Application Instructions

Application Deadline For Fall Semester

December 10. Full applications are due by this date. Although we accept applications for the Fall Semester until February 1, applicants who do not meet the December 31 deadline are at a serious disadvantage for funding.

PLEASE NOTE: The GRE is NOT REQUIRED for Fall 2021 applicants.

Application Deadline for the Spring Semester

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

Thank You For Your Interest In Applying To The
Department Of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences.

Important Note: Be sure to answer ALL questions on the application form BEFORE submitting. Once you have submitted your application, you cannot go back to edit your application. If you are unsure of your answers, you can “save” your application and then go back and edit.

Application Type Application Fees
Graduate Domestic $65.00
Graduate International $75.00

Geography major codes:
Ph.D.:   4347
MS:      7669

Before beginning your application
please read the IMPORTANT submission instructions below.

Start a Domestic Graduate Application
Start an International Graduate Application 

Personal Statement or Academic Statement:
It is not required that you submit your Personal Statement or Academic Statement with your application (either online or to the department). 

The Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences requires a "Statement of Purpose." This statement needs to include a discussion as to 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 your academic focus and writing ability.

Be prepared to answer the following questions in the online application:

  • Areas of interest (You may indicate up to 3 choices)
    • Nature-Society
    • Physical
    • Spatial Methods
    • Urban-Economic
  • Identify Geography faculty with your similar interests
    Find the GEO faculty on our website under the Directory
  • List of all the Geography Courses you have taken
    List course title and the grade received
  • List other geography-related technique courses taken as an undergrad
    List course title and the grade received. For example, geology, biology, economics, sociology, statistics, mathematics, computer programming, and languages.
  • List relevant academic or non-academic professional experiences
    Include all publications and presented papers. Also, include fieldwork, work experience, internships, or other activities.
  • Statement of Purpose
    This statement will need 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. As mentioned above, it is a critical part of the application packet, as it provides an indication of the applicant’s academic focus and writing ability. Your statement must be concise and neatly typed. The statement must be a maximum of 4,000 characters (including spaces).

Letters of Recommendation:
At the start of the application, please note that a Password and an Applicant ID number will be provided to you (see the top of the application form). Keep the Password and Applicant ID number to log into the Online Student Portal to set up your Letters of Recommendation.

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

We require 3 letters of recommendation.

Ph.D. Students: One of your recommendations will need to be from your major advisor and/or the chair of your master’s degree department.

Online Student Portal

GRE:
GRE files uploaded into the Student Portal are considered unofficial. Official GRE scores must be sent directly from ETS to MSU.
PLEASE NOTE: The GRE is NOT REQUIRED for Fall 2021 applicants.

Department: 2203
Institution: 1465

GRE Waiver Requests: These 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 Ph.D. 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 rather what we hope to see. If your scores are lower, we do look at your entire application.

Transcripts:
Transcripts uploaded in Online Student Portal are considered unofficial. Unofficial transcripts can be used during the application process. However, once you have been recommended for acceptance and you accept to attend MSU, MSU Admissions requires that you must submit official academic transcripts from the educational institution(s) in signed and sealed envelope(s) OR mailed from the 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.

The applicant is responsible to contact their undergrad university and/or their master’s degree university to have your transcript sent directly to the Department of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences from their university to the address below. 

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

Specific to International Students

TOEFL Scores (Test of English as a Foreign Language):
Scores uploaded in Online Student Portal are considered unofficial.  Official TOFEL scores must be sent directly from ETS to MSU. 

Destination code (DI) 1465
Department 70 

TOEFL score is required 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. The 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. Funding is unlikely for persons with scores below 630/paper based; 109/iBT; 267/computer based.

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 do not admit students as an English language Provisional admit.

TOEFL Waivers: 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 and mail it directly to the Geography Department. 

You receive an automatic TOEFL waiver if you earned a Bachelor’s degree in the U.S. The BA or BS program should be a regular 4-year degree with 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 a 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 a 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

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 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

If you have any questions or for more information, please refer to the Graduate Handbook 2019-2020 or contact:

Joni Burns
Academic Program Coordinator
Geography Building
673 Auditorium Road, Room 116
East Lansing, MI 48824

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