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

The Department of Geography offers graduate study leading to the Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees.

The Department of Geography has seven specific areas of strength:

  • Geographic Information Science and Geoinformatics
  • Atmospheric and Climate Science
  • Geoanalytics / Urban and Regional Science
  • Ocean Sciences
  • Population and Health
  • Terrestrial Sciences
  • Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences


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 reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing Graduate Record Examination scores; the sum of the verbal and quantitative scores on the exam should exceed 306. 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 Master’s 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: Climate Sciences and Climate Change, 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.