Oregon State University

College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences

Geography Graduate Major

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Geography is the study of human and earth system processes in space and time. Geographers focus on the roles of scale, place, and spatio-temporal patterns and processes. Geography incorporates principles of mathematics, social science, and natural science to analyze and interpret change in the environment. Geographers develop and apply geospatial methods and technologies to study globalization and cultural diversity, evaluate climate change and environmental hazards, and manage natural resources.

The Geography Program offers the Master of Science (MS) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. Graduate learning outcomes in Geography are:

  • Use terminology and basic principles to describe and explain (a) physical geography, (b) human geography, and (c) geospatial science and technology.
  • Apply spatial reasoning and critical thinking to create, synthesize and analyze data; model human-environment interactions; and evaluate contemporary issues in geography.
  • Communicate findings and their implications, including ethical aspects, in visual, oral and written form.

Geography at OSU has three areas of excellence:

Geospatial technologies and analysis. Many careers in geography involve geospatial technologies and analysis applied to research, teaching, government and industry. Geography at OSU helps graduate students to obtain an integrated training in GIS, cartography, remote sensing, geovisualization, geospatial intelligence, spatial statistics and modeling, and web mapping. Students may select geographic information science as a graduate area of concentration as part of the MS or PhD in Geography. Graduate students also can obtain a GIScience certificate. Faculty engaged in research, instruction, and advising in this area include

Water, climate, and society. Access to water resources is essential for human health and societies, yet water resources are unevenly distributed in space and time, while climate variability and change may intensify conflicts over water. Geography at OSU helps graduate students to obtain an integrated training in surface processes, climatology, biogeography, water policy, and water management. Students may select physical geography or resource geography as a graduate area of concentration as part of the MS or PhD in Geography. Graduate students also can obtain an online certificate in water conflict. Faculty engaged in research, instruction, and advising in this area include

  • Michael Campana - water resources management; water resources in developing regions
  • Lynette de Silva - Water conflict management, integrated watershed management
  • Hannah Gosnell - climate change adaptation
  • Todd Jarvis - Engineering geology, geography of groundwater, online dispute resolution
  • Julia Jones - Land use, climate change and disturbance effects on hydrology, geomorphology, water quality
  • Anne Nolin - Snow processes in mountain environments, hydroclimatology, cryosphere-climate interactions
  • Mary Santelmann - wetlands ecology, biogeography
  • Aaron Wolf - transboundary water conflicts and conflict resolution
  • David Wrathall - climate hazards, social vulnerability, migration, and political ecology

Resources, planning, and hazards. Natural resources, planning, and hazards are ideal topics for geographic study because they link physical processes governing natural hazards with factors such as social vulnerability, planning, and resource management. Many aspects of these issues have a strong regional focus. Geography at OSU helps graduate students to obtain an integrated training in the geography of resources, land use, and rural and regional resource evaluation. Students may select physical geography or resource geography as a graduate area of concentration as part of the MS or PhD in Geography. Faculty engaged in research, instruction, and advising in this area include

  • Larry Becker - rural livelihoods, food security, and agricultural policy in the global South, with a focus on Africa
  • Steve Cook - sustainability issues, public land management, wildfire
  • Hannah Gosnell - rural geography, natural resource management, water resource management, the U.S. West
  • Michael Harte - marine geography, natural resource management and planning
  • Demian Hommel - human dimensions of global change; environmental security and resource conflicts
  • Shireen Hyrapiet - resource access, rights, and livelihoods in the global south
  • Robert Kennedy - pattern and processes of landscape change
  • Jenna Tilt - land use, rural and regional resource evaluation
  • Jamon Van Den Hoek - conflict ecology, land use/land cover change
  • James Watson - marine geography

For more information please contact Julia Jones (Director) or Lori Hartline (Student Services).

For guidelines on how to apply, see Geography Graduate Program Application Instructions

For details on graduate program requirements see:

For list of Geography PhD dissertations and MS theses and projects:

Original theses and dissertations can be found at ScholarsArchive@OSU

For course information see: