Application Instructions

 

Application Deadlines

Application deadline for Fall semester:

December 31. Full applications are due by that date. Although we accept applications for Fall semester until February 1, applicants who do not meet the December 31 deadline are at a serious disadvantage for funding.

Application deadline for Spring semester:

October 1. Funding is unlikely for students starting their program Spring Semester.

Application Instructions: Domestic & International Students

Applying to the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences.

NOTE: Please answer ALL questions on the application form BEFORE submitting. Once you have submitted your application you cannot go back and edit your application. If you are unsure of your answers, you can “Save” your application and then go back and edit.

Link to the online application form using credit card fee payment of $65.00 Domestic application and $75.00 International application:

https://admissions.msu.edu/application/app.asp?AL=G

It is not necessary to submit a Personal Statement or Academic Statement with your application (either online or to the department). What we DO require is a Statement of Purpose: This statement needs to include a discussion of why you want to pursue a degree in geography or GIS, your background to do so, and your career goals. It is a CRITICAL part of the application as it provides an indication of the applicant’s academic focus and writing ability.

In the online application form be prepared to answer the following questions:

Under area of interest: You may provide up to 3 choices.

  • Areas of interest:
    Nature-Society
    Physical
    Spatial Methods
    Urban-Economic
  • Identify Geography faculty with interests similar to yours.
    You can find our Geography faculty at our website http://geo.msu.edu/people_categories/faculty/
  • List all Geography courses you have taken (Course Title and Grade)
  • List other geography-related or technique courses taken as an undergraduate such as geology, biology, economics, sociology, statistics, mathematics, computer programming, languages. (Course Title and Grade)
  • List relevant academic or non-academic professional experience. Include all publications and presented papers. Also include fieldwork, work experience, internships or other activities.
  • Statement of Purpose: A neatly typed and concisely written (maximum 4,000 characters, a space is considered a character) statement of purpose. This statement needs to include a discussion of why you want to pursue a degree in geography or GIS, your background to do so, and your career goals. It is a critical part of the application packet, as it provides an indication of the applicant’s academic focus and writing ability.

NOTE:  The Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences is in Social Science – scroll down to find the Geography major codes:
PhD:    4347
MS:     7669

Once you start your application you will set up a Password and be given an Applicant ID number (see top of the application form).  You will need your Password and Applicant ID number to log into the online student portal to set up your Letters of Recommendation.

Letters of Recommendation:

To set up your Letters of Recommendation you will log into the Online Student Portal.  You will need to “Register Recommender” with their first and last name and their email address.  Your recommenders will automatically be sent an email with the link and password to log in and submit their recommendation for you.

We require 3 recommendations.

PhD Students: One of your recommendations should be from your major advisor AND/OR the chair of your master’s degree department.

Online Student Portal:
https://admissions.msu.edu/gradportal/default.aspx

File Uploads (in Online Student Portal):
GRE scores (upload in Online Student Portal – these are considered unofficial).
Official GRE scores must be sent directly from ETS to MSU. We are Department 2203 and Institution 1465. Waiver requests are only granted if the GRE is not given in your country.  At the Master’s level we like to see a combined score of 300 of the verbal and quantitative scores and the written score at the 50% percentile. At the PhD level we like to see a combined score of 306 of the verbal and quantitative scores and the written score at the 75% percentile.  These scores are not requirements but what we hope to see.  If your scores are lower, we do look at your entire application.

Transcripts (upload in Online Student Portal – these are considered unofficial transcripts but can be used during the application process).
Once you have been recommended for acceptance and you decide to come to MSU, MSU Admissions requires that you must submit official academic transcripts from educational institution(s) in sealed/signed envelopes OR mailed from institution directly to Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences. If your transcript is from Michigan State University, you do NOT need to submit your MSU transcripts.

You will need to contact your undergrad university AND master’s degree university to have your transcript SENT DIRECTLY TO THE GEOGRAPHY DEPARTMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY TO THIS ADDRESS:

Ms. Sharon Ruggles
Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences
673 Auditorium Rd, Rm. 116 Geography Bldg.
East Lansing MI 48824-1117

Specific to International Students:

MasterCard Scholarship Information:

The MasterCard Scholarship is open to residents and citizens of Sub-Saharan African countries. The MasterCard Scholarship is only available to Master’s students. Students must be first-time applicants to MSU. Transfer students are not eligible for the program.

Your complete MS (Master’s) application must be reviewed by the Geography graduate program and, if qualified, we would then nominate you for a MasterCard Scholarship.

Below is a link to information about the MasterCard Scholarship.

http://mcfscholars.isp.msu.edu/apply/grad.htm

File Uploads (in Online Student Portal):
GRE scores (upload in Online Student Portal – these are considered unofficial).
Official GRE scores must be sent directly from ETS to MSU. We are Department 2203 and Institution 1465. Waiver requests are only granted if the GRE is not given in your country.  At the Master’s level we like to see a combined score of 300 of the verbal and quantitative scores and the written score at the 50% percentile. At the PhD level we like to see a combined score of 306 of the verbal and quantitative scores and the written score at the 75% percentile.  These scores are not requirements but what we hope to see.  If your scores are lower, we do look at your entire application.

English Language scores (upload in Online Student Portal these are considered unofficial).

Below is a list of English speaking countries where MSU generally waives the TOEFL score. If you are a citizen and your education was in of one of these countries you are usually exempt from submitting an English language exam score i.e. TOEFL/IELT.

If your country is NOT on the English Country List below, MSU requires that you submit an official English language exam score.

English Country List

TOEFL Scores:  Official TOFEL scores must be sent directly from ETS to MSU.  We are destination code (DI) 1465 and Department 70.  Current TOEFL score (Test of English as a Foreign Language) for all international students whose native language is not English. To be acceptable, the TOEFL test must have been taken within the last 2 years. Submission of TOEFL scores is a University requirement. The Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences generally does not admit students whose TOEFL scores are less than 600/paper based; 100/iBT; 250/computer based and funding is unlikely for persons with scores below 630/paper based; 109/iBT; 267/computer based. If you have a degree from an English-speaking country and your work was primarily in English OR If you have a U.S. undergraduate degree with the majority of credits earned in the U.S., you can request a TOEFL waiver. Submit a written request for a TOEFL waiver mailed directly to the Geography Department. (For the TOEFL we are Destination Code (DI) 1465 and department 70.)

Please note:  IBT TOEFL scores:  For regular admission the university requires a minimum score of 80 with no subscores below 19 for reading, listening and speaking; no writing subscore below 22.  A score below 80 or subscores below the minimum would be a “Provisional” admission.  NOTE: The department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences does not admit students as an English language Provisional admit.

TOEFL Waivers: You receive an automatic TOEFL/English Language Exam score waiver if you earned a Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. The BA or BS program should be a regular 4-year degree the majority of credits earned in the U.S.

If you received a Master’s degree from one of these universities (see link below) you will receive an automatic TOEFL/English Language exam score waiver. You must request in writing a TOEFL waiver/English Language exam score waiver (upload request in Online Student Portal) if you have a Master’s degree from an U.S. university not on this list.

In your written TOEFL waiver request please go into detail as to why you believe that you qualify for a TOEFL waiver.  At minimum, include time in the U.S., a graduate degree from a university in the U.S (note which university), and that a previous/expired TOEFL or IELT exam you took in (date) meets MSU minimum requirements.  NOTE:  If your country is NOT on the list below, even if all your education was conducted in English, MSU REQUIRES a TOEFL or IELT score.  This requirement cannot be waived.

Graduate degree Universities with automatic TOFEL waiver:  http://www.aau.edu/about/default.aspx?id=16710

English Country List

 

Applicants from Chinese universities:

Once you have been recommended for acceptance and you decide to come to MSU, applicants then submit certified copies (sealed and stamped by institutions) of all post-secondary transcripts, graduation certificates and degrees directly to the Geography Department.  MSU requires these documents in the original language (Chinese) as well as an official English translation.

Effective Spring 2015, Michigan State University will require all incoming ADMITTED students pursuing degrees or who have earned degrees from universities in China to submit a verification report (English version) through the China Academic Degrees and Graduate Education Development Center (CDGDC) for their final bachelor degree transcripts and bachelor degree.

What needs to be included in your CDGDC verification report:

  1. Institutional recognition and confirmation of program completion
  2. Confirmation that the bachelor’s degree was conferred
  3. Copy of transcript in Chinese/English or English

All verification reports need to be sent to the MSU Office of Admissions directly by CDGDC.

The address to use:

Michigan State University
Hannah Administration Building
426 Auditorium Rd., Rm. 250
East Lansing MI 48824-2604

For those Master degree granted student, we only need the undergraduate level verification report from CDGDC.

If you have any questions or for more information, please refer to the Graduate Handbook 2016 – 2017 or contact:

Ms. Sharon Ruggles
Academic Program Coordinator
Geography Building
673 Auditorium Road, Room 116
East Lansing, MI 48824

Phone: 517-355-4650
Fax: 517-432-1671

 

Planning a Visit

Though by no means a requirement, many students find it helpful to plan a visit to the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences and Michigan State University either before they apply for admission or after their application has been submitted for consideration. A visit offers a unique opportunity to become more familiar with the University, Department, faculty, and current graduate students.

If you would like to set up a visit, first review our faculty and their research interests and note which faculty you would like to meet http://geo.msu.edu/people_categories/faculty/.  Once you have found faculty with research interests similar to yours, contact Ms. Sharon Ruggles, Academic Program Coordinator at ruggles@msu.edu or 517 355-4650 to help plan your visit.  Please note that faculty travel frequently and have busy schedules; they may not be available for meetings during your visit, and especially if you plan your visit on short notice.

A typical visit to the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences includes one-on-one meetings with faculty, a group lunch with current graduate students, and meetings with the Department Chair and the Graduate Director. The Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences is happy to arrange visits with other departments or visits to area and thematic studies units should you be interested.