Program Description


UCSB Geography’s graduate program is intended to train professionals in geographic science and technology, for careers in academia, industry, business, government, and elsewhere. We recruit and attempt to retain top students of all ethnicities and genders by identifying them, matching them with appropriate mentors, providing them with funding to study at UCSB, and inviting and partially funding them to visit the campus and the department. When appropriate, we take advantage of fellowship opportunities tailored to women or underrepresented minorities.

The department offers graduate training in the following areas of specialization:

We aim to produce graduates whose work is of the highest quality, creativity, integrity, and relevance. As such, we aim to be the geography program of choice in California and beyond. We believe these aims are most successfully carried out by educating doctoral students (PhD degree); although we do award masters degrees (MA), we do not generally admit graduate applicants who express the intention of leaving after obtaining a masters. All of our graduate students pursue the PhD, and sometimes the MA, in Geography. Of course, their educational and research activities differ considerably as a function of the area of geography in which they specialize, the faculty member(s) with whom they study, etc. The discipline of geography is exceptionally broad in this respect, including areas of physical geography, human geography, GISci, and engineering. We aim to represent much of this intellectual diversity, although the department has had a custom stretching back to its origins in the 1970s of not representing traditional regional geography as a descriptive field (except in some course offerings) and areas of human geography variously known as post-positivist. In particular, we continue to provide training in virtually all areas of earth sciences; geographic techniques and information science, including geographic information systems, remote sensing, spatial analysis, and cartography; and areas of human geography that follow positivist social-science metaphysics, overlapping with disciplines such as scientific anthropology, economics, psychology, sociology, urban studies, and civil engineering. The department recently undertook an extensive effort to collect data on the employment status of our graduate students after separation. During this current review period, we tracked placement for 95% of our graduate students. Of these, 49% went into academic positions, 12% became researchers, another 12% went into post-doc positions and 20% went into the private sector.