Applying to the Graduate Program

The Department of Geography & Environment offers three graduate degrees:

  • MA Geography
  • MA Geography: Concentration in Resource Management & Environmental Planning
  • MS GIScience


Who should apply?

We welcome applications from individuals who have a baccalaureate degree in any field, or will receive their baccalaureate degree prior to the start of the semester for which they are applying, however each program differs somewhat in requirements for classification.  

MA: An applicant with a GPA of 3.25 or better in a major other than geography who meets the general university requirements as stated in the Bulletin may qualify for admission as a Conditionally Classified graduate student. The applicant will be advanced to Classified status upon completion of prerequisite courses, including lower division courses in physical geography (Geog 101/equivalent), cultural geography (Geog 102/107/equivalent), geographic techniques (Geog 103/equivalent), and two upper division geography courses, with a grade of "B" or better in each course. Units earned for remedial or prerequisite course work are not applied toward the graduate degree.

MS: For admission to the graduate program, a student must meet the general university requirements as stated in the Bulletin. For classified standing, an applicant must have a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.25 or better in geography or a related discipline, with emphasis or experience in spatial data analysis and statistics, and have earned a grade of "B" or better in an introductory GIS class such as Geog 603, or equivalent.  Conditionally classified students may be admitted who meet most of the requirements, including an introduction to geographic information science, but need an additional foundation to do graduate geospatial work applied to biophysical or human systems.   

When to apply:

The department accepts application twice a year, for Fall and Spring admission.

For Fall admission:          apply by April 1

For Spring admission:     apply by October 1

** Spring admission not always available - please contact department **


How to apply:

To be admitted to a graduate degree, you must apply and be accepted to both SFSU Graduate Studies and the specific program in which you are interested.

1.  Apply to the University

          ** Under the Statement of Purpose section on CSU Mentor write 'See attached' and submit your statement to the department. **

  •      Have official transcripts sent to the Graduate Studies office from all institutions you have attended.

                                 Division of Graduate Studies,

                                 San Francisco State University

                                 1600 Holloway Avenue, ADM 250,

                                 San Francisco, CA, 94123


2.  Apply to the Department

The Department requires all application materials to be submitted in one complete packet. Incomplete applications will not be accepted.

  •      Send the following materials to be submitted in one complete packet to:

                                     Graduate Advisor

                                     Department of Geography & Environment

                                     San Francisco State University

                                     1600 Holloway Avenue

                                     San Francisco, CA, 94132.

  1. Application Cover Sheet - (available on department website under Applying to our Grad Programs):
  2. Copy of your University application - (Although the application states online that you should not send it to the department, please send it. The department wants a copy on file).
  3. Statement of Purpose - This should be about two pages in length explaining your background and preparation for graduate study, why you have chosen to apply to our program (specifically which), and your career/professional goals (if known). This is also an opportunity to identify academic/professional acheivements and to explain any irregularities in your previous academic record.
  4. Two letters of recommendation - These must be sent directly to the applicant by the referees/recommenders in a sealed envelope, signed across the flap, to be submitted with other application materials, OR alternatively referees/recommenders can email letters directly to
  5. Copy of unofficial transcript (s).
  6. Copy of GRE score report - we use these in support of admission decisions until your official report arrives. An unofficial copy of GRE score report must be included in application packet or applicant will not be considered for admittance; plan accordingly when choosing exam date.
  • Have your GRE scores sent to the department. The SFSU code is 4684 and the Department of Geography & Environment is 2203.
  • Personal interviews with a graduate advisor and appropriate department faculty are recommended.
  • We also encourage applicants to visit the department, to see our facilities and speak with current graduate students.



The Department's Graduate Committee will evaluate completed applications about April 1st (for Fall admissions) and November 1st (if Spring admissions accepted). Only students whose application materials are complete at this time will be reviewed.

You may be admitted to Classified Graduate Standing (admitted without contingencies) or Conditionally Classified Graduate Standing (admitted with a requirement that you complete prerequisite coursework or correct other deficiencies within a specified time period).

You will receive notification of the Graduate Committee's recommendation via email and/or phone. The University will also send you official notification of admission, along with registration information.



Please contact the department to confirm your intent to enroll and please alert us to any changes in your street address, phone number, or email address.


More Questions?

Contact us:

Department of Geography & Environment Graduate Coordinator

MA Program Advisors

MS Program Advisors

Department of Geography & Environment Academic Office Coordinator

SFSU Division of Graduate Studies