Program Specifics and Maintaining Good Standing

Your responsibilities

The Department prides itself on its collegial atmosphere among faculty and students.  While the advisor and Graduate Coordinator both supervise student’s progress towards their degree, it is ultimately the student’s responsibility to maintain proper registration, meet deadlines, and all other criteria laid out in this document as well as in the University Graduate Catalog.

Maintaining registration

A full-time student must be enrolled in at least 8 hours per semester.  He/she may not be enrolled in more than 16 hours without written permission.  All students on departmental support must be enrolled full-time.  Students do not need to register for summer courses, unless they have already defended their thesis or dissertation proposal, after which they must enroll in Thesis or Dissertation hours during the summer.  It is the student’s responsibility to make sure he/she is properly registered.

Coursework transfer

The Department will accept up to 12 hours of transferred coursework towards a MA degree, and 11 hours towards a PhD agree.  This credit must be earned at the relevant level at an accredited institution; the student must have earned at least a B in the hours being transferred; and the work must be in Geography and relevant to the student’s degree.  To transfer credit, students must provide a transcript of and syllabus for all coursework to be transferred, and fill out the form found here:

Time limit for completion

The M.A. (Ph.D.) programs are designed to be a 2 (3-4) year programs, although it is recognized that it may require some students longer to complete, particularly if they are part-time.  To ensure timely completion of degree, the department requires the completion of all M.A. (Ph.D.) degree requirements within four (six) years from the first enrollment at that level .  Ph.D. students must also reach candidacy within four years of first enrollment.  Extensions may be granted via petition to the Graduate Coordinator, and must be approved by the Department Graduate Faculty and the College.   Students who have not completed their degree requirements within this time frame will be dismissed.

Incomplete coursework

Students are discouraged from taking incomplete (IN) grades in any graduate coursework unless there are extenuating circumstances.  A student must discuss their situation with the professor of the course in which they need an IN, and reach an understanding of the timeline for completion of all work.  The professor will file the required paperwork.  Please note that for students on funding, all IN grades must be completed within one semester; further, all IN grades must be rectified before graduation.

Academic Dismissal

Students are expected to maintain a 3.0 GPA average GPA in all graduate work at Kent State.  Any student whose GPA falls below 3.0, or who receives a combination of more than 8 credit hours of B- or lower grades, or more than 4 credit hours of C or lower grades, is subject to dismissal.  Procedures for dismissal and appeals can be found in the University Graduate Catalog.

Plagiarism and Academic Misconduct

Academic honesty is a value taken seriously by the Department of Geography and the University.  Students are expected to adhere to standards set by the university.  It is recognized that the boundaries of plagiarism and academic dishonesty may be difficult to discern in certain circumstances; the university has created a website to provide information on the definitions of and remedial methods for instances of academic dishonesty:

Dealing with your Responsibilities

Life in a graduate program can be very different than an undergraduate program, as there are many more expectations that go beyond the traditional semester-to-semester plan.  It is not uncommon for students to have difficulties balancing the diverse set of professional expectations within the graduate program; the inevitable personal issues that arise in life complicate things further.  Successful time-management skills and self-discipline are keys to success in a graduate program.  A student’s advisor, the graduate coordinator, and the chair are all available and willing to discuss a student’s difficulties in managing day-to-day responsibilities while in the program.

The Institutional Review Board

For work involving human subjects, approval from the University’s Institutional Review Board (IRB; is required.  This process may involve both the approval of the proposed work as well as the successful completion of online training modules.  It is important that the student take IRB procedures seriously to avoid legal repercussions.  Human-subjects work may not proceed until IRB approval is granted; this process may take up to 6 weeks during the school year, and longer during the summer.  Their website contains relevant details on procedures, which will vary depending upon the level of human-subject research incorporated into a project.

Selection of Advisor

Upon entry into the program, the Graduate Coordinator assigns one Faculty member as a temporary advisor to each incoming student, based on mutual interest.  This assignment is based on initial expressed interest, and by no means confers an obligation for the student to work with the Faculty member as a permanent advisor.  The temporary advisor will help the student design a program of courses for the first semester.  The temporary advisor assignment is terminated when the student selects a permanent advisor.  

The selection of a permanent advisor must take place by Week 6 of the second semester in the program.  A copy of the Advisor Declaration Form, once signed by the permanent advisor and the Graduate Coordinator, will be placed in the student’s academic file in the departmental office.  All academic decisions must be made following consultation with the student’s advisor. View our Faculty Profiles Page for more information on potential advisors and check the Graduate Handbook for graduate faculty status. 

Students are free to change advisors at any time, but any decision should be made in consultation with the former advisor as well as the new advisor.  If the student decides to change his/her advisor, a new Advisor Declaration Form must be filed.

Under certain circumstances, co-advising may be possible.  Co-advising should be considered only when two faculty members relatively equally cover the spectrum of the thesis or dissertation research, and are amenable to serving as co-advisors.  

Student-Advisor Relationship

A student’s likelihood of success in his/her pursuit of a graduate degree is higher in cases where a good working relationship with their advisor is established.  The student and advisor should work to define a regular time for meetings.  In these meetings, the advisor should work with the student to lay out a timetable for their completion of all degree requirements, identify potential research areas, provide a prompt turnaround on all written work, and take an active role in professional mentoring of the student.

Selection of Committee

For both the thesis and the dissertation, in addition to the advisor, an examining committee is required.  For the thesis, this committee consists of two faculty in addition to the advisor, at least one of which must be in Geography.  For the dissertation, this committee is at least three faculty, with at least two Geography faculty and at least one cognate member.  While the student’s advisor is the chair of the committee examining the student’s work, these committee members are valuable members of the committee and should be kept informed of the student’s progress at regular intervals.  

As with advisors, committee members may change.  However, after approval of a thesis / dissertation topic, no changes may be made to the composition of the student’s committee without approval by two-thirds of the Graduate Faculty.

Annual Report

All students are expected to file an annual report by February 1st of each year, to keep the faculty informed of their progress towards their degree.  The annual report is required for all students that are continuing on or hoping to receive funding in the subsequent academic year.


Complaints regarding professional or academic matters, such as grading or workload, should first be discussed with the relevant faculty member.  If a resolution is not reached, the issue should then be discussed with the Chair and/or Graduate Coordinator.  If a solution cannot be reached within the Department, or if the issue involves the entire Department, the Dean should be consulted.

Geography Graduate Student Association

The purpose of the Geography Graduate Student Association (GGSA) shall be to act as intermediaries between the faculty and graduate student body.  In addition, promotion of the field of geography within the university and community is a pillar mission of the organization.  Through activities, the GGSA intends to foster a sense of interdisciplinary community, collaborative research, and professional development.  All graduate students in the Department of Geography are members of the Geography Graduate Student Association with all rights and privileges.  

Graduate Student Senate

The Graduate Student Senate serves the needs of graduate students through University-wide representation and stands as an allocating body responsible for financially assisting graduate student travel and research by offering specific awards to Kent State University graduate students across all academic disciplines.  The springtime Graduate Research Symposium highlights academic achievements and scholarship of Kent State University graduate students.  Monthly meetings are held to inform all graduate students of university policies and issues.  More information may be obtained at their website (