The department offers opportunities for graduate study through the MA, MS, PhD, and graduate certificate programs listed below.
The MS may be obtained through either a Plan A (research thesis) or Plan B (nonthesis) program. The Plan A option requires a thesis based on original research conducted by the student. The Plan B option is available for students interested in professional careers who do not desire research training. The PhD degree is intended for students seeking a research or academic career. Comprehensive exams (both oral and written) are required in the doctoral program.
The Plan A option for a master's degree require preparation of a thesis. From 6-15 semester credits of thesis research are required. The semesters during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided. The Plan B option requires the production of a paper or a creative work of art. At least 2 credits of thesis research are required, but no more than 3 credits of thesis credit can be included on the Program of Study.
With committee approval, graduate credit may be transferred from accredited graduate schools, provided the minimum residency requirement (including thesis and dissertation credit) at USU is met. Transfer credit, which must not have been used for any other degree, will be shown on official USU transcripts at completion of the degree.
For the PhD degree, there is a more variable amount of required coursework, as well as a research dissertation. Compared to the MA and MS degree, the PhD degree has a greater emphasis on theory, research methods, writing research proposals, and publishing research in peer-reviewed outlets.
Geographers explore the relationship between people and places, and why it matters where something happens or is located. They study the spatial patterns of human activity across the earth, the processes underlying those patterns, and the linkages among places in a globalizing world. Geography is a diverse field, with career opportunities in the private, public, or nonprofit sectors in fields such as education and research, environmental assessment, international aid and development, planning, and spatial analysis. The graduate curriculum is centered on study of the human-environment relationship, with opportunities for additional training in geographic information systems, remote sensing, and quantitative and qualitative analysis.