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.S. program) by the time they enter the M.S. 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 should include at least the equivalent of a minor in geography (15 credit hours) for M.S. applicants, and a Master’s degree in Geography for Ph.D. applicants. Exceptions may be made for students who major in a closely related discipline, especially when aligned with their stated research interests. Exceptions may also be made for students who major in a related field and come from institutions without a geography program. Applicants not meeting these criteria may still be admitted conditionally and be required to make up undergraduate coursework as determined by the graduate faculty.
Grades: The university has minimum GPA requirements of 3.0 (out of 4.0) at the undergraduate level and 3.0 at the 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 Ph.D. applicants, we favor a master’s degree in which a thesis or analogous research project is completed.
Statement of Research Interests: Statements must address the following four aspects: (1) your academic background and past experience, (2) your research plan and career goals, (3) how Kent State will help you achieve your goals, (4) which faculty members you would be interested in working with.
Compatibility with Faculty Research: For Ph.D. applicants, we require that at least one faculty member expresses a willingness to advise; students are thus strongly encouraged to communicate with potential advisors during the application process. M.S. applicants should also state clear research interests and potential advisors and are also encouraged to communicate with faculty prior to applying.
Strength of Recommendation Letters: While letters from workplace supervisors or other professional contacts are allowed, applicants should strive to obtain at least two letters from professors.
Measures of English Proficiency: The department’s minimum acceptable scores are a TOEFL (79), MELAB (77), IELTS (6.5), or Duolingo (105). Students with scores below this level will not be admitted. For purposes of funding, the minimum scores are a TOEFL (94), MELAB (82), IELTS (7.0), or Duolingo (115). You can waive these requirements if you were educated in the countries listed here: https://www.kent.edu/admissions/waive-english-language-requirement
GRE Score: GRE scores are optional and not required for admission. If applicants choose to submit GRE scores, they will be considered as part of the admissions criteria. Applicants who choose not to submit GRE scores will be given full consideration and their applications will be considered based on the required criteria.
Writing Sample: A writing sample of no more than 5 pages may be submitted. It is recommended that this sample relate to the stated research interests.
The department prefers to admit students to begin in 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.
Faculty 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) 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 their previous degree program will see their status online as being “Conditional – Transcript”. All admitted Ph.D. students must defend their Master’s thesis within one month of entering the program and provide a final transcript from the previous institution showing the awarding of the degree within the first semester upon entering the program. Students will not be allowed to register for a second semester of classes until this transcript is received and such students will lose their funding.
Matriculation into Ph.D. Program for current M.S. students
Students that are currently enrolled in Kent State’s M.S. program in geography do not need to file a full application to be considered for the Ph.D. 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 Committee, utilizing the same criteria described above for regular admission.
Students have one month from matriculation to complete all requirements for the M.S. degree. If they fail to meet this deadline, they will not be allowed to register for a second semester of classes until this transcript is received and such students will lose their funding.