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Master's in Geography

The Master of Arts in Geography Program has, on average, 20 to 25 students in residence each year. The program requires of a minimum of 30 credit hours (thesis option) or 36 hours (non-thesis option). Students taking the non-thesis option have to complete a comprehensive exam. With a faculty to graduate student ratio of 1:2 within geography, graduate students receive careful mentoring and advising.

All graduate students are required to take Geography 6201 (Geographic Thought and Methods) and Geography 6304 (Geographical Information Systems I). Additional course work taken should be appropriate to the students' interests. Students are encouraged to submit research proposals at the end of their first year to be considered for funding from the Campbell Graduate Student Summer Research Awards.  Learn more about our range of Graduate Courses.

The MA program in Geography trains young professionals in areas of human and physical geography, while making sure that students have a working knowledge of various geospatial techniques. The graduate program has four core areas of focus that reflect the research interests of our faculty:

  • Urban Environment
  • Development and Sustainability
  • Human Migration and Mobility
  • Applied Geospatial Techniques

In addition to these core interests, the geography faculty members also have regional expertise in North America, Latin America, South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and the Arctic.


Careers in Geography

Many of our master's students pursue rewarding careers in governmental and non-governmental institutions and in the private sector. Recent MA students are employed at the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID), the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, the Brookings Institution, the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Geographic, and various local planning agencies. Other graduates from this Department have gone on to pursue PhDs in top graduate programs.


Interdisciplinary & Consortium Classes

Depending on the chosen field of specialization, students are encouraged to take electives from related programs and departments within the University. We have an excellent working relationship with many of the University's other programs, and students may find courses appropriate to their field of study from areas such as: International Affairs, Engineering, Economics, Public Policy, Public Health, Anthropology, American Studies, and Sociology. There is a limit to the number of classes allowed from outside the department, so students are encouraged to consult their advisors when choosing electives.  

GW also has the advantage of being within the Washington, D.C. Consortium of Universities. Therefore, students can take associated courses in other departments at the University of Maryland, American University, Catholic University, Howard University, Georgetown, and George Mason. Again, there is a limit to the number of allowed consortium courses, so please consult your advisor before registering for a particular class.


Fellowships & Assistantships

The Geography Department has a number of graduate student assistantships as well as student "grader" positions. Applications for assistantships/grading positions are evaluated following admission to the program, and awards are made on the basis of academic qualifications. Awards are granted for one year, with the understanding that if assistantships are available and if the student maintains good academic standing, the award will be renewed for a second year.


Application Process

Applicants must first go through the university's general admissions process. The department does not accept direct applications, nor does it keep the required forms. Applicants who meet the Columbian Collge of Arts & Social Sciences' minimum requirements will be forwarded to the department for evaluation.

  • Fall Semester: April 1
  • Spring Semester: October 1 

Please note: the Fall deadline for international students requiring a student visa is January 17; the Spring deadline is September 1. 

Deadline for fellowship consideration for the Fall semester is also January 17. All fellowships begin in the fall semester. 

Applications received and/or completed after the deadline will still be referred to the appropriate department for review by general admissions. Because of enrollment constraints, sometimes we are unable to review applications after the deadline.

GWU Admissions


If you wish to visit the department, or speak to the program advisor, please contact:

Dr. Lisa Benton-Short  (Graduate Advisor)
Associate Professor of Geography
The George Washington University
Department of Geography 
1922 F St, NW
Washington DC 20052

202-994-6188

Geography Students Bring Arctic Adventure back to the Lab

From fieldwork in Alaska to lab work in Foggy Bottom, Assistant Professor of Geography Nikolay Shiklomanov is keeping his students engaged in the long-term effects of climate change on the active and near-surface permafrost layers of the Arctic Circle thanks to a five-year, $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation. Read more.