Graduate Programs


The Department of Geography and Environmental Systems is at the interface between natural science, social science, public policy, engineering, and information technology, with faculty who have the background and collaborative relationships in both research and teaching related to all of these areas. We offer graduate programs towards a Master’s or a Doctorate in Geography and  Environmental Systems. We also offer a Graduate Certificate and Master’s in Professional Studies in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Both a non-thesis option and a thesis option are available for the Master’s in Geography and Environmental Systems.

To browse the research areas of our faculty, see the individual faculty pages.

To see the catalog copy descriptions for the graduate programs:


Applications must be completed online through the Graduate School’s application portal. The application deadline for the PhD and MS is Dec 31st for International Students and Feb 1st for domestic students. The MPS in GIS has a rolling deadline.

Applying for new students

  • In order to be considered, you must contact a potential advisor and list their name your personal statement.
  • The application deadline for Fall admission to our graduate program is February 1st.
  • The application deadline for International students for Fall admissions is earlier than the Department’s deadline. International students must submit their materials by December 31st. Please see the UMBC Graduate School website for more information.
  • We do not require GRE scores but emphasize the importance of the candidate’s personal statement (the letter of intent) and the letters of recommendation.

Applying for current students (accelerated 5-year Master’s program)

Current students who will be seniors in the Fall can apply for the Accelerated M.S. program. Here are some key points about the program:

  • Designed for current undergraduates who would like to begin their graduate education while completing the Bachelor’s degree in their senior year.
  • Students can complete up to 9 credits of graduate courses in their senior year while paying tuition at the undergraduate rate.
  • Application and degree requirements are the same as for the regular graduate degree.
  • Three letters of recommendation are required, but no more than two are accepted from GES faculty.

World-Class Research

UMBC and the Department of Geography and Environmental Systems participate in world-class research. We host:

  • the field headquarters of the Baltimore Ecosystem Study, an NSF and U.S. Forest Service-supported Urban Long-Term Ecological Research Site;
  • the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology (JCET) and Goddard Earth Sciences and Technology Center (GEST), both of which are components of a NASA/UMBC consortium focusing on earth systems science and the application of remote sensing technology to monitor the earth’s atmosphere and surface;
  • the Center for Urban Environmental Research and Education (CUERE), focusing on the environmental, social and economic consequences of landscape transformation associated with urban and suburban development;
  • the U.S. Geological Survey Water Science Center for the MD-DE-DC region, which is located in the campus Research Park with a staff of 60+ personnel.

Have Additional Questions?

See more in the Frequently Asked Questions. If you still have questions, please email David Lansing, Graduate Program Director, Department of Geography & Environmental Systems or Maggie Holland, Chair, Department of Geography & Environmental Systems.