The Application Process
Applying to the M.S. Program in Geography
- Learn more about our program and department at our department website.
- Visit faculty websites to learn more about faculty interests and identify those whose interests match yours.
- Contact those faculty by email or phone to discuss your research interests.
- Visit Virginia Tech's Geography Department (if possible). Please contact our Graduate Program Director, Dr. Lisa Kennedy, or a faculty member that you are interested in, to help arrange your visit.
- Complete the Graduate School's online application by submitting all required materials at http://graduateschool.vt.edu/admissions/applying/index.html. You may submit your application in paper form (see "Paper Applications" at the above link), but we strongly encourage you to use the online application.
Statement: When completing the section in the online application "Academic and Professional Goals Statement" in Part 6 "Supplemental Information and Certification," be sure to include the following information in a clear, detailed, and well-organized statement:
Why do you want to attend graduate school?
How has your background prepared you for graduate study?
Why are you interested in obtaining a master's degree in geography?
Why did you choose the Department of Geography at Virginia Tech?
What field or fields of research in geography interest you the most and why?
Which professor or professors in our department have interests most similar to yours? (Our website can be helpful in this regard, but a department visit or personal email and telephone conversations are far more beneficial in revealing shared interests.)
What are your career goals?
We use the "Academic and Professional Goals Statement" as one indicator of your written communication skills and your preparation for graduate study, so take care in composing it. We are not looking for any particular style, but applicants should strive to make their statement distinctive and interesting (without being gimmicky), as well as informative and well-organized.
- Reference Letters: You should solicit letters of reference from faculty members who are most familiar with your work as a student (at least two of the three letters must be from faculty members). You may have taken a class, worked on an independent study or research project, or otherwise worked closely with each of them in some capacity. Letters from faculty members are necessary because they are in the best position to address your suitability for graduate work. If you have not been a student recently, letters from employers are also acceptable.
- You must take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam - General Test).
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores are required of all international applicants whose first language is not English, except those applicants who have graduated from an accredited university at which English is the language of instruction.
- In addition to the materials that need to be submitted to the Graduate School, you must also send the following directly to the Department of Geography (address below):
Two copies of your official transcripts
A sample of your writing, such as a research paper
- To receive full consideration for being awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), a student should have completed the application by February 15. We may continue to accept applications up until July 1. However, international applicants must be accepted by the Graduate School no later than May 15 to allow sufficient time for immigration processes and travel.
Should you wish to do so, the address for mailing materials to the Department is:
Department of Geography (0115)
220 Stanger Street
115 Major Williams Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I apply for admission for the spring semester?
Our M.S. program prefers to admit students for the fall semester because of class scheduling. You may ask for an exceoption by contacting the graduate director.
I don't have an undergraduate degree in geography. Can I still seek admission to your program?
You do not have to have an undergraduate degree in geography to enter our program. Some of our most successful students have entered with degrees from allied fields. The Graduate Admissions committee, however, may require those without any background in geography to enroll in one or two introductory-level classes in their first semester to make up any needed background.
What is the minimum GRE score required for acceptance into the program?
It is helpful to have a GRE score that places you in the 65th percentile or above in both the quantitative and verbal categories, but keep in mind that this is just one measure used to evaluate an application. We have accepted students with a GRE score lower than those in the past provided that the rest of the application is strong.
What are the application deadlines?
To receive full consideration for being awarded a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA), a student should have completed the application by February 15. We may continue to accept applications up until July 1. However, international applicants must be accepted by the Graduate School no later than May 15 to allow sufficient time for immigration processes and travel.
Can I apply by mail, or must I apply online?
As the Graduate School website indicates, it is best to apply online.
Where can I go for additional information about applying to Virginia Tech's Graduate School?