Doctorate Program Curriculum & Requirements

PhD Program

Note: Credit hour requirements listed below have not been updated from the quarter system to the semester system. We will update this information during Fall 2013. 

Candidates for the PhD degree must specialize in one of the research areas where the department has in-depth competence. These include urban, economic, historical and physical geography. The doctoral program has given parts, which must be completed by the student to the satisfaction of the department:

  • Certain required courses and seminars (as indicated below), all designed either for research orientation or as preparation for the PhD Comprehensive Examination;
  • An appropriate academic minor;
  • Fulfilled the language/technique requirement by demonstrating reading proficiency in a foreign language in which a substantial geographical literature exists or which is relevant to the student's dissertation research, as determined by the department, (Students whose native language is not English may use English to satisfy the foreign language requirement), or by taking 12 credit hours of approved computer science courses and obtaining a grade of "B" or higher in each of these courses.
  • The PhD Comprehensive Examinations; and
  • The writing of a dissertation embodying original research, the preparation of which must also entail
    1. The prior submission of a dissertation proposal acceptable to the department, and
    2. A successful open defense of the dissertation before an appointed examining committee.

Students who concentrate in physical geography should have at least nine college-level credit hours of calculus, chemistry, physics or biology before candidacy.

Full-time candidates are expected to register for 12 hours of graduate credit during each semester of their three-year residency (If a student has fulfilled all the necessary credits, they only have to register for 1 credit during their 3rd year to obtain active status.) They must become familiar with, and operate in accordance with, the regulations of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences of the University of Cincinnati, as well as with the departmental guidelines set out in this document.

PhD candidates are required to complete 135 graduate credits past an acceptable BA degree or 90-graduate credits past an acceptable MA degree. Doctoral dissertations must conform to departmental conventions and University of Cincinnati graduate school standards.

Students whose background preparation for the required graduate-level courses is weak, or who lack certain of the background skills for writing a dissertation, are expected to repair these deficiencies by taking appropriate courses, if necessary, at the undergraduate level.

The department evaluates student performance regularly at the end of the first semester, in each course and seminar, and through a written progress report submitted by each graduate student during the spring semester (by April 1) of each year.

At the end of the second semester of residence, all PhD students must select a faculty adviser, or a faculty adviser will be appointed by the director of graduate studies. It is the faculty adviser's responsibility to assist graduate students in the completion of all degree requirements in a timely manner, to monitor student academic progress and to mentor students during their graduate career.

Every semester, a student's course schedule is worked out in consultation with the director of graduate studies and the faculty adviser.

As an essential part of their educational experience, and as a condition of admission to a degree program, all full-time graduate students are given certain responsibilities within the department as research, teaching, fieldwork, cartographic, or computer assistants. These responsibilities involve approximately 15 hours per week during the academic year, over and above time spent in classes.