Master of Arts in Geography
M.A. Program and Procedures
Program and Coursework. The program at the M.A. level continues the general training of the bachelor's degree, but also provides for the development of some concentration in preparation for employment or further study. Upon a student's admission to the department, the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) will appoint an advisor. Early in the first semester (preferably in the first week of classes), the student should meet with this advisor to outline a tentative program of coursework for the degree. Such programs should be solidified by the time of enrollment for the second semester and submitted to the GSC for approval. The student and advisor then continue to discuss and update programs each semester, bearing in mind that any substantive changes must be approved by the GSC. Program sheets are available in the department office and must be filed before the comprehensive oral examination can be scheduled. All candidates must pass an oral examination over their coursework and then submit and successfully defend a thesis in a final oral defense. The course requirements are as follows:
One course in each of the following areas of study:
- Geographic Information Science
- Human Geography
- Physical Geography
- Regional Geography
805 (Introduction to Graduate Study), 806 (Basic Seminar), and 714 (Field Experience). Students wanting to petition for an exemption or alternative to GEOG 714 should examine the characteristics of the course, which are listed below:
- Approximately three weeks of fieldwork in an environment unfamiliar to the student.
- Extensive on-site instruction from at least two professors.
- A course content that includes both human and physical geography along with geography techniques (e.g., interviews and GPS), and that addresses the means to attack and solve geographical problems.
- Stresses a team approach to problem solving.
Any student who wishes to propose alternate work (or document previous experience) as a substitute for 714 should petition the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), and provide a detailed plan for that work. GSC must approve this plan before the work can be substituted for Geog 714. Upon completion of the work, students must prepare a 10-page report summarizing the content of the substituted activities for approval by GSC. One alternative to 714 is to take a similar course at another college or university. Any questions about Field Experience class should be directed to the department's director of graduate studies.
At least three courses in an approved area of concentration. (Courses taken to meet the "general" requirement may not be double counted here.)
Total credit hours:
A minimum of thirty credit hours is required.
The Master's Thesis. Ideally, work on the M.A. thesis should begin during the second full-time semester so that field, laboratory, or library work can be done the following summer. During this second semester, the student should decide on the general area of thesis research and select a member of the faculty who is competent in that area and willing to supervise the thesis and serve as the student's general advisor. This faculty member may be different from the initial advisor. Two additional faculty members must also read and approve the thesis and sign it after a successful defense. One of these two readers may be from outside the department. All committee members must be approved by the GSC and recommended to the graduate school. Submission procedures for the thesis are discussed below.
Comprehensive Examination. An oral, comprehensive examination is scheduled near the end of formal coursework and while the thesis is in preparation (at a minimum the student must be in the thirtieth hour of enrollment). The examining committee is comprised of a minimum of three members of the geography faculty selected by the student and the advisor with the approval of the GSC. Additional faculty members from geography or other departments may attend and participate if they wish. In petitioning for this approval, the student must submit the list of three examiners (plus the proposed date and time) at least three weeks prior to the scheduled examination.
Other Procedures. All master's students who have completed required coursework for their degrees are required to be continuously enrolled until all requirements for the degree are completed. No enrollment is necessary for the summer term unless this is the semester the student will graduate. The Graduate School has established a maximum time limit of seven years between initial graduate enrollment and completion of all degree requirements.
When the thesis has been completed, a thesis defense is scheduled. The student must submit a list of committee members, the proposed date and time of the defense, and the thesis title three weeks prior to the scheduled defense. After a successful defense, both electronic and hardbound copies need to be prepared. Both should include an abstract of no more than 150 words. A hardbound copy with original signatures by the advisor and the other two committee members is required for the department. The KU Libraries recommend the following binders that can bind paper copies of your thesis and additionally offer print-from-electronic file services: 1) Heckman Bindery (http://www.thesisondemand.com/) or 2) Acme Bookbinding (http://www.acmebook.com/bindery/thesis). The student must turn in a receipt showing that arrangements have been made for such work prior to the deadline for graduation set by the Graduate School. It is also customary for the student to provide a bound copy for the advisor.
The thesis must be submitted to the graduate school and UMI Dissertation Publishing electronically using Portable Document Format (PDF). Instructions for this process are available at the KU graduate school website. See also UMI’s website at http://dissertations.umi.com/ku/. In addition to this electronic submittal, a student must submit a paper copy of the title page and an “acceptance page” with original signatures to the College Graduate Studies office in 108 Strong Hall. Formats for both of these are at the graduate school website. A copy of the title page should also be turned in to the Geography office.
Departmental M.A. students desiring to continue at KU for their Ph.D. studies must apply to the Graduate Studies Committee. The application consists of a letter requesting admission accompanied by letters of evaluation from at least two KU faculty members in a position to judge the student's performance at the graduate level; one of these letters must be from the chair of the student's M.A. committee. A student is eligible to apply any time after successfully passing his or her M.A. examination. No more than nine hours of coursework completed within the M.A. program and in excess of the thirty-hour minimal requirement therein will be allowed to count toward Ph.D. requirements.