Students earning a Master of Arts (MA) degree from the Department attain a level of expertise on an advanced topic situated within a broader foundation of geographic history, theory, and methods. The Master’s degree is designed to be completed in two years and usually requires several semesters of coursework and completion of a Master’s thesis. The thesis represents original research and commonly includes some combination of field, archival, and/or laboratory analysis. Approximately one-third of Master’s recipients have continued for a doctorate. Other Master’s recipients have found employment related to their graduate training in consulting, business, education, or government.
In order to receive the degree students must meet the requirements of both the Graduate Program and the Graduate School. Students need to familiarize themselves with the requirements set forth in the Graduate School Catalog. The responsibility for fulfilling all requirements ultimately rests with the student.
Each student should, during the course of his or her tenure in the Master’s program;
- Attain an understanding of how the thesis topic is situated within the broader discipline.
- Be aware of research trajectories within his/her specialty.
- Attain a level of field, archival, and/or technical training as appropriate for the thesis research.
- Be able to effectively communicate ideas orally and in writing.
The Master’s degree is awarded upon completion of a thesis or report involving original research that may require some combination of fieldwork and/or primary data sources. The thesis prepares students to pursue PhD research or other professional goals. To that end, it involves original and independent research and demonstrates that the student is (a) able to define a problem in relation to a specific body of literature, and (b) exhibit professional competence and the necessary technical expertise to address a research question. Accordingly, each recent MA should (depending on the direction the student takes upon graduation):
- Produce a thesis worthy of publishing in a peer-reviewed journal.
- Be a competitive applicant to doctoral programs.
- Be competitive for employment within his/her field in the private and/or public sector.
- Understand how to approach a new research topic within his/her field of specialization.
Upon acceptance by the Graduate School and Graduate Program, the incoming student consults with the Department Graduate Adviser, usually during the penultimate week in August. This consultation includes (a) a review and documentation of the student’s academic accomplishment and related experiences, and (b) a discussion of the student’s tentative objectives in graduate study. The Graduate Adviser may suggest meeting with other faculty members who can be of help to the student in preparing a course of study, and will assign remedial coursework if necessary.
Students entering the program with less than 12 semester hours of upper division course work in Geography may be required to make up this deficiency. In some instances successful completion of the remedial work may be a condition for admission to the graduate program. During the initial advising session after the student enters the program, the Graduate Adviser will determine which courses must be taken or audited for remedial purposes. Copies of the Remedial Coursework form will be signed and retained by the student and the Graduate Adviser. Remedial courses can be taken simultaneously with other courses but they will not count as part of the student’s graduate degree program.
Rules governing selection of a Supervisor and Supervising Committee are discussed above under “Advising and the Supervising Committee.” In brief, the student needs to select a Supervisor by the middle of the second semester, and, in consultation with the Supervisor, choose two additional Supervising Committee members in accordance with Graduate Program rules, including approval by the Graduate Adviser.
The Supervising Committee is responsible for seeing that the candidate satisfies all requirements for the Master’s degree. Final approval of the candidate’s program is the responsibility of the Dean of Graduate Studies.
The Supervising Committee may be changed by circulating the Departmental form until the student submits the Master’s Graduation Application Form in the final semester.
A Master’s degree in Geography can be obtained in one of two ways:
Thesis Option: 30 Semester hours of course work, including 18 hours in Geography, 6 hours in a supporting subject, and 6 hours of thesis (698A and 698B).
Report Option: 36 semester hours of course work, including 27 hours in Geography, 6 hours in a supporting subject and 3 hours of report (398R).
Program of Work
Students should consult with their Supervisor to develop their Program of Work. Students who do not yet have a Supervisor should consult with the Graduate Adviser.
Candidates for the master’s degree are required to submit their Programs of Work with the electronic application to graduate and will also be required to have a GPA of at least 3.00 for courses included on the Program of Work.
All Geography master’s students are required to enroll in GRG 390K, "Issues in Geography" during the fall semester and GRG 390L, “Research in Geography” in the spring semester. These courses must be passed with a grade no lower than a B.
All master’s students must enroll in at least one organized course in Geography during both the first and second semesters of their program. In order to ensure sufficient familiarity with the broad field of Geography, these courses should involve different subfields of the discipline or deal with different regions, and must be taught by different full time faculty members within the Department, as approved by the Graduate Adviser. At least one of these should be a graduate course. GRG 390K, 390L, and 398T will not be counted as one of these courses.
Thesis Option students need to take 6 additional hours of graduate Geography courses. Report Option students need to take 12 additional hours of graduate Geography courses. Students wishing to substitute courses in another field for Geography courses must demonstrate that these substitutions are appropriate to her/his field of study and must have the approval of the Graduate Adviser and her/his Supervisor for the courses substituted. Students may take a maximum of 6 hours of upper-division undergraduate courses as part of the master’s program.
All master’s students need to take 6 hours of graduate courses in a supporting subject. These courses do not need to be in a single discipline, and can include courses in geography. The Graduate Adviser in consultation with the Supervisor must approve the supporting subject program. Only one 3-hour upper-division undergraduate course can be counted in the supporting field, and this counts against the 6-hour limit for the entire program.
Students may, with faculty approval, sit in on undergraduate courses while enrolled in the graduate research course number (GRG 397). Only one GRG 397 course will count towards the MA degree.
As per University rules effective 2008, no more than 6 hours of courses offered towards the master’s degree can be CR/NC. The only exceptions are thesis and report courses.
Master’s thesis option students take 6 hours of thesis (698A and 698B). Master’s report option students take 3 hours of report (398R).
All requirements for a master’s degree must be completed within one six-year period. Work over six years old can be reinstated only by special permission of the Graduate Dean.
Continuous Registration Requirement
All graduate students are expected to enroll and pay tuition and fees by the twelfth class day of the fall and spring semesters of each academic year until graduation. Master’s students may enroll in any course to meet this requirement; they do not need to be thesis hours. Students who have financial or nonfinancial bars will not be registered by the Graduate School. The only alternative to continuous registration for Master’s students is a leave of absence. If the student fails to register and has not been granted a leave of absence by the twelfth class day, the student must apply to be readmitted to the graduate program and pay a readmission application fee of $50. The application for readmission will be reviewed by the program's Graduate Studies Committee, which may choose to readmit or deny readmission. Readmission applications for students who left the university on warning or dismissal status or who have a Graduate School bar also require the approval of the Graduate Dean. See Readmission for Graduate Students.
Under various circumstances, graduate students must be registered for and must remain registered for a full-time (9 hours long session, 3 hours summer) load, including: holders of Graduate School administered fellowships and scholarships; Assistant Instructors, Teaching Assistants, Academic Assistants, Assistants (Graduate), and Graduate Research Assistants; students living in university housing; students receiving certain student loans; and international students
As part of their degree program, all Master’s students are required to either fulfill a language or methods option. Master’s students must indicate their language and methods option before the end of the second semester of graduate study
Language Option :
Students choosing the language option must demonstrate basic proficiency in one language other than English. Students who are non-native English speaking must demonstrate proficiency in English. In exceptional cases the requirement may be waived, if approved by the Graduate Adviser.
The purpose of the language requirement is for Master’s students to gain a minimum level of competence in exploring the literature related to their field of specialty, beyond the English-speaking world.
Master’s students fulfill the requirement by petitioning the Graduate Adviser, through a form signed by their Supervisor. Proficiency is normally demonstrated by providing evidence of reading or oral competence, or course work (including at the undergraduate level). The requirement must be fulfilled prior to being advanced to candidacy.
Students choosing the methods option must demonstrate basic proficiency in a rigorous qualitative and/or quantitative method, as appropriate to their field of study.
The purpose of the methods requirement is for students to attain a minimum level of competence in a method that is appropriate to their field of study.
Students fulfill the requirement by petitioning the Graduate Adviser, through a form signed by their Supervisor. Proficiency is normally demonstrated through course work or written materials, including published manuscripts. The requirement must be fulfilled prior to being advanced to graduation.
Early in the final semester of the MA program, the student should file the Master’s Graduation Application Form with the Graduate School and check to be sure that all requirements, including the Program of Work, and Language/Methods Requirement, have been satisfied. The form includes the final membership of the Supervising Committee and must be signed by the Graduate Adviser.
Theses and reports need to be approved and signed by the Supervising Committee well before the last class day. Copies of the final draft of the thesis, reviewed for technical and grammatical correctness by the Supervisor, must be distributed to all members of the Supervising Committee. This must be done within 4 weeks of the planned date of submission for the thesis so as to allow time for members to read and comment on the thesis, and time for the student to revise the thesis in response to comments.
Upon approval of the Master’s thesis or report, a Master’s Degree Certification form is submitted to the Graduate School, signed by the Supervisor and the Graduate Adviser.
In addition to meeting all Graduate School requirements, a bound copy of the thesis or report should be provided to the Department.
If a Master’s student wishes to go on to pursue advanced doctoral research in the Department, he/she must make a formal application for admission to the PhD program by January 1. The Department’s Graduate Admissions and Awards Committee will evaluate this along with all other applications for admission to the PhD program. Students should be aware that strong evidence of imminent completion of the Master’s thesis is required. In many cases, the student will be requested to delay application to the doctoral program until after the Master’s thesis is completed.Note : The Catalog of the University ( General Information, The Undergraduate Catalog, The Graduate Catalog, and The Law School Catalog) is the document of authority for all students. The requirements given in the catalog supersede information issued by any academic department. The University reserves the right to change the requirements given in the catalog at any time. Please be aware that different admissions procedures apply to foreign applicants, U.S. applicants, and former University of Texas students applying for readmission.