Geography is an inquiry into the patterns and processes that make up the surface of the Earth. It is a broad field of inquiry that, in our department, includes glaciers and climate change, the origins of agriculture and the evolution of plant life, the culture of cities and the dynamics of the global economy.

Such a wide range of themes gives each student great freedom to choose a research topic, develop an intellectual style, and select approaches to gathering evidence and making persuasive arguments. That freedom also includes opportunities to go outside of the department and make use of the tremendous resources of the campus as a whole. Our goal is to help each student find his or her own combination of intellectual rigor, creativity, and independence.

Ph.D. Program in Geography

The program is divided into three major areas:

  • Global Development and Political Economy
  • Earth System Science
  • Geospatial Representation and Analysis

Within these domains, a wide range of faculty interests are represented, such as political ecology, economic geography, cultural geography, post-colonial studies, urban studies, geography of race and gender, climatology, geomorphology, remote sensing, and geographic information systems (GIS). Faculty members come with a broad spectrum of regional specialties as well, including Africa, South and East Asia, the Arctic, the Everglades and Mississippi Delta, Brazil, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

The faculty has been expanded in recent years to include a number of affiliates in other departments with expertise in such fields as GIS, gender and social movements, natural resources, fluvial geomorphology, environmental engineering, landscape ecology, and urban planning.

Berkeley students are expected to be independent, and we welcome those who have had professional experience and wish to return to deepen their education. Students are encouraged to range freely through the curriculum and to follow their inspiration where it leads, working in tandem with faculty advisors. Students choose their own mentors, often utilizing two or three faculty in equal measure; these may include faculty affiliates and members from other departments.

While faculty have their own research agendas and teaching specialties, and often collaborate with students, we believe students should march to their own drummer. We expect students to read extensively, develop the necessary research skills, and produce well-crafted thesis and dissertation. Many students publish their findings along the way, as well. Berkeley Geography offers the highest quality graduate training for future scholars and teachers at the collegiate level, as well as for those going into professional careers in government, NGOs and consulting.