The doctoral program generally includes sixty hours of work beyond the M.A. of which eighteen to thirty hours will be satisfied by the dissertation. No specific credit-hour figure can be set for a doctoral degree because each program is designed on an individual basis. Of greater importance is the student's demonstrated competence in the selected area(s) of specialization. The program is comprised of formal courses, seminars, individual research and reading, and preparation of a dissertation. Although no "outside minor" is formally required of candidates, the department favors study in auxiliary departments.

Programs are planned with the advisor and then approved by the GSC. Such approval must be secured at latest by the second month of the second semester of study. Changes in the approved program can be initiated by the student at any time but must be approved by the advisor and the GSC. Program sheets are available in the department office and must be filed before the comprehensive examination can be scheduled.

Required Courses.

Geog 805 (History of Geographic Thought).
 Two-day (non-credit) field trip before classes begin in the fall semester.
 Geog 980 (Seminar in Geography: Colloquium) for 1 credit hour during each of the first two semesters of residence at KU.
 Non-credit 8-hour Responsible Scholarship session held just before classes start in the spring semester.


Major Areas of Study.

The capabilities and interests of the department fall into four areas of study: geographic information science, physical, human, and regional geography. A student concentrating within one of these divisions will develop a program in consultation with professors in that area. This program usually will include work in other aspects of geography and related disciplines. A student also may develop a second concentration if he or she takes at least nine hours in that specialty and includes a professor from that second area on the committee for the comprehensive examination. This second area of concentration may lie outside of geography.

Major Areas of Study for the Ph.D. in Geography

I. Geographic Information Science




Geographic Information Systems

Egbert, Li, Lei

Remote Sensing

Braaten, Brunsell, Egbert, Lei

II. Physical Geography



Brown, W. Johnson


Braaten, Brunsell, Tucker, van der Veen, Mechem, Rahn


W. Johnson, Hirmas



III. Human Geography



Herlihy, Cheong, O'Lear, Shortridge, Woods, J. Johnson, Diener, Chikanda


Herlihy, Shortridge


Diener, O'Lear, Warf

Regional Development

Brown, Cheong, Warf



IV. Regional Geography




East Asia


Latin America

Brown, Herlihy

Russia and East Europe


United States



J. Johnson

The level of competence attained in the major study should be such that the graduate can teach upper-level seminars and conduct research in that area. If a second area of concentration is chosen, it is often complementary to the first.  Here the graduate is expected to have knowledge sufficient to teach undergraduate courses at the introductory and intermediate levels, even if teaching is not the ultimate career objective.

In addition to the area(s) of specialization, the candidate is expected to have a broad background in general geography as well as knowledge of those research skills most appropriate to the areas of specialization.  This background is primarily gained through coursework requirements in the bachelor's and master's degree programs, which are prerequisites for Ph.D. work.

2019 GPRM-AAG Annual Meeting