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Geography Request for Information

Please let us know if you would like more information about our program by filling out this Request for Information form.

Admissions Criteria

Typically, we are able to admit approximately one in eight applicants.

A Graduate Committee (consisting of three to four Geography Faculty members) carefully reads all information submitted and makes initial admission decisions based on the seven criteria described below.  After the initial admissions decisions are made the remainder of the Geography faculty provide input regarding specific applicants in which they are interested.

All seven criteria are considered in reviewing applications. The first five criteria carry roughly equal weight. The first criterion (matching interest with faculty expertise) is an important factor for determining whether a faculty member agrees to serve as advisor. The department requires that at least one faculty member agree to advise a student prior to admission. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that you contact and correspond with potential faculty advisors (write, call, or visit) before the application deadline. 

1. A match of the applicant’s stated interest with faculty expertise.

While we do not expect students to propose research exactly in line with a faculty member’s research interests, we do expect the proposed research interests to be close enough that the faculty can advise students competently. If an applicant expresses interests that are judged to be too far afield from our existing faculty competence, they are eliminated from further consideration.

2. Quality of academic record.

The applicant’s complete academic record is inspected. Emphasis is placed on more recent academic accomplishments. Of particular interests are the student’s grade point average (especially in upper division and graduate classes), selection of courses in light of proposed career, preparation in geography and cognate fields, and quality of institutions attended.

3. Performance on standardized exams (GRE/TOEFL).

GRE - GREs are no longer required by the Department of Geography with any graduate application. 

TOEFL - International applicants are required to submit their scores from the TOEFL exam.  This is a University requirement and cannot be waived.  Additional information regarding the TOEFL exam is located in the Admissions and Applications section for International Applicants.

4. Letters of recommendation.

Three (3) letters of recommendation are required. These letters are used to provide an assessment of an applicant’s accomplishment and potential. The letters should be from persons able to assess your potential for graduate research.  

5. Statement of intent.

Each applicant is asked to write a statement of intent (or statement of purpose).  This document is read carefully in order to ascertain the applicant’s sense of purpose, career intent, and research focus. 

6. Other relevant experience.

Increasingly, applicants have other experience which is related to their educational and career goals. The nature and extent of this experience is considered in making admissions and funding decisions.

7. Discrimination and Harassment Policy and Procedures

The University of Colorado at Boulder (UCB) is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. UCB does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status in admission and access to, and treatment and employment in, its educational programs and activities. (Regent Law, Article 10, amended 9/18/2013). For purposes of this Policy, “Protected Classes” will be used to refer to discrimination or harassment based upon race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, or veteran status. UCB will not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment based upon Protected Classes, or related retaliation against or by any employee or student.

You may view the entire policy.

Quantitative and Qualitative Criteria

Both quantitative and qualitative criteria are considered in the decision process. A summary of the quantitative criteria is provided below. From this summary it can be seen that students accepted into our graduate program performed very well on these criteria. It can also be seen that the quantitative criteria alone are not the determining factors for admission.

  • Median Cumulative Undergraduate: GPA: 3.58 (Figures taken from 2019 admitted applicant pool) 

Geography Fee Waiver Request

Geography understands that the application fee presents a challenge for some applicants. The department is committed to providing educational opportunities for a diverse range of applicants regardless of their financial situations. The CU Boulder Graduate School provides fee waivers for students who meet certain eligibility requirements. See the FAQs section and click on “Are fee waivers accepted?”. If you are NOT eligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School fee waiver, you might qualify for an application fee waiver from the Geography Department.   You MUST MEET ALL the conditions below, Geography has limited funds reserved to pay the application fee on your behalf for Domestic Applicants Only (condition #1 below).  We are not able to provide application fee waivers for international applicants at this time.

To request this fee waiver, you must START YOUR APPLICATION (name and address are sufficient), save to continue later and then send an email (directions below) to REQUEST THE FEE WAIVER BEFORE YOU COMPLETE YOUR APPLICATION AND SUBMIT in order for GEOG to pay the application fee on your behalf.  If you do not meet the first condition below (as well as the rest), we are not able to pay the application fee waiver for you.

You must meet ALL four (4) conditions listed below to receive the GEOG fee waiver:

1. You are a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or DACA recipient (documentation may be requested).

2. You are not eligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School fee waiver.  See this link for a list of what the Grad School does cover:  Graduate Application FAQs | Graduate School | University of Colorado Boulder - click on “Are fee waivers accepted?

3. You are applying to enroll in the following fall semester (e.g. apply in Dec. 2020 for Fall 2021)

4.  Here are examples of different qualifying events that might make you eligible to request an application fee waiver.  You will need to include a statement of this type in your email request. Please choose the most appropriate qualifying event for your situation and please add another few sentences to  explain your situation fully (1 paragraph maximum) -- The application fee "is a financial hardship...;" AND/OR "I have participated in under-represented minority (URM) recruitment program...;" AND/OR "I am a first-generation college student..."  

We are not asking for any explanation of your financial hardship. Being successful scientists requires that we behave ethically and trust our peers, mentors, and mentees to do the same. To request that GEOG pay the graduate application fee, send an email to Karen Weingarten, Graduate Program Assistant BEFORE completing your application but after you have started it, “I am ineligible for the CU Boulder Graduate School application waiver and meet the ALL the other criteria for GEOG to pay my application fee. Include your statement regarding condition #4 (above) here.”   This request will not impact your application in any way. Please request your waiver as soon as possible.