SDSU student services building at night

Apply to a Master’s Degree Program

Admission Requirements

Except under special circumstances, applicants must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher for all work leading to the bachelor’s degree and subsequent post-baccalaureate coursework. The minimum combined quantitative and verbal GRE score is generally 300 (1000 on the old test). GRE scores are not required for Fall 2024 admissions, but may be submitted at the applicant's discretion. The minimum TOEFL score for international students is 79 (Internet-Based Test iBT), 213 (Computer Based Test CBT), or 550 (Paper Based Test PBT). In addition, all qualified applications will be distributed to members of the department to determine if any faculty member is willing to serve as advisors for the applicant. Applicants must have a faculty sponsor in order to be admitted to the department, and are encouraged to contact potential sponsors prior to the application deadline.

Satisfaction of the minimum requirements of the San Diego State University Department of Geography does not guarantee admission to the master‘s program. Department requirements are normally a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and generally a GRE combined score of 300 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE. GRE scores are not required for Fall 2024 admissions, but may be submitted at the applicant's discretion. The minimum TOEFL score for international students is 79 (Internet-Based Test iBT), 213 (Computer Based Test CBT), or 550 (Paper Based Test PBT). No student will be admitted into the department unless a faculty member agrees to serve as an advisor for the applicant. Some students with strong records may be denied admission if no faculty member with similar interests is willing to sponsor him or her.

Students admitted to the program who do not have a strong course background in geography may be required to make up course deficiencies as determined by their thesis advisor. These courses would be in addition to the minimum 30 units required for the official program.

Deficiencies and Prerequisites

Students who have limited background in Geography may be required to complete specified courses in addition to the minimum 30 units required for the Master’s degrees. The thesis advisor will determine deficiencies and additional courses.


Dr. Hilary McMillan
Office: Storm Hall 308B
Email: [email protected]

Important Links:

For general information or application questions, please contact:

Master’s Program Coordinator 
Phone: (619) 594-5437
Email: [email protected]

Application Process

The Domestic and International application process consists of multiple steps with the following deadlines:

  1. Completion of Cal State Apply Application - Deadline: December 1

  2. Create a my.SDSU Account (See application process link above).

  3. Submit Official Documents (See application process link above). Deadline: December 15
    Transcript Information

  4. Submit Official Test Scores (See application process link above). Deadline: December 15

  5. Submit Geography Department Application and Materials via Interfolio. Deadline: January 12
    (See Interfolio link to create account/sign in)
    The program application via Interfolio will require the following items:
    • Copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. These do not need to be sent directly from the college or university – photocopies and digital copies are acceptable. Note: This is in addition to the transcripts that you submit to Graduate Admissions (Step 3)
    • Copies of TOEFL or IELTS (only for international applicants) test scores. Photocopies and digital copies are acceptable. Note: This is in addition to the scores that you submit to Graduate Admissions (Step 4). 
    • A statement of your research interests and professional goals, approximately 500 words. Indicate links between your research interests and those of faculty members within the department as well as with other research in the field, where appropriate. You should also provide the name(s) of at least one and up to three SDSU Geography faculty members who would be suitable program advisors. You are encouraged to contact potential faculty advisors in advance of applying to discuss your research interests and potential fit with their areas of expertise.
    • Three letters of recommendation – Applicant must provide names and email addresses for recommenders. Recommenders will be invited to complete the recommendation electronically.
    • Optional: If you would like to apply for a Graduate Assistantship, please complete the application when you apply to the program and submit a copy of your most recent resume or Curriculum Vitae.

For help with using Interfolio, please view the Applicant Guide.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

No; many of our students come to our Graduate Programs from other majors, including environmental sciences, biology, geology, Earth sciences, computer sciences and engineering, social science (sociology, political science, economics) and humanities. Please discuss with your potential thesis advisor.
Students without extensive geography coursework in their undergraduate programs may have to satisfy deficiencies in geography. Such determinations are made upon the student’s acceptance into the program and will be communicated with them prior to enrollment.
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.
This is critical: Identify a faculty member who will sponsor your admission. No candidate will be admitted without a faculty member sponsoring them. Look at the list of faculty on the website and identify who you might like to work with on your thesis. Contact that person(s) and discuss your interest in the program with them.
A limited number of graduate assistantships (GA) and teaching assistantships (TA) are available each year. GAships are normally for one year, include a stipend and sometimes fees, and involve working for one or more professors on tasks that could include research or grading. GAships are sometimes renewed for a second year pending funding. TAships are normally for two years, include a stipend and fees, and are for teaching 2 sections of Geography 101 labs. The TAships normally require a background in physical geography, geology, or other environmental science. Both GA and TAships are for 20 hours per week for 16 weeks. You may not have other outside employment in the same semester(s) as your GA or TAship. Please visit our Financial Support page for more information.
Unofficial documents will no longer be accepted for admission purposes. Students must provide either a foreign evaluation report from IERF, WES, or ECE or submit official documents directly to SDSU.
TOEFL is required of international students, unless the medium of instruction for previous degree(s) was in English.
The Department does not offer University funds for summer employment, but individual faculty may have funds to employ students over the summer. Please contact your Thesis Advisor, as they would be the most likely source of summer employment.

Please see the information at
Electronic copies must be sent from the University, not copies from the applicant’s email: If your University can send electronic manuscripts, request that they be sent to [email protected]

Or, if the University doesn’t send e-copies, physical copies can be sent from the University, not the student to:
Office of Admissions
San Diego State University
5500 Campanile Drive
San Diego, CA 92182-8225