Skip to content

PhD program

The faculty, with extensive world-wide experience (Latin America, the Caribbean, Southern and Eastern Asia, Europe, Africa, the American West, and the American South), is exceptionally qualified to direct graduate research in geography of the natural environment (especially biogeography, paleoclimatology, and geomorphology), spatial analysis (especially location analysis, environmental modeling, and geographic information science), and human geography (especially economic, urban, transportation, population, and cultural).

The Ph.D. is granted to candidates who complete a dissertation that makes a significant and original contribution to geography. Additionally, candidates must demonstrate proficiency in conducting independent research. Completion of a Master’s Degree is expected prior to full admission into a Ph.D. program . Course requirements are determined by the student’s doctoral committee, but must include the basic graduate courses (Research Design, Geographic Concept and Method, Topics in Quantitative Methods), 12 hours of credit in related fields outside the department, several doctoral seminars, and participation in the departmental Colloquium. Competence in cartography, statistical methods, and other methodologies pertinent to the student’s research specializations (including foreign languages, when appropriate) are also required. Admission to candidacy is granted following successful completion of written comprehensive examinations and an oral examination over the student’s program and dissertation proposal.

Academic Plan, Admission Requirements, & Financial Aid

The University of Tennessee operates on a semester system. General information on admission requirements may be obtained from the Director of Admissions, 201 Student Services Building, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0220. Students interested in graduate studies should write to the department.

Although new graduate students may begin during any term, the fall term is strongly recommended. A 3.0 (4.0 scale) or higher undergraduate grade point average is normally required for admission to a graduate degree program. Official transcripts of all previous college work, a minimum of three letters of recommendation, and Graduate Record Examination scores are required. No single criterion will dominate but the aggregate should provide strong evidence of ability and potential. Foreign students without degrees from an accredited U.S. institution must submit TOEFL scores (minimum of 550 required for admission). Admission to the geography graduate program is subject to the availability of space and faculty advisors.

Several types of financial aid are available, including teaching and graduate assistantships that include stipend and tuition waiver. Research grants and contracts provide additional opportunities for support, and part-time research positions are often available through various campus research units and through the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Tennessee Valley Authority. Applications for fellowships may be obtained from the Director of Graduate Admissions, 218 Student Services Building, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996-0220. Additionally, University housing (furnished and unfurnished apartments) is available at modest prices.

Academic Common Market

The Academic Common Market is an agreement among Southern states for sharing unique programs. Participating states can make arrangements for their residents who are fully admitted to specific programs at the University of Tennessee to enroll on an in-state tuition basis if these programs are not available in the state of residence.

Cooperating states in the Academic Common Market are Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia.

Residents of member states who seek further information on approved programs should contact the Southern Regional Educational Board, 592 Tenth Street, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30318-5790, (404) 875-9211, FAX (404) 872-1477, http://www.sreb.org; or Norma Harrington, Office of Undergraduate Admissions, (865) 974-2184.

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.