UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara


Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
1832 Ellison Hall
Telephone: (805) 893-3663

Undergraduate matters: (805) 893-4929 Email: ugrad_adv@geog.ucsb.edu
Graduate matters: (805) 893-4944 E-mail: grad_assistant@geog.ucsb.edu

Website: www.geog.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Stuart Sweeney

Graduate Program

In addition to departmental requirements, candidates for graduate degrees must meet university degree requirements found in the “Graduate Education” section of the UCSB online catalog.

The Department of Geography offers research-focused graduate training with a focus on the Ph.D. degree in a wide selection of research specializations, including:

Earth system science (atmospheric, hydrologic, oceanic, and terrestrial systems and their interactions);

Human Geography: Human spatial behavior and cognition; spatial decision-making and decision support; urban and regional modeling, planning, and policy; human movement and transportation systems; resource and environmental management; population; human-environment relations; health geography.

Modeling, Measurement, and Computation: Techniques including analysis, statistics, and computation that are particularly well-suited to the modeling of the complex geographic phenomena. Important sub-areas include numerical modeling, spatial statistics, remote sensing, computational modeling and database systems (including geographic information systems), and cartography and visualization.


In addition to the university requirements for admission for graduate study described in the “Graduate Education” section of the UCSB online catalog, the department requires an undergraduate grade-point average of 3.25 or higher, particularly during the last two years of study. An undergraduate degree in geography is not required, and many of our students do not have prior degrees in geography. Applicants with strong academic backgrounds in any related field of study are encouraged to apply. All applicants are required to submit verbal, quantitative, and analytical Graduate Record Examination scores; the sum of the verbal and quantitative scores on the exam should exceed 1100 or the equivalent value under the new GRE scoring system. Some undergraduate preparation in mathematics, statistics, and computer programming is encouraged.

Students applying to the department with only an undergraduate degree are encouraged to apply to the M.A./Ph.D. program if the Ph.D. is their final degree objective. Upon completion of the M.A. thesis, the student’s thesis committee chair will consult with the student’s committee and submit a recommendation to the department Graduate Committee regarding admission to the Ph.D. program. Students who have been enrolled in the M.A./Ph.D. program for at least three regular academic quarters may file a petition to skip the M.A. and go directly into the Ph.D. program. The petition requires the approval of the student’s committee and the Graduate Advisor. Students who currently hold a masters degree in a related field of study should apply directly to the Ph.D. program.

Applications are accepted for Fall only; the application deadline is December 15.

Master of Arts – Geography (Requirements - PDF)

Doctor of Philosophy – Geography (Requirements - PDF)

Optional Interdisciplinary Emphases

Students pursuing a doctoral degree in Geography may petition to add the following Optional Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Emphases: Cognitive Science, Demography, Environment and Society, Global Studies, Information Technology and Society, Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences.
Requirement sheets for each emphasis may be found on this page.

UCSB/San Diego State University Joint Ph.D. Program

The Departments of Geography at San Diego State University (SDSU) and UCSB have joined resources to offer a distinctive doctoral program. It brings together the faculties and facilities of two outstanding institutions. Students will spend a minimum of one year on each campus and will normally finish their work at SDSU. The joint program complements but does not duplicate the existing Ph.D. program at UCSB, which functions separately from the joint doctoral program. Students interested in applying to the Joint Doctoral Program should contact the program coordinator at SDSU.