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.


  • Anusha 4 weeks ago

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

  • SOMASHREE MAZUMDAR 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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,

  • Ben White 3 weeks 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.


    • Justin 3 weeks 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,

  • Dr Morbius 3 weeks 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 1 week 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 1 week 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,

  • Effrain 6 days 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 6 days ago

      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,

  • Valerie 6 days 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!

    • Justin 5 days 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,

  • Jim 5 days 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 days 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,

      • Jim 3 days 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 3 days 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 hours 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 6 hours 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,

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