M.A. Degree Requirements

Click here for Graduate Catalog

The M.A. in Geography requires a minimum of 36 semester hours of graduate work. Three specific courses (12 semester hours) are required of all students except for students in the Community Planning Track. Further, all students must complete an individual capstone research project. Of the remaining 24 hours, a minimum of 12 hours must be completed at the 5000 or 6000 level. Up to 12 hours may be taken in related work which includes all transfer credit, credit by exam, coursework in other departments and courses taken at 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 hours in graduate level independent study (GEOG 6800). The specific requirements are:

Required Courses
GRAD 6101 Linear Regression 3 semester hours
GEOG 6131 Research Design Fundamentals (required in all concentrations) 3 semester hours
GEOG 6040 Community Planning Workshop (required for community planning track only) 3 semester hours
GEOG 7900 (Individual Research Project) 6 semester hours
Elective Courses
Other 5000 or 6000-level courses in Geography 12 semester hours maximum
Related work (outside the Department) or transfer credits in courses numbered 5000 and above 12 semester hours maximum
Total 36 semester hours


As many as six semester hours of course work may be transferred from other accredited institutions upon approval of the student's advisor, the departmental Graduate Advisory Committee, and the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. Course credit may also be earned by examination. The specific arrangements for this procedure must be made through the advisor and the course instructor. The total of all transfer credits, credits earned through examination, and related work together may not exceed 12 credit hours.


Upon admission to the program each student is 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 program of study tailored to the student’s specific needs and career goals. The advisor will generally 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 class without the signature of their “official” advisor.

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


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.

Department academic standards deviate slightly from university policies stated in appropriate catalogs. An accumulation of two (2) marginal (C) grades, or 1 unsatisfactory (U) grade will result in termination of student's enrollment in the graduate program. In order to continue a program of study, the student must reapply for admission 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.

The Department adheres to the UNC Charlotte Code of Student Academic Integrity (http://www.legal.uncc.edu/policies/ps-105.html).


Graduate student progress will be reviewed every semester by the Graduate Advisory Committee on the basis of input from the graduate faculty and the supervisors of areas in which students are working and studying. Students will be evaluated on the basis of both performance in courses and qualitative and subjective assessments of faculty and supervisors (for assistantships).

Comprehensive Examination

To complete the program, each student must pass a two part comprehensive examination covering both general aspects of the discipline and defense of the individual capstone research project. It is the responsibility of the advisor or committee chair, in consultation with the student, to arrange each of the exams.

The Written Exam - Part 1 of the comprehensive is a written exam in which the student must respond to three questions submitted by the faculty. These questions are solicited from the entire graduate faculty of the Department by a memo sent by student's advisor who then administers the examination. The written comprehensive exam is normally taken during the third semester (for full-time students) and in no case should the student take this exam before accumulating 27 hours of completed course work including courses in progress. This exam may not be administered if the student has outstanding incomplete grades in any course work.

The Defense of the (GEOG 7900) Individual Research Project - Part 2 of the comprehensive exam is the defense of the individual research project (GEOG 7900)—the capstone research project. This exam 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 exam is scheduled.

Selection of the GEOG 7900 Research Project Committee

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. Additional members are acceptable and in many cases outside members, other departments or internship coordinators from off-campus agencies are advisable. The advisor and the student shall each select one of the two other department members. Committees comprised of more than three members is strongly discouraged; justification of committees formed of more than three must be submitted, in writing, by the student’s committee chair for approval by the Program Coordinator.

Capstone research projects may take the form of an internship project report or a more traditional thesis. In the former, the research question is created by the client; in the latter, the question is formed by the student. In either case, an exhaustive literature review is required to set the context for the study and provide a rationale for the research methods that are employed.


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.