Programs : Master's : FAQs
The following is a list of commonly asked questions and answers about the Geography master's program at SDSU.
Q. Are there any undergraduate-course prerequisites to the Master's program in Geography?
A. Students without extensive geography coursework in their undergraduate programs may have to satisfy deficiencies in geography.
Q. Do you conditionally admit students who don't have GRE scores submitted prior to the application deadline?
A. No. GRE scores must be submitted before a candidate can be considered for admission.
Q. Can I postpone beginning my program beyond the semester for which I've been admitted?
A. There is no protocol for postponing admission. If you don't enroll for at least one course in the semester for which you are admitted, you will have to reapply for admission to the Graduate Division.
Q. I understand that requirements for program entry include a minimum GPA of 3.0 over the last 60 undergraduate semester units. Is that requirement rigidly applied?
A. Exceptions are rarely approved by the Master's advising committee. An exception might be made for an applicant who has a qualifying GPA minimally below 3.0, has no program deficiencies, and has superior GRE scores and letters for recommendation.
Q. I understand that requirements for program entry include a minimum general score of 300 (1000 for the old test) on the combined verbal and quantitative components of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Is that requirement rigidly applied?
A. Exceptions are sometimes (but rarely) approved by the Master's Advising Committee. An exception might be made for an applicant who has a qualifying GPA minimally below 3.0, has no program deficiencies, and has superior GRE scores and letters of recommendation.
Q. Is there a special form needed for letters of recommendation?
Q. What are the sources of funding for new graduate students?
A. We have new openings each year for about 12 Graduate Assistants who receive funding for assisting faculty members in their teaching and research.
Q: What scholarships are available to Geography master's students?
A. Master's level students are eligible to apply for four Geography Scholarships that reward excellent academic progress and/or achievements:
- Alvena Storm Memorial Scholarship (for all Master’s students)
- McFarland Scholarship (demonstrated financial need is an additional requirement of this scholarship)
- Ned H. Greenwood Award Scholarship (for Master’s students specializing in physical geography)
- William & Vivian Finch Scholarship (for Master’s students with interests in remote sensing)
These scholarships are competitive and are administered through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships (OFAS). The scholarships have different requirements and students are required to submit a separate application for each scholarship they wish to be considered. Scholarships’ applications are typically due early in the spring semester and the winners are announced towards the end of the academic year. Awards are often disbursed to students by OFAS at the beginning of the next academic year (fall semester). Technically this means that Master’s level students should apply for these scholarships during their first year in the program, so that they can benefit from the scholarship during their second year. Explanations of the requirements and application instructions for these four scholarships.
In addition, the department offers a number of scholarships-awards, including awards for students with interests in GIS, Cartography, Children and Social Geography, and Human Geography. The department also offers one or more scholarship-awards that recognize students’ service and citizenship to the department. These scholarships-awards are administered internally, and do not require an application to OFAS or to the department. Deserving students are selected by deliberation and a vote of all the faculty in the department. These scholarships-awards are made possible by generous yearly contributions and gifts from donors; availability may vary from year to year.
Q. When will I be notified of your decision regarding my application for a Graduate Assistantship?
A. We will start to make awards around mid-February. Awards are competitive, based on the undergraduate record, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and compatibility between an applicants academic strengths and assistance needs of the department.
Q. I have missed the March 1 deadline for Graduate Assistantship applications. Do you accept late applications?
A. We don't accept late applications. Some hourly work is sometimes available linked to faculty grants and contracts.
Q. Can I transfer credits for courses taken elsewhere to my SDSU program?
A. SDSU limits transfer credits to 9 semester units. Also note that during your first year in our program you must file an Official Program of study approved by the department Master's advising committee. Transferring units is not automatic; they must be approved as appropriate to the Official Program of study.
Q. Are there any particular classes I should take during my first year in the graduate program?
A. Yes, Geography 701 and 700 during the first two semesters. All students must take these two classes.
Q. Can I bypass the master's program and enter directly into the Ph.D. program?
A. We generally require that a student hold a master's degree before entering the Ph.D. program. Many of our incoming master's students come in with the expectation of eventually working on the doctorate. We believe that working on a master's degree provides important training for subsequent doctoral research. Any inquiries regarding the doctoral program should be directed to Professor Douglas Stow, Dept. of Geography, San Diego State University, San Diego, CA 92182-4493.
Q. How long do most students take to complete their master's degree?
A. Ideally, the program should take 2 years.
Q. If I maintain a full-time job during the day, can I reasonably expect to get through the program taking night courses, exclusively?
A. Most students who have attempted this never came close to completing the program. Furthermore, most of the classes you may need to take may never be offered at night. Think very carefully before deciding to do this.
Q. Is there a time limit for completion of the master's program?
A. Yes. All students must complete the degree within seven years of matriculation.