Doctor of Philosophy in Geography
The Doctor of Philosophy degree is founded primarily upon specialized advance 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.
- Minimum 32 graduate credits taken as a UW-Madison grad student (may include MS work)
Maintain GPA = 3.0
Breadth Requirements – one course in each of:
- Physical Geography
- Human Geography
- People-Environment Geography
- Statistical Methods
- Note #1 – Students who have not taken courses in all or some of these areas prior to applying for the program may still be admitted but will be expected to complete any missing coursework during their residence here.
- Note #2 – One of these courses can count for both Breadth Requirements AND Course Requirements but are typically not seminars.
- Geog 765
- 2 (3 credit) Geography research seminars offered by different faculty members (cannot count seminars taken previously as M.S. student)
- Minor (2 options)
- Option A – 9 credits in one dept outside of Geography
- Option B (Distributed) – 9 credits in 2+ departments outside of Geography
The distributed minor coursework must be approved in advance by the Ph.D. advisor.
Skills (4 options)
- A. Competence in language other than English
To satisfy the skills requirement with a language, the student must provide an evaluation letter of oral and/or reading proficiency from the appropriate language department. From this letter, the Graduate Studies Committee determines fulfillment of the skills requirement.
- B. Quantitative skills (6 credits of "intermediate" or "advanced" courses)
- C. Qualitative skills (6 credits of "intermediate" or "advanced" courses)
- D. Combination of quant + qual skills (6 credits of "intermediate" or "advanced" courses)
- Courses proposed to satisfy the quantitative and/or qualitative skills package must emphasize methodology with broad applicability.
- Geography 360 does not count as part of the quantitative and/or qualitative skills package (i.e., b, c, or d above)
Skills coursework should be approved in advance by the Ph.D. thesis advisor.
Preliminary or Qualifying Exams (completion advances student to "Dissertator" status)
- General exam
- 8 hours
- Covers one of the breadth areas
- Specific exam
- Devised and graded by individual's committee
- Dissertation proposal
- Proposal must be orally defended before a thesis committee
- The dissertation is a major piece of scholarly work, which demonstrates independent, original research. The dissertation must be completed and successfully defended before the same committee that approved the topic.
- The dissertation defense may take place not earlier than one year after the student advanced to candidacy nor later than five years after reaching candidacy.
Advisor and Committee
- Your Advisor, who is also the chair (or co-chair) of your Committee must be graduate faculty in Geography (or affiliated with Geography).
- Your Committee must have a minimum of 5 members
- Four of the members must be graduate faculty (or former grad faculty up to one year after resignation/retirement).
- At least one must be from outside of Geography.