The first consideration will be whether or not you have the option of relocating to a different area. This issue will mostly be influenced by finances, personal preference, and obligations to family or friends. If you can move out of your city, state, or even country – your options will be less limited. Another factor to consider with relocation is your future job. If you are aware of potential future employers, selecting a geography program at a university near that company may give you added benefits (internships, research work, meet & greets, etc.). Also, employers like to see variety in schools for students who have earned graduate degrees. So if you have earned a Bachelor’s degree from one university, strongly consider relocating to a different school for your graduate degree in geography.
Finances are a second consideration for selecting a geography program. Tuition can be very pricey, especially for graduate programs, so visit the finance pages of schools that interest you in order to calculate their expenses and compare them to your budget. If you find that you cannot afford the tuition of any private universities that interest you, research state schools that rank high in their geography programs. Arizona State boasts on their website that students with Bachelor’s degrees are encouraged to skip right ahead into their PhD program – one reason being that they receive preference on financial assistance. Research schools that you are interested in to see what sort of financial aid they may provide.
Your career path is a third topic to consider before ultimately deciding which geography program to attend. Many students will not know which jobs they will eventually seek until during or after their program, but it will greatly benefit you to educate your guesses beforehand. If you know that the discipline of geography is where your interests lie, try to identify subsets of your interests, such as GIS, urban planning, disaster relief, or environmental protection. Visit the websites of successful geography programs. They usually provide a synopsis of their programs and even specific classes.
Personal learning styles and studying methods are a fourth and extremely important consideration when choosing a program. Every university, and individual program, is different, so you will need to investigate their claims about research. Your job will be to know what you want out of your education. Do you want hands-on research experience, or are you looking more for general classes? Do you value quantitative, qualitative, or a blend of both types of research? And have you identified any specific areas of interest that a professor, who has done in-depth research in a similar topic, could help you with. Most universities have biographies and publish the activities of their professors or researchers. If you learn to utilize the information that they provide for you, and get to know what you want out of research and your courses, you will be much more prepared to select and succeed in a geography program.
So, search online for geography programs, and read up on each of their web pages. When you find a few that interest you, just make sure that they are compatible with these four basic components. Whether it ends up being Boston University, Clark University, Michigan State, Oxford, or your local community college determining your relocating ability, finances, career interests, and education requirements will allow you to choose the best geography program for you.