Admission evaluation criteria

All applications are evaluated by the Graduate Faculty as a whole. As available positions in the graduate program are limited, Faculty work to identify those candidates that they feel would best represent an asset to the program. The criteria below should be considered as guidance in terms of what Faculty look for in prospective students: The quality of the applicant’s preparation. Applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree completed (with exception of those applying to the joint B.A./M.A. program) by the time they enter the M.A. program.  Applicants must have a Master’s degree completed within one semester of their entry into the PhD program.   Assessment includes:

  • Coursework.  An applicant’s coursework must include at least the equivalent of a minor in geography (24 credit hours) for M.A. applicants, and a Master’s degree in Geography for PhD applicants.  Exceptions may be made for students who major in a closely related interdisciplinary program, especially when aligned with their proposed field of study, and students who major in a related field and come from institutions without a geography program.  Applicants who do not meet these criteria may still be admitted conditionally, and required to make up undergraduate coursework as determined by the graduate faculty.
  • Grades.  The university has minimum GPA requirements of 3.0 (out of 4) at the undergraduate level and graduate level; no students will be admitted with grades below these values.  Most of our admitted students have GPAs well above these criteria: an undergraduate GPA of 3.3 or greater is strongly recommended; with a GPA of 3.5 or greater optimal.  A graduate-level GPA of 3.5 or greater is strongly recommended, with a graduate GPA of 3.7 or greater optimal.  
  • Prior research.  For PhD applicants, a master’s degree in which a thesis or similar project is completed is strongly favored.
  • GRE score.  Applicants are recommended to have a minimum GRE of 300 (summing verbal and quantitative scores) on the new scale, with a score of 310 optimal.  Essay scores of 4 or higher are preferred.  
  •   For students that are required to take the TOEFL, our minimum acceptable scores are 79 on the Internet based version, 550 on the computer version, or a MELAB score of 77.  Students with scores below this level will not be admitted into the program. For funding, we require 94 on the Internet based version, 587 on the computer version, or a MELAB score of 82. 
  •   Clarity of expressed research interests, and their compatibility with faculty research.  Admission to the program requires that at least one faculty member expresses a willingness to work with an applicant; students are thus encouraged to communicate with potential advisors during the application process.
  • Strength of recommendation letters.


Application deadlines

The department prefers to admit students to begin the fall semester, although spring and summer admissions are possible.  For fall semester, our primary application deadline is February 1st.  This deadline means that all materials must be received and processed by the university by this date; we thus encourage applicants (especially international applicants) to begin the process much earlier.  Applicants whose applications are complete by this deadline will be given primary consideration for funding opportunities in the department.  Our final fall application deadline is July 1st, although these later applicants will not be considered for funding.  

Applications for spring and summer admission are due on November 1st and April 1st, respectively; please note that no funding is awarded for students beginning in these terms, although they would be eligible to apply for funding for the following fall.


Admission decisions

Faculty work to evaluate all applications promptly.  For students applying during the regular cycle by February 1st, planning to begin during the following fall semester, decisions on admission will be made by late February.  For students applying at other times, a decision is usually made within one month of the completion of the application.

There are two types of admission to our program: regular and conditional.  Regular admission imposes no limits on the student’s entry into the program.  Conditional admission requires that the students meet a certain set of criteria (usually a minimum GPA in select classes during their first semester in residence) in order to gain full entry into our program.  Conditional admission is usually granted to students who show potential but have either inadequate backgrounds in geography, or lower grades than preferred.  Note that the Department does not offer conditional admission to students that have not achieved a passing TOEFL score; one must obtain an acceptable score prior to application into the program.

Applicants admitted to the program before the completion of his/her previous degree program will see their status online as being “Conditional – Transcript”.  This refers to the requirement that a final transcript from a previous institution showing the awarding of the degree must be provided to Kent State within one semester of entering the program.  Students will not be allowed to register for a second semester of classes until this transcript is received; students on funding may lose their funding.

Matriculation into Ph.D. Program for current M.A. students

Students that are currently enrolled in Kent State’s MA program in geography do not need to file a full application in order to be considered for the PhD program.  Rather, the matriculation process is presently conducted within the department.  An interested student should obtain a matriculation form from the Department Office, and submit it to the graduate coordinator, along with:

  •      1.    A copy of your Kent State transcript,  
  •      2.    Two letters of recommendation, and
  •      3.    A new statement of research interests (with recommended length of 1 to 2 pages).

All applications are evaluated by the Graduate Faculty as a whole, utilizing the same criteria described above for regular admission.  Students have one semester from matriculation to complete all requirements for the MA degree.