Justin

Justin Holman is CEO of TerraSeer, where he leads efforts to develop cutting edge sales forecasting and inventory optimization technology for the Automotive Aftermarket. Prior to joining TerraSeer, Justin managed corporate consulting for the Strategy & Analytics division at MapInfo Corporation, leading major projects for retail clients including The Home Depot, Darden Restaurants, Bridgestone-Firestone, Sainsbury’s and New York & Company. Before that, Justin served as Vice President of Software Development at LogicTools, now part of IBM’s supply chain application software group. Justin holds a B.A. from Claremont McKenna College, a Ph.D. from the University of Oregon and an Executive Management certificate from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

75 Comments

  • Anusha 6 months ago

    It’s always great to see your rankings Mr. Justin Holman.

    • Justin 6 months ago

      Thank you Anusha!

      • Dave Macee 4 months ago

        … sorry, I meant to say Univ of Texas at Dallas, not Univ Dallas (a private?, catholic university). It’s Friday nite and I’m a bit inebriated. : P

    • Dave Macee 4 months ago

      I could’ve sworn Univ Florida excised their Geography Dept years ago. Nope. Still there. Not sure what transpired but I’m sure there was a major
      dustup. I’ll have to research what happened. Actually interesting as UFL also has a big data program of some type. Can’t beat FL state tuition but I’m honestly sick to death of Florida. Wish I could find a suburban university besides UB in Amherst. Don’t think I’d go back there for a million dollars. For a number of reasons.

      • Justin 4 months ago

        Hi Dave,
        I once considered Florida to be one of the top applied geography programs around. Grant Thrall was a real estate location guru. I know he left some time ago but not sure what else may have happened. Not sure what you mean by “suburban university” but I think there are plenty of options. What about Georgia, North Carolina? Lots of options out there.
        Best wishes,
        Justin

    • Dave Macee 4 months ago

      … also I don’t see Univ Dallas anywhere. Interesting.

      • Justin 4 months ago

        Dave,
        Good catch on UT-Dallas. It should be included here. The Dallas faculty, last time I checked, was absolutely top notch. And if you’re laser focused on spatial statistics this might be one of the very top programs in the US and the world. But, generally, I recommend attending a flagship research University (AAU member) where your graduate degree will be more broadly recognized and where the entire University faculty will be world class. I don’t mean to “diss” Dallas, it’s an R1 University and I’m sure many amazing things are happening. But, outside of Texas, many people will either assume you went to UT-Austin or that your degree is 2nd tier. Not that they know what they’re talking about but the (mis)perception will probably be there.
        Best wishes,
        Justin

  • SOMASHREE MAZUMDAR 6 months ago

    Thank you so much, sir for all the information ..one more thing how do we approach the research guide as I have tried emailing them but they never reply back .Please do help me with this as I wanted to do PhD in Geography for the past one year but not getting any positive reply from the guides.

    • Justin 6 months ago

      Hi Somashree,
      You’ll have to be persistent. And you might try different angles. For example, try emailing an admin person in the Department office for general information. If you get a prompt reply you could ask about contacting a particular professor. You could also send an old-fashioned letter and then follow up with emails simply asking if your letter was received. Unfortunately, research professors have to be skeptical of the many incoming email inquiries, so you’ll have to work harder to get their attention than I did in the 1990s.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Ben White 6 months ago

    So okay, hrmm….

    First of all I suggest splitting the list into several parts categories. The reason for this is that at the graduate level, you aren’t really looking for the best overall geography program (usually). Rather, you should be looking at the best program for the discipline of geography you want to study, e.g. Human/Physical/etc. If you need to list “overall” that could make sense then I’d just doing a matrix approach to your evaluation.

    The second problem is that you have ignored all of the international programs. This is a major flaw, particularly given advances in climate studies and Earth-space sciences overseas. Spain has interesting programs in GIS and data viz. England has superior programs. The Benelux has superior programs, as does Japan.
    Something to consider.

    I do agree this is an important list. I’d encourage you to work with it.

    –Ben

    • Justin 6 months ago

      So okay, hmmm, Ben. Thanks for your suggestions. Sorry my list is such a disappointment to you. If you go back and read my collection of program lists/rankings for the past several years and read through comments I think you’ll find some of these criticisms are addressed, at least in part.

      Your suggestion to rank programs by sub-discipline is problematic in my opinion because what you really need to identify are high-quality individual professors doing research within a particular field of inquiry. Sometimes the best potential research mentor is working within a department that wouldn’t make the short list for a particular sub-discipline. Plus, where do I draw the line on sub-disciplines? Breaking into Human/Physical/Technical might yield some noteworthy differences but many top programs would be listed in all three. Going further into sub-disciplinary expertise spins out of control quickly. Check the AAG guide for an example of how many specialties there are to cover, quality check the specialty list for accuracy and currency by department (it’s difficult to keep tabs on all the changes), and then ask prospective students whether said list is helpful or overwhelmingly complicated. Once you’ve done those three research tasks get back to me and we can discuss further.

      I agree that it would be nice to include international programs. And, as soon as someone offers to pay for the effort I’ll be glad to dive into the onerous task of compiling an international list. The problem with an international list is that it wouldn’t really be terribly helpful to the vast majority of my readers who are primarily interested in US programs. And, inevitably, I’d get a flurry of knee-jerk comments like yours explaining the flaws in my approach leading to the omission of their home department.

      So anyway, hmmm, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Dr Morbius 6 months ago

    Boston University doesn’t have a geography department or degree in geography anymore so it makes sense that BU was not ranked, but it is odd they left out Georgia

  • Justin Schoof 5 months ago

    Thanks for the interesting post. For clarification, Southern Illinois University (where I serve as chair) participates in an interdisciplinary doctoral program titled Environmental Resources and Policy. We do, however, have a very active Master of Science track in Geography. It would be nice to see a similar analysis focused on the MA/MS programs.

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Hi Justin,
      Thanks for posting and for the clarification re SIU! I’d love to provide more info on MA/MS programs but it’s a big task. And, as I say in this post, I recommend students go to a PhD-granting geography department if possible.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Effrain 5 months ago

    Hi Justin,
    I am gonna be a transfer student for fall2018 from college to university. My major is GIS, so what school would you recommend for my undergraduate degree? I am in San Diego region, and one of my options now is sdsu. Thanks!

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Effrain,
      San Diego State University is an outstanding option. In fact, they should probably be included in my rankings because they do offer a PhD program, jointly with UCSB. You’re fortunate to have a world class opportunity right in your backyard. If you want to stay in Southern California, you could also consider UC Santa Barbara, UCLA, and even USC. University of Redlands is a private institution with strong ties to ESRI. Lots of terrific programs to check out within a few hours drive.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Valerie 5 months ago

    Hello Justin,
    In 2015 you also broke up programs by focus area. Do you know happen to know which of these programs focus on Spatial Analysis/Statistics or using GIS as part of a Data Science program?
    Thank you for your insight!
    Valerie

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Hi Valerie,
      The 2015 focus area suggestions (programs otherwise not ranked) are still valid. I’m not aware of any Data Science programs containing a major spatial element. That would probably require some sort of dual Master’s with a geography and statistics department, or comparable.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

      • Valerie 5 months ago

        Thank you, I’ll take another look at the 2015 focus areas.
        Valerie

  • Jim 5 months ago

    Hi Justin, thanks for the great post. I’m a rising senior in high school in Oregon interested in studying geography/GIS and looking for recommendations. I know it doesnt matter too much for the undergraduate level, and that both Oregon state and UofO have quality departments, but between the two which is better. More specifically, I am interested in studying the environmental and human side of geography, so which school better caters to those interests. Also if you have any out of state recommendations please let me know, it’ll really help in my college search.

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Hi Jim,
      If you’re interested in environmental/human geography go to Eugene. No question. Given your stated interests you won’t find a better program out of state. Oregon State has always had outstanding physical geography but they’re not really a player in human geography.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

      • Jim 5 months ago

        Thanks for the reply Justin. This kind of surprises me because I’d always heard OSU was good at STEM and I considered environmental geography to sort of fall into that category. I may be wrong here though. This really helped me on my college search. I was leaning toward OSU before this because of their EnviSci program (my second choice in major) but now I’m seriously considering Eugene.

        • Justin 5 months ago

          You can’t really go wrong here. OSU is absolutely a top notch University and if you want a more physical science type of education Corvallis may be the best place for you. But if your primary interest is human geography you should go to Eugene. Good luck!

  • Nolan 5 months ago

    Hi Justin, these lists have been very helpful! I’m just trying to get a sense of how competitive these Tier 1 programs are… I have a degree in Environmental Studies and Econ and am working at a climate change think tank – interested in human/environmental geography. With a strong CV, recommendations, and GRE but a meh undergrad GPA (3.25), how would you strike a balance between realistic and “reach” programs?

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Hi Nolan,
      Your GPA won’t hold you back, especially if your GRE is really strong. A top GRE will get you noticed and then the admission committee will like your CV and recommendations enough that the 3.25 won’t be a hindrance. So, whether or not Tier 1 programs are a reach will depend on your GRE more than anything. Well, it will also depend on the competition among applicants. I would think applications would be down over previous years when the economy was significantly softer.
      Good luck!
      Best wishes,
      Justin

      • Nolan 5 months ago

        Hi Justin,
        Thanks for the reply – and interesting thought on competition among applicants. I never considered the effect of the economy.
        One more question: do you have any specific school recommendations for someone interested in environmental geography? AKA, the intersection of human and physical?
        Thanks!

  • Hogeun 5 months ago

    I totally agree with your point that GIS is the past. Obviously, the spatial data visualization and machine learning are the future. Since it is a fascinated post for student applying grad school, I would like to stress your point again who read this post. Dude, GIS is a basic, it was a fancy technic about ten years ago- think beyond.

  • Hannah 5 months ago

    Hey Justin,
    Thank you so much for these guides. They are like a lighthouse in a storm. When I first was looking at Master’s programs, I turned to your blog first for some insight into the Geography Master’s game as I had no idea what schools were good or bad as I was coming from an International Relations Bachelor’s program from a small program up North.

    Now that I’m nearing the end of my master’s program and considering a PhD. I was wondering if I could get your insight on which PhD programs focus on primarily the application of GIS technology to social problems. I have looked at various programs (most notably UCLA and GMU) which have professors which seem to either exclusively focus on the qualitative end OR on further working on GIS techniques (like using machine learning methods).

    Thank you for all the advice you’ve posted on your website !

    -H

    • Hannah 5 months ago

      Sorry I neglected to mention that I am interested in political geography. For example, analyzing the conflict in India and examining influential factors in ethnic conflict.

    • Justin 5 months ago

      Hi Hannah,
      So glad my posts have helped you! Your best bet for PhD studies is to find a professor who’s doing the sort of research you want to do, or something very similar. Have you read this post? http://www.justinholman.com/2015/08/12/seven-steps-to-finding-the-right-geography-phd-program/
      Your choice of advisor is more critical (at least at the PhD level) than your choice of department/program. Let me know if this generates more questions. 🙂
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Kevin S. 4 months ago

    Hi Justin. My son and I have been reading your blog the last few years. William has been very interested in studying geography in college and now, as a senior in high school, he is more excited than ever to get on campus. My sister lives in Boston so we went there for spring break this year. Fortunately, William discovered that the AAG conference was there at the same time and signed up. He loved it. He met tons of students at the poster sessions and sat in at least 10 or 12 presentation sessions. There are a number of colleges he wants to consider based on what he learned at the conference. I have a couple questions for you as I try to be helpful in his process:
    1) How should a potential undergraduate be thinking about studying in a geography department with a strong graduate program? Seems like it would be great to get exposure to the graduate students and faculty at these top-notch schools. Any particular comments/advice on this question? Are there benefits to studying in an undergraduate-focused geography department (for example, Macalester, George Washington Univ., and Vermont are ones he has talked about) and then going to one of these great places for graduate school? At the AAG conference, he really enjoyed the transportation geography-focused presentations he attended that were led by folks from the University of Denver. He visited Clark while we were in Boston and he liked it a lot. He commented that the guy from Clark who led the information session “should be paid a million dollars per year” because he might be “the best in the country.” Minnesota was one of the first schools he visited a year ago when I took him along on a business trip and he has had it on his short list ever since. He tends to compare any large school to Minnesota. So far, despite many comparisons, it has stood the test of time. The last time we went to UCSB it was before he was really thinking about colleges, but my grandparents went there so it has been on his radar for a long time and he would love to visit the next time we are out there seeing relatives. We are going to drive down to UNC to check it out in a couple weeks. There is one professor he really likes at Illinois, but we have never been there. I am just making the point that most of the schools he has on his list are leaders from the graduate perspective. And so as to not leave out the undergraduate programs, he attended several sessions at AAG that included people from Macalester and GW. He was very impressed by the people he met at the conference and was bummed that he could not go to every session.
    2) Not to tax your expertise too much, but any thoughts on undergraduate schools he should consider that he might not know of? He would like to go to a school in a city. He seems very interested in how people interact with cities and how that influences transportation, politics, and the human experience. He loves cartography. He will lay on the floor and draw maps all day – mostly networks like subway, train, or air travel networks. If I had to pin him down, I’d say he approaches geography more from a social perspective than a scientific perspective. Thank you in advance for any comments you might offer.

    • Justin 4 months ago

      Hi Kevin,
      If William were my son I would have him apply to all the top schools and to apply for any scholarships that might be available to attend these schools. I would include UCSB, Penn State, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado and any others from the 2nd and 3rd tiers that might be of interest. Then I would sit back and see who offers the best “deal” in terms of scholarship money and opportunity (some scholarships might open doors to special programs and opportunities not afforded to just any student). Hopefully that would narrow it down to 2-3 top contenders. At that point, if you can manage it, it would be good to visit the short list programs and meet with a professor or two so William can ask specific questions and get a feel for where he’d like to study, both in terms of the geography program and in terms of being a young man on a college campus. You might be able to accomplish some of this in New Orleans at the 2018 AAG meeting but being on campus might be more important than meeting professors.
      Hope this helps. Good luck to William!
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Jennifer Lucene 4 months ago

    Hi Justin,
    Thanks so much for your help with this excellent site!

    I am an international student whose major is Geographic Information System (both M.S. and B.S.) in China. I got my master degree in 2011 and has been worked for several years with several different jobs. Right now, I am a Java Developer for the back end of website for around 1 year. I really wanna pursue a doctoral degree in the field of big data, spatial analysis, or health geography in U.S.. And My GRE score is 155verbal+170Quantitative+3Writing. My TOEFL is 91 in total (19 in speaking section). My GPA is 3.4 for B.S. and 3.75 for M.S.. Besides, I have one publication about agricultural and environmental geography (first author published in 2014, sci). Can you give me some suggestions on choosing universities? I really got confused on which universities I can qualify. Can you suggest universities both on the website you list and others you don’t list here?

    Thanks a million!
    Best wishes!!

    • Justin 4 months ago

      Hi Jennifer,
      For GIScience + Health I recommend Illinois and Buffalo. Also take a look at North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado. It’s difficult to comment on your chances of admission. Overall, my guess is application volume will be down as the job market is relatively strong, so chances might be good. But it all depends on the applicant pool at each school. Good luck!
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Billy Burton 4 months ago

    Hi Justin,

    Firstly, thank you so much for compiling such a comprehensive list after all these years, they’re wonderful. I once considered doing it myself, but then I found yours!

    I applied last year to a few top schools, and I got into one but was unsuccessful with the others. I decided to wait a while, build up some experience and reapply a little later down the line. I’m now very well-versed in the world of US Geography PhDs etc!

    My issues is that I have a real niche research area, and I’m really struggling to find an appropriate home for me at the graduate level. My research interest lies in Disaster Risk Reduction/Response/Recovery, Drones/Remote Sensing and Humanitarian/development initiatives. I’m also a competent physical Geographer. I have a BSc in Geography from a top UK school, and I have the option of doing a MSc at UCL next year, but my heart is really set on US universities.

    I don’t suppose you can think of a good home for me? I considered the Stanford IPER program, and I heard Colorado Boulder has a disaster focus, but other than that I’m really stuck!
    Thank you for your time!

  • Kyle 4 months ago

    Hi,

    My name is Kyle and I am a recent graduate with a BA degree in Latin American Studies. I am thinking of going to graduate school in human geography. I was wondering what my chances would be for a tier 1 school? I have a 3.76 gpa, am near fluent in Spanish, and can very likely get good recommendation letters. I am also currently employed in a small research position in a Latin American country and my research now would be similar to what I would want to study. The only problem is the GRE — I have not taken the GRE yet but I know that I am terrible on standardized tests like the SAT and would probably not do as well on the GRE. What type of scores would I need on the GRE to have a good chance with tier 1 school (mixed with the rest of what I wrote) and if I get bad GRE results, do I still have a chance?

    Aside from that, what schools that you listed would be best for human geography (most likely would study something related to fair trade and rural social movements, Latin America focused).

    Thanks 🙂
    Kyle

    • Justin 3 months ago

      Hi Kyle,
      I don’t know what GRE scores you need. It will vary by program and depends on the applicant pool. It’s not impossible to gain admission with a poor GRE, just more difficult. You’ll need to convince the admissions committee you have the goods. One way to sway things your way is to spend time figuring out what professors/departments would be a particularly good fit with your interests and highlighting the fit in your application letter(s). Finally, gaining admission to a Tier 1 program is the wrong goal. Your goal should be to find the best possible research mentor. That person may be at the University of New Mexico. Don’t let these rankings serve as your only criteria for targeting program. Also, you should know that if your ultimate objective is a PhD you can usually move from a relatively unknown Master’s program to a solid or top-tier PhD program if you have the support of faculty who supervised your thesis work.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • George Floros 3 months ago

    Dear Justin,

    my name is George Floros and I am currently attending my 2nd MSc., which is in the field of Geographic Information Science at University College London. I am exploring my options, since I would like to pursue a PhD and I would appreciate your opinion. I am interested in 3D GIS, which as I recall from our previous conversation 1 year ago, it is not that well-known in the states. I would like to ask you if the situation remains the same, or there is a developed interest towards the field of 3D. In fact, I am also working with Building Information Modelling (BIM), IFC and the integration between IFC and 3D GIS for the development of AR applications. In case any of the above sound like they could be interesting for a university at the US I would appreciate your comment.

    Kind Regards,

    George Floros

    • Justin 3 months ago

      Hi George,
      To me, 3D GIS would fall under the domain of GIScience so my recommendation would be to look at all the top programs including Penn State, Wisconsin, UCSB, Ohio State and for the 3D/computing side, Illinois. Many other programs would be worth a look. To pursue a PhD, I think you’ll find yourself needing to identify an application area of interest to go along with interest in 3D-flavored (or I should say flavoured) geospatial technology. For example, maybe you’re interested in how to best visualize 3D data, or maybe you are interested in 3D modeling of natural hazards; something along those lines will be more appealing to a PhD admissions committee.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Alen Emanual 3 months ago

    Hello Justin

    Thank you so much for making this list and answering all these questions.
    I came from a business administration background and I have decided 2 years ago to switch my career from administration to scientific research as I’m working in a research institute that focus in solar energy, water and climate change, I had the chance to work with scientists in those fields, I did an MS in GIS from UK, however I still feel that I’m not confident yet to do the work and always I’m working under supervision. I need to do a PhD that gives me the fundamentals/principals of Geosicence/Geography/Geophysics .. etc. I don’t want to go back and study an undergraduate degree again, I would like to pursue what I have already started with my MS but in more detailed way. I’m interested in data science/wireless monitoring system/gathering real-time data.
    I appreciate if you can recommend me some universities/programs to apply for.
    Thank you so much once again.

    Regards,
    Alen

  • Canacelqr 3 months ago

    Dear Justin,
    Many thanks for your imformation!
    I am a senior undergraduate student from China, major in Physical Grography. I has been to America for several times in the past but know little about the academic situation in Geography. You help me a lot by drawing this list!
    I am interested in physical geography, plant ecology, and biodiversity…….and I want to find the point which combines the geography and ecology, but I am not clearly sure about the perspective I should choose. I am good at GIS but I also look forward to the field trip in the natural world.
    Could you give me some advice about the university?

    Best wishes! ))
    Canace

  • Chan 3 months ago

    Hi Justin,

    Thank you for the work you put in making these lists and answering so many comments!

    I am an undergrad pursuing a triple major in Geog, GIS, and Global Studies, with a Spanish minor. I love human geography and am specifically interested in cultural geography, food systems, and sustainable community development. From your list I have researched faculty and current students and identified Minnesota, Georgia, UC Davis, Syracuse, Wisconsin, and Arizona as schools that seem to be a good fit for me. I am also curious about U of Missouri who is not on your list , and has an oddly small program, but is strong in human geography.

    I have a GPA of 3.8 and have a good cv and recommendations, but do not come from a major university, and am wondering if it is even possible for me to be accepted into one of these major programs, and on top of that recieve funding.

    Do you have any suggestions on schools that would be a good fit for me, or any advice?

    Thanks again!

    • Justin 3 months ago

      Hi Chan,
      Admission will depend on your GRE scores and your level of research maturity. If you are good at standardized tests and can “talk the talk” in terms of academic research interests I think you’ll have a very good shot at both admission and funding. Try to connect with professors who share your research interests as soon as possible. You might also consider attending an AAG meeting, either the main annual meeting (New Orleans in 2018) or a regional meeting.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

      • Chan 3 months ago

        Thanks for the response! Would you be able to speak on any specific programs to look into, as well as the program in Missouri?

  • T.C. 3 months ago

    I am looking at going back to school to get my masters after a decade of being in the work force as a GIS Tech. My first of two problems is that many programs I’ve been looking at want letters of recommendation, many of them with requirements that they come from the professors from my school where I got my BA. Since it’s been so long, I’m doubtful that my old professors will be able to give me a good letter, if they remember me at all. Some will allow former supervisors to send LORs, I can get maybe one, but the others I’ve had were those who I worked for a short amount of time many years ago and am out of contact and won’t remember me, or those who I had problems with at work and may not give me a good review. So is there a way around this for me, like apply with one or no LORs and take my chances or are there programs that don’t require LORs or place a heavy emphasis on it? My other problem is that the school where I got my BA no longer has a Geography program, it was never big to begin with and was discontinued a few years ago, is this a detriment?

    Also, while my GPA overall was a 2.87, my last year’s GPA was 3.516 and my major GPA was 3.595, and my GRE verbal/quantitative/writing scores are 157/158/4.5, I know these are good, but are they enough to get me in? Thanks!

    • Justin 2 months ago

      Hi TC,
      Don’t try to sidestep the LOR requirement. Follow the application instructions to the letter. Reach out to your professors and explain your situation. They should be willing to help alumni even if they don’t remember you too well. It would be good to get a solid letter from someone who has supervised your work in the private sector. If no one seems perfect, try the least problematic boss. This isn’t a make or break element of your application but you might want address the LOR challenge in your application statement.
      The discontinued Geography department shouldn’t be a problem. In fact, it might help explain your difficulty in getting a good LOR.
      I don’t know if your GREs will be good enough to overcome your GPA. Depends completely on where you apply and what the competition has to offer. You might want to contact programs of interest and speak to someone about admissions criteria, likelihood, etc. Good luck!
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Kristina 2 months ago

    Hi there!
    Thanks for all of the helpful info you’ve provided. I have recently moved to Massachusetts and have been trying to find a good Grad program to get into. I noticed that Boston was on the list and then someone commented that they aren’t offering it anymore. In doing some online research, I found a program at Salem State University. Can you offer any info or feedback on them?

    Thanks in advance.

    • Justin 2 months ago

      Hi Kristina,
      I have heard of Salem State and it sounds pretty good but not top notch. But you should try to figure out what you want to do after grad school and look for the best vehicle to get you there. Lots of options near. Check out Clark.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Evan 2 months ago

    Thanks for this work, Justin! Been really helpful in my grad school research. Just compared your 2015 and 2017 lists. Both super helpful. One thing I’d love to see again that you did in your 2015 list is a breakout of the best places to go for different types of geography. I’m looking specifically into Human Geography programs, so the 2015 list was most helpful for that reason. The tiering is helpful, generally, but I see that many of the Tier 1 programs focus heavily on physical geography or data science/GIS-type stuff and I’m really looking for the strongest human geography programs. Thanks again for all your work and just wanted to share this bit of feedback! Cheers.

    • Justin 2 months ago

      Hi Evan,
      Thank you very much for the feedback. I’ll see if I can reprise the sub discipline listings in 2018 but keep in mind this is very subjective so don’t rely on me as your sole source.
      The vast majority of programs listed here take what I call a “balanced” approach to geography offering a blend of faculty expertise and course offerings in human geography, physical geography and technical/GISci topics. The top 2-3 tiers *are* the top human geography programs, in my opinion. My advice to you is to seek a program with this sort of balance. Studying all three areas in some depth will make you a better human geographer. The same is true for anyone seeking the best physical geography or GISci programs. Hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Eloise Reid 2 months ago

    How is the LSU program?
    I am coming from a masters in environmental justice at Michigan but am interested in studying and being located in the Gulf Coast. Any others? Thanks for this list!
    Thanks!
    Eloise

    • Justin 2 months ago

      Hi Eloise,
      I don’t know too much about LSU and it seems to keep a low profile within the discipline, at least from my limited perspective. That said, I once worked with a graduate and, as I recall, she had a great experience. LSU is a major/flagship University and that means something, especially if you plan to pursue a career in Louisiana. Even more important is your faculty mentor so if you can find a good fit at LSU go for it. There seem to be very interesting things happening at Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Univ South Florida if those parts of the Gulf Coast are also of interest.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Ben M. 2 months ago

    Hey Justin,
    I’ve benefited a great deal from considering and contemplating the options provided in your present and past rankings, and I thank you for them.

    I have a question I’d like to throw by you, to get your perspective. What do you think of programs that offer students a unique regionally-specific education, but aren’t necessarily represented in ranking schemes? I’m interested in Arctic geography (with all the trimmings; environmental/sustainability science, human geog., cartography, etc.), and I’ve felt a logical option along these lines is the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, especially with its attractive Resilience and Adaptation Program in sustainability science, which I’ve been eyeing for quite a while now. I’ve thought about pairing this with either (mostly) the Arctic and Northern Studies Master’s degree or (possibly) their natural resource management MS, because while UAF does offer a whole host of geography courses for students to choose from, there is no formal graduate program in geography (beyond, say, an individualized interdisciplinary concentration). I’m just a bit concerned that taking a leap into a degree that could limit my options going forward if employers or PhD programs outside Alaska wouldn’t consider my degree legitimate or ‘sexy’ enough given its unranked status (which, in articulating this in writing, seems a tad ridiculous, but that’s how I feel). By the same token, I feel that UAF could offer a specialized educational and research experience that may benefit me greatly going forward, especially in getting experience that many universities don’t offer elsewhere. What do think about all this? Would it be wise to note where alumni with these degrees have worked or pursued further education? Even if you have never heard of any of the programs I’ve mentioned, I would still appreciate the input.

    Thank you!

    P.S. – two important filters to add might be: 1) I do not have a geography undergraduate degree (humanities), and while I am driven to break into the field, I’m generally limited in my options for grad. programs due to a lack of prerequisite courses, and 2) I’m not hooked on UAF to the extent that I would be unwilling to consider other options (esp. given UAF’s recent budget crises).

    • Justin 2 months ago

      Hi Ben,
      Given your interests, I think pursuing a Master’s degree at Alaska-Fairbanks would be a great option, though you might look at Colorado and a few other options as well. Since you are trying to “break into the field” I think it could be a great path for establishing yourself. If your ultimate objective is a PhD you will want to take a very serious look at moving to one of the programs listed in these rankings, after completing a Master’s in Alaska, in order to maximize your career opportunities. Hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Daniel W. 2 months ago

    I’ve greatly enjoyed, and appreciated, your rankings over the years – they have been very informative. Thank you! I have an academic background in geography (B.S. in Geography and Global Studies and M.Ed. in Geography Education). I have participated in a range of research studies as an undergrad and grad student, which has provided me invaluable experiences and cemented my love of geography. I have taught middle school science the past seven years and wish to make a career change and continue my education. I have always been fascinated by public health, especially where it connects to the broad field of geography. I am debating pursuing a MPH with an emphasis in GIS at University of North Texas Health Science Center or going the traditional Geography/GIS route. My limitations are financial and time. The MPH program at UNTHSC is very affordable and online, which will allow me to work full-time while pursuing the degree. Choosing, and especially attending, a traditional geography program “may” not be that feasible in my current life-stage. Also, I do not want to limit myself to only a public health job or only a traditional geography job – I have broad interests and want to keep my options open as I’d be happy doing many things. Do you see any serious limitation of choosing either route and being singled into only one type of career (ie can only get a public health job with MPH or will not be able to work in the field on public health with a Geography degree)? Or could I be able to work for a variety of organizations on a variety of projects with either degree? I understand this is a broad question, but I value your input. I thank you in advance for your time and assistance!

    • Justin 1 month ago

      Hi Daniel,
      You’re already an established geographer so I don’t think you risk alienating yourself from geography/geographer arenas by pursuing an MPH. If the content in the North Texas program is exciting to you and the tuition is affordable why not give it a shot? You might ask the program admins what sort of placement record they’ve seen for previous grads to confirm it will move you in the right direction. Good luck!
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Prachi 4 weeks ago

    Hi Justin,
    You are doing a wonderful job in sharing all the expertise and your analysis on GIS and Geography field.
    How i wish i had come across your blog earlier. 🙂
    I’m a Civil Engineering graduate with 5years of work experience in construction cost estimation in India.Now residing in Boston from a year.I’m exploring new career opportunities in the field of GIS /Geo spatial science and related fields.Since, I do not have any background study or work experience in GIS ;What would be the best way to start a career in GIS? .Is Online Masters/graduate certification from a good university like Penn State help me gain good knowledge and land a job? Or Regular university course better.Please help me decide.
    I wanted to best utilize the time so i joined a graduate certificate course on Green building and community sustainability in Harvard extension schools where i m planning to take online courses on Intro to GIS,Web GIS technologies,Intermediate geographic analysis and sustainability for building and community.
    Prior to registration i had not read your blog.Now that i have read i m in dilemma to go with the course registered or take up a regular course from Salem State university or Clark University.
    P.S (I have Very Good GPA,Avg TOFEL score,Low GRE Score)
    Thanks in Advance!
    Prachi

    • Justin 1 week ago

      Hi Prachi,
      Given your experience and existing academic qualification I think a certificate course or self study would be sufficient, albeit less robust than a “regular” residential program. But different students have different learning styles. You may not need any formal study but simply a job in an organization where GIS is part of the picture. Learning on the job (and with a paycheck) is best if you can find a way.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Jenny 2 weeks ago

    Hi Justin,
    I have been lurking among your posts for a couple years now. I am a contract archaeologist working in Illinois for five years. I enjoyed studying anthropology and archaeology in undergrad at Illinois State University, but am looking for training to become a more specialized geographer. I was able to get a job right out of university with a great company (ISAS) and in a small office, where I have been able to get much more hands-on experience than I could have ever dreamed. While working there I fell in love with GIS and mapping and now want to further my studies. Although I work for University of Illinois, I am not sure if this is the school I would like to study at. I have been looking for a GIS program that features human geography but will be able to give me the technical skills I will need to succeed within my field (I have not been too impressed with “GIS” programs within archaeology grad programs – it doesn’t seem like anyone really learns anything substantial). What schools, off the top of your head, would you suggest that would be appropriate for what I am looking for in a program?

    • Justin 1 week ago

      Hi Jenny,
      Illinois is an outstanding program/University so I wouldn’t be too quick to dismiss an opportunity there, especially if you can leverage your current position for tuition purposes. Almost all other top tier programs have robust offerings in human geography and GIS though each of them would serve up a slightly different flavor. My suggestion is to look for a professor doing the sort of work that interests you and explore the program where they teach. Or, better yet, contact them via email and ask about opportunities or suggestions for other programs.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Murray Rice 1 week ago

    Hi Justin, thanks for doing this annual ranking. I just noticed that North Texas (where I teach) is ranked in your listing. We always appreciate recognition, but in our case I should note that UNT does not have (and has never had) a doctoral program in geography (in 2017 we actually won the AAG’s inaugural program excellence award for terminal master’s programs). Since we don’t have the resources (and obviously, students) that a doctoral program would have, I would put it out there that ranking UNT Geography with doctoral programs does not represent a fair, apples-to-apples comparison. So, for future annual rankings, would it be possible for you to omit UNT (as long as your ranking is one of doctoral programs)? Thanks and all the best.

    • Justin 1 week ago

      Hi Murray,
      Thank you for the note. I suppose the confusion comes from your own program page and the North Texas listing in the AAG Guide as both sources list an option for a Ph.D. See http://geography.unt.edu/academic-programs/graduate-program and http://www.aag.org/galleries/guide/20162017_Guide_to_Geography_Programs_in_the_Americas.pdf. So I think that’s why I included UNT in my rankings. I see now that the PhD program appears to be geared toward Environmental Science and/or Critical Human Geography. In any case, I will bear in mind for future rankings that UNT does not consider itself a PhD granting geography program.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

      • Murray Rice 6 days ago

        Hello Justin, thanks for your follow up. You are absolutely right about the existence of a PhD option listing on our program page, but as you correctly note the PhD here is not a PhD in geography. I should note, however, that UNT has now introduced a new doctoral program in information science that has a geospatial concentration, but even that is not an actual PhD in geography (we are getting closer with this, though!). Thanks again for providing your helpful geography program ranking.
        All the best.
        Murray

  • georgette 2 days ago

    You did not mention Claremont Graduate school for GIS Data Science? you graduated there for undergrade Your thoughts
    Thank you

    • Justin 2 days ago

      Hi Georgette,
      I don’t know much about the program. I just glanced at the faculty and there isn’t a true geographer among them so I think they’ve got one hand tied behind their backs.
      Best wishes,
      Justin

  • Ashik 1 day ago

    Hi Justin !

    Thank you very much for your kind information over the Geography graduate programs in USA.I have been following your posts from my undergrad.Recently, I have completed my bachelor.My CGPA is 3.45 out of 4 and My GRE score is 303(q=156;v=147) and AWA=3.5. I know my score is not that good.However, it will be very kind of you if you could suggest me some universities with major on quantitative GIS within my profile.

    Thanks again for your valuable time.

  • Ashik 36 mins ago

    Hi Justin,
    Thank you very much for your insightful information.

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