No – many students do not have a formal undergraduate degree in Geography or a background in Geography. You can still apply. You do need to have the kind of knowledge presented in freshman level physical geography and freshman level human geography when you start your graduate classes. This knowledge will allow you to fully participate in the required classes, Geog 5152, History and Theory of Geography and Geog 5161, Research Design in Geography. You can get this knowledge any way you choose: Take a class, audit a class, read a textbook on your own, etc. This preparation should be done prior to starting your graduate classes.
No one part of the application is more important than the others. Each faculty member reviews the applications that show him/her as a potential primary advisor. The admissions committee (3-4 faculty members) also reads each application and rates the application as a whole. This is why it is important to have all the parts here by the deadline.
Absolutely! This is an essential part of the application process. Please feel free to contact faculty by phone, email, or visit. It is usually easiest to reach faculty by email. If you decide on a visit to the campus, call or email the faculty member first and set up an appointment to be sure they will be here when you are. Tell them you are interested in applying to the Geography Department and what area you would like to work in. This kind of contact greatly helps the faculty member to decide which student fits best with which faculty member.
You will be asked to designate up to 4 potential primany faculty advisors as part of your application. You will list them in your order of preference (i.e. the faculty member you would most like as your advisor should be listed first). You should contact them by email to discuss your research interests. It wil be a great help to the faculty if they have had contact with you prior to reviewing your application.
Your application essay is a very important part of your application, particularly if you are coming from a different discipline or have been away from the academic world for a number of years. The essay allows you to: 1) articulate your reasons for pursuing graduate training in terms of your career plans; 2) highlight how your professional experience or academic background provide a foundation for your decision to pursue graduate training; 3) demonstrate that you have considered carefully the CU geography program and are aware of how your interests match faculty expertise and interests; and 4) provide a sense of the areas or topics in which you are interested in pursuing training and research. If you are applying for the MA degree, it is expected that you can articulate the subfield(s) of geography in which you would like to work, perhaps also mentioning one or more topics within this subfield that you plan to make the focus of your work. If you are applying for the Ph.D., it is expected that you will articulate in broad terms one or more research topics that could serve as the focus of your program.
Please remember that graduate admissions essays are usually considerably different from their undergraduate counterparts. Graduate training is preparation for a career in academics, scientific research, business, or government service. Your essay needs to articulate how graduate study fits into your plans and that your previous education and experience provide evidence that you will succeed in your plans.
CU Geography has one of the best national records for placing its doctoral students in academic positions. According to a 1997 article in the Professional Geographer by Richard Groop and Randall Schaetzl, “Productivity Profiles of PhD-Granting Geography Departments in the United States: 1980-1994,” Colorado ranked fourth in the nation in placements after UC-Berkeley, Washington, and UW-Madison. The departmental placement rates have improved since this survey was completed.
Apart from academic employment, our MA and Ph.D. graduates pursue careers in business, government, and pure and applied research. For information about careers and jobs in Geography see What can I do with a Geography degree?