M.A. Degree Requirements

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The M.A. in Geography requires a minimum of 36 credit hours of graduate work. The composition of this coursework (required versus elective) differs across concentrations as detailed below. All students must, as a part of their total 36 hours, complete a minimum of 6 hours of capstone credit. In addition, all students are required to pass an oral defense of both the proposal and the final version of their individual capstone project.
Up to 12 credit hours may be taken in related work, which includes all transfer credit, credit by exam, and coursework in other departments at or above the 5000 level. At the discretion of the department, transfer credit totaling up to 6 hours may be accepted from accredited universities. No student may take more than 6 credit hours in graduate level independent study (GEOG 6800).

Required Courses:

  • GRAD 6101 Linear Regression (3)
  • GEOG 6124 Seminar in Geographic Theory and Practice (3)
  • GEOG 6125 Geographic Information Science and Technology (4)
  • GEOG 6131 Research Design Fundamentals (3)
  • GEOG 7900 Individual Research Project (1 to 6)


  • Other 5000 or 6000-level courses in Geography with a minimum of 12 credit hours
  • Related work (outside the department) or transfer credits in courses numbered 5000 and above with a maximum of 12 credit hours


Upon admission to the program each student will be assigned a faculty advisor from the student’s declared area of interest. This advisor will help guide the student through the design and implementation of a program of study tailored to the student’s specific needs and career goals. The advisor will be available to the student for advice on academic and other matters. Students must confer with their advisors regularly concerning academic matters.

More often than not, students will not work with the same advisor throughout the entire program. Once the student has become familiar with the program and the faculty, it is possible to change advisors by obtaining prior approval from the faculty member with whom the student wishes to work. Advisors should be chosen to match, as nearly as possible, the student’s academic and career interests. No student will be allowed to register for a course without an advising session with their advisor. The advisor will remove the advising hold at this session.

All students are required to formulate a complete plan for their M.A. during pre-registration for second semester. This plan must be approved by their advisor and will serve as a guide to their course of study while at UNC Charlotte.

Academic Standards

From the date of admission to graduation, the Department conducts a continuous review of student academic and professional performance. In addition to evaluations conducted within the courses taken by students, the faculty conduct a thorough review of student performance on a regular basis. Continuation in the program is contingent upon a favorable review during these evaluations. Students who consistently show borderline course performance, who are not developing good applied skills in the practice of their chosen area of study, who fail to complete coursework on a timely basis, or who otherwise perform unprofessionally or unsatisfactorily, may be required to complete additional courses or may be terminated from the program.

All graduate students are subject to academic suspension and/or termination. Department academic standards deviate slightly from University policies stated in appropriate catalogs. A student must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all coursework taken in the program. An accumulation of one (1) marginal (C) grade results in the student being placed on probationary status within the program and could lead to the student being required to re-take the course, and a potential loss of funding if the student is receiving departmental or internship funding. An accumulation of two (2) marginal (C) grades results in suspension of the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. A graduate student whose enrollment has been suspended because of grades is ineligible to register in any semester or summer session unless properly reinstated through the suspension appeal process. An accumulation of three (3) marginal (C) grades or one (1) unsatisfactory (U) or one (1) NC grade results in termination of the student’s enrollment in the graduate program. In order to continue a program of study, the student must pursue reinstatement through the termination appeal process or wait a period of two years before applying for readmission to the program.

Special care should be exercised in completing the requirements of a course in which a grade of Incomplete (I) is received. With the exception of GEOG 6131, where incomplete grades are not normally given, incomplete work must be finished during the next semester in residence, but not later than 12 months after the end of the term in which the “I” was assigned, whichever comes first. However, the course instructor has the option of specifying a completion deadline anytime within the 12-month period. If the “I” is not removed during the specified time, a grade of U is automatically assigned. In any case, a student will not be allowed to schedule the final comprehensive examination until all incomplete grades are removed. Also, with the exception of GEOG 7900, no student may have more than two incomplete grades at any time. Students with two or more incompletes may not register for another term.

Research Options

The program requires all students to complete an individual capstone research project. Although individual research experiences may differ, students should pursue research experiences that are appropriate to departmental faculty resources, individual student’s programs and career goals, and the availability of opportunities that exist to work with allied agencies or clients on or off campus. One of three options, depending on the previously stated stipulations, will be available: 1) a research experience similar to that of a traditional academic capstone; 2) a research experience which involves a paid internship funded by and arranged with a public or private agency or client; and 3) a research experience involving an internship that is not funded, but arranged with a public or private agency or client. Each of these options fulfills program requirements equally. Each will produce a finished research effort of thesis quality.

These options provide a choice for students to pursue a research problem in a direction of his/her individual interest. In all cases, students must work closely with their advisor and program committee to choose the option which best fits both their particular program and prevailing circumstances.
Not every student can expect to engage in a capstone research project that is a paid internship because the number of students frequently exceeds a matching number of opportunities funded in that manner. Unpaid internships provide the same caliber of experience and training in an applied environment. In some cases, that experience may relate student with nonprofit agencies or social services that simply do not have the resources to fund an internship. In either case, the topic of the internship is defined by the client’s problem or needs.


All GEOG 7900 Research Projects are evaluated by a committee of faculty. Committees must have a minimum of three members composed of the graduate faculty of the department–or related departments. Committee members may include outside members from other departments or internship coordinators from off-campus agencies when appropriate.

Proposal and Capstone Defense

To complete the program, all students are required to pass an oral defense of both the proposal and the final version of their individual capstone project. It is the responsibility of the advisor or committee chair, in consultation with the student, to arrange both proposal and capstone defense.

  • The proposal

Students must prepare and orally present a written research proposal that clearly outlines the purpose and scope of their research. Students should be prepared to respond to questions from their research committee, including questions on general topics addressed in their prior coursework. The proposal presentation is generally completed at the beginning (or during) the 3rd semester for full-time students.

  • The defense

The defense of the individual research project (GEOG 7900), the capstone, is generally administered at the discretion of the committee chair and the student. When the advisor is satisfied that the student’s research and writing has progressed sufficiently, the research document is provided to the other members of the independent research committee; if they agree that the document is ready for a defense, an oral exam is scheduled.

Time Limit

All work for the M.A. degree must be completed within a six-year period counting from the beginning of the first term in which credit was earned toward the degree. This includes part-time students.