Future Graduate Students

Welcome Future Graduate Students!


On behalf of the faculty in the Department of Geography at Penn State, I want to welcome you to our prospective graduate studies page and to thank you for your interest in our program. Should you decide to apply, I am confident that you will find a department committed to student success and to providing you the resources, expertise, and guidance to fulfill your career goals.

Two things distinguish our department.  First is a commitment to excellence in a full range of skills. Second is faculty who work closely with students so that you can reach your full intellectual and professional potential.

On this page you will find information about the department, the Graduate School, and “Happy Valley,” as the surrounding community of State College is known. Should you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us.

You are welcome to send an email to: grad@geog.psu.edu or to give us a call at 814-865-3434. 


Thank you, and no matter what you decide to do with your graduate education, we do wish you well.

Sincerely and on behalf of the entire faculty,
Joshua Inwood
Director Graduate Admissions
Department of Geography
Penn State


The Penn State Difference


Penn State Geography is one of the oldest and most well-respected geography programs in the world. We are committed to pushing the frontiers of geographic knowledge and in preparing students to be leaders in their respective fields. We are consistently ranked as one of the top graduate programs in geography by the National Research Council and other national organizations.

Our faculty and students are not only competitive in grant funding programs, but also secure myriad top-tier grants from the federal government and national organizations.

Our graduate students train with with top professionals in their field; they work with faculty on projects that engage with and try to solve pressing national and international challenges.

Our department is home to world-class research facilities, and depending on your research interests, you have access to cutting-edge GIS labs, physical geography research facilities, and other labs that serve as a home base for students and provide additional funding opportunities for graduate work. 

The Walker Building is located conveniently near city bus lines and is an easy bike or walk from several of the neighborhoods that surround campus. We also have several graduate student organizations that support graduate students in their research endeavors and in their professional development. Finally, our students are competitive on the job market; many of our students have landed academic positions at top-tier universities. For those students interested in the private sector, we have a network of connections in the private sector and at government agencies that can open doors for you as you undertake your graduate studies.  

Applying to Our Program


Our graduate program is focused on specialization and independent scholarship that is built on a foundation of geographic knowledge and training. Admission to our program is competitive, and we look for high-quality students who meet our standards for test scores, have strong recommendation letters, and can connect with our faculty and their research interests. 

Prospective students are encouraged to reach out to those faculty with whom they might be interested in working to begin a conversation about the possibility of graduate work in the program, before submitting an application.

You should identify areas of specialization that you will want to work on as you complete your graduate work and identify them in your application materials. As you prepare your application, there are some important dates to keep mind.

Deadlines and Funding


First, there are a limited number of university and college-wide fellowships. To be considered for a fellowship your application is due by: November 20, 2017.  
(Applications received after December 1 are still eligible for department funding.)

To be considered for departmental-level funding, your application is due no later than: December 15, 2017 by 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time. 

Students in the M.S. program are funded for two years. Students who enter the Ph.D. program typically are funded for four years, depending on steady and satisfactory progress towards their degree. 

For more information please read about our funding for graduate students.

If you have questions about the application process, please contact the department at grad@geog.psu.edu or 814-865-3434.

To begin the application process, click here.


Life in “Happy Valley”


Outside your academic work, State College, Pennsylvania, and the Nittany Valley offer graduate students myriad opportunities for recreation and fun. Surrounded by a bucolic setting of large farms and orchards as well as dense forests, we are also only four hours from New York City or Washington, DC as well as three hours from Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. As a result, should you gain admission to our program and decide to come, you have access to some of the largest metro areas in the United States.

The State College Borough is serviced by a regional airport that offers flights to several larger airports and we also have bus lines that can take you throughout the Northeast and Midwest without much difficulty.  If you are interested in outdoor activities, we have access to world-class mountain biking areas, camping and kayaking venues and the Scotia Barrens, a scenic nature area that offers opportunities for hiking and biking. Downtown State College has galleries, restaurants, and bars along with other attractions to explore as you get to know the city.  Information on State College can be found here:  http://www.statecollegepa.us/ Information on visiting State College can be found here: http://www.visitpennstate.org/