University of Wisconsin–Madison

Graduate Programs

The Department of Geography offers three graduate degree programs:

  • Master of Science (MS) – Geography – Graduate students in our Master of Science programs are expected to acquire a broad foundation in geography in addition to specialization in one or more thematic areas. Students who earn the MS degree are prepared for teaching in some small colleges, and for applied geography posts or cartographic positions in government agencies, planning organizations, environmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry. See MS-Geography for degree requirements.
  • Master of Science (MS) – Cartography/GIS (Thesis Option) – Graduate students in our Master of Science programs are expected to acquire a broad foundation in geography in addition to specialization in one or more thematic areas. Students who earn the MS degree are prepared for teaching in some small colleges, and for applied geography posts or cartographic positions in government agencies, planning organizations, environmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private industry. See MS-Cartography/GIS (Thesis Option) for degree requirements.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) – Geography -The Doctor of Philosophy degree is founded primarily upon specialized advanced training and research. Students normally specialize in a single sub-disciplinary area and are expected to engage in research leading to a dissertation that makes an original and significant contribution to geographic knowledge and ideas. Formal requirements include: completion of departmental course requirements, a skills package, and a minor. Students must also pass two qualifying exams (one general and one specific), defend a dissertation proposal, and write and defend a dissertation. The dissertation should make a significant and original contribution to geographic research. Incoming Ph.D. students should already have earned a Master’s degree and must provide evidence of the successful completion of the Master’s degree to the Graduate Director by the end of the first semester in residence. Degree requirements for the PhD-Geography are detailed here. Please note that significant requirement changes went into effect for students beginning the program in Fall 2014. The documents include details for students who began BEFORE Fall 2014 and AS Of Fall 2014. Be sure to pay attention to which requirements apply.

The Department of Geography also offers four GIS Professional Programs. Please visit the following sites for information about each of these programs: