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PhD in Geography and Urban Studies

The complexity and pace of economic, environmental, and social change require that students are trained in interdisciplinary and spatially integrative analytical frameworks and specialized skills to apply to real-world conditions. As an integrative graduate program, the curriculum connects these processes, giving students strong analytical foundation that stresses spatial relations, scale transitions, place and context, and nature societal relations.

The PhD program admits students holding the bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in a related social science. To fulfill the degree requirements, students must complete coursework, pass a comprehensive examination, submit a thesis proposal, and then write and defend that thesis. View our curriculum requirements.

The program draws upon the interdisciplinary expertise of faculty in the Department of Geography and Urban Studies. Students will engage in research and scholarly activity with scholars who are active in helping to build multiple social science disciplines. In recent years, members of the department have published a half dozen books with leading publishers in the field including Oxford University Press, MIT Press, and Wiley and Routledge; contributed articles to leading journals like the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Environment and Planning A, and the Journal of Urban Affairs, etc., and won competitive grants from the World Bank, the Environmental Protection Agency, the United Nations, the United States Information Agency, The National Science Foundation, the Overseas Development Institute, the Inter-American Foundation, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Economic Development Agency.

Graduates of the program with doctorates in Geography and Urban Studies will be able to compete for faculty positions in a range of academic departments—from departments of geography to more interdisciplinary departments and programs (focused on such fields as urban studies, urban planning, environmental studies, and development studies). They will also be equipped to seek employment outside of academe. Non-governmental organizations, think tanks, research institutes, service delivery institutions, international development and economic development organizations, increasingly conduct independent research and employ graduate degree holders in interdisciplinary areas like urban studies and environmental studies.

For more information about the degree and application requirements, please visit the PhD in Geography and Urban Studies Graduate Bulletin. To learn more about our policies, courses, and expectations, please review our MA and PhD Graduate Student Handbook.

Curriculum Application Requirements