Orientation for New Students

WelcomeGroup Photo

Welcome to the Graduate Group in Geography (GGG)! The group consists of graduate students and faculty members from across the UC Davis campus. In terms of the number and diversity of affiliated faculty, we are the nation’s largest geography graduate program. As such, the group supports a wide range of geographic scholarship. We are fortunate to be housed administratively by the Landscape Architecture Program of Environmental Design Department, with the Group’s office located in 133 Hunt Hall, and student office with mailboxes in Hunt 158. We all look forward to helping you achieve your scholarly and academic objectives. Welcome and best wishes for a productive year.


The curriculum of the Geography Graduate Group is comprised of three elements: Core courses; Geographic Depth Courses; and electives. All students take coursework in the Core and in the geographic depth areas. Core courses include:

  • GEO 200AN – Geographical Concepts (4 units)
  • GEO 200BN – Theory and Practice of Geography (4 units)
  • GEO 200CN – Computational Methods in Geography (4 units)
  • GEO 200DN – Methods of Socio-Spatial Analysis in Geography (4 units)
  • GEO 200E – Advanced Research Design in Geography (2 units--required of Ph.D. students only)
  • GEO 297 – Seminar in Geography (2 units--students must take this at least 2 different quarters)

The Geographic Depth Courses correspond to the organization of the content of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers:

To help guide students in choosing their elective courses, we have also developed detailed course guidelines in three particular areas of strength in our program:


The group maintains several means of distributing information. These include:

  • E-mail lists. An e-mail list is available to disseminate information to the group’s graduate students. Please subscribe to this list and keep your address current. (An e-mail list is also available for the faculty.)
  • Website. The group website is http://ggg.ucdavis.edu. YOU ARE HERE... NOW!
  • Mailboxes. Individual mailboxes are available for GGG students in 158 Hunt Hall. You will need to check out a key for 158 Hunt Hall. The staff assistant oversees the mailboxes. Your major professor also provides mail services for you.
  • GGG Office Hours. GGG office hours will be posted on the door of Room 133 Hunt Hall. Paperwork also may be left in the graduate program coordinator’s mailbox in Room 131 Hunt Hall during normal business hours.

Major Professor

To be accepted into an M.A. or Ph.D. degree program in the Geography Graduate Group, a student must have a Major Professor that has agreed to work with them. The student should contact faculty members in the Graduate Group directly when looking for a Major Professor. Students are responsible for finding a Major Professor and may change Major Professors at any time. The Major Professor must be a member of the Graduate Group in Geography and must agree to serve in this capacity. The Graduate Advisor and Graduate Staff Assistant in the Geography Graduate Group should be informed of any changes as soon as possible. For advice on finding a Major Professor, talk to the Chairperson, Graduate Advisors, and current students of the Geography Graduate Group. Affiliation with a Major Professor determines the student’s Area of Emphasis. If a student wishes to enter one of the three Concentrations, his/her Major Professor must be affiliated with that Concentration. A student’s Major Professor serves as a mentor and is a primary resource for advising and scholarly information on research projects and sources of external funding. The Major Professor’s home department is responsible for providing the graduate student office and laboratory space and support, as available. The Major Professor serves as chairperson of the dissertation/thesis/master’s exam committee. He/she, along with the student and their Committee, recommend to the Graduate Advisor when the student is prepared to take the qualifying/oral examination. He/she should guide the student on exam preparation and the preparation of their dissertation proposal for the Ph.D. qualifying examination. For students without prior academic degrees in Geography, the Major Professor consults with the student to advise the Graduate Advisors on a preparatory program of courses in geographic theory and methods. Though the Major Professor plays the lead role in providing guidance on research projects, he/she may not be aware of the latest Graduate Studies and GGG requirements. Therefore, the student should consult with the Graduate Advisors on a regular basis and report on his/her academic progress.

Paper Work

The Graduate Program Coordinator, manages almost all paperwork related to the Graduate Group. The Graduate Advisors need to sign most student forms. You can make arrangements to speak with the Graduate Advisors at any time. If all you need is a signature, you can also leave it with the Graduate Program Coordinator, Carrie Armstrong-Ruport, in 133 Hunt Hall, or in Carrie’s mailbox in 131 Hunt Hall.

Graduate Advisors

Graduate Advisors are nominated by the Chairperson of the Geography Graduate Group and appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies to serve in matters affecting graduate students in their academic program. The Graduate Advisor’s signature is the only signature officially recognized by Graduate Studies on a variety of forms and petitions used by graduate students. In general, Graduate Advisors act as the student’s first source of academic program information and provide assistance with the requirements of the program. Students should meet with their Graduate Advisor on a regular basis and keep him/her up to date on progress. In particular, the Graduate Advisors are responsible for:

  1. Development of academic study plans with the student.
  2. Reviewing and acting on requests by graduate students to drop or add courses or to take courses on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis.
  3. Reviewing and approving petitions for advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree and making recommendations for the composition of committees for M.A. theses and exams, doctoral dissertations, or qualifying examinations.
  4. Periodic review of the student’s progress towards degree objectives, and in particular, the filing of an annual report with Graduate Studies concerning each student’s progress toward completion of degree requirements.
  5. The Graduate Advisor is also responsible for the approval of Planned Educational Leave (PELP).
  6. For students without prior academic degrees in Geography, the Graduate Advisor is responsible for approving a preparatory program of courses in geographic theory and methods, in consultation with the student and Major Professor.

Financial Support

It is the student’s responsibility to obtain needed funding. Many sources of financial support are available for students:

Teaching Assistant PositionsTeaching assistant (TA) positions are often available for classes taught by GGG faculty members through their home departments. The GGG Graduate Program Coordinator has TA applications for the group’s home department: Landscape Architecture. The TA application is also available online at http://ggg.ucdavis.edu. Graduate students may apply for TA positions in any department on campus. Please contact faculty in charge of teaching particular courses or the management officer of each department to learn of teaching assistant opportunities. Apply early, preferably between December and May the prior year. Application forms for Teaching Assistantships should be submitted to the Department or Graduate Group offering the course on which the student wishes to assist. TA positions of 25% or greater time carry an in-state fee waiver. A partial listing of available positions and contact information is available at the Graduate Studies website at http://gsintra.ucdavis.edu/listappt/.

Graduate Student Researcher. Individual faculty members fund graduate student researcher (GSR) positions. Faculty in your area of interest should be contacted to discover opportunities. GSR positions of 25% or greater time carry an in-state fee waiver and non resident tuition waiver.

Work-Study. The Geography Graduate Group has a limited number of 25% time work-study positions each year. Eligibility for these grants is related to individual income. Work-study grants are used to match funding from other employment on the campus, usually graduate student researchers. A 25% work-study GSR appointment includes full remission of in-state fees for the quarter the appointment is held. Deadlines and procedures for applying for work-study are available from the Graduate Program Coordinator.

GGG Block Grants. Graduate Studies allocates the GGG a block grant award to help fund students. The GGG issues a call for block grant applications in the winter quarter, and the Awards Committee makes recommendations to the Chairperson on these awards. Awards may be used towards fees or as stipends.

Other On-Campus. Other employment on campus may be available in technical and service capacities. See the Student Employment Center for more information at: http://jobs.ucdavis.edu/.

Fellowships. The University offers several fellowships for new and continuing students. Fellowships are allocated on a competitive basis. Fellowship deadlines and applications are available from the Graduate Staff Assistant. External fellowships are also available through federal agencies and private organizations with Graduate Studies providing information on many of these.

Off-Campus. Off-campus employment opportunities exist in many areas of geography. The opportunities can often be discovered through the Internship and Career Center (2nd floor, South Hall) or through directly contacting agencies and firms doing work of interest to you. Jobs also frequently are sent to our email list for distribution.

Research Funding. Geography Graduate students have been very successful in obtaining funding for their research projects from various private, state and federal agencies. Several funding sources are also available at UCD and UC systemwide. Further information may be found on our Graduate Studies and Office of Research campus websites.

Teaching Assistant and Graduate Student Researcher positions afford excellent opportunities to gain experience in areas of intrinsic importance to your graduate education and to receive financial support at the same time. Information and application materials for TAships are available from the department in which you wish to teach. Contact the faculty directly about the availability of GSR positions. A minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA is required to hold an academic appointment. GSR and TA appointments at 25% and above provide full remission of in-state fees for the quarter the appointment is held. This policy is reviewed for renewal each year. Nonresident (NRT) remission is provided as a non-taxable benefit to all eligible Graduate Student Researchers (GSRs) employed by the University of California, Davis. You can look at a partial listing of currently available TA, GSR and Reader appointments on the Graduate Studies online listing at: http://gsintra.ucdavis.edu/listappt/.

Financial Aid, which is only available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents or immigrants, is awarded on the basis of demonstrated financial need, and is administered by the Financial Aid Office. Federal financial aid includes student loans, grants, and work-study funding. Contact your graduate program regarding the availability of work-study funding. All applicants (US citizens, permanent residents, and immigrants) are required to apply for financial aid. You may apply for financial aid before you have been admitted. As noted above, it is strongly suggested that you file the FAFSA by the priority processing date of March 1. A full-time counselor for graduate financial assistance is available for appointments and scheduled drop-in hours in the Financial Aid Office.

Fellowships, graduate scholarships, and block grant awards are awarded primarily on the basis of scholarship and the promise of outstanding academic and professional achievement. Consideration is given to the extent and quality of previous undergraduate and graduate work, evidence of ability in research or other creative accomplishment, evidence of intellectual capacity, and promise of productive scholarship. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, undergraduate and graduate grade point averages, academic transcripts, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and other documentation such as publications or awards are used in this evaluation.

The minimum cumulative undergraduate or graduate grade point average required for a living allowance, in-state fee award, or nonresident tuition fellowship is 3.0 (A=4.00).

Financial need or the availability of other sources of support in your graduate program is not relevant to the evaluation of academic merit, but may be an additional criterion for some fellowships. Students must establish eligibility for need-based awards by filing a FAFSA with the Federal Student Aid Program by the March 1 deadline. To file the FAFSA online, go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov or pick up a paper application from the Financial Aid Office in Dutton Hall.

Office Space

The primary office space for GGG students is provided by the department of the Major Professor (as available) and for TA or GSR positions, by the student’s employer on campus. A phone, fax, xerox machine, and computer may or may not be available. The GGG also has been assigned Hunt 158 as a group office and mailroom for our students. If you use this space as your office, be sure to be considerate of others and their need for space and to personally secure any valuables you have.

Computing Laboratories

The GGG has a basic computer laboratory for our students (with a PC, a Macintosh, a printer, and internet access over the campus network) in Hunt 158. The campus also has many open general-purpose labs and special purpose laboratories (see http://scg.ucdavis.edu/). If you have an assigned office from your major professor and home department, you may be able to hook a departmental or your personal computer up to the campus high-speed network in that room, or access the computer internet wirelessly.

Entering the Program from outside Geography

For students entering the graduate program without an undergraduate or prior graduate degree in geography, it will be necessary to evaluate your prior coursework and most likely take additional preparatory course-work in geography. This preparatory work must be agreed upon early in your program in consultation with your Major Professor and Graduate Advisor. Students wishing to enter the Geography Graduate Group from other graduate programs on campus should contact a Graduate Advisor.

Graduate Student Association

The students select two representatives who represent the group in the UC Davis Graduate Student Association (GSA). These students may also serve on the GGG executive committee (or two other students may hold those positions). The GSA is a forum for graduate student matters and activities. The students organize various informal seminars and activities during the year. Also available to geography students is the Geographical Education Club.

GGG Executive Committee

The GGG Executive Committee meets quarterly (and sometimes more frequently) to conduct the work of the group in regard to curricula, awards, financial support, activities, and other matters. Two graduate students serve as elected members of the Executive Committee, along with the Chairperson, the Vice-Chairperson, the two Graduate Advisors, three Members-At-Large, and the Graduate Program Coordinator. Serving on this committee is a good way to learn more about how the University works!

Business Meetings of the GGG

The GGG holds two business meetings of the full group (faculty, staff, students and friends) at the beginning of the fall quarter and near the end of the spring quarter. These are both business and social functions and are very enjoyable events.

GGG Seminars and Field Studies Courses

GEO 280 Field Studies in Geography (3 units). May be repeated two times for credit. Students help organize our GEO 280 field studies course that is held in spring quarter. This course has a faculty coordinator.

GEO 290 Seminar (4 units)

GEO 291 Seminar in Cultural Geography (4 units)

GEO 295 Seminar in Urban Geography (4 units)

GEO 297 Geography Graduate Group Seminar (2 units) GGG students help organize our GEO 297 weekly seminar series during fall winter and spring quarters. Students are required to take GEO 297 two times. This seminar series has a faculty coordinator each quarter. Topics are typically selected late in spring quarter or early in fall quarter. Seminar topics have included history of California’s landscapes, tourism, zoogeography, watershed science, the geography of food, and careers in geography.


If you have any questions please let us know in person, by telephone, or by e-mail. We will do our best to help as fast as we can. Many questions regarding Campus graduate policies can be answered by consulting the Campus Graduate Guide, which is published over the web ONLY. The web address is http://gradstudies.ucdavis.edu/.