A Master’s degree (MA or MS) in Geography is designed to provide students with the methodological skills and theoretical perspectives necessary for undertaking independent, analytical research. Note, while the Graduate Program Director monitors progress, it is the student who is ultimately responsibility for fulfilling all requirements for the Master’s degree in Geography (NOT for students in the Master’s in GIScience program). This checklist serves as a guide to students completing requirements for the Non-Thesis Option and the Thesis Option. Please also refer to the FSU Grad School website and the Graduate Bulletin for official updates on the process.
Non-Thesis Master’s Program in Geography
Currently thirty (30) credit hours are needed to complete the non-thesis option. Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in each of the core courses (total 9 credit hours): GEO5058 Survey of Geographic Thought (3), GEO5118C Introduction to Geographic Research (3), GEO5165C Quantitative Geography (3) OR GEO6113 Qualitative Geography (3). In addition, each student must earn a grade of “B–” or better in elective courses totaling another 21 credit hours. Elective courses must be selected in consultation with the Graduate Program Director.
Thesis Master’s Program in Geography
Currently thirty (30) credit hours are needed to complete the thesis option. Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in each of the core courses (total 9 credit hours): GEO5058 Survey of Geographic Thought (3), GEO5118C Introduction to Geographic Research (3), GEO5165C Quantitative Geography (3) OR GEO6113 Qualitative Geography (3). In addition, each student must earn a grade of “B–” or better in elective courses totaling another 15 credit hours. Elective courses must be selected in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. The remaining 6 credit hours are to be taken as thesis hours, under the course GEO5971. The student must create a thesis committee; this is composed of the supervising professor, and at least two members of the Geography Unit. No University Representative is required.
Thesis proposal. (sometimes called thesis prospectus). During the time students are registering for thesis credit hours (approximately Year 2, Semester 1 for full-time students) students will write a proposal for research. The proposal needs to outline the scope, depth, and timeline of the thesis; the exact format is down to the discretion of the student and supervising professor. But as a guideline the proposal needs to describe research that will be narrow enough to focus on specific weaknesses in the geography literature, but broad enough to demonstrate mastery of the geography discipline. The proposal is NOT an FSU Grad School requirement, so no forms are to be signed or courses to register for. This is purely a Departmental requirement. The completed proposal will then be discussed (not defended) a meeting with the thesis committee. The aim of this meeting is to advise the student on issues such as how to, define hypotheses, collect data, improve methodologies, test results, and draw conclusions. More than one meeting with the committee may be necessary.
Thesis Defense. The final step involves an oral defense of the thesis, which is announced to the Department and FSU Grad School at least 4 weeks prior, and open to public viewing. During the thesis defense, all committee members, and the student must attend the entire defense in real time, either by being physically present or participating via distance technology. A grade for zero credit GEO8976 will be determined by a majority vote by the committee and is one of the following: Pass, Incomplete, or Fail. Pass leads to the award a Master’s degree, incomplete leads to revisions (which may be limited to 30 days or less) and may result in a pass, and fail leads to the non awarding of the Master’s degree. Forms: final degree clearance form, manuscript access form, and manuscript signature form leads to the award of the Thesis Master’s degree and graduation. Supplementary forms if necessary. Manuscript signature form.
Supervision. All thesis option students are expected to develop a research program of study in consultation with their supervising professor and committee members, but it is the student’s responsibility to initiate and refine the program until it is at a level of proficiency worthy of a thesis. It is not the responsibility of the supervising professor or committee members to compose thesis programs for students; it is a collaborative process that requires students to learn how to engage and contribute to scholarly knowledge, participate at conference meetings and workshops, master organizational abilities, manage time efficiently, sharpen communication skills, and demonstrate independent research ethics. To that end, students are only admitted to the Department on the premise that their research interests overlap to some extent with one or more faculty members. Students should declare a supervising professor by the beginning of the Year 1, Semester 2, and are allowed to switch to another professor at any time (as long, out of courtesy, they inform the current professor and inform the Graduate Program Director). Faculty members are not obliged to accept supervision of students; instead students must impress on faculty the depth of their research interests, articulate scholarly potential, and maintain good academic standing in the program. The Graduate Program Director confirms the program of study.
For both Non-thesis and Thesis option Master’s Students
Duration. Department by-laws state that, given satisfactory scholastic progress and a good disciplinary record students entering the Master’s program are funded for 2 years (3 years if the supervising professor deems it absolutely necessary). Please note that a lack of timely progress can result in loss of funding and/or dismissal from the program.
Funding. Students are funded by being paid a stipend and their tuition covered by the Department through graduate teaching or research assistantships (btw, these are not tax exempt from the IRS). Students are required to perform up to 20 hours of work per week for the Department, as well as registering for a minimum of 9 credit hours per semester (these should be Geography classes or other classes across the University with the approval of the supervising professor). In return, students receive in-state and out-of-state tuition waivers and a stipend of approximately $9,000 for the fall semester and approximately $9,000 for the spring semester (assuming of course the student is in good scholastic standing and resources are available). Summer semester funding is available, but is more competitive and pays approximately $2,500. Note, students are still liable for paying University fees. Work assignments for Year 1 is minimal, and are typically in the form of online mentoring. From Year 2, Semester 1 students may be given full responsibility for the teaching of one course, assisting faculty with research, or managing Departmental computer facilities. Note, master’s students must accumulate at least 18 credit hours to be eligible to be instructors of record and teach classes by themselves. Out-of-state U.S. residents on assistantships must fill out paperwork after year 1 to become Florida residents. Self funded students are not expected to teach classes and may enroll for up to 12 credit hours per semester. International students must be enrolled full-time for at least 9 credit hours per semester.
Teaching. Master’s students must maintain high teaching standards. They must start classes at the scheduled time and end no earlier than 10 minutes before the scheduled end time. Decisions on which classes are taught are decided based on Departmental needs and student interests/experience, but normally are assigned 1000, 2000 or 3000 level classes in years 1 and 2, and 4000 level classes in year 2 and beyond. Instructors are encouraged to request specific classes to teach or even propose new classes with the graduate program director’s approval. Classes must NOT be canceled. If instructors are unable to hold class due to sickness or other unforeseen circumstances they must arrange for someone to cover for them. However, if time is very short and finding someone to teach the class is unreasonable instructors must inform their undergraduate students (by email or Canvas) and call the Department front desk and email the Graduate Program Director. To qualify for teaching all instructors must attend either the fall or spring semester PIE workshop prior to teaching; failure to be PIE certified negates appointment as teaching assistant and forfeits stipends. Teaching quality is assessed by Electronic Student Perception of Courses and Instructors (eSPCI), (negative assessments will enforce teacher training classes or even termination of funding), and implemented BEFORE finals week. FSU regulations state that instructors must drop students who do not attend the first day of classes (this can be done through Canvas) and no tests can be given in the last week of teaching, immediately prior to exam week. For more information on teaching and conduct please refer to the FSU Graduate Bulletin.