Students are accepted into the Master's and Doctoral programs in Geography on the basis of outstanding undergraduate records and because their interests match up well with the expertise of one or more of the graduate faculty members in geography at Rutgers. Based on this affinity, the Graduate Director assigns all incoming students a principal advisor, also known as the "main advisor" or "chair" (of a student's eventual thesis, exam or dissertation committee). For a PhD student, an advisor must be a full member of the graduate faculty in geography; for a Master’s student, the advisor may either be a full or an associate member. This assignment is provisional and may be changed, in consultation with all concerned and should be communicated in writing (or via email) to the Graduate Director and Graduate Administrative Assistant.
Students in the program should begin consulting with their principal advisors from the time they arrive, working together to determine appropriate general coursework. All new geography PhD and MA students are required to take two courses: Geography 450:601 “Geographic Perspectives” and 450:602 “Research Design.” Students should enroll in “Geographic Perspectives” during their first semester in the program. New terminal MA students and PhD students who hold an MA, should enroll in Research Design during their second semester in the program. Incoming PhD students who do not hold an MA (or equivalent graduate degree) should enroll in Research Design during their 4th semester (i.e., during the second semester of their second year in the program). While course work at the graduate level in cognate disciplines is encouraged, at least 12 credit hours counted toward any advanced degree must be in Geography courses (450:xxx). On rare occasion applicants who have insufficient background in geography or relevant cognate fields may be admitted with the requirement that they successfully complete specified courses to make up their deficiencies.
Within a year of entering the program, students should assemble a suitable advisory committee, and, working with their advisors, set a timetable and initiate plans for dissertation/thesis research, and/or comprehensive exam preparation. PhD students should also gradually work toward meeting other professional milestones such as obtaining teaching experience, making professional conference presentations, and publishing research findings in academic journals.
The Graduate Director typically meets with all incoming students during the second semester in the program to discuss any issues and to ensure that they are making good progress. In addition to this informal review of first-year students, all students in the program are also evaluated in an “annual review” by the graduate faculty each spring. Students are reminded of this review several weeks in advance and are asked to submit a “Self- Assessment” report and forward it to their advisor, the Graduate Director and Administrative Assistant. The graduate faculty members meet to review these statements, along with their records, and evaluate all students in the program. The Graduate Director informs all students of these evaluations in writing.
Students who are making clear progress toward their degrees and have a majority of A's in their coursework are likely to be positively rated. They are congratulated and provided with all possible program support. Students more likely to receive negative ratings include those making slow or uncertain progress; those whose records have a majority of B’s and/or any grade of less than B; and students with two or more "temporary" or "permanent" incompletes (see below, under "Incompletes"). Courses that receive a grade of C or lower may not be counted toward any advanced degree in Geography. A student receiving a C+ in any course in his/her first 18 credits will be considered marginal in the program, and will be reviewed with special care. In addition, a student with two or more temporary incompletes on his/her overall graduate record will not normally be allowed to register for additional courses in geography, barring unusual circumstances. If students are not performing adequately, they are informed of this and given a specified time to resolve any issues. If they do so, they are returned to good standing. If they do not, they may be terminated from the program after full consultation with their advisors, their committee members, and the full graduate faculty. Such decisions can be appealed, either within the graduate program, or in the wider Graduate School.