Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Acceptance to the Ph.D. program will normally presuppose that the student has met the minimum requirements of the departmental M.A./M.S. program, except for a thesis in the case of students with the M.A./M.S. from a school where no thesis is required. In all cases, at least three full years of study beyond the bachelor's degree are required for admission to candidacy.

Each Ph.D. student will be guided in the development of a Preliminary Program of Study tailored to the research interests of the student by an Advisory Committee consisting of at least four professors. A majority of Advisory Committee members must be from Geography. The Chair (the student's major professor) must be a geography Graduate Faculty member, and at least two of the other members of the Committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty. This Committee will work with the student to formulate a satisfactory program that meets the requirements of both the Graduate School and the Department. In the event that a change in a student's Preliminary Program of Study is necessary, it must receive the signature approval of all members of the student's advisory committee.

  1. Program of Study. Because the Ph.D. is a research degree, Programs of Study are to be structured with the purpose of facilitating the student's ability to conceive and execute substantive, original research in the field of geography.
    1. Graduate School policy dictates that:
      1. The Preliminary Program of Study must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator during the first year of graduate residence;
      2. Each student complete a minimum of two consecutive semesters of full time resident study beyond the Master's;
      3. A minimum of 30 credit hours (three hours of which must be 9300 dissertation writing) be included on the Program of Study; and
      4. The Program of Study should consist of 16 or more hours of 8000- and 9000-level courses in addition to research, dissertation writing, and independent or directed study.
    2. Departmental policy is that all Programs of Study must include:
      1. 32 total credit hours of graduate-level coursework as detailed below;
      2. Proseminars GEOG 8900 and GEOG 8901. These courses shall be repeated for credit during the Doctoral program if previously taken as part of the M.A./M.S. program. These courses may appear only once each on the Program of Study;
      3. Seminar in Geographic Thought and Methods (GEOG 8910) unless waived because it was taken in our M.A./M.S. program or waived because of exemption by permission of the instructor if the student completed a similar course in a geography Master's program elsewhere. If waived from GEOG 8910, the student shall substitute an 8000-level graduate-only course in Geography or some other graduate-only course in another department. The student may not substitute GEOG 8900, GEOG 8901 or any Directed Problems course from any department;
      4. 3 hours of GEOG 9300 (No Ph.D. student may register for GEOG 9300 (Doctoral Dissertation) more than once prior to passing the oral and written doctoral comprehensive examinations, see number 3 below);
      5. A minimum of 8 additional graduate-level courses (24 hours), or 9 additional graduate-level courses (27 hours) if waived from GEOG 8910, subject to the following conditions:
        1. A minimum of 4 graduate-level courses (12 hours) of the 8 additional courses must be taken at the 8000 level (5 8000-level courses if the student has been waived from GEOG 8910); Note that these 4 courses plus GEOG 8900, 8901 and GEOG 8910 surpass the Graduate School's requirement of 16 hours. (See 1.a.4 above)
        2. GEOG 9000 may not be counted among the 8 additional courses.
        3. Students may list multiple instances of GEOG 9000 beyond the 32 required hours on their Final Program of Study if needed to satisfy the Graduate School’s Residence requirement.
        4. No more than 3 of the elective hours may be from Directed Problems courses, from Geography (GEOG 8290, 8390, 8590, 8690) or from any other departments.
        5. GEOG 6920 (Special Problem in Area Analysis) and GEOG 6921 (Directed Topics in Independent Research) cannot appear on the Program of Study.
        6. Students who have been enrolled in a Geography doctoral program at another university within three years prior to admission into the PhD program may use up to 11 hours total of GEOG 9000 on the program of study. An equivalent number of graduate hours must have been completed with a grade of B or better in the other university's program. This substitution is subject to approval by the graduate coordinator.
  2. A dissertation proposal must be presented at an open meeting organized by the student's Advisory Committee within five semesters (exclusive of summer) after inception of residence in the program. At the end of five semesters in residence, a written version of the dissertation proposal (which incorporates changes recommended at the oral presentation) must be approved in writing by the student's Advisory Committee. Where individual circumstances warrant, deadline extensions may be considered by petition to the Graduate Studies Committee.
  3. Written and oral doctoral comprehensive exams demonstrating the attainment of a competent level of geographical knowledge and the formal acceptance of a written dissertation proposal by the Advisory Committee shall be completed within five semesters of entry to the program. With the recommendation of the Graduate Coordinator and the Advisory Committee, the deadline for completing the requirements may be extended. The proposal may precede the preliminary exams or visa versa.
  4. Departmental Research Skills Requirement: The student’s Doctoral Advisory Committee will ensure that the student is adequately prepared to conduct the proposed doctoral research. This requirement is typically met by at least six hours of graduate-level ‘skills’ classes. These courses may have been taken in a student’s Masters program, and/or at a different University. The student will indicate the courses to be used to satisfy the skills requirement in the “Research Skills Requirement” box of the Preliminary Doctoral Program of Study form, which is for Departmental use only. The Doctoral Advisory Committee will indicate its approval of the plan to satisfy the skills requirement by signing the Preliminary Doctoral Program of Study form. In order to comply with Graduate School rules, courses used to satisfy the skills requirement will not be listed on the Final Doctoral Program of Study form.
  5. A graduate student whose first language is not English and who was required to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores for admission consideration (see section B above) is required to attend and satisfactorily complete (with a grade of "S") LLED 7769 (which may require LLED as a prerequisite, depending on the student’s score on the speaking portion of the TOEFL or IELTS) and GRSC 7770, offered by the Graduate School to GTAs, GLAs. Individuals who are not graduate teaching assistants may petition the Graduate Studies Committee for exemption from this requirement. Students whose first language is not English must adhere to policy set by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), available at (summarized below at section K.1.g) before engaging in instructional role with students, according to policies of the University of Georgia.
  6. Following completion of the written and oral doctoral comprehensive examinations, no more than two (2) voting members of the dissertation committee can be changed without the consent of the rest of the Committee.
  7. Ph.D. preliminary and defense exams shall not be conducted during summer break (May 15th - August 15th) except by prior consent of committee members.
  8. A student who wishes to change major professor any time following completion of the written and oral preliminary examinations should first consult with the Head of Department or Graduate Coordinator, before taking any action.
  9. All requirements of the Ph.D., except the dissertation and final oral examination, must be completed within a period of six years dating from the student's first course registration for the Ph.D. degree.
  10. A dissertation must be written in the area of the student's concentration that is of publishable quality and demonstrates originality in research, independent thinking, scholarly ability, and technical mastery in the field. The dissertation and a final oral exam, which is a defense of the dissertation, must be completed within five years after being admitted to candidacy.

Support us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about how to help us grow.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.