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The application and admission process has three major steps:

(1) Initial Indication of Interest

All prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty members with whom they appear to share common interests and/or the Director of Graduate Studies prior to any formal application. Read more

:  The Department admits only those applicants who have a specific faculty member interested in supporting their admission and willing to act as their initial advisor during the first year in residence. In many cases, this initial faculty advisor becomes the student’s formal Academic Advisor, but it is also possible for another faculty member to take on the role of Academic Advisor later on. For applicants who do not have a specific faculty member committed to serving as their initial advisor but have research interests that fit the Department and the support of one or more faculty members, the Director of Graduate Studies may serve as the initial faculty advisor.

In order to identify an initial faculty advisor and learn more about our program, we recommend all applicants to send an initial email with a short description of academic interests and a C.V. to faculty with common interests, and to inquire if that faculty member will be accepting any new graduate students. If the faculty member expresses interest, then we suggest continuing communication over email or phone to discuss interests, goals, and expectations. Whenever possible, we also encourage applicants to visit our department; however, visiting is not required. If an applicant is planning to visit the campus, an advance notice to the Director of Graduate Studies would be helpful for scheduling a meeting, in addition to setting up (virtual) meetings with faculty members and graduate students who have related interests.

(2) Formal Application

All prospective students must apply for admission to the Graduate School of the University of North Carolina. Visit the Graduate School’s information page for an online application. 

Please note that application fee waiver requests are available to some US-based applicants.

Application deadline is 13 December 2022. Apply by this deadline for Fall admission and consideration for Departmental funding and nomination for  UNC Graduate School recruitment awards for incoming students.

Please review UNC Graduate School’s complete list of required application materials. Keep in mind that for our department, the GRE is not part of our evaluation criteria for admission.

Read our Department’s instructions for statement of purpose (also referred to as Statement of Professional and Research Interests) and for personal history statement.

Read our Department’s instructions for statement of purposeRead more

The statement of purpose should include:
• Professional and research interests and why they are important
• Personal/professional/research experience and/or academic background and achievements relevant to research interests and goals
• A description of how the Geography program at UNC is a good fit for the application and how the applicant’s academic interests fit with faculty and department interests
• How the applicant would contribute to diversity in our department and at UNC-CH
• Personal accomplishments that demonstrate the potential for success in graduate studies
Please email the Director of Graduate Studies for a sample statement of purpose.

Personal history statement: Read our Department’s instructions for personal history statement Read more

This required statement can be uploaded as Supplemental Information in the application portal. The UNC-CH Geography graduate program values excellence in scholarship and actively seeks to include a diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, in order to foster scholarship that will be transformative both within and beyond the academy. Our graduate students are a vital part of the life UNC-CH’s vibrant and diverse learning community. We require a Personal History Statement that describes how you would contribute to increasing diversity, inclusion, and equity in our program and/or how your life experiences equip you to conduct research with and teach the diverse populations that UNC-CH serves. This statement should be no more than one single spaced page.

In your personal history statement tell us about yourself: your background, identity, experience, or any factors in your life that relate to how you would add to our program’s diversity or how you would work with diverse groups. We value diversity in a broad sense, including but not limited to increasing the representation of historically underrepresented groups in geography. These skills and capacities are also invaluable for our graduate students, who we see as future teachers and researchers equipped for a rapidly changing world. We are interested in learning about any challenges, hardships or obstacles you may have overcome in addressing inequalities that you personally experienced or others have experienced. We would also like to learn about any life experiences that inform your perspective, interests, and goals. Let us know, for example, if you have supported yourself through school, if you have overcome prejudice against your pursuit of personal success, if you are a first-generation college student, if you mentored underrepresented students, or if you worked with any organizations serving underserved communities or vulnerable populations in any part of the world.

(3) Evaluation and Admission

  • The Graduate Committee of the Department of Geography evaluates all applications and recommends admission and funding decisions to the Graduate School. Our evaluation and selection process aims to admit students from diverse backgrounds whose general interests are aligned with those of one or more of the active Departmental faculty members. We expect all graduate students to actively participate in and contribute to the academic life and intellectual community of the Department and the University. 

We are participating in a pilot program phasing out the GRE. The GRE is not required as part of your application, and if you do submit a score it will not be used in evaluation for admission. However, some faculty may recommend applying for a fellowship requiring the GRE — please ask your potential advisor if they would like you to submit GRE scores.  Read more about the Graduate Committee’s selection criteria or considerations.

The Graduate Committee considers all components of an applicant’s application materials and evaluates:

  • Academic background and achievements
  • Academic interests and related personal, professional and/or research experience
  • Faculty support for the applicant and how well the applicant’s interests would fit in and be supported by the Department
  • Potential of applicant to contribute to the Department, the University, and Geography through research and active engagement in academic life and intellectual community
  • Potential of applicant to enhance diversity in the Department, UNC-CH, and discipline

The number of students in residence is limited by Graduate School policies, faculty interest in or capacity to accept more students, and availability of funding.