About the Program
UC Berkeley Geography offers the highest quality graduate training for future scholars and teachers at the collegiate level, as well as for those going into professional careers in government, NGOs and consulting. The program is divided into three major areas: Development & Environment, Local & Global Relations, and Global Environmental Change. Within these domains, a wide range of faculty interests are represented, such as political ecology, economic geography, cultural geography, post-colonial studies, urban studies, geography of race and gender, climatology, geomorphology, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS). Faculty members come with a broad spectrum of regional specialties as well, including Africa, South and East Asia, the Arctic, the Everglades and Mississippi Delta, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Latin America. The faculty has been expanded in recent years to include a number of affiliates in other departments with expertise in such fields as GIS, gender and social movements, natural resources, fluvial geomorphology, environmental engineering, landscape ecology, and urban planning.
Admission to the University
Minimum Requirements for Admission
The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:
- A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
- A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
- If the applicant comes from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
- Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.
Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree
The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.
Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.
Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.
The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:
- Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
- Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.
Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.
Required Documents for Applications
- Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
- Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
- Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants from countries or political entities in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to applicants from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:
- courses in English as a Second Language,
- courses conducted in a language other than English,
- courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and
- courses of a non-academic nature.
If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be mailed directly to our office from British Council. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.
Where to Apply
Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page.
Doctoral Degree Requirements
|GEOG 200A/200B||Contemporary Geographic Thought||5|
|GEOG 295||Geography Colloquium||1|
|Electives, as per specialized study list|
All students take GEOG 200A in their first year. This course is designed to help each student to see, think, and write geographically; to learn how to make and to judge arguments; and to prepare a thesis proposal. Students with a Human Geography focus will also take GEOG 200B following GEOG 200A. Those with an Earth Systems Science focus are exempt from GEOG 200B (will instead take a course identified by their faculty adviser). All students in the doctoral program must take at least 12 units every semester (primarily in the form of appropriate graduate seminars) before taking the qualifying exam and advancing to candidacy. In addition, students must enroll in the Geography Colloquium (GEOG 295). This is a weekly colloquium (known as the Tea Talk) which features invited speakers.
By the end of the third year, students entering with a BA or BS only must hand in an analytical paper that would be suitable—in length and in quality—for submission to an academic or scientific journal. The analytical paper may be an investigation of an intellectual problem in the form of an original synthesis of secondary literature; it may advance a new idea, or question an existing theory or notion, by assembling information that already exists in the literature; or it may use original information gathered from archives or in the field. The student should have a proposal for the paper by the end of the first year, and must be in constant and close consultation with his or her main adviser. The adviser will determine the appropriate format and length of the paper. The paper must be handed in, and approved by the main adviser, no later than a month before the qualifying exam. A copy of the paper with the adviser's approval should be turned in to the student affairs officer. Students entering with an MA are exempt from the analytical paper requirement.
Prior to taking the qualifying exam, all students must prepare a preliminary dissertation prospectus of between five and ten pages for their exam committee.
The qualifying exam (the "orals") must be taken by the end of the third year, although it is recommended that students entering with a master's degree take it by the end of their second year. The exam is based on a discussion of three broad geographic fields built around bibliographies produced in consultation with the examining committee.
Immediately after passing the orals, a student applies to the Graduate Division for Advancement to Candidacy for the PhD.
As part of their training, all students will be expected to serve as graduate student instructors (GSIs) for at least one semester.
Before starting dissertation research, each student must have a dissertation prospectus meeting—during which the student discusses a written research proposal—with at least two members of the exam committee. The PhD dissertation is written under the supervision of a committee of three University faculty members, one of whom must be from outside the Geography Department and a member of the Berkeley Academic Senate. Upon final acceptance of the dissertation, the degree of PhD is awarded. It is expected that the student will complete the PhD by the end of the sixth year in the program.
All students are expected to give an exit talk the semester they are filing their dissertation.
All students must give the department a copy of their thesis before their final report to the Graduate Division will be signed.
Faculty and Instructors
+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.
Jeffrey Q. Chambers, Associate Professor. Forests, climate change, trees, tropical forests, remote sensing, Drought.
Sharad Chari, Associate Professor. Geography as history of the present and as Earth/world-writing, social theory, political economy, development, agrarian studies, labor and work, racial/sexual capitalism, Black radical tradition, biopolitical struggle, oceanic humanities, photography, South Asia, South Africa, Indian Ocean.
John Chiang, Professor. Climate change, climate dynamics, ocean-atmosphere interactions, paleoclimate.
Kurt Cuffey, Professor. Continuum mechanics, climate, geomorphology, glaciers, glaciology, climate history, stable isotopes, geographical thought.
William E. Dietrich, Professor. Morphology, earth and planetary sciences, geomorphology, evolution of landscapes, geomorphic transport laws, landscape evolution modeling, high resolution laser altimetry, cosmogenic nuclide analysis.
You-Tien Hsing, Professor. China, geography, political economy of development in East Asia, the process of international economic restructuring, cultural and institutional configuration in the processes of Taiwanese direct investment, growth in Chinese cities, business networks.
G. Mathias Kondolf, Professor. Ecological restoration, landscape architecture, environmental planning, fluvial geomorphology, hydrology, environmental geology, environmental impact assessment, riparian zone management.
Jake Kosek, Associate Professor. Cultural politics of nature and difference; cultural geography, science and technology studies; critical race theory; critical cartography; biopolitics; human and the non-human; and environmental politics.
Laurel G. Larsen, Assistant Professor. Hydroecology, geomorphology, complex systems, restoration ecology, environmental modeling, wetlands, sediment transport, environmental fluid mechanics.
Jovan Scott Lewis, Assistant Professor. Jamaica and the USA; constructions and infrastructures of poverty, inequality, race (blackness), economy, and the market.
Beatriz Manz, Professor. Latin America, human rights, peasantry, migrations, social movements, political conflict, Mayan communities in Guatemala, issues of memory, grief.
David O'Sullivan, Associate Professor. Spatial analysis, complexity, spatial models.
Robert Rhew, Associate Professor. Geography, terrestrial-atmosphere exchange of trace gases, atmospheric chemistry and composition, halogen biogeochemistry, stratospheric ozone depletion issues, coastal salt marsh, chaparral, desert, tundra, boreal forest, grassland.
Nathan F. Sayre, Associate Professor. Climate change, endangered species, rangelands, political ecology, pastoralism, ranching, environmental history, suburbanization, human-environment interactions, environmental geography, range science and management, Southwestern US, scale, community-based conservation.
Harley Shaiken, Professor. Mexico, labor, globalization, education, United States, geography, work organization, issues of economic and political integration in the Americas, information technology, skill.
David B. Wahl, Assistant Adjunct Professor.
Teresa Caldeira, Professor. Comparative urban studies, urbanization in the global south, social theory, ethnography. qualitative methodology.
Pheng Cheah, Professor. Nationalism, rhetoric, legal philosophy, feminism, 18th-20th century continental philosophy and contemporary critical theory, postcolonial theory and anglophone postcolonial literatures, cosmopolitanism and globalization, social and political thought.
Iryna Dronova, Assistant Professor.
N. Maggi Kelly, Professor.
Nancy L. Peluso, Professor. Political ecology/resource policy and politics/forests/agrarian change/property and access.
John Radke, Associate Professor. City and regional planning, landscape architecture and environmental planning, geographic information systems, database design and construction, spatial analysis, pattern recognition computational morphology.
Isha Ray, Associate Professor. Water and development; Gender, water and sanitation; technology and development.
Raka Ray, Professor. Feminist theory, gender, social movements, South and Southeast Asian studies, relations between dominant subaltern groups in India, womenÂ´_s movements in India.
Sally Thompson, Associate Professor. Nonlinear dynamics, spatial ecology, Ecohydrology, surface hydrology, arid and semi-arid watersheds and ecosystems, pattern formation, plant physiology, water resource sustainability.
Alicia Cowart, Lecturer.
Seth R. Lunine, Lecturer.
John Stehlin, Lecturer.
Paul Groth, Professor Emeritus. Architecture, vernacular architecture, urban geography, suburban America, cultural landscape studies, housing (US).
Gillian P. Hart, Professor Emeritus.
Michael Johns, Professor Emeritus. Latin America, development, geography, culture of cities.
Norman Miller, Professor Emeritus. Hydroclimate modeling and assimilation and analysis, climate change impacts to sociology-economic and ecological sectors.
Richard Walker, Professor Emeritus. Race, environment, urbanism, politics, geography, resources, economic geography, regional development, capitalism, cities, California, class.
+ Michael J. Watts, Professor Emeritus. Islam, development, Africa, social movements, political economy, political ecology, geography, South Asia, peasant societies, social and and cultural theory, US agriculture, Marxian political economy.
Department of Geography
507 McCone Hall
Nathan Sayre, PhD
599 McCone Hall
Head Graduate Adviser
John Chiang, PhD
547 McCone Hall
Student Academic Adviser (Grad & UG), Lead
517 McCone Hall
Student Academic Adviser (Grad & UG)
509A McCone Hall