Financial Support

The Department encourages all students to seek out funding to support their enrollment in the graduate program.  The department offers a limited number of assistantships at the master’s and doctoral level, and additional research assistantships may be available from individual faculty members.

Applying for Assistantships

All newly admitted students, as well as all continuing students in good standing that are not on funding, will be considered for assistantships each academic year.  No separate application is necessary, though continuing students will need to indicate their interest in being considered on their Annual Report. Assistantships are only awarded for terms beginning in Fall Semester.


A student is eligible for funding for up to 2 years in the M.S. program, and up to 4 years in the Ph.D. program, pending appropriate progress (see below). Students admitted conditionally are ineligible for funding consideration until they have met the conditional requirements.

An annual review will be held no later than the end of February by the Graduate Committee to assess the progress of all graduate students toward completion of their degree.  Students who have received departmental funding, but whose progress or performance is judged to be unsatisfactory, may have their funding and/or enrollment terminated at the end of the academic year.   Marginal performance may result in students being subsequently funded on a semester basis instead of an annual basis.   Students will be notified of this decision before May 1.

An M.S. student on assistantship who has not been defended his/her proposal before the end of his/her first year in residence will receive a commitment of only one semester of funding for the second year.  The second semester of funding will be restored if s/he defends his/her proposal by Week 10 of the first semester of his/her second year.  A Ph.D. student on assistantship who has not been admitted to candidacy before the end of his/her second year will receive a commitment of only one semester of funding for the third year.  The second semester of funding will be restored if s/he is admitted to candidacy by Week 10 of the first semester of his/her third year.

Students that are admitted to the university but not initially provided funding may apply for funding in subsequent years; this will be indicated on the Annual Report.  Those students will then be evaluated alongside new applicants, and if they are awarded funding, will be eligible up through their 2nd year in the M.S. program or 3rd year in the Ph.D. program.

Funding support for the 4th year of PhD study

The Department of Geography believes that most full-time doctoral students should be able to finish their dissertations within 3 years of starting the program.  However, considering the competitive nature of the job market today, we believe that providing support for a 4th year in residence is necessary to prepare students for academic or research careers.  This 4th year of support allows time to complete the dissertation, disseminate the results through publication and presentation, and participate in professional development opportunities.

To be eligible for a 4th year of funding, a student must have achieved the following in their first 3 years in the Ph.D. program:

  • 1. Reached ABD status by the start of their 3rd year in residence
  • 2. Clear progress towards the completion of their dissertation, with a work plan to complete the dissertation by the end of the 4th year.  Progress includes the completion of all primary data collection, completion of most of the analysis, and submission of a manuscript if the dissertation is article-based.
  • 3. Have submitted at least one proposal for dissertation or research support to one external (i.e. non-KSU) entity   by the end of their 3rd year in residence (note: for the NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, this means by February of the 3rd year in residence)
  • 4. Have presented their research at three or more conferences.  At least two presentations should be at national or international meetings.
  • 5. Have at least two peer-reviewed manuscripts published/accepted, including one as lead or sole author

Other evidence of substantial scholarly activity (e.g. receiving external funding) can be presented if any of the above criteria are not met.


The university offers several fellowships each year, for which Ph.D. students may be qualified, including the University Fellowship (aka ‘Dissertation Fellowship’) and the David B Smith Fellowship.   Calls to qualified nominees will be made each spring.

Summer Support

The Department offers limited summer support for graduate students to serve as instructors for any courses that are available.  Calls for interested students will be made each spring.  Research support may also be available from faculty with external funding.  Students are also encouraged to explore other options at the University during the summer.

Departmental Travel Support

The Department encourages students to attend academic conferences and workshops in support of their professional development. To help facilitate this, the Department generally offers travel support to eligible students.  This total may be used for one conference or split across multiple conferences. See the Graduate Handbook for eligibility.  Additional funds for graduate students are often available from the University as well (see below).

Departmental Research Support

Some research projects incur costs that are otherwise prohibitive for students. To that end, the Geography Department sponsors four separate awards:

  • Beck Fund supports general research costs for any project topic.
  • Gandhi Fund supports research costs for projects on South Asia.
  • Schmidlin Fund supports general research costs for any project topic.
  • Norah Henry Fund supports research costs for female students with demonstrated financial need, with preference for students of Irish, German, Australian, Pacific Islander ancestries or first-generation American students and preference for international research.

Eligibility: All applicants must be enrolled in a M.S. or Ph.D. program in the Department of Geography and in good standing.  Each Fund has additional eligibility requirements:

Review: Decisions will be made by the Graduate Committee. Awards will be determined based on the (1) scholarly merit of the project; (2) the quality of the written proposal; (3) the qualifications of the student to complete the work; and (4) award specific criteria (see award descriptions above).

A call for proposals will be announced at regular intervals, once or twice a year.  There will be instructions and an official application cover sheet

Graduate Studies Travel and Research Support

Graduate Studies offers several awards for graduate students in support of research or other professional travel:

  • Domestic Travel Award:  Travel, research, or professional development in the U.S., Canada, or Mexico.  This reimbursement award is non-competitive and most popular with fall, spring, and summer application deadlines.
  •  International Travel Award:  Overseas conference or professional development travel.  This reimbursement award is competitive and most popular with fall, spring, and summer application deadlines. 
  • Research Award:  Used for thesis or dissertation research, graduate writing projects, and archival needs.  This reimbursement award is competitive with a fall and spring application deadline.
  • Contingency Award: For special circumstances.

Work Study Application Requirements and Student Loans

All U.S. citizens being considered for a departmental graduate assistantship are required to process a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine their eligibility for Federal Work-Study.  Students must complete the FAFSA form and have the results of this form sent to the University.

All graduate students are encouraged to apply for needed financial assistance through the Financial, Billing, and Enrollment Center. Student loans and Federal Work-Study are available for all eligible graduate students.