Jun 28, 2022  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography (Ph.D.)

Program objectives

The Geography  Ph.D. at Kansas State University is designed to develop and enhance a student’s knowledge and ability to conduct original independent research that makes a scholarly contribution to the student’s areas of specialization. The Ph.D. program fosters:

  • an understanding of scientific inquiry
  • knowledge of the structure of the geographic discipline, its history, issues, methods, and trends;
  • proficiency in appropriate analytical and technical skills; and
  • competency in communicating the results of research

Doctoral degree requirements

Applicants to the Ph.D. program are expected to have earned a master’s degree with a thesis or equivalent. Students who have not completed a master’s degree by the end of their first semester in the Ph.D. program will be subject to dismissal. Students without a previous degree in geography are encouraged to apply. Students without previous course work in human geography, physical geography, and spatial techniques, may, however, be required to add hours to their program of study. If a student has not previously taken a course in the history and philosophy of geography, the student will be required to take GEOG 820 as part of the program of study. The addition of hours to a program of study is determined on a case-by-case basis during the program planning interview in the student’s first semester and will reflect the faculty’s appraisal of the student’s experience and needs. Courses taken to strengthen the student’s background in geography may count toward the 30 credit hours of course work required for the Ph.D., but only if approved by the student’s graduate committee.

Students will complete a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the master’s degree: at least 30 credit hours of course work and 30 credit hours of dissertation research.

All students seeking the Ph.D. in geography will complete the following requirements:

1. Required courses

These courses must be taken while in residence.

2. 800-level course requirement

No more than 6 credit hours of 500-level courses are permitted in a Ph.D. program, but no 500-level geography course may appear in the program of study.

Not more than 6 hours of independent study or other individualized courses should ordinarily appear on the program of study for the doctoral program.  For exceptions to this, the chair of a student’s supervisory committee should write a memo to the Graduate School that accompanies the program of study and explains the reasoning for the exception request.

3. Non-Geography course requirement

At least three hours must be taken in a department other than geography. Preferably, a course will be taken from a faculty member who will serve as the outside member of the supervisory committee.

4. Residence requirement

Students must spend at least one full academic year in residence.

5. Dissertation proposal

Students must complete a written dissertation proposal and present it orally before the supervisory committee, other faculty, and students. Following the public presentation, the supervisory committee and the student will discuss the appropriate revisions to the proposal, if any, and the next steps in the research.

6. Preliminary examination

To be eligible to schedule the preliminary examination, the student must:
    a) have an approved program of study on file with the Graduate School,
    b) have completed a satisfactory written dissertation proposal and presented it orally, and
    c) have completed 21 hours of graduate course work on the program of study, with a grade point average of 3.33 or better. 

To schedule the preliminary exam, the student and major professor must complete the “Request for Preliminary Examination Ballot.” The student and major professor should submit this form to the Graduate School one month prior to the date of the oral portion of the exam. The preliminary exam must be completed at least 7 months prior to the final defense of the dissertation.  The examination covers the student’s fields of specialization as defined by the student’s doctoral committee. It will include both a written and an oral portion. Performance on the examination must provide evidence of the student’s mastery of the subject in four sub-fields as defined by the supervisory committee, knowledge of related geographic literature, and an understanding of research theory and methods. Copies of the examination are filed with the department and made available on request to any graduate faculty member for a period of two years from the date of examination.

7. Ph.D. candidacy

Passing the preliminary examination is required for the student to become a doctoral candidate.

The period of candidacy may last up to five years from the end of the semester in which the preliminary exam was passed. If a student fails to complete both the dissertation and final oral examination within this period, the student will be dropped from candidacy. 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.

8. Ph.D research hours requirement

Students must complete 30 credit hours of GEOG 999.

9. Dissertation defense/final examination

The dissertation will be a cohesive, original, and independent contribution to scholarship. The research is to be performed under the guidance of the major professor and the supervisory committee and must be acceptable to them and to the Graduate School representative, who chairs the final examination. The dissertation must follow guidelines outlined by the Graduate School.

A final oral examination in defense of the dissertation will be conducted and evaluated by the supervisory committee. Two weeks prior to the dissertation defense, copies of the defense draft will be distributed to the supervisory committee and one will be placed in the department office for review by other faculty and graduate students. Other faculty and students are encouraged to attend the public presentation at the defense.

Sample Doctoral Program:

First semester

Second semester

Third semester

  • Write dissertation proposal
  • 800-level non-Geography seminar - Credits: (3)
  • GEOG 999 - Credits: (4)
  • Program Meeting with Committee
  • Elective course - Credits: (3)
  • Credits: 0

Fourth semester

  • Present dissertation proposal (early in the semester)
  • Elective course - Credits: (3)
  • Elective course - Credits: (3)
  • GEOG 999 - Credits: (4)
  • Preliminary Exam (late in the semester)
  • Credits: 0

Fifth semester

Sixth semester