Graduate Admissions Tips

Assuming that you have a decent undergraduate GPA (above 3.3), there are four steps you can take to enhance the likelihood of getting admitted to our department.

  1. Contact faculty before applying. You are required to contact faculty with whom you are interested in working to ascertain whether your research interests are compatible and whether they will be taking on new students. However, do not mistake their encouragement of your application as a signal that you will definitely be accepted.
  2. Write a focused Statement of  Purpose. Tell us those aspects of your background that are relevant to a graduate career in Geography and specifically, tell us what research questions interest you, what background you have in those interests, and where you would like to do your research.  The SOP is also a vehicle for you to demonstrate your articulate writing skills. Focus on your specific research interests, not on your generic fascination with the environment, at what age you discovered maps, the beauty of the world or society, or the glories of Geography. Our faculty are most interested in what you hope to do as a graduate student. You must include potential faculty advisor’s names in your SOP.
  3. Relate your interests to the interests  of our faculty. Go to the faculty link on the department web page and learn about the research interests of our faculty.  No matter how high your GREs or how brilliant your statement of purpose, you will not be admitted unless at least one faculty member agrees to be the chair of your committee at least preliminarily, until you officially choose an actual advisor. Faculty look for students whose research interests match their own.  Applicants whose interests are alien to those of the faculty will not be admitted.
  4. Get good GREs. The department tends to favor applicants with a GRE of 1100+ (old scale) and 300+ (new scale). However a score slightly lower than this will be accepted if the SOP is a good match for the potential advisor.  If you are an international applicant whose native language is not English, we need to see satisfactory TOEFL scores – you cannot be admitted without meeting the minimum scores on this test.  If your native language is English and you get substandard GREs, the University may not admit you.