Geographic Information Science (Ph.D.)

Ph.D. Geographic Information Science (Doctoral)

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

Program Overview

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.

Course Work

The curriculum for the Ph.D. 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.

DegreeCourse WorkDissertationTotal Hours
Course Work
31 hours
15 hours
Total Hours
46 hours

What Our Students Say

“The GIScience Ph.D. program has provided not only a solid foundation but also a wide range of supportive opportunities and resources to help me grow academically and professionally while directed by great student-centered faculty.”

— Danielle Smilovsky, Class of 2023

Program Details

Geography Ph.D. alumni successfully pursue careers in academia, public and private research centers, and 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.

Related Programs: Ph.D. in Geographic Education | Ph.D. in Geography

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.

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.

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 individuals.

Graduate Advisor
Dr. Ronald Hagelman, III
Evans Liberal Arts (ELA), Room 335

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


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Application Deadlines

DeadlinesU.S. CitizenInternational
Fall - Priority
U.S. Citizen
January 15
January 15
Fall - Standard
U.S. Citizen
May 1
April 15

This program's deadline is firm. This type of deadline means the application and other application requirements must be submitted by the program's specified deadline day.

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.

Admission 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.

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

    Review important information about application fees.

    • baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited university (Non-U.S. degrees must be equivalent to a four-year U.S. Bachelor’s degree. In most cases, three-year degrees are not considered. Visit our International FAQs for more information.)
    • master's degree in geography or a related field from a regionally accredited university (Non-U.S. degrees must be equivalent to a U.S. Master’s degree. Master’s degrees following a three-year Bachelor’s degrees may not be equivalent; please contact if you are unsure.)
    • 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

    • GRE not required

    Approved English Proficiency Exam Scores

    Applicants are required to submit an approved English proficiency exam score that meets 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
    • official Duolingo Scores required with a 110 overall
    • official TOEFL Essentials scores required with an 8.5 overall

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

    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.

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