Sep 27, 2023  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
2023/2024 University Catalog

Geography, Ph.D.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Summary of Curricula Offered

(Major Code: 22061) (SIMS Code: 112901)

General Information

The cooperating faculties of the Department of Geography at San Diego State University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, offer a joint doctoral program in geography. The research interests of the participating faculty members cover a range of geographic problems. The joint doctoral program offers work leading to the Ph.D. in the following systematic areas (Group A) with supporting development of skills in spatial techniques (Group B) as previously listed.

Each student’s program is designed around one of the areas selected from Group A and at least one of the technique emphases selected from Group B. Students must attain the requisite skills in programming, statistics, mathematics, and language(s) other than English necessary to successfully pursue their research goals.

Admission to the Degree Curriculum

Applicants for admission to the doctoral program in geography offered jointly by SDSU and UCSB must meet the general requirements for admission to both universities with classified graduate standing as outlined in the respective current catalogs. There are no inflexible requirements for entrance to graduate study in this program, but a strong background in geography or a closely related field is essential. Admission to the program requires acceptance by the graduate deans and by the participating departments at UCSB and SDSU. Applications from outstanding students in other majors are encouraged, but such students should expect to take additional courses during their first year to improve their background. All students entering the program should have completed a lower and upper division statistics course and the appropriate mathematics and computer science courses for the specialty chosen.

Application. Admission application deadlines for the upcoming fall semester are given at Applicants are not admitted for the spring semester. Review procedures begin in January with admission notification beginning mid-March and continuing through mid-April.

A high undergraduate grade point average, normally 3.25 or better for the last 60 units taken (90 quarter units), and/or a graduate grade point average of 3.50 or better are required for admission. Foreign students whose preparatory education was not in English should receive a minimum Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 600 for the paper-based test and 100 for the Internet-based test.

Satisfaction of the minimum requirements at San Diego State University or the Department of Geography does not guarantee admission to the doctoral program.

Specific Requirements

Residency Requirements. After formal admission to the joint doctoral program, the student must spend at least one academic year in full-time residence on each of the two campuses. The definition of residence must be in accord with the regulations of UCSB and SDSU. Usually, the first year is spent at SDSU, the second at UCSB, and subsequent years at SDSU.

Advising Committee. Upon admission to the program, the joint doctoral graduate advisers of the two institutions will establish an advising committee for each student. The committee will consist of four faculty members, normally two from each campus. In consultation with the student, the committee will develop a course of study, including identifying academic deficiencies and recommending remedies for them. The advising committee will be the official advising group for the student until a joint doctoral committee has been chosen and recommended to the Divisions of Graduate Affairs by the advising committee.

Language Requirement. There is no specific language other than English requirement for this program, but knowledge of a language other than English may be deemed necessary by the advising committee to successfully pursue the student’s research goal.

Course Requirements. Students admitted into the joint doctoral program are expected to take common core courses. At SDSU, these include: GEOG 700 - Seminar in Geographic Research Design  and GEOG 701 - Seminar in Development of Geographic Thought . At UCSB, students are required to register in Geography 200A (Introduction to Geographic Research) and Geography 201 (Colloquium) each quarter. No specified number of courses beyond core courses is required for the doctoral degree. However, students are expected to have a broad understanding of modern geographic principles in addition to a specialist’s competence in their own sub-field. In addition, all doctoral students must have computational skills and knowledge of spatial analysis.

Qualifying Examinations

Joint Doctoral Committee. When a doctoral student makes a definitive selection of the systematic area and technique emphasis as well as the general topic of their dissertation research, she/he will select a dissertation supervisor (major professor), who can be from either department but who normally will be a member of the SDSU faculty, and the members of his/her joint doctoral committee. The joint doctoral committee shall be composed of at least four members (with the rank of Assistant Professor or above), two from the SDSU department and two from the UCSB department. The committee may be augmented as needed by an additional member from outside geography at UCSB or a member of the faculty at SDSU from outside of geography or, when authorized, another university. Chaired by the student’s major professor, the joint doctoral committee shall be responsible for evaluating the dissertation proposal, administering and evaluating the qualifying examination, judging the dissertation, and administering and evaluating the dissertation defense.

Qualifying Examinations. The process of qualifying to write a Ph.D. dissertation has three steps. First, the student must take a written qualifying examination that normally consists of three portions devoted to: (1) the student’s substantive area, (2) the technical or methodological field(s) of interest, and (3) general geographic thought and inquiry. Second, the student prepares a dissertation proposal that describes the dissertation topic, summarizes the relevant background literature, and presents a comprehensive research plan for the dissertation. Third, the student’s doctoral committee will conduct an oral qualifying examination to ensure that the student possesses the full knowledge and competence required to carry out her or his dissertation research. The doctoral committee will assign a pass or fail grade for each examination. Passing the written examination allows the student to proceed to the preparation of the dissertation proposal. The doctoral committee must conditionally approve the dissertation proposal before the student takes the oral qualifying examination. Passing the oral examination signifies that the doctoral dissertation proposal is approved. A student may repeat each examination once.

Upon satisfactory completion of the oral examination and prescribed coursework, the student must apply to the graduate dean at UCSB for advancement to candidacy. Upon payment of the candidacy fee to UCSB, and after approval by the graduate deans of both campuses, students will be notified of their advancement to candidacy by the UCSB graduate dean.

Dissertation. Following the successful completion of all prescribed coursework and qualifying examinations, the major remaining requirement for the Ph.D. degree will be the satisfactory completion of a dissertation consisting of original research of publishable quality carried out under the guidance of the major professor. Approval of the completed dissertation by the joint doctoral committee implies that an organized investigation has been carried out yielding substantial conclusions of interest which expand the frontiers of knowledge and understanding in the discipline. Results must be reported in a manner demonstrating the ability of the candidate to effectively pursue and report independent investigation.

The requirement for completing and filing the dissertation, including the number of copies required, will be decided jointly by the graduate deans and in accordance with regulations of the Divisions of Graduate Affairs.

Final Examination. The final examination, organized and administered by the joint doctoral committee, shall consist of a public dissertation defense, before the joint doctoral committee.

Award of the Degree. The Doctor of Philosophy degree in geography will be awarded jointly by the Regents of the University of California and the Trustees of The California State University in the names of both institutions.

Financial Support. The Department of Geography at SDSU has a number of research and teaching associateships available to support students admitted to the joint doctoral program. All students applying to admission to the joint doctoral program will be considered for financial support.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Summary of Curricula Offered