MA in Applied Geography

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

Program Description

MA in Applied Geography

University of Colorado Colorado Springs

The Master of Arts in Applied Geography at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs is a terminal master's program that encourages graduate students to focus on applied, community-based research projects to solve local, regional, and even international issues. Given pressing research needs and future labor force demands, the MA in Applied Geography incorporates a multitude of issues that speak to people, profit, and planet.

Areas of Specialization

Sustainability Studies: Sustainability studies integrates knowledge and methodologies from the Sciences, Humanities, and Arts to provide a roadmap that can be applied to the design, selection, and implementation of sustainable policies, practices, technologies, and strategies. Sustainability Studies provides a dynamic feedback loop of information and practice. The Master of Arts in Applied Geography provides opportunities to explore nature-society relations and social equity issues at a variety of scales.

Applied, Community-Based Research: Students typically engage in applied, community-based research projects. These students often provide practical and systematic solutions that address one or more of the universal sustainability goals of environmental protection, social equity, and economic opportunity. The context of this research is typically the local community, but several students have expanded the scope of their work to include the western US and the US more generally. Some have even gone as far away as Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa to collaborate with both our skilled faculty and local experts to provide social, economic, and technological solutions for specific problems facing these communities.

Geospatial Technologies: Many graduate students use the newly emerging field of geospatial technology to advance research on these topics, since visualizing data through technologies such as geographic information systems (GIS), remote sensing, and/or internet mapping is profoundly changing the way research scientists are addressing critical social, economic, and environmental issues. Program Outcomes

The program requires graduate students to undertake problem-solving research, think critically about spatial relationships, and communicate effectively. Graduates from the MA program go onto PhD programs, serve in professional and managerial positions, and/or as information and technology experts for consulting firms, public agencies, and non-profit organizations. Additionally, the program prepares graduate students for emerging careers as geospatial analysts in the Military and Intelligence Communities.

Program Distinctions

  • In a 2009 external review of the UCCS Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, the reviewers stated “the program reflects a level of excellence rarely found in regional state university settings. We encountered a dynamic group of faculty, staff, and students who are enthusiastic about their program… If there is a department that captures and reflects the university’s mission statement about providing “unsurpassed, student-centered teaching and learning, and outstanding research…that serve our community, state, and nation,” GES is certainly one of the most notable for this institution.”
  • The department also prides itself for being recognized as one of the university’s “Unique and High-Need” Programs; indeed, it is the only program in the College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences to receive that distinction. In part, this distinction comes from the departments commitment to sustainability studies and geospatial technologies. The faculty requires students to apply geographic knowledge and methodologies to the design, selection, and implementation of sustainable policies, practices, technologies, and strategies. The Geography and Environmental Studies Department is a program of excellence in all facets of teaching, research, and service and models “best practices” within the discipline of geography.
  • The GES faculty has produced an impressive number of pure and applied publications. Given the diverse demands on their time, they are to be commended for publishing in some of the discipline’s top journals. The quality of publication in peer-reviewed outlets, and the quantity, is on par with many Tier I (Carnegie classification) institutions. It is exceptional, too, that all faculty in the department are committed to a high level of scholarship; and support one another in pursuing academic achievement. Though at other institutions this might create a competitive environment, in GES a highly creative and supportive atmosphere predominates. This is a key strength, and ensures not only the success of GES faculty, but also provides an excellent example to the graduate and undergraduate students that are mentored in the program.
  • From the standpoint of external funding, the department has an excellent record. Based on a report from the UCCS Office of Sponsored Programs, the department’s awards totaled nearly $1,000,000 as of 2012. This level of external funding illustrates the value of the ideas of GES faculty as weighed by peer review. This balance of grants has been utilized for both pure research and applied research pursuits, many of which have linked directly into community needs or funding initiatives. These grants have also been a critical source of graduate student funding. As a result, many graduate student have gained not only essential financial support but also indispensable experience as “research assistants” for GES faculty working on cutting-edge projects.

  • Recent hires have only solidified the reputation of the GES department. Many of these new hires to the department already had an outstanding reputation in the discipline and/or are poised to make significant contributions in the future.

  • The prevalence of GES faculty on editorial boards of the discipline’s top journals, the election of GES faculty to key positions in the discipline’s largest professional organization, and the presence of GES faculty as board members and/or consultants for numerous local and regional community organizations illustrate that the GES faculty has exceptional standing in many different settings.

Program Requirements

Students may complete either a thesis option or a non-thesis option for the MA in Applied Geography. The department strongly encourages students to fulfill the thesis option. The thesis option consists of 24 credits of coursework and 6 credits of thesis. The non-thesis option consists of 30 credits of coursework plus a research paper and comprehensive exam.

Required Tests

  • GRE


Last updated January 26, 2016
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This course is Campus based
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Sept. 2016
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Start date Sept. 2016
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USA Colorado Springs, Colorado
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