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Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Admissions and Coursework in
Geography & Environmental Studies at Texas State University


What graduate programs in Geography are offered at Texas State University?
The Department of Geography at Texas State University offers three programs at the doctoral level and two programs at the master’s level. The three Ph.D. Programs are: the Ph.D. in Geography, the Ph.D. in Geographic Education, and the Ph.D. in Geographic Information Science. The two master’s programs are the Master of Science (M.S.) and the Master of Applied Geography (M.A.Geo.).

Admission Requirements

In general, what application materials are required to be considered for admission to graduate studies in Geography at Texas State University?

For all programs, the admission documents include:
1. Application form.
2. Application fee.
3. Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
4. Statement of Purpose
5. Copy of your CV/Resume
6. Three letters of Reference

Anyone who wishes to be considered for a graduate assistantship must also submit a completed graduate assistantship application form.

Additional Considerations for International Students


General Information

Admission Requirements

Coursework for the Ph.D.

  • The Ph.D. requires a minimum of 31 hours of course work, along with a minimum of 15 dissertation hours.

  • All Ph.D. students must complete GEO 7302 (Nature and Philosophy of Geography), GEO 7300 (Research Design), and GEO 7301 (Quantitative Methods) or GEO 7304 (Qualitative Methods) The option to take GEO 7301 or 7304 is determined by the program and research advisor. Note that all GIScience Ph.D. students must take GEO 7301.

  • GEO 7302 and GEO 7304 are offered each Fall semester, and GEO 7300 and 7301 are offered every Spring semester. Full-time students are expected to take these courses during their first year in residence, though you should consult with your research advisor to determine the best sequence.

  • The Graduate Program Coordinator can request to the Dean of the Graduate College that transfer credits from other universities be accepted toward your 31-hour course work requirement. To be considered for transfer credit, such courses must be recent, doctoral-level courses with grades of A or B and may not have been used toward completing requirements for another degree.

The Graduate Program Coordinator will not make such requests without the approval of the research advisor.

  • Ordinarily, up to two courses (6 credit hours) can be transferred from other universities. Requests to transfer in more than two courses require special justification.

Research Advising and Graduate Committee Selection

  • Incoming full-time students must declare their research advisor by the end of the first semester in the program. Part-time students must do so at the end of the first year.

  • Once you have identified a potential research advisor, meet with that person, and secure his or her willingness to serve as your research advisor. Once the advisor has expressed his or her
    willingness to serve, you must fill out the Advisor form. The Advisor form must be signed by the student, the research advisor, the Graduate Program Coordinator, and the Department Chair and is then sent to the Dean of the Graduate College for approval. Please contact the Graduate Staff Advisor, Allison Glass-Smith, and she will provide you with the appropriate form.

  • The minimum number of committee members is four, including the research advisor. At least three committee members must be members of the Ph.D. Graduate Faculty in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, and at least one must be outside the department. A list of Ph.D. Graduate Faculty can be found here:

  • Yes, with approval of the Graduate Program Coordinator, Department Chair, and Graduate College. An external committee member living outside the local Austin-San Marcos-San Antonio area must sign a form stating that he or she understands that the University is not responsible for his or her expenses associated with committee service.

  • The outside committee member must hold a Ph.D. and must hold credentials equivalent to those held by members of the Ph.D. Graduate Faculty in the Department.


GEO 5300 and GEO 7300 are offered in the spring semester. These courses are to be taken during the spring semester immediately following completion of GEO 5309.

GEO 5304 is offered each fall semester and GEO 5301 is offered each spring semester.



Graduate Student Life

  • There are approximately 50 master’s students and 50 Ph.D. students active in the program.

  • Our students come from throughout Texas, across the United States, and many other countries including Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, Ghana, India, Iran, Italy, Mexico, Nepal, and Nigeria

  • The Department has a long-standing commitment to women and minority students. About 55% of our students are women, and more than 20% are non-Caucasian. By point of contrast, the membership of the Association of American Geographers (AAG) membership is about 32% female and 9% non-Caucasian. The Department maintains and aggressively promotes toleration and non-discrimination based on race, color, religion, gender, or sexual orientation.

  • The Department sponsors several department-wide activities each year. The premier event of the year is the Alumni Reunion and Student Celebration, held each April. In addition, numerous social activities are sponsored by student organizations and by individual students acting on their own initiative.

  • The Graduate Student Forum is a group for all master's and Ph.D. students in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Texas State University. It's a social group and an
    open forum to meet others, exchange ideas and research topics, get advice on navigating grad school, organize outings, and support each other through the degree process.
    Each year, graduate students through the Graduate Forum elect one master’s and one Ph.D. student to represent the graduate students. The representatives are voting members of the Graduate Committee, which advises the full faculty on all matters regarding graduate program policy. The representatives may attend faculty meetings as non-voting representatives, except for personnel matters.

  • In addition to the Graduate Student Forum, the Department recognizes seven other student organizations:
    Bobcat Stream Team (BST)
    Purpose: Bobcat Stream Team (BST) is an interdisciplinary, registered student organization at Texas State University, founded in August 2016. BST offers training in water quality monitoring to help protect and maintain the health of Texas waterways, including those in the Texas State University and San Marcos community. BST also advance student interest in watershed awareness by educational outreach about the importance of water resource protection, provide students with hands-on professional experience that may further their future careers, and help students build necessary professional skills such as organization, leadership, teamwork and communication.

    Membership: BST is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields.

    Activities: BST provides free Water Quality Citizen Scientist Trainings, promotes environmental stewardship, attends outreach and educational events, and hosts social events, professional development workshops, guest speakers, kayak trips, and more!
    Contact Information: Organizational Email:

    Gamma Theta Upsilon (GTU)
    Purpose: GTU is the Geography Honor Society. The purpose of GTU is to further professional interest in geography by affording a common organization for those interested in the field; to strengthen student and professional training through academic experiences in addition to those of the classroom and laboratory; to advance the status of Geography as a cultural and practical discipline for study and investigation; to encourage student research of high quality, and to promote an outlet for publication; to create and administer funds for furthering graduate study and/or research in the field of Geography.

    Membership: Academic standards are a must to enter this fraternity. Members are required to have a 3.0 GPA or better for all course work in last 60 hours and a 3.0 GPA or greater in at least nine (9) hours of Geography and Planning courses. Chapter dues of $10.

    Activities: Our TXST chapter sponsors speakers, campus activities, field trips, social events, and participates in service functions. Members also have the opportunity to participate in numerous volunteer activities. GTU provides a network where you can become better acquainted with other geography students and can meet and talk with geography faculty. As a GTU member you can improve your expertise in the field of geography by learning things not normally dealt with in the classroom. As being a part of an academic honor society, it is evidence of your dedication and competency in your career field. Some employers give hiring preference to honor society members!
    Contact Information:

    Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO)
    Purpose: The ECO mission is to promote sustainability in all forms and to focus on minimizing local environmental degradation as best we can. Through education on sustainable practices, activism, community service, as well as setting examples for others to see, we are confident that our presence in San Marcos will bring about positive changes that we at ECO hope to see.

    Membership: ECO is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields. Members must pay a club fee of $15.

    Activities: ECO participates in numerous activities divided in three main categories: Educational, Service, and Proposals for Change. They also try to have a wide range of social events from hikes to potlucks, as well as one camping trip a year.

    Supporting Women in Geography (SWIG)
    Purpose: S.W.I.G.’s goal is to promote the participation and aid in the success of women in the discipline of geography. However, we believe the best way to meet this goal is to provide professional and personal support to everyone. Thus, we offer regular intellectual, professional, and social opportunities.

    Membership: SWIG is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields. We welcome all individuals, especially men and undergraduates. Annual dues are $5.

    Activities: Networking opportunities, volunteerism, social interactions, and professional/educational development workshops.

    Student Urban Planning Organization (SUPO)
    Purpose: The mission of the TXST Student Urban Planning Organization is to expand the academic and field-work knowledge of all students ordained within the Department of Geography by utilizing tenured wisdom presented by guest lecturers, faculty, and noted alumni as well as applying skill and knowledge to semester projects, field work, and encouraged trips.

    Membership: SPO is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields.

    Activities: SPO promotes interaction and professional development though regular meetings, hosting speakers, field trips, and community service.

    Student Organization for Geographic Information Science (SOGIS)
    Purpose: To promote awareness of the importance, usefulness, and versatility of GIS, to provide GIS services to the campus and local communities for a mutual benefit, to provide opportunities for acquiring professional contacts for organization members, and to provide a forum for members to showcase their work and receive objective feedback from peers and advisors.

    Membership: SOGIS is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields. Members are required to attend at least 2 meetings per semester.

    Activities: SOGIS promotes GIS geography, networks with GIS professionals in a wide range of fields, shares internship and job opportunities on various forums, and designs projects. SOGIS organizes and hosts TXST GIS Day annually in November.

    Contact Information:

    Geology Club
    Purpose: The mission of the TXST Geology club is to provide a safe place for students to share their passion for geology.
    Membership: Geology Club is open to all Geography students and faculty and those in related fields.

    Activities: The Geology Club provides tutoring for geology courses, arranges guest speakers, and organizes geology activities involving exploring, caving, hiking, or kayaking in Texas.

    Each of these organizations maintains a website that is linked to the main Department website.

  • The Department strongly encourages students to become involved in the Association of American Geographers, National Council for Geographic Education, Applied Geography Conference, American Planning Association, regional affiliates of these organizations, and other professional associations. Students are strongly encouraged to present papers and posters at meetings of these organizations. Travel support is provided to students in residence who present papers and posters at these meetings.

The San Marcos Community

  • San Marcos is located about 30 miles southwest of Austin and 50 miles northeast of San Antonio, Texas.

  • The average temperature for January is a high of 58 F (14 C) and low of 38 F (3 C); for July, a high of 96 F (36 C) and low of 75 F (24 C).

  • Although Texas’ summer temperatures are hot, virtually every building in Texas is comfortably air-conditioned. Humidity is low relative to the eastern half of the United States. The spring-fed San Marcos River is a popular recreation attraction. The spring-fed waters of the river are at a constant temperature of 72 F (22 C) year-round. Many students use the river for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and tubing throughout the year.

  • Outdoor recreational activities including golf, tennis, swimming, bicycling, camping, hiking, running, tubing, and fishing are available throughout the region and can be undertaken year-round.
    San Marcos has the unique advantage of being located between the two major cultural centers of Texas—Austin and San Antonio. Austin, the state capital, is the “Live Music Capital of the World” and boasts numerous clubs with nationally known and local musicians performing jazz, country, blues, R&B, and many other genres of music. San Antonio, Texas’ oldest city, is the home of the Alamo and the Institute for Texas Cultures.