Jun 17, 2024  
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog 
2024-2025 Graduate Catalog

Geography and Environmental Science and Policy, Ph.D.

College of Arts and Sciences  
Departments: School of Geosciences 


The Ph.D. degree in Geography and Environmental Science and Policy (GEP) is an interdisciplinary program, and its curriculum is designed around critical areas of geography and the environment. The GEP Program is designed to integrate fully the strengths of the Geography and the Environmental Science and Policy (ESP) Programs in the School of Geosciences (SGS) at the USF. Emphasis is placed on providing theoretical rigor and methodological skills, thereby enabling students to make significant and original research and policy contributions in an integrated interdisciplinary environment. In addition, the degree has a very strong applied component emphasizing working on solutions to real-world geographical and environmental problems. Through a commitment to quality interdisciplinary teaching, combined with research and hands-on learning opportunities, the GEP Doctoral Program in the SGS is dedicated to ensuring that students are well prepared for careers in academics, and private and public sectors.

Major Research Areas:
Geography, Environmental Science and Policy

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major,
listed below.

  • A Master’s degree, or its equivalent, from an approved accredited university with preparation in geography, environmental science and policy, or a related discipline. Highly qualified applicants can enter directly into the doctoral program from a Bachelor’s degree but must complete a minimum of 90 hours prior to obtaining the Ph.D., including the required coursework in either the Geography or Environmental Science and Policy Master’s majors.
  • GPA at least 3.20 in upper division undergraduate and graduate credits
  • A letter of intent. The letter should outline the applicant’s specific academic interests and goals and identify faculty members whose interests align with that of the applicant.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Arrange to have letters of recommendation sent to the Office of Graduate Admissions online prior to the application deadline. Prospective students should solicit the letters of recommendation from sources who are familiar with the applicant’s academic/work history and performance. Signatures and letterheads are required for letters of recommendation.

Students Upgrading into the Doctoral Degree from the Master’s Degree
After completing a minimum of one semester of course work, an admitted master’s student may apply for the doctoral degree with the consent of his/her major professor (must be the major professor and not simply the initial advisor). When the student applies to the Ph.D. degree, the application is then reviewed by the Graduate Committee via the established application process, and recommendations are made regarding admission to the major and funding.

Curriculum Requirements

Total Minimum Hours:

60 Credit Hours Post-Master’s

90 Credit Hours Post-Bachelor’s


Post-Master’s (60 minimum hours)

  • Core Requirements - 6 Credit Hours
  • Additional Required Courses - 6 Credit Hours
  • Electives - 36 Credit Hours (Post-Master’s) / 66 Credit Hours (Post-Bachelor’s)
  • Dissertation – 12 hours

Core Requirements (6 Credit Hours)

Additional Required Courses (6 Credit Hours)

Electives (36 Credit Hours)

36 credits (post-Master’s); 66 credits (post-Bachelor’s)

Students complete 36 (post-master’s) or 66 (post-bachelor’s) credit hours in the form of elective coursework related to their area of interest. A Minimum of nine (9) structured credit hours is required for students with a master’s degree. Students entering the Ph.D. who have not completed a Master’s Degree in either Geography or Environmental Science and Policy should expect to complete coursework equivalent to the requirements of one of those Masters, in addition to these nine (9) minimum structured credit hours. The student’s Major Professor and Faculty Supervisory Committee will advise students on the selection of the proper mix of coursework and other study to support the agreed upon dissertation research. Students can include coursework from a variety of departments to support the elective requirements, and students may choose to complete a Graduate Certificate in a particular field, from SGS or another department, as part of their studies.

Doctoral Qualifying Exam

As soon as the substantial majority of the course work is completed, the student must pass a written qualifying examination covering the subject matter in the major and related fields. This examination may be supplemented by an oral examination.

Dissertation and Directed Research (12 Credit Hours)

Directed Research hours shall not exceed 50% of the doctoral dissertation hour requirement. Directed research hours cannot retroactively be converted to dissertation hours.

Other Requirements and Information:


When a student is admitted to the Major, the student, with the assistance of the Graduate Director, will have an initial advisor based upon mutual interests of the student and faculty member. The role of the advisor is to guide the student in selecting appropriate coursework for his/her program of study and to work with the student in developing research ideas and an eventual dissertation topic. In consultation with his/her advisor, the student will select a committee that will serve not only as the student’s dissertation committee, but as the qualifying exam committee as well (See procedures for Academic Progress for SGS Ph.D. students).