University of Minnesota
Department of Geography, Environment and Society

Department of Geography, Environment
and Society's home page.


Thank you for your interest in our graduate program. All materials are submitted electronically through the ApplyYourself application system. Admission decisions are communicated to applicants using this system.

A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully reviewed by the department’s admission committee and your transcripts and any credentials (test reports, diploma copies, etc.) are authenticated by Graduate School officials. You can expect a decision by late February or early March.


Graduate Program Requirements (At-a-Glance):

Program Minimum Degree Required

Preferred BA/BS GPA

Preferred GRE
MA in Geography BA or BS 3.5 NA

158 (verbal)
158 (quantitative)
4.5 (analytical writing)

PhD in Geography BA or BS 3.5 3.7 158 (verbal)
158 (quantitative)
4.5 (analytical writing)

The minimum requirement for admission into the PhD program is a four-year BA or BS from a regionally accredited institution. Students entering into the PhD program with a MA or MS degree may apply for advanced standing. Degrees need not be from a program in Geography. However, students whose previous work is not in geography may be asked to complete specific courses that do not provide graduate credit.

Applicants should understand that the admissions process is competitive, based on a careful assessment of each applicant’s file, and that we can only offer admission to a limited number of qualified applicants to ensure high quality advising and accessibility to facilities and other resources.

International students who receive a Form I-20 (F-1) or DS-2019 (J-1) based on admission to this program will be required to maintain full time enrollment (6-14 credits per semester) and will be subject to the rules and regulations that pertain to the F-1 or J-1 student visa status. Prospective international students should also visit the Graduate School’s International Student page for more information about graduate studies at the University of Minnesota.

Six information sources on which admission decisions are based

  1. The grade point average from all prior undergraduate and graduate study. For admission to the program, the preferred undergraduate GPA is at least 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale), unless other information suggests that the undergraduate GPA may not be a reliable indicator of the applicant's promise. For students entering with a master's degree, the preferred graduate GPA is at least 3.7 (on a 4.0 scale). Compute your GPA (PDF).
  2. Scores for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections.
  3. Scores for the TOEFL/MELAB/iELTS, if applicable.
  4. Breadth and depth of the past program.
  5. Letters of recommendation.
  6. The applicant's statement.

Admission Procedures

Applications are evaluated once per year, in January, for admission the following fall (we do not admit for the spring semester). All application materials must be received by December 15 of the year prior to the year in which admission is sought (e.g., applications for admission in Fall 2015 must be received by December 15, 2014).

Students wishing to begin graduate study other than at the beginning of fall semester may take graduate courses as an Adult Special student through Continuing Education and Extension (CEE) or during summer session. Students may transfer up to forty percent of the degree coursework from such studies.


Our application process is completed using the ApplyYourself (AY) online admission system. Please note that your application will not be complete without submitting an application fee.


Required fields: Personal Information, Application Information, Educational Background, Languages, Awards & Activities, Employment/Residence Information, Financial Support, Applicant Statements #1 & #2, and Recommendations.

Personal Statements

Your first personal statement should describe your research interests and career goals, professional and research experience, and other relevant background information; it should not exceed two single-sided pages. The document can be uploaded in AY’s “Applicant Statements” section using the “Statement #1” button.

Statement #2 is also required. It should identify the distinctive qualities, characteristics, and life experiences you would contribute to your graduate program and to the education of fellow students at the University of Minnesota. You may wish to include examples that address your contribution to the diversity of the student body and illustrate your motivation to succeed by setting high standards for accomplishing intellectual and other goals, overcoming obstacles to achievement, and/or helping others to gain access to the resources necessary for success.

If you wish to address any extenuating circumstances (e.g., below 3.5 cumulative grade point average) you can use the “Extenuating Circumstances” upload button under this same section..

Letters of recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required and should be submitted using AY’s online application system under the “Recommendations” section. Select people who are well-acquainted with your academic work and research experience and/or your professional experience. Please note that you do not need to wait for your recommendation providers to submit their recommendations before completing the rest of the online application. You can also check the status of your recommendation providers after you submit your application. For more information on status updates, please see the Graduate School’s Status Check page.



Unofficial transcripts or academic records should be uploaded directly to the online application. International students should also upload an English translation if the transcript is not in English.Please do not mail in paper copies of your transcripts, there is no need for official transcripts or academic records for initial review.

If you are admitted, the University will then request official copies of this material.

Graduate Record Exam

The Official Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections, taken within the last five years, for applicants whose undergraduate degree is from a U.S. institution should be submitted to the university electronically. This can be done by entering the proper codes (institution code: 6874; department code: 2203) when you take the test; the scores will then be sent to the university automatically. Preferred minimum scores on the GRE are 158 (verbal), 158 (quantitative), and 4.5 (analytical writing). International students are not required to take the GRE. The lack of GRE scores for international students will not affect a decision on admission, though it may place you at a disadvantage for some fellowship competitions.

As official test scores can take longer to report, you have the option to upload score report documents and/or self-report test scores, registration numbers, and test dates in the “Test Information-Self Reported” section of the AY online application.

English language proficiency exam score (TOEFL, IELTS or MELAB)

Students whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB). Preference in admission will be given to students who score--TOEFL: 600 or above on the paper-based exam (pbt), 100 or above on the internet-based test (ibt); IELTS: 7.0; MELAB: 84

Some applicants may be required to enroll in English as a Second Language or in composition courses during their first year in the graduate program, if the Department deems it necessary.

This requirement is waived for applicants who have completed one academic year of study at an American (or other English-speaking) university.

Optional Materials

Upload your publications and articles into the Other Information portion on the Graduate Program Supplementary Information section of the ApplyYourself online application.


Department of Geography, Environment and Society Commitment to Diversity

The Department of Geography, Environment and Society embraces the University of Minnesota's position that promoting and supporting diversity among the student body is central to the academic mission of the University. A diverse student body enriches graduate education by providing a multiplicity of views and perspectives that enhance research, teaching, and the development of new knowledge. A diverse mix of students promotes respect for, and opportunities to learn from, others with the broad range of backgrounds and experiences that constitute modern society. Higher education trains the next generation of leaders of academia and society in general, and such opportunities for leadership should be accessible to all members of society. This program is therefore committed to providing equal access to educational opportunities through recruitment, admission, and support programs that promote diversity, foster successful academic experiences, and cultivate the leaders of the next generation.
For more on the Graduate School's commitment to diversity, please see the Graduate School's Diversity in Education page that includes the University of Minnesota's Mission Statement.