Jul 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography and Geospatial Sciences

1002 Seaton Hall
Fax: 785-532-7310

Department Head:

Charles W. Martin

Graduate program director:

Douglas G. Goodin

Graduate faculty:

*Marcellus M. Caldas, PhD, Michigan State University
*Douglas G. Goodin, PhD, University of Nebraska
*Lisa M.B. Harrington, PhD, University of Oklahoma
*J.M. Shawn Hutchinson, PhD, Kansas State University
*Audrey Joslin, PhD, Texas A&M University
*Abigail Langston, PhD, University of Colorado
*Max Lu, PhD, University of Indiana
*Richard A. Marston, PhD, Emeritus, Oregon State University
*Charles W. Martin, PhD, University of Kansas
*Kendra K. McLauchlan, PhD, University of Minnesota
*Katherine S. Nelson,Ph.D., Vanderbilt University
*Francesco Orsi, PhD, University of Trento
*Bimal K. Paul, PhD, Kent State University
*Jeffrey S. Smith, PhD, Arizona State University
*Arnaud Temme, PhD, Wageningen University, the Netherlands
*Jida Wang, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles

*Denotes graduate faculty that are certified to serve as the major professor for doctoral students.

Ancillary Faculty:

*Charles W. Rice (Agronomy), PhD, University of Kentucky
*David R. Seamon, (Architecture), PhD, Clark University

Emeritus Faculty:

*Kevin Blake, PhD, Arizona State University
*John A. Harrington Jr., PhD, Michigan State University


The Department of Geography graduate program at Kansas State University offers degrees at both the master’s and doctoral levels. Discovery and dissemination of new knowledge are the cornerstones of our mission. Drawing upon the research interests and experience of the faculty, the department’s core areas of geographic inquiry are illustrated in the figure below. Much of the research conducted by faculty and graduate students incorporates more than one of these themes, and we accomplish these research activities in an atmosphere of open inquiry and academic freedom.

  The department’s research mission incorporates:

  • Research into human spatial behavior, regional and place identity, and the relationship between humans and the environment, such as societal adjustments to floods, population redistribution in the Great Plains, cultural, social, and ethnic change in the landscape, and assessments of migration decisions associated with residential satisfaction;
  • Studies that reinforce the land-grant mandate of the institution, including agricultural water management and rural community development, examination of the role on climatic variability on Great Plains ecosystems, and assessment of changes in stream systems and reservoirs related to human activity;
  • Examination of the applicability of new geographic knowledge and the emerging technologies associated with computer cartography, geographic information systems, and remote sensing; and
  • A symbiotic relationship among discovery of new knowledge, graduate and undergraduate education, and improvement in the quality of life through research application to societal issues.

In accomplishing the University’s instructional mission, we stress quality teaching and advising and strive to provide all students with opportunities to develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills characteristic of an educated person. Our contributions include:

  • Providing undergraduate and graduate students with a thorough grounding in the discipline of geography from a liberal arts perspective;
  • Teaching service courses that provide students with an opportunity to meet a number of either general education or college distribution requirements with classes and seminars that deal with international awareness, social and cultural diversity, and human interactions with the physical environment;
  • Assisting in the training of elementary and secondary teachers so that geographical education programs can be strengthened;
  • Preparing students to better appreciate local, regional, and global affairs by promoting attainment of knowledge and modes of thought that will help individuals make meaningful lifetime decisions;
  • Educating students so that they are successful in either further academic study or professional employment;
  • Offering extracurricular learning experiences, including geographically oriented internships and seminars by internationally renowned geographic scholars, that promote academic excellence and cultural diversity; and
  • Using educational approaches that permit the communication and application of basic geographic concepts and techniques that have broad implications for other disciplines.

The benefits of the graduate program at K-State include a balanced curriculum, a broad-based approach to research/scholarship, and a commitment to fieldwork as a component of geographic inquiry. The moderate size of the department fosters an informal, friendly atmosphere with the opportunity to work closely with faculty. Teams of students and faculty frequently collaborate on research and publications. A graduate certificate in GIScience is also available, which can be earned as a stand-alone certificate or in conjunction with a master’s or doctoral degree.

The department is centrally located on campus in Seaton Hall near the libraries, most classrooms, and the Student Union. Departmental resources include the Geographic Information Systems/Spatial Analysis Laboratory (GISSAL) for geospatial analysis, the Remote Sensing Research Lab, with capabilty for collection and analysis of imagery and proximal remote sensing data, the Paleoenvironment Lab, with a full suite of instrumentation for sediment and pollen analysis, The Soil-Geomorphology lab, equipped to characterize pedogenic and geomorphic processes, and the Geospatial Teaching Lab, equipped for interactive and distance teaching across the range of GIScience. Software resources for research and teaching include a campus site license from ESRI and a range of widely used statistical and remote sensing programs.

Admission procedures and requirements

For complete information on how to apply to a geography graduate program, visit the Department of Geography website

Regular admission to the Graduate School and the Department of Geography requires a 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale, three letters of recommendation, submission of Graduate Record Exam scores, official transcripts, and a one- to two-page statement of interests and objectives. Ph.D. applicants should have attained a score of at least 312 (70th percentile) on the combined verbal and quantitative components of the GRE. Admission to the graduate program is contingent upon the willingness of a geography faculty member to serve as the student’s advisor. The Graduate Program Committee, currently consisting of Drs. Douglas Goodin (director), Marcellus Caldas, Abigail Langston, and Jeffrey Smith, administers the admissions process. Ph.D. students who have not completed the master’s degree by the end of their first semester in the Ph.D. program are subject to dismissal. In some cases applicants with less than a 3.0 grade point average may be admitted to the M.A. program on a probationary basis.

For non-degree applicants the Department of Geography requires official transcripts, a one- to two-page statement of interests and objectives, and two letters of recommendation. 

Domestic student applicants may submit applications year-round, but applications should be submitted by January 15 for top consideration of fall semester admission and Graduate Teaching Assistantships funding, or November 1 for spring. The application deadline for international student applicants is December 15 for fall and August 1 for spring. The faculty contact for questions about admission is Dr. Douglas Goodin (dgoodin@ksu.edu).

Financial support

Several positions as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) or Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) are available each year on a competitive basis for nine-month appointments; some support may also be available for summer months. Full-time GTAs receive a stipend and a full waiver of tuition. GRAs, supported from geography faculty research grants, receive a stipend and a tuition reduction from out-of-state to in-state rates. A limited number of competitive Timothy R. Donoghue Scholarships may also be available from the Graduate School to enhance graduate stipends; the Department of Geography applies for these on behalf of qualified students.

Graduate assistantships are generally awarded for two years for M.A. students and three years for Ph.D. students, contingent upon satisfactory performance of the GTA or GRA duties and academic progress, including the achievement of a minimum cumulative 3.33 grade point average in graduate studies at Kansas State University. Doctoral students may be eligible for a fourth year of GTA funding, depending on the needs and resources of the department. For a student to receive a fourth year of GTA funding the student must have demonstrated good departmental citizenship and high quality teaching. The student must also have achieved PhD Candidacy by passing the preliminary examination and presenting an acceptable dissertation proposal before February 1 of the student’s third academic year.

Graduate Teaching Assistant Guidelines:

  • GTA assignments are made by the Department Head in consultation with the Graduate Program Committee and faculty. Tasks generally include teaching lecture or lab sections, or grading and providing other assistance for faculty who are teaching large enrollment classes, such as proctoring exams, developing class resources, and other tasks. Most GTAs hold 9-month .5 FTE appointments; this requires 20 hours/week of GTA work during the fall and spring semesters.

Graduate Research Assistant Guidelines:

  • Hourly break-down:
    • 1/10 = 4 hours/week
    • 4/10 = 16 hours/week
    • 5/10 = 20 hours/week
  • Responsibilities are determined by the principal investigator but generally include data analysis, report and manuscript writing, preparation of graphics for professional presentations, attending meetings on the research project, and completing hardware and software maintenance.

Career opportunities

Career opportunities in geography are diverse and employment prospects after receipt of the master’s or Ph.D. degree are excellent. Employment opportunities include positions in business, government, and education.

Federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, Bureau of the Census, and Bureau of Land Management employ numerous geographers each year. State and local agencies employ geographers with specialties in many areas, including environmental geography, physical geography, health, cultural geography, planning, and spatial techniques.

The geographer’s training in location analysis, social and environmental problems, and a variety of spatial techniques including remote sensing, geographic information systems, and computer cartography, make the geographer particularly valuable in the private sector. Job titles such as geographic information systems manager, environmental planner, market researcher, and risk analyst are just a few of the varied positions held by geographers in business.

Graduates of the department have also achieved success in teaching and/or research positions at public and private educational institutions. PhD graduates of the department, for example, are employed as professors at a variety of universities, including Auburn University, Fort Hays State University, Kansas State University, Macalester College, Morehead State University, Auburn University, University of North Dakota, Saginaw Valley State University, Frostburg State University, and Jacksonville State University.

Faculty-Graduate Student Liaison

The Faculty-Graduate Student Liaison will serve a one-year term, potentially renewable, from July 1 to June 30. The Liaison will be selected by the graduate students, subject to faculty approval. The student officers of the local chapter of Gamma Theta Upsilon, the international geographical honor society, also handle some of the responsibilities listed below, thus the Liaison must coordinate the implementation of these responsibilities with GTU officers.

Responsibilities include:

  • Fostering an atmosphere of collegiality and respect among all departmental citizens.
  • Enhancing the communication of graduate program issues and events among the faculty, department head, graduate program director, and graduate students.
  • Coordinating graduate student involvement in departmental events, such as lunches and receptions for visiting speakers, graduate school fairs, open house, and the alumni board meeting.
  • Attending faculty meetings, except for closed sessions; raising issues of interest to graduate students; and communicating with graduate students about the content of these meetings.

General Requirements

Program Advising

Each new graduate student will be assigned an initial graduate advisor to assist in planning the student’s graduate program. A student may select another faculty member to become the student’s primary advisor at any time, contingent upon the willingness of the faculty member to serve as the advisor. In accordance with Graduate School regulations, a copy of the student’s Program of Study together with the names of the major professor and committee members should be filed with the Graduate School after completion of at least nine graduate hours. The program of study is typically filed in the second semester, for an MA student, and no later than the fourth semester for a doctoral student. (The terms major professor, thesis/report/dissertation supervisor, committee chair, and advisor are used interchangeably.)

The M.A. degree supervisory committee must include a minimum of three faculty members, all of whom may be geographers. The thesis supervisor is typically the graduate advisor for the duration of the program of study. The doctoral supervisory committee must include a minimum of four faculty members, one of whom must be from a department other than geography, i.e., a non-geographer. The Graduate School, based upon a request from the student’s committee chair, must approve any committee members from other universities. All members of a supervisory committee must have Graduate Faculty status at Kansas State University; for a list see: http://www.k-state.edu/grad/gspeopleorg/faculty/facultylist.htm.

Graduate Program Meetings

The program meeting is an evaluation of the student’s past academic experiences and discussion about the student’s program objectives. The planning meetings serve as a foundation from which to plan the program of study, obtain recommendations for course work beyond that required in the program of study, and discuss progress toward the degree and completion of the report, thesis, or dissertation. Their first semester meeting will be with the student, advisor, and any other faculty invited by the advisor. During each semester thereafter the program meeting will include the faculty on the supervisory committee. Graduate students are also required to submit an annual progress report.

Transfer Credits

The Geography Department may accept up to a maximum of ten credit hours of graduate credit from another university. Only courses that logically fit the student’s program of study will be accepted, based on a majority vote of the supervisory committee.

Seminars in Geography

For purposes of program requirements the following courses in geography are considered graduate level seminars. This list is subject to change. Please see your advisor for information about seminars that are likely to be offered during your semesters of residence. Seminar in Regional Geography (680), Topics in Remote Sensing (711), World Population Patterns (715), Geography of Land Use (720), Geography of Water Resources (725), World Agricultural Systems (730), Topics in Climatology (735), Urban Geography (750), Human Impact on the Environment (760), Geography of Natural Hazards (765), Perception of the Environment (770), Cultural Geography (780), Seminar in Cultural-Economic Geography (790), Rural Population Geography (815), History and Philosophy of Geography (820), Rural Geography (830), Rural Economic Development (835), Advanced Environmental Geography (840), Rural Cultural Geography of the U.S. (855), Rural Medical Geography (865), Western Landscapes (870), Spatial Data Analysis and Modeling (880), Advanced Spatial Analysis Techniques (890), Methods, Theory, and Models in Geography (900).

Grade Requirements

Graduate School regulations require students to 1) have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher on graduate course work and on course work in the Program of Study, 2) meet all the requirements of the Graduate School, the student’s academic program area, and the student’s supervisory committee, and 3) be enrolled during the semester in which the degree requirements are completed. The Department of Geography requires all graduate students receiving funding as a GTA or GRA to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.33 in coursework at Kansas State University.

Credit/No Credit Grading
Graduate School regulations pertaining to the taking of courses by graduate students on a credit/no credit basis are highly restrictive. In the Geography Department only the Master’s Report (GEOG 898), the Master’s Thesis (GEOG 899), and the Ph.D. Research in Geography (GEOG 999), may be taken on a credit/no credit basis. Very few courses in other departments have been similarly designated for credit/no status for graduate credit; most of the 600 and 700 level courses shown in the course schedule that are available for credit/no credit grading are so indicated only in reference to undergraduate credit. In any case, no more than three hours of such credit (excluding the Report, Thesis, or Dissertation) may appear on the program of study. Independently of the program of study, additional courses may be taken on a credit/no credit basis with the approval of the professor offering the course. These courses may not be applied toward a degree.

Only courses beyond those listed on the program of study may be taken on A/PASS/F basis with the approval of the major professor and the professor offering the course. These courses may not be applied toward the requirements for an MA or Ph.D. degree.

Course Load

Students should choose their course load for any given semester in consultation with their advisor. All geography graduate students in residence are required to enroll in GEOG 800 (Graduate Seminar in Geography) each semester. Graduate Teaching and Research Assistants are required by the Graduate School to carry a minimum program of 6 credit hours per semester, and those holding a 5/10 time assistantship may not take more than 10 credit hours of course work during each semester. The Geography Department requires that GTAs take at least six credit hours each semester in courses that are either a part of, or relevant to, the student’s program of study.

Independent Study

Graduate School regulations place a limit of 3 credit hours of independent study which may be counted as part of the hours required for the MA and 6 credit hours for the Ph.D. degree excluding, however, the thesis, dissertation, or report hours. A student’s advisor may petition the Graduate School for an exception to these limits.

Visiting Scholars

In order to broaden the graduate students’ experience with various specialties in geography, and various methodological outlooks, the Department invites four or more geographers a year to visit our community. Ordinarily, such a visit will include a public lecture, a departmental seminar, a student luncheon, and an informal evening gathering often at a faculty member’s home. Graduate students in residence are expected to attend all departmental speaker events as part of their enrollment in GEOG 800 (Graduate Seminar in Geography). In the event an unavoidable conflict arises regarding attendance at any of the scheduled events, the student should give prior notice to the advisor.

Thesis and Dissertation Proposals

Students will prepare a thesis or dissertation under the direction of a supervising faculty member. The supervisor will certify that a written proposal is acceptable for presentation to the assembled departmental faculty and graduate students. Students in the M.A. thesis option must present a thesis proposal as part of Geographic Research Methods (GEOG 821). In addition, students pursuing the non-thesis option must present a research proposal in Geographic Research Methods. The student’s desire to pursue the thesis or non-thesis option must be made known to the faculty before the presentation. Following the presentation, thesis supervisory committee will discuss with the student the necessary proposal revisions, if any, and appropriate next steps in the research. Prior to the preliminary examination, Ph.D. students will complete a written dissertation proposal and publicly present it to the supervisory committee, other faculty, and other students. An oral presentation of the proposal will be conducted before the supervisory committee, other faculty, and students.

As regular faculty carry nine-month appointments (mid-August through mid-May), there should be no expectations on the part of the student that members of the faculty will be available during the summer term for presentation of proposals, preliminary exams (either oral or written), final oral exams, or thesis or dissertation defenses. Participation in such activities is voluntary and at the discretion of individual professors.

As a thesis or dissertation topic is developed, the student should consult closely with and seek approval from the major professor. The members of the graduate supervisory committee should be selected based on consultation with the major professor and the department head. The thesis or dissertation supervisor will assume the duties of major professor (advisor) for the remainder of the student’s program. Students should work with their advisor to establish a complete committee. It is the student’s responsibility to inquire as to whether or not a faculty member is interested in serving on the committee.

Enrollment During Final Term

Graduate School regulations specify that students must be enrolled for the term in which their degree requirements are completed. This requirement may be met by enrolling in one additional hour of either Geography 898, 899 or 999 during the term the student expects to receive his or her degree. This applies even for students who leave campus before the end of the term. Note, however, that the Ph.D. Candidate must maintain continuous enrollment (at least 1 hour each spring and fall semester) from the completion of the preliminary exam until the Graduate School accepts the dissertation. A student who misses the normal deadlines for graduation within a term but who completes all the requirements before the end of that term is not required to enroll for a subsequent term.

Inactive Status

A student not yet admitted to candidacy will be considered inactive if he or she has not enrolled for two consecutive years. Once in inactive status a student must reapply to (and be accepted into) a graduate program before being considered for re-entry by the Graduate School. In order to be allowed to resume graduate studies, the student must meet all requirements for entry in force at the time of the new application. Inactive students who seek to regain active status will not, however, be required to recreate materials submitted with their original applications and held in their files by the Graduate School. If allowed to regain active status, the formerly inactive student will be subject to all requirements in force in the graduate program and in the Graduate School at the time the student returns to active status.