Graduate Programs

Aerial view from plane of ocean and land.The Master of Science in Geography at Western Michigan University is designed to:

  • Assist you in acquiring the skills needed for independent geographic research, including organizational and communication skills.
  • Enable you to develop a concentration in a particular aspect of the field.

MS in Geography

The Master of Science in Geography is a broad program without specific concentrations or tracks. However, faculty expertise is particularly suited to (but not limited to) supporting thesis research in these areas:

  • Community development and planning prepares you for:
    • Planning related careers in local and regional governments and as urban and regional planners, land use planners, transportation planners, county planners and zoning administrators.
    • The private sector where planning consultant firms carry out substantial work on contract for public agencies using students' specialized skills.
  • Environmental and resource analysis prepares you for a career as an environmental or groundwater analyst with:
    • Local health departments, state agencies like the Michigan Department of Natural Resources or Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
    • Federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, Environmental Protection Agency, National Park Service, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, Geological Survey or Soil Conservation Service.

    Many environmental and resource analysis careers are located in the private sector too, in consulting firms or resource development and analysis corporations.

  • Geographic Information Science prepares you for a career:
    • Either wholly or partly involved in developing, training or applying geographic information science methodologies.
    • In both government (local, regional, state and federal) and the private sector. The long-term outlook for careers related to Geographic Information Science in the private sector is extremely promising.
    • By giving you as much time as you have available in the geographic information science labs to experiment with our state-of-the-art software. Each geographic techniques course offers about 30 hours of lecture and 30 hours of lab exposure, much more than a single in-service training course offered by companies.

Several flexible courses (individualized independent study courses or professional internships) may be used in any concentration area when relevant to your program of study.

Accelerated option

The Master of Science in Geography is also offered as an accelerated graduate degree program for undergraduates with senior standing. Students may take up to 12 credit hours of designated 5000- and 6000-level courses for graduate credit. These designated courses may be used in completion of both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Students interested in this option are encouraged to discuss it with the Undergraduate  Advisor and/or Graduate Advisor during their junior year.


Apply for admission if you possess a bachelor's degree with a major or minor in geography or a related major such as social science, biological, engineering, health, business or physical science. To apply for the MS in Geography program, you are not required to take the GRE.

WMU has a two-step admission process for prospective graduate students. You must first be admitted by the University, and second by the Department--you only need to submit one application. The application requirements include:

  • A completed application form (including a resume/curriculum vitae, written statement, and contact information for letters of recommendation),
  • An official transcript from the institution from which you earned a Bachelors degree,
  • Transcripts from those institutions where any graduate-level courses or degrees have been taken or completed (if applicable), and
  • A TOEFL test score for international students unless their home country meets the English language proficiency requirements (if applicable).


Once admitted, you must fulfill the required geography core areas and follow the Graduate College guidelines.

Financial assistance

Financial assistance is available through the department, the Graduate College and the Office of Student Financial Aid (domestic students). The department competitively offers assistantships to MS in Geography students, but does not offer funding to certificate program students.

Our students

Our students work alongside award-winning and renowned instructors. Great value is placed on mapping, field work, the natural environment, community engagement and technology.


Our faculty carry out research in multiple areas. For more detailed information about our faculty's current research interests, contact them directly.