PhD in Geography: Online and Campus-Based Programs

Geographers study the world's features, including landscapes, populations and cities, as well as changes in patterns and behaviors of the Earth. Learn about the prerequisites, online degree options, typical curriculum, and possible careers for a Ph.D. in Geography below. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Are the Admissions Requirements for a Ph.D. Program in Geography?

The biggest prerequisite for a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) program in geography is that you must have a bachelor's degree. Some schools also require a master's degree, and others require that your undergraduate or graduate degree be in geography. If you don't have a background in geography, you may need to complete some additional coursework. Admission into the program is also based on the other aspects of your application packet, such as your Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score, three letters of recommendation and your personal statement.

Prerequisites Bachelor's degree is typically required, but a master's degree may be needed; schools also usually require the submission of a personal statement, letters of recommendation and GRE scores
Online Availability Online degree programs are available for doctorate programs focusing on GIS
Common Courses Cartography, environmental risks, ecology, physical geography, population
Potential Work Environments Federal government, education

Can I Earn the Degree Online?

While many schools offer campus-based Ph.D. programs in geography, none are offered online. However, related master's degrees in geographic information systems (GIS) are available online. A doctorate program usually takes four years to complete. It has many research requirements, including a dissertation, which you will present at the end of your studies.

What Courses Will I Take?

In addition to the core doctorate courses in geography, you may have the option to complete a specialization in environmental studies, population, cartography, biogeography or climatology. You may also complete elective courses. Taking an oral exam and completing comprehensive written exams is another part of the program. While working on your dissertation, you will complete some thesis and research credits. Courses you could take include:

  • Environmental risks and hazards
  • Physical geography
  • Plant and animal geography
  • Culture, nature and feminism
  • Tropical ecology
  • Remote sensing
  • Foundations of GIS

How Can I Use the Degree?

With a Ph.D. in Geography, you can become a college professor. You could also become a GIS analyst, focusing on developing GIS software and creating maps. Other options include working for the federal government analyzing social issues, such as population changes, migration patterns of refugees and immigrants, voting behaviors or the spread of terrorism. There are many different specializations in geography which could limit or broaden your career options, including physical geography, economic geography, urban geography, political geography and cultural geography.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • West Virginia University

    Campus Locations:

    • West Virginia: Morgantown
  • University of Southern Mississippi

    Campus Locations:

    • Mississippi: Hattiesburg
  • University of North Carolina at Greensboro

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Greensboro
  • University of North Carolina at Charlotte

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Charlotte
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Champaign
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa

    Campus Locations:

    • Hawaii: Honolulu
  • University of Denver

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Denver
  • University of Colorado Boulder

    Campus Locations:

    • Colorado: Boulder
  • University at Buffalo

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Buffalo