Below please find some Frequently Asked Questions about our graduate degree programs. We currently have about 50 graduate students in our on-campus programs and another 50 students in our online MS program. DGES graduate students hail from around the world and approximately 20% are international students.
General Questions About the Program
The Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability offers four degrees:
● PhD in Geography and Environmental Sustainability
● MA in Geography and Environmental Sustainability
● MS in Geography and Environmental Sustainability, with two concentrations:
○ Environmental Systems
○ Geospatial Technologies
An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 is required. There are no specific undergraduate courses that are prerequisites for graduate study in DGES; however, individual faculty advisors may prefer students to have taken certain courses.
International students must demonstrate English language proficiency. For details, see questions below related to the application process.
We welcome applications from students from many backgrounds. Recent graduate students have undergraduate degrees in Anthropology, Applied Ecology, Atmospheric Sciences, Biology, Communication, Economics, Education, Environmental Sustainability, Geographic Information Systems, Geography, Global Development and Anthro-Ecology, Health and Exercise Science, History, Industrial Engineering, International Studies, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Meteorology, Native American Studies, Statistics, Strategic Communications, Urban Planning, Zoology, and more.
Most students complete a Master’s degree before entering our Ph.D. program. However, strong applicants may be admitted directly into the Ph.D. program without first completing a Master’s.
Yes, our online MS program consists of evening classes. While our on-campus programs include a small number of evening classes, it is not possible to complete the on-campus degree taking only evening classes.
Students who are supported with a Teaching Assistantship or Research Assistantship must take a full course load (2-3 courses per semester). A small number of our on-campus graduate students take classes part-time while paying for their own degree.
Many graduate students in our online MS program take a full course load (2-3 courses per semester) in the evenings while maintaining a full-time job during normal business hours.
Our on-campus MA and MS programs take about two years, and the online MS program takes 21 months. The Ph.D. program takes four to five years.
We currently have about 50 graduate students in our on-campus programs and another 50 students in our online MS program. DGES graduate students hail from around the world and approximately 20% are international students. Our graduate student community is coordinated by the OU Association of Geography Graduate Students (AGGS). AGGS is active within our department and across campus and hosts a range of social and academic events.
Questions Related to Funding
We offer Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) on funded research projects, and Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) that support undergraduate and graduate learning across a wide range of departmental courses. GTA responsibilities vary by course but may include grading and instruction of lab sections.
Our GRA and GTA assistantships include a competitive stipend, health insurance, and a full tuition waiver. Fees are not covered. Both GRA and GTA assistantships are usually appointed at 20 hours per week.
Students interested in a GTA may indicate their interest in their application and should identify a faculty member who could serve as their research advisor.
Our students are often competitive for University Fellowships, which supplement GRA and GTA funding. Multiple fellowships are available, including those that support low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students. For more information, please visit: https://www.ou.edu/gradcollege/cost-and-aid/aid
Questions About the Application Process
Yes, you must identify a faculty member who is willing to serve as your thesis or dissertation supervisor. Prospective students should email faculty members to enquire about their availability and interest in serving as a thesis or dissertation supervisor.
Applicants must submit the following documents:
● A statement of interest in which the applicant describes his or her interests and goals, showing how these interests and goals are related to current faculty expertise.
● Names and contact information of two individuals who will be contacted to submit letters of recommendation on behalf of the applicant.
● A resume or c.v.
● A writing sample such as an undergraduate paper, publication, thesis, or major research paper, written in English.
● International students may also need to submit documentation of English language proficiency. For details, please see questions below.
No, the GRE is not required.
If English is not your first language, the University of Oklahoma will require you to demonstrate English language proficiency before admission. Please read the current policies and requirements regarding language proficiency: https://www.ou.edu/gradcollege/apply/international-applicants#english-proficiency
Please note that the University of Oklahoma makes a distinction between countries which have English as an official language and countries where English is the native or first language. To determine whether you will be required to demonstrate English proficiency, please see OU’s list of Native English Speaking Countries: https://ou.edu/admissions/apply/international/ou-approved-native-english-speaking-countries
For full consideration, applications must be received by the following deadlines:
● January 15 for applicants seeking admission and funding for the following fall semester
● April 1 for applicants seeking admission but not funding for the following fall semester
● September 1 for applicants seeking admission and funding for the following spring semester.
A $50 ($100 for international applicants) non-refundable application processing fee is required to submit your online application.
Faculty members are occasionally able to defray application fees for high-priority applicants with financial need. Please contact your prospective faculty advisor.
For students seeking admission for the fall semester, admission and funding decisions are typically announced in February or March. For students seeking admission for the spring semester, admission and funding decisions are made in September.
Yes, it is possible to defer admission for one semester or one year. However, if you choose to defer, we cannot guarantee that any offer of financial support (e.g., a GRA, GTA, or fellowship offer) will remain available.
The Department of Geography and Environmental Sustainability and the University of Oklahoma typically coordinate visit days for admitted students in the spring semester. If you would like to visit earlier, please contact your prospective faculty advisor.