Graduate school, while not required for all careers, can be a great way to advance a graduate’s knowledge, skills and job prospects – or to re-train prior to a career change.
Master’s degree programs are often described as “research-based” or “professional” – the difference is usually in whether a thesis/dissertation is required or whether the program is intended as a terminal degree. While there are no hard and fast rules, most graduates of professional degree programs do not continue into doctoral programs. For a few professions (e.g., a university faculty member) a doctorate is required; most professors complete a research-based master’s degree first.
The Master of Science in Geospatial Analysis in the Department of Geography at UMW is considered a professional program; a 6-credit capstone project is required to demonstrate that graduates can conduct independent research. A small number of graduates have gone on to doctoral programs.
Common types of master’s degree programs open to geography majors:
- Geography: select an area of emphasis (e.g. cultural, physical, historical)
- Planning: select an area of emphasis (e.g. regional, urban, environmental)
- Geospatial Analysis, or Geographic Information Science, or Remote Sensing: or some other technical subject area
- Environmental Studies or Environmental Science
- Resource Management or Wildlife Management
- MBA or any other degree program: your BA shows that you can be educated!
In order to be considered for a graduate program, you will need a reasonably high GPA (minimum 3.0), especially in the subject area of the new degree program, as well as letters of recommendation from professors who know you and can write honestly about you. It would be good to have attended an academic conference, to have conducted independent research, and/or to have graduated with honors.
The American Association of Geographers publishes an annual Guide to Geography Programs in the Americas: this is a good starting point to find out about graduate programs.
Please ask your academic advisor for specific information about graduate school! UMW grads are currently enrolled in graduate programs at the University of Tennessee, the University of Kentucky, and Ohio University.