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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Identify one or more faculty research interests common to yours. You are encouraged to make an initial contact with them and discuss their research program and opportunities.
  • Visit the department and campus.

Domestic Students

  • Fall admission and assistantship consideration – January 15
  • Fall admission and no interest in an assistantship – June 1
  • Spring admission and assistantship consideration – October 1
  • Spring admission and no interest in an assistantship – November 1

International Students

  • Fall admission and assistantship consideration – January 15
  • Fall admission and no interest in an assistantship – May 1
  • Spring admission and assistantship consideration – October 1
  • Spring admission and no interest in an assistantship – October 1

Apply online. All materials are submitted to the Graduate School EXCEPT for the Application for an Assistantship form, which is sent to the department.

Complete the Application for an Assistantship form and return it to the Department of Geography (do not send this form to the graduate school).

Students work in a teaching or research capacity for the department. Assistantships include a tuition waiver and a monthly stipend (student fees must still be paid) and are awarded on a competitive basis. The department typically offers teaching assistantships and research assistantships. Occasionally other assistantship types of funding opportunities arise (administrative assistantships). These can be discussed with the graduate coordinator when they become available. Teaching assistant positions spend 20 hours a week teaching for the department. The specific course and load depends on the students expertise, experience, and departmental course offerings. Incoming students would typically teach multiple laboratory sections of introductory courses. research assistantship positions involve working 20 hours a week with faculty on externally funded research grants. Research assistantships’s are selected by the funded faculty member.

  • Teaching assistantships for M.S. students are funded for 2 years maximum with an annual review for renewal.
  • Teaching assistantships for Ph.D. students are funded for 4 years maximum with an annual review for renewal.
  • In certain instances where research assistantships are available a student may be funded longer than the traditional time period.

The GRE is required of all applicants, there are no waivers.

No, the entire application packet is evaluated by the application committee.

After the Graduate School receives a complete application packet the department will review the material and notify the graduate school of their decision. This happens on a continuous basis throughout the year.

Fall semester: Mid-March.

Most TA and RA positions begin fall semester. Occasionally a TA position become available beginning spring semester. RA positions may become available throughout the year as grant funding becomes available to specific faculty members.

We typically allow up to 15 credits of graduate coursework taken as a student-at-large to be transferred towards the degree. The actual number accepted will be determined by the students committee in consultation with the graduate coordinator.

Contact faculty with research interests that overlap with your to discuss advising and thesis project possibilities. You are strongly encouraged to do this before arrival on campus so that you begin work towards degree completion as soon as you arrive on campus.

Advisors are not assigned. Students have unique research interests and faculty have unique interests and existing graduate advising loads. Students make contact with potential faculty advisors to discuss common research interests. After consultation, a faculty member is asked to be the advisor and agreed upon mutually by the student and faculty member.

Each student has a custom designed plan of courses. GEOG 600, 604, 663, & 663 are required for all graduate students. Beyond those courses, you and your advisor will determine what courses will be required based on your academic background and your research project.

Most MS students complete their degree in 2 years or 2 years and 1 semester.

The goal is to be finished in 4 years.

PhD students must have a master's degree before eligible for a Ph.D.

Graduate Advising

Ryan James
Davis Hall, Room 203
815-753-0631
815-753-6872 (Fax)
rjames1@niu.edu