Geography - Doctor of Philosophy

The New Mexico Doctoral Program in Geography is administered and delivered collaboratively by the Geography faculty at both New Mexico State University and The University of New Mexico.  This program brings together two outstanding institutions and offers a unique opportunity for doctoral study in New Mexico’s diverse and distinctive landscapes. The program offers advantages for students by merging two departments across the state and allowing students to have access to faculty and institutional resources on both campuses. The program is designed to build both theoretical and applied knowledge in geography, which enables students to pursue a wide range of career pathways. 

The New Mexico Doctoral Program in Geography builds upon the strengths of the two departments by providing the education, training, and experience necessary for professional careers in higher education, private industry, and government. The program offers a rigorous, research-based degree that is focused on environmental change, dryland resource management, complex cultural landscapes, and the methods needed to understand them.  During the program, students will learn qualitative and quantitative research methods, and how to use them in combination to create a mixed-methods approach to geographic research.  Expertise in multiple methodologies requires intensive study, and applicants should carefully consider their preparation to enter a program that requires both qualitative and quantitative research proficiency. 

Both campuses offer state-of-the-art technical facilities, and easy access to distinctive geographic features ranging from wilderness areas to urban centers, and the Rocky Mountains to the Chihuahuan Desert. Students reside in either Las Cruces (for NMSU) or Albuquerque (for UNM) -depending on which institution is selected as the “home” university—but students will take classes on either campus, whether remotely or in-person. 

On both campuses, graduate study in Geography has been characterized by a close, collegial working relationship between students and faculty and this singular program is delivered jointly at the two campuses, with collaborative participation from both faculties. 

Students will travel to both campuses and experience field trips to other locations during the first-year sequence of core courses, thus gaining familiarity with two distinct communities and environments.  Each student develops an individualized program of study in consultation with their dissertation committee. Individual requirements for each student are based on existing expertise and future career goals.  Students will work with faculty advisors to develop a dissertation research project within the program’s three specialty areas, using appropriate research methodologies.  Being a joint doctoral program, all students must have faculty from both campuses on their dissertation committee.

The program builds on existing resources and strengths at the two universities, and the curriculum will evolve to adapt to ever-changing human-environment interactions and career needs within professional geography.  The program’s main regional foci are New Mexico and the broader Southwest region, the Mexico-U.S. borderlands, and Latin America. 

The two geography departments have complementary strengths.  Students will be based at the institution where the faculty can best support their research interests.  The NMSU faculty specializes in applied geographic research and teaching, particularly in the fields of geographic information science, physical geography, cultural geography, and natural resource management.  The UNM department specializes in basic research, and its faculty have particular expertise in geographic information science, political ecology, historical geography, health geography, and data science.  To better understand research strengths within the program, please visit the admissions pages for the Ph.D. program and review the faculty pages in the department websites at:

The New Mexico Doctoral Program in Geography (NMDPG) is designed to train students in both basic and applied geographic research, with a topical focus on human-environment interactions.

This program is unique because it is a consortium between two universities. This means that policies of UNM’S Office of Graduate Studies and NMSU’s Graduate School together establish the general requirements for the NMDPG, which also has program-specific requirements for all students.

There are three formal course requirements for all NMDPG students. These core courses are Geog 601, GEOG 602 and GEOG 603. 

All students must complete:

  • at least 48 credit hours of graduate coursework.
  • at least 18 credit hours of graduate coursework after completion of the Master’s degree.
  • at least 24 credit hours of graduate coursework at the home university.
  • at least 18 credit hours of graduate coursework in UNM or NMSU courses numbered 500 or above.
  • at least 18 hours of dissertation credits, which are in addition to other coursework requirements (GEOG/GESP 699 at UNM, or GEOG/GESP 700 at NMSU).
  • at least three hours of graduate credit in the semester in which the comprehensive examination is taken.
  • at least one hour of graduate credit in the semester in which they complete degree requirements.