Skip to main content

This is your Donation message.

2023-2024 Graduate Bulletin

Graduate Department of


College of Social Sciences and Public Policy


Chair: Mark Horner; Professors: Horner, Mesev, Yang; Associate Professors: McCreary, Pau, Uejio, Zhao; Assistant Professors: Feng, Johnson, Ponder; Affiliate and Adjunct Faculty: Cofield, Doel, Hart, Lewers, Miller, Molina, Quinton, Weisman

The Department of Geography at Florida State University offers graduate degree programs at the master's and doctoral levels designed to equip students with the technical skills and intellectual creativity required in a changing labor market. Faculty and students investigate critical issues of society, geospatial inquiry, and the physical environment that embrace methodological and theoretical solutions, including cities and urban flows; critical geographies of autonomy and liberation; urban GIS and remote sensing; climate change; risk and society; and biodiversity, conservation, and management.

Current work under investigation includes transportation optimization, land use/land cover change, urban growth, regionalization and localization theory, political ecology, race and indigeneity, Black geographies, environmental conflict and policy, access to health, urban sustainability, environmental health, tropical forests and grasslands, and resource management. The Department's foundation in geo-spatial sciences is built upon expertise in GIS, remote sensing, and geo-spatial analysis and is supported by access to a purpose-built lab (running ESRI and ERDAS products), a working relationship with the Institute for Science & Public Affairs, and membership of the Atlanta Data Center consortium (accessing confidential federal demographic, business, and health microdata). A master's degree in GIScience is popular with students intending to enter the GIS industry as program managers, systems analysts, programmers, and application directors for companies utilizing GIS at state and federal levels, such as the EPA, Fish & Wildlife, FEMA, Forest Service, and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, as well as environmental agencies, real estate, and financial institutions.

Graduate students design programs of study focusing on important social issues, geospatial techniques, and environmental problems. While in residence, funded students gain valuable experience and skills in teaching and research, as well as assisting faculty in the classroom and on study projects. By the time they graduate, PhD students will have experience as instructors holding full responsibility teaching undergraduate courses and many will have published papers in scholastic journals and presented results of their research at professional conferences. Financial support is available for qualified students, and currently the stipend is approximately $18,000 for the MS and $20,000 for the PhD programs.


Applicants must hold a degree in Geography or a related field from an accredited college or university. Individuals holding degrees in fields other than geography are welcome to apply but may need to make up deficiencies, as judged by the graduate director and major professor. For PhD, minimum requirements for admission are a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores of at least 144 (Quantitative) and 153 (Verbal). GRE scores for Master's programs are waived through Fall 2026. GRE scores for Master's programs are waived. Students whose native language is not English, in addition to the above, must also score a minimum of 600 on the paper-based, 250 on the computer-based, or 100 on the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), and at least 45 on the SPEAK test. If financial assistance is requested, applications will be considered from January 15 until the deadline of March 1 for fall semester entry. For the spring semester, the application deadline is October 1. For more information, visit the Department website (, or contact the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Chris Uejio ( in Bellamy 317A or the Academic Program Coordinator, Allison Young ( in Bellamy 301.

Master's Program

Non-Thesis Option

The non-thesis option master's program is a minimum of thirty graduate credit hours (5000 level or higher) and is designed as a flexible course of study allowing the student, in consultation with the major professor, to develop a specialized program tailored to the student's interests and career goals. Students entering this program generally seek the master's as a terminal degree. The Department offers both the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees.

Students are required to take three core courses (nine credit hours) designed to provide a solid foundation for investigating geographic issues relating to social and environmental problems. Students who have taken similar courses at the bachelor's level may petition for exemption. Students must earn a grade of "B" or better in each of the core courses:

GEO 5058 Survey of Geographic Thought (3)

GEO 5118C Introduction to Geographic Research (3)

GEO 5165C Quantitative Geography (3)


GEO 6113 Qualitative Geography (3)

In addition, each student selects at least eight elective courses (twenty-four credit hours) in consultation with the major professor that must be passed at a grade of "B–" or better.

Thesis Option

The thesis option master's program is a minimum of thirty graduate credit hours (5000 level or higher) and is designed to provide for and certify a student's mastery of the discipline. This requires both breadth of geographic knowledge, acquired through a range of coursework, and depth of experience, achieved through original research culminating in a thesis. Master's students planning to pursue a doctoral degree should take the thesis option. The Department offers both the Master of Science (MS) and Master of Arts (MA) degrees.

Students are required to take three core courses (nine semester hours) designed to provide a solid foundation for investigating geographic issues relating to social and environmental problems. Students who have taken similar courses at the bachelor's level may petition for exemption. Students must earn a grade of "B" or better in each of the core courses:

GEO 5058 Survey of Geographic Thought (3)

GEO 5118C Introduction to Geographic Research (3)

GEO 5165C Quantitative Geography (3)


GEO 6113 Qualitative Geography (3)

In addition, each student selects at least six elective courses (eighteen credit hours) and must complete six thesis hours in consultation with the graduate advisor or major professor that must be passed at a grade of "B–" or better.

With the advice of a supervisory committee, the student prepares a written thesis prospectus that identifies a substantive geographic topic and demonstrates familiarity with the literature and methods appropriate to its solution. The prospectus is developed in consultation with the major professor. When the major professor deems it ready, the student must orally defend the prospectus. Full-time students should plan to defend the prospectus by the end of the first academic year or beginning of the second year. Once the prospectus has been accepted, the student begins the research and writing process, working with the major professor on initial drafts and drawing the supervisory committee into the process over time. The final step involves an oral defense of the thesis after the complete working draft has been accepted by the major professor. The defense is open to Departmental faculty and graduate students.

Geographic Information Science Option (MSGIS)

The MS program in Geographic Information Science (GIScience) requires a total of 30 graduate credit hours (5000 level or higher) which can be completed within 12 months (three semesters) for full-time students or a longer period for part-time students. The MSGIS program is aimed at individuals who want to develop technical and analytical skills built upon geographic information systems, spatial analysis and modeling, remote sensing and digital image processing, and geovisualization, along with a capstone internship to gain valuable real-world experience with organizations using or developing GIS. These skills will propel them into careers across different sectors, from environmental protection, urban planning, and emergency management to public health and more.

Students are required to take four core courses (fifteen to seventeen credit hours) all at a grade of "B-" or better.

Required courses:

GIS 5034 Introduction to Remote Sensing (3)


GIS 5034L Introduction to Remote Sensing Lab (1)

GIS 5101 Geographic Information Systems (3)


GIS 5101L Geographic Information Systems Lab (1)

GIS 5106 Advanced Geographic Information Science (3)

GIS 5950 GIScience Capstone (6)

A further four or five courses (twelve to fifteen credit hours) must be chosen from approved lists and passed at a grade of "B–" or better. GEO 5908 Directed Individual Study may be allowed for a maximum of two credit hours with the approval of the MSGIS Program Director.

Financial support may be available for rare cases and qualified students. For more information contact the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Christopher Uejio, 317A Bellamy or, or visit the Department's Website at

PhD Program

The doctoral program is forty-eight graduate credit hours, composed of twenty-four coursework hours and twenty-four dissertation hours: the three required courses (nine hours) of the master's degree (if not taken previously), one additional core course (three hours), at least four elective courses (twelve credit hours), and dissertation hours (twenty-four credit hours). All doctoral students must pass qualifying exams, including written and oral portions, for admission to candidacy for the doctoral degree. The supervisory committee will determine pass/fail by a majority vote. Students who fail these exams after two attempts will be dropped from the doctoral program. A student admitted to candidacy is eligible to register for dissertation hours. Completion of the dissertation normally requires at least one year. The student prepares a written dissertation prospectus that demonstrates the potential to conduct original research making a significant contribution to knowledge. Once the prospectus is deemed acceptable to the major professor and the supervisory committee, the student begins the research and writing process. The final step involves an oral defense of the dissertation, which is open to public viewing. During the dissertation defense, all committee members and the student must attend the entire defense in real time, either by being physically present or participating via distance technology.

Students are required to take four core courses (twelve credit hours) and earn at least a "B" in the following:

GEO 5058 Survey of Geographic Thought (3)

GEO 5118C Introduction to Geographic Research (3)

GEO 5165C Quantitative Geography (3)


GEO 6113 Qualitative Geography (3)

GEO 6093 Professional Development Geography (3)

A further four courses (twelve credit hours) must be chosen from approved lists and passed at a grade of "B–" or better.

Financial Assistance

The Department offers a limited number of graduate assistantships. These are initially awarded for two semesters and are approximately $18,000 for the MS program and $20,000 for the PhD programs, with possibility of additional support for teaching summer classes. Support in following years is contingent on satisfactory performance academically and in assistantship duties, for a maximum of two years for master's students and four years for doctoral students. Department assistantships usually include a waiver of tuition.

Department assistantships require that recipients perform instructional or research duties within the Department. Students holding assistantships are required to provide between thirteen and twenty hours of service to the Department per week. Most master's students assist faculty in the classroom or online, while most PhD students have full responsibility teaching undergraduate courses, gaining valuable instructional experience. University policy stipulates that all students receiving financial assistance in a given semester must register for nine credit hours, including summers. For more information, contact the Graduate Program Director, Dr. Christopher Uejio ( or Academic Program Coordinator.

Definition of Prefixes

GEO—Geography: Systematic

GIS—Geography: Information Science

Graduate Courses

Note: Many courses are taught as seminars in current topics (see GEO 5934r below). Contact the Department for current offerings.

GEO 5058. Survey of Geographic Thought (3). History of geography as a discipline, ranging from classical origins to contemporary philosophical schools and debates.

GEO 5115. Environmental Field Methods (3). Design, implementation and presentation of a field-based project employing sampling, GIS, GPS, and exploratory statistical methods.

GEO 5118C. Introduction to Geographic Research (3). Survey of research design and methods, strengths and weaknesses of alternative strategies, reliability and validity measures, and methods of writing.

GEO 5165C. Quantitative Geography (3). Introduces probability theory and descriptive and inferential statistics in geographic research, including chi-square tests, logit models, correlation techniques, geo-statistics, analysis of variance, simple and multiple regression, and factorial analysis.

GEO 5305. Biogeography (3). This course examines the spatial distributions of flora and fauna, vegetation dynamics, ecosystem change, and issues related to biodiversity, invasive species, wildfire policy, and debates over wilderness.

GEO 5358. Environmental Conflict and Economic Development (3). Examines controversies over the use, transformation, and destruction of nature, including political ecology.

GEO 5378. Landscape Ecology (3). Prerequisite: GIS 5101. This course offers a review of methods on analyzing geographic patterns of natural phenomena, including ecological conservation, natural resource management, landscape and urban planning, as well as human-environmental interactions and implications. Familiarity with software packages such as ArcGIS is assumed.

GEO 5393. Geography of Marine Conservation (3). This course develops the major conservation issues in coastal and marine systems worldwide, including the science, management and policy dimensions of marine conservation. The course explores critical conservation problems facing marine ecosystems; and at the same time evaluates their causes and threats from climate change, overfishing, and other types of natural resource extraction and management failures. The course discusses solutions, both science-based and social science-based (particularly economics, management and policy implementation).

GEO 5406. Black Geographies (3). This course builds on the historical, political, and spatial contexts in which geographies of black populations emerge and are perpetuated across the United States and elsewhere. The course reaffirms discourse in which Black communities throughout the African Diaspora are continually marginalized spatially, and the ways in which black communities themselves produce geographic space. It will provide a forum for discussion on race, racism, as well as spatial marginalization/ segregation.

GEO 5417. Race and Place (3). This course integrates various concepts and topics concerned with the spatial construction and effects of race and ethnicity, including identity, segregation, political and cultural landscapes, and environmental justice.

GEO 5425. Cultural Geography (3). The study of the processes by which various cultural features have diffused throughout the world. Emphasis is on the contemporary cultural landscape, particularly that of the United States.

GEO 5451. Medical Geography (3). This course reviews the literature and techniques for locating, accessing, and understanding public health evidence, as well as evaluating environmental hazards that pose risks to human health and safety and policy repercussions to public health provisions.

GEO 5453. Global Health (3). This course explores and evaluates public health problems and examines global health inequality.

GEO 5472. Political Geography (3). Examination of how political processes play out over space, from the local to the global levels. Topics include electoral geographies, nationalism and war, and current geopolitics.

GEO 5545. Advanced Economic Geography (3). In-depth examination of several themes in the analysis of economic landscapes, including input-output analysis, historical materialism, post-Fordism, services and telecommunications, and the global economy.

GEO 5704. Transport Geography (3). This course offers a review of the literature and techniques for the spatial impacts of transportation systems, including functionality, and their role on society, the economy, energy, the environment, and sustainability.

GEO 5908r. Directed Individual Study (1–6). (S/U grade only). May be repeated to a maximum of nine semester hours.

GEO 5918r. Supervised Research (1–3). (S/U grade only). A maximum of three semester hours may apply to the master's degree. May be repeated to a maximum of three (3) semester hours.

GEO 5934r. Seminar in Current Topics (1–3). A variety of subjects is offered on an occasional basis under the heading of "Special Topics." Recent offerings include the Geography of Hunger, Advanced GIS, and Globalization.

GEO 5947r. Supervised Teaching (1–3). (S/U grade only). A maximum of three hours may apply to the master's degree. May be repeated to a maximum of three semester hours.

GEO 5971r. Thesis (1–9). (S/U grade only). A minimum of six semester hours is required.

GEO 6093. Professional Development in Geography (3). This course reviews procedures for students to assume academic and non-academic employment arising from the attainment of a PhD in Geography.

GEO 6113. Qualitative Geography (3). This course uses a mix of theoretical and practical approaches to examine the reciprocal relationship between social theory and qualitative research methodology. The course investigates the political and institutional contexts in which geographers conduct their work, and how power relations, researcher positionality, and research ethics inform qualitative research practice.

GEO 6980r. Dissertation (1–12).

GEO 8964r. Preliminary Doctoral Examination (0). (P/F grade only.) This course encompasses written and oral portions of the preliminary doctoral exam, for admission to candidacy to the doctoral degree.

GEO 8976r. Master's Thesis Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)

GEO 8985r. Dissertation Defense (0). (P/F grade only.)

GIS 5034. Introduction to Remote Sensing (3). Corequisite: GIS 5034L. This course covers remote sensing foundations and the use of remote sensing for environmental and cultural applications. Focus is on the foundations of remote sensing, aerial photography and photogrammetry, characteristics of various sensing systems, remote sensing applications, and an introduction to digital image processing.

GIS 5034L. Introduction to Remote Sensing Lab (1). Corequisite: GIS 5034. This lab provides practice with the concepts and techniques in remote sensing. Specifically, the lab covers the foundations of remote sensing, aerial photography and photogrammetry, characteristics or various sensing systems, remote sensing applications, and basic skills in digital image processing.

GIS 5038C. Advanced Remote Sensing (3). This course focuses on quantitative approaches to the analysis of remotely sensed data. Digital multitemporal, multispectral, multi-sensor remote sensing images acquired by a range of sensors, and the application of digital remote sensing for urban and environmental analysis will be discussed. Quantitative methods in digital remote sensing image enhancement, radiometric normalization, rectification, georeferencing, and classification.

GIS 5073. GIS Land Survey Methods (3). This course focuses on the theory and practice of techniques that locate objects in space using land survey methods.

GIS 5101. Geographic Information Systems (3). Corequisite: GIS 5101L. This course is a hands-on course on GIS topics, including locational control, spatial data structures, spatial cartographic statistics, modeling and analysis, trends in decision support, sensors, and geographic methods.

GIS 5101L. GIS Lab (1). Corequisite: GIS 5101. Laboratory computer practice in the use of geographic information system software.

GIS 5103. GIS Programming (3). This course explores contemporary research methods and applications in analytical geography, particularly computational skills of geographical information systems (GIS) practitioners. This course examines how advances in spatial data analysis and geographical modeling have largely outpaced the capabilities of standard statistical software. Students evaluate how the multidisciplinary nature of the spatial sciences often translates into the need to deal with disparate data sources, formats and programming languages.

GIS 5106. Advanced Geographic Information Science (3). Prerequisite: GIS 5101. Subjects covered include any combination of the following: spatial cognition; geographical representation; spatial pattern analysis; linear modeling; spatial autocorrelation; spatial modeling and simulation; spatial interpolation; digital terrain modeling and visualization; spatial data mining and reasoning; data quality and uncertainty; mobile GIS; Internet GIS.

GIS 5111. Spatial Modeling in Geographic Information Science (3). This course introduces advanced spatial modeling theories and associated techniques in GIS. Topics addressed include spatial optimization, GIS for transportation, spatial decision support systems, and other advanced quantitative techniques. Emphasis is on fostering a broad understanding of spatial modeling and connecting spatial modeling techniques to students' substantive domains.

GIS 5112. GIS Databases (3). This course is a practical demonstration of the structure and functionality of GIS databases; and their query and manipulation of digital spatial data. The course focuses on core data structures and modeling concepts in databases to understand the technical aspects of GIScience.

GIS 5122. Applied Spatial Statistics (3). This course offers advanced spatial statistical methods and complex models applied to phenomena represented by locational data, using techniques such as spatial regression, smoothing, point patterns, kernel density estimations, and clustering algorithms.

GIS 5131. Geographic Visualization (3). This course examines the design and implementation of effective visualization of geographic data, phenomena, patterns, and processes. The theoretical basis is formed by cartography, visual perception and communication models. Emphasis is placed on the creation, analysis, and display of statistical surfaces. Students explore trends in cartography visualization methods including interactive and animated mapping techniques.

GIS 5305. Geographical Information Systems for Environmental Analysis and Modeling (3). Technical topics covered include space-time variability in environmental data, environmental data acquisition and integration, interpolating environmental data, error and uncertainty, environmental decision support systems, environmental modeling techniques, and the integration of geospatial technologies with environmental modeling systems. Applications include hydrological modeling, terrain modeling and landform analysis, landscape pattern analysis, land suitability analysis, soil erosion modeling, and wildfire modeling.

GIS 5306. Environmental Change Modeling (3). Prerequisite: GIS 4043 or GIS 5101. This course looks at various modeling techniques for simulating and understanding environmental change, and how such changes affect the human dimension. Familiarity of basic modeling packages, such as ArcGIS, is assumed.

GIS 5318. Climate Change and Ecosystems (3). This course uses geographic information systems (GIS) to handle and map evidence for shifts in ecosystem responses to climate change. The course taps into the debate on climate change with well-documented evidence to support the acceleration of global climatic alterations. The course demonstrates evidence such as consistent patterns of ecological responses–including directional shifts in phenology and species distributions–have important consequences for population dynamics, species coexistence, and widespread impacts on human and natural systems.

GIS 5331. Florida GIS Applications (3). This course evaluates the breadth of environmental and social applications of geographic information systems specific to the State of Florida.

GIS 5400. Geographic Information Systems Applications in Social Sciences (3). In this course, practical examples from the fields of health, economic geography and real estate, housing, transportation, criminology, and others are used to illustrate how spatial analysis techniques are used to address problems in a GIS environment. Special consideration is given to the data needs of such operations, the implementation of methods in a GIS environment, and understanding the spatial assumptions and issues that underpin analyses.

GIS 5605. GIS Local Government (3). Prerequisite: GIS 5101. This course explores the professional and institutional application of GIS in government, industry and business.

GIS 5950. GIScience Capstone (6). Prerequisites: GIS 5034, GIS 5101 and GIS 5106. This course applies and demonstrates GIScience theory and techniques in a vocational environment.