Top Geography Graduate Schools

Geographers are inveterate explorers of the Earth, its peoples and its physical environments. Read on for information about three top graduate geography schools. See what sets the most remarkable schools apart. Learn about available degree programs and areas of specialization in the field. Schools offering Culture & Media Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Geography Graduate School?

Geography is an interdisciplinary field exploring human-environment spatial phenomena. You'll want a graduate school that can provide you with a solid grounding in the earth sciences and human geography, plus supporting technical skills such as geographic information science.

The best schools have distinguished faculty with strong research and publication records. They'll also have research institutes and laboratories that address your interests. Some schools publish respected geography journals. If you're like most geographers, you'll want field and travel opportunities. The schools below are among the best.

Three Top Geography Graduate Schools

Clark University in Worcester, MA

Clark's School of Geography, founded in 1921, is the nation's oldest sustained geography program. It has awarded more Ph.D.s in Geography than any other U.S. university. Besides strengths in urban-economic geography, nature-society geography and earth systems science, Clark has developed proprietary geographic information software with commercially licensed users. As a graduate student at Clark, you can access the Guy H. Burnham Map and Aerial Photography Library, featuring a collection of aerial photographs and maps, including a collection of U.S. government maps. Graduate degree options include the following:

  • Bachelor of Arts/Master of Science in Geographic Information Science
  • Master of Science in Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Geography

University of California - Santa Barbara

The University of California - Santa Barbara (USCB) has faculty members devoted to geography-related fields, including climate, cognitive and behavioral geography, remote sensing, biogeosciences, geographic information systems, ocean processes and transportation. A National Science Foundation-funded research unit for digital mapping and spatially integrated social science, a center for ecological analysis and the Earth Research Institute are among the resources available to you. You can also use general instructional labs and research labs.

In addition to the USCB doctorate, the USCB and San Diego State University (SDSU) geography departments offer a joint Ph.D. program, giving you access to complementary resources. Available degree programs include the following:

  • Master of Arts in Geography
  • M.A./Ph.D. in Geogrpahy
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Geography

University of Colorado at Boulder

At the University of Colorado at Boulder, you'll choose from degree specializations in human or physical geography, environment-society relations or geographic information science. Environmental chemistry, dissolved organic matter and biogeography labs are also available to you.

Your department encourages fieldwork, whether in mountain research stations for arctic and alpine research or field sites from East Africa to Patagonia. Supporting institutes include the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research and the Institute of Behavioral Science. The university offers the following graduate degrees:

  • Master of Arts in Geography
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Geography

More Graduate Schools for Geography

College/University Institution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
University of California--Berkeley 4-year, Public Berkeley, CA$14,000
Pennsylvania State University 4-year, Public University Park, PA$22,500
University of Minnesota--Twin Cities4-year, Public Minneapolis, MN$18,500
University of California--Los Angeles 4-year, Public Los Angeles, CA$13,000
University of Wisconsin--Madison 4-year, Public Madison, WI$12,000
Indiana University--Bloomington 4-year, Public Bloomington, IN$10,500
University of Washington 4-year, Public Seattle, WA$16,500
Michigan State University 4-year, Public East Lansing, MI$18,000
University of California--Davis4-year, Public Davis, CA$13,500
University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill 4-year, Public Chapel Hill, NC$12,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

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:

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