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Geography, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 36 months
University rank #201 (ARWU) Knoxville, TN, United States
The doctorate is a research degree and is granted only to those who demonstrate proficiency in conducting independent research. Students must have a broad foundation and understanding of the discipline; these should have been achieved in a comprehensive master’s program.


Course requirements for the degree shall be determined by the student’s faculty committee in accordance with specific interests and needs. The program must include GEOG 415, GEOG 504, GEOG 515, GEOG 599, 9 credit hours of 600-level seminars, and (at each offering during residency) GEOG 501. 

A minimum of 9 credit hours must be earned in collateral fields, with courses selected for their relevance to the special fields. PhD students whose master’s-level work was in a field other than geography and for whom the master’s area remains close to their PhD specialty areas may petition to substitute geography credit hours in courses outside of their specialty areas for up to 3 of the 9 required outside credit hours. 

Competency in quantitative/qualitative methods and basic human and physical geography is required. Additional tools, including languages, will be required as appropriate to the student’s areas of research specialization.

Examinations required for admission to candidacy include a written comprehensive examination, consisting of two written examinations in which the student will be tested on his/her knowledge of two special fields and related areas of geography, and an oral examination on the student’s program, the special fields and related areas, and the dissertation proposal. All parts of the written comprehensive examination should be taken within the same semester.

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity Full-time
    • Full-time duration 36 months
  • Credits
    72 alternative credits
  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Courses include:

  • Quantitative Methods in Geography
  • Introduction to Geographical Research
  • Topics in Quantitative Geography
  • Geographic Concept and Method
  • Colloquium in Geography

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

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  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120. Read more about TOEFL iBT ®.

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General Requirements

Admission requirements:
  • The completed online Graduate Application for Admission 
  • A non-refundable application fee 
  • One unofficial transcript from all colleges and universities attended submitted on-line at the time of application to the Graduate School
  • The submission of official transcripts and degree certificates
  • Departmental application
  • Reference letters or rating forms

Tuition Fee

  • International

    31538 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 31538 USD per year and a duration of 36 months.
  • National

    13120 USD/year
    Tuition Fee
    Based on the original amount of 13120 USD per year and a duration of 36 months.
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Living costs for Knoxville

  • 885 - 1460 USD/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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