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Academics / M.A. / Ph.D. in Geography / Graduate Student Life

Graduate Student Life


Graduate students are valued members of the vibrant intellectual community centered in the Department of Geography at the University of Kentucky. Graduate students enjoy learning in a friendly and collegial atmosphere where there are ample opportunities for interaction with faculty, adjunct faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and fellow students. We deliberately foster an open and inclusive scholarly community, in which a diverse group of students can flourish.
The cornerstones of the Graduate Program are the seminars offered each semester. The required courses are offered on a regular basis and serve to provide a strong background in theoretical, conceptual and methodological issues in geography. In addition, students take seminars in areas related to their own research interests. Very often projects completed in seminars are the basis for papers students submit for publication or papers presented at scholarly meetings. Master's thesis and Ph.D. dissertation topics frequently emerge out of seminar settings and are developed in close consultation with an advisor and a thesis committee. Click here for a list of recent UK Geography thesis titles.
As part of the process of departmental governance, Graduate Students have the opportunity to develop professional skills through participation in a range of departmental activities. Graduate students work with faculty on departmental committees, and are involved in planning the Colloquia Series, the annual Fall Picnic, and the Ellen Churchill Semple Day celebrations each spring.
Geography graduate students enjoy participating in the interdisciplinary programs at the University of Kentucky. Many graduate students take seminars offered through the Gender and Women’s Studies Department, the Committee on Social Theory, the Department of Forestry, and complete Graduate Certificates in these areas. Research centers, such as the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, the Appalachian Center, and the Kentucky Transportation Center also offer opportunities for Geography graduate students. Moreover, Geography graduate students have been instrumental in organizing interdisciplinary groups such as the Political Ecology Working Group (PEWG) which has organized conferences and reading groups.
Graduate students from our program have an excellent record of participation at scholarly meetings. Each year several students participate in conferences, including the Mini-Conference on Critical Geography, the meetings of the South East Division of the Association of American Geographers (SEDAAG), and the national meetings of the Association of American Geographers (AAG). Graduate students also collaborate in organizing sessions at these and other meetings. Each year there are funds available on a competitive basis from the Graduate School to support participation in scholarly meetings and conferences.
In addition, graduate students are active in the major professional associations and the discipline scholarly community more broadly, serving on the boards of AAG Specialty Groups, managing electronic listservs, and participating in other organizational activities.
Most graduate students at the Ph.D. level, and many in the MA program, submit research papers, book reviews, and/or review articles, for publication in premier journals. Recent publications by University of Kentucky Geography Graduate students have appeared in Gender, Place and Culture, Political Geography, Geography of the Post-Soviet Union, Professional Geographer, Cultural Geographies, Social and Cultural Geography, Geoforum, Antipode, The Journal of Historical Geography, Urban Geography, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Several students have authored chapters in edited collections. Some students have been active in developing web-based texts and materials for publishers. Graduate students are assisted in publication by faculty members and learn about this and other aspects of professional development in the one-credit course titled Preparing Future Faculty offered each year and open to all graduate students. 
Graduate Students have had success in applying for extra-mural funding and faculty members are committed to working with students in this process. In addition, GEO 743 offers the chance to develop research proposals. Recently, geography graduate students have been very successful in obtaining nationally competitive grants and awards including fellowships from the National Science Foundation, the National Security Education Program, and the Rockefeller Humanities Program. In addition, students have been awarded extramural research funds from the J. William Fulbright Dissertation Program, the National Science Foundation, the InterAmerican Foundation, the National Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, and the National Council for Geographic Education.  Students may also apply for research funding from intramural sources such as the James Brown Graduate Student Research Award sponsored by Appalachian Studies, the Kentucky Oral History Commission, and the Edith Schwab Memorial Scholarship which is sponsored by the Bluegrass Community Foundation.  The Graduate School has an incentive program that adds some matching funds to national awards.
Students in our graduate program have a range of professional goals and career plans. From the start of their degree program, students work with their Advisor and Advisory Committee to develop strategies for success in the job market. Recent graduates have obtained a variety of jobs in academe, the private sector, and government. The Graduate Program maintains contact with alumni through an e-mail listserv, Facebook, receptions at AAG meetings, and regular mailings