Graduate Admissions

The Department of Geography offers graduate programs leading to degrees in the Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS), and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The department’s graduate programs emphasize Human Geography, Physical Geography, and Geographic Information Science. The master’s program may be a more generalized study of cultural, physical, or environmental geography. The PhD program closely follows the research interests of the geography faculty.

How to Apply

The Department of Geography accepts applications into the master’s and doctoral programs for Fall term admission only. Applications should be completed and all materials should arrive by December 10 in order to be considered for the following Fall term. Decisions about funding are made at the same time as admission.

Students must be admitted to the the Division of Graduate Studies at the University of Oregon, in addition to the Department of Geography. To apply to the program, complete the online application.

Note: We do not require GRE scores for application or admission to our programs.

While the department takes into consideration all application materials, it looks closest at the statement of purpose and letters of recommendation. Take time to carefully consider what you write and whom you ask to write your letters. It is advisable to provide your letter-writers with your statement of purpose in order that they can see specifically what your goals are for the program.

Required Materials

Statement of purpose: A 2-3 page statement introducing yourself, discussing your research interests, and explaining how our department will help you best meet your career goals. The statement should combine your intellectual autobiography, relevant experiences, and your vision of what you will do in our program and subsequent to your graduate studies. This statement is the most valuable opportunity to present and distinguish yourself as a qualified individual; thoughtful and carefully written statements provide a better introduction than a laundry list of accomplishments or traits. We are interested in what kind of a geographer you are or want to be, and why it makes sense for you to undertake graduate work with us. You should also indicate faculty whose research interests are aligned with yours and with whom you would like to work. Applications that signal a type or types of specialization within the discipline will be more effective than sweeping statements that affirm that all of geography is of interest or that too broadly stake out potential courses of study. Please note that department policy only allows formal declaration of a primary advisor after the first term of enrollment. While it is important to identify potential collaborations as part of the application process, we believe that a period of mutual familiarization enhances optimal committee selection. Prospective students are encouraged to be in communication with potential advisors prior to submitting your application and to visit the department, if possible, but please be aware that this is supplemental to rather than a substitute for the formal application process and the decision of the Graduate Admissions Committee.

Three letters of recommendation: Letters of recommendation should be requested from three (3) persons who best know your academic qualifications. Your referees should know you and your research interests and be able to speak to how they have worked with you in the past and your potential for success within, and contributions to, our program. Letters are submitted directly by the letter writers via the Gradweb online application. The Gradweb system will send requests directly to the referees that you specify in your application. This will include instructions for uploading letters to your application file.

Online application form and fee: The online application requires a $70 application fee for domestic applications or a $90 application fee for international applicants. Payment options include Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or personal check (e-check). In special circumstances, application fees can be waived.

Transcripts: The department requires unofficial transcripts from all institutions in which you took college-level courses. Please scan and submit with your application. The Office of Admissions requires official transcripts from all institutions where you received a bachelor’s degree and all subsequent degrees. Transcripts must show degrees awarded. Official transcripts should be sent to the Office of the Registrar following the instructions on this page.

Additional Requirements for International Students

Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Test System (IELTS) result: Students must have taken one of these tests within 5 years of the application date. The Department of Geography requires a minimum score of 575 (paper) or 88 (Internet-based) for the TOEFL. The minimum overall band score on the academic module of the IELTS is 7.0. For information about the TOEFL exam visit their website For information about the IELTS see

Financial statement: All international students applying for graduate admission at the University of Oregon are required to complete a Supplementary Application and Financial Statement for International Students. Upon request by the UO Admissions Office, the student may need to supply a bank statement, which is documented proof of what the student reports on the financial statement. Proof can be in the form of a letter from the student’s/parents’/sponsor’s bank, a letter awarding a scholarship or government loan, an affidavit of support (I-134). Upon verification of the student’s financial ability to pay for the educational and living experiences (including through Departmental funding), the UO will issue a Certificate of Eligibility (I-20), which is required in order for a student to apply for a visa. Send the Supplementary Application and Financial Statement to the Office of Admissions, 240 Oregon Hall, 1217 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1217.

Other Resources

FAQs for Graduate Student Applicants

Do I need to have a masters to apply for the PhD program?
No, you do not need a masters to be admitted to the PhD program in Geography at the University of Oregon. Admitted PhD students without a Master’s degree will first complete the Master’s degree requirements (link to page). During the fall of the student’s second year in the program, the student will submit a brief continuation application, namely a 1-2 page brief statement describing their PhD plans and two letters of support from Geography department faculty (including one willing to serve as a doctoral advisor). With successful submission of this package, students will be issued a Letter of Continuation stating they are eligible to continue in the PhD program contingent on completion of all Master’s requirements.

What if I decide after arriving at UO that I would like to continue on to a PhD?
Students admitted to the Master’s program, but decide after starting at UO that they would like to continue to a PhD, do not need to apply to the PhD program and may follow the same process described above.  The continuation application will be processed as described above.

Do I need to apply separately to receive departmental funding?
No. Departmental funding decisions are made during the same admissions process.

Do I need to have identified a prospective advisor prior to applying?
Prospective students are encouraged to research department faculty and reach out to potential advisor(s) ahead of the application process to determine whether there is an advisor whose interests sufficiently match the student’s interests. However, prior interaction with a potential advisor is not required and is supplemental to the formal application and admission process.

Apply to our Graduate Program

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