays key roles in several international, national, and university-wide research centers.

The curriculum provides depth and breadth of knowledge in the theories and research methods of geographic information science.

 Contact The Graduate College for general questions about getting started with your application, funding your degree, and more.
If you have program-specific questions after reviewing the program details, we encourage you to contact the following:

Doctoral Program Director
Dr. Ronald Hagelman, III
Evans Liberal Arts (ELA), Room 335

Advisor Support
Allison Glass
Evans Liberal Arts (ELA), Room 127

“The Ph.D. program in GIScience has prepared me academically and professionally for my future career, and I really recommend it to my friends and peers.”

— He (Hannah) Jin, Ph.D. ’19

Course Work

The curriculum for the Ph.D. program in geographic information science (GIS) is designed to provide depth and breadth of knowledge in the field’s theoretical foundations and research methods. Students complete 31 credit hours of graduate course work, including core, skills, and elective courses and 15 credit hours of dissertation research and writing courses. Graduate courses are available at the intermediate and advanced levels with a focus on the theoretical aspects of GIS representation, visualization, modeling, and spatial data analysis and management, including both human and environmental geography applications. Faculty advisors will work individually with each student to develop a tailored course plan that meets the student’s educational and career goals.

Degree Course Work Dissertation Total Hours
Ph.D. 31 hours 15 hours 46 hours
Evans Liberal Arts building

Geography Ph.D. alumni successfully pursue careers in academia, in public and private research centers, and in the professional sector with private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

Program Mission

The mission of the Department of Geography is to offer students educational experiences of the highest quality and to conduct meaningful and vital research. The department is committed to outstanding teaching and scholarly activities within the framework of academic freedom and the diversity of ideas and is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and to public service. The department stresses the theoretical and applied realms of geography in all of its curriculum, leads the discipline with innovative applied work, and actively seeks to recruit top students nationally and internationally.

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Related Programs

Program Faculty

Thirty-four full-time faculty members conduct research in physical, human, and environmental geography, geographic education, and geographic information sciences, and publish in top-tier journals, including the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, The Professional Geographer, the International Journal of Geographical Information Sciences, and Transactions in GIS. Faculty research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Justice, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, among other funding agencies.

Meet our faculty ›

Career Options

Geographic information science doctoral students actively participate in professional conferences, meetings, and workshops, and publish in top-tier journals in the field, including the International Journal of Geographical Information Science, Transactions in GIS, the International Journal of Remote Sensing, and Cartographica. GIScience Ph.D. alumni hold positions in university and community colleges, the private industry, government agencies, and private and public research centers, in the United States and internationally.

Application Process

Step 1

Review Requirements

Application Deadlines

Deadlines U.S. Citizen International
Fall - Priority January 15 January 15
Fall - Standard May 1 April 15
Spring No Admission No Admission
Summer I No Admission No Admission
Summer II No Admission No Admission

Application Deadline
This program has a firm deadline.

Funding Information
Applications must be complete by the priority deadline to be considered for certain types of funding.

Decision Timeline
This program reviews applications on a rolling basis.

Application Requirements

The items required for admission consideration are listed below. Additional information for applicants with international credentials can be found on our international web pages.


  Review important information about the online application.

Application Fee

  • $55 nonrefundable application fee
  • $90 nonrefundable application fee for applications with international credentials

  Review important information about application fees.

Transcripts & GPA

  • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university
  • master's degree in geography or a related field from a regionally accredited university
  • a copy of an official transcript from each institution where course credit was granted
  • minimum 3.5 GPA in all completed graduate course work
  • completion of a master's thesis or demonstrated evidence of scholarly research and writing

  Review important information about transcripts. Official transcripts, sent directly from your institution, will be required if admission is granted.

GRE Scores

  • official GRE (general test only) required with competitive scores in the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections

  Review important information about official test scores.


  • resume/CV
  • statement of purpose explaining your reasons for pursuing doctoral study and your academic professional interests and goals
  • three letters of recommendation demonstrating adequate subject preparation in content and quality as reflected in your transcripts

  Review important information about documents.


Applicants are required to submit TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS scores that meet the minimum program requirements below unless they have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or the equivalent from a country on our exempt countries list.

  • official TOEFL iBT scores required with a 78 overall
  • official PTE scores required with a 52 overall
  • official IELTS (academic) scores required with a 6.5 overall and
    • minimum individual module scores of 6.0

  This program does not offer admission if the scores above are not met.

  Review important information about official test scores.