University of Colorado at Boulder




Flexible Coursework

The curriculum is highly flexible; students’ programs are individualized as much as possible. Only three courses are required of all students: GEOG 5152, History and Theory of Geography; GEOG 5161, Research Design in Geography; and either GEOG 5023, Introduction to Quantitative Methods in Geography or GEOG 5722 Field Methods in Human Geography.   All students must take GEOG 5152 and 5161, normally within the first 2 semesters of residency, even if they have taken similar courses at other institutions. Students must earn a B or better in all of these courses in order to pass the Preliminary Exam required by the Graduate School.

New Student Orientation & Retreat

At the beginning of the Fall Semester, all entering graduate students are required to attend the Department’s Orientation and New Graduate Student Retreat. The Orientation is held on campus and includes a briefing on departmental organization, rules, and policies pertinent to graduate students. The New Graduate Student Retreat is held at the Mountain Research Station a few miles west of Boulder. The Retreat includes presentations by faculty members on their current research and professional activities, one or more field tours, and the traditional hike to Niwot Ridge.

Prerequisites for All Entering Students 

For admission without deficiency and to meet the Department’s mandatory requirements for a knowledge of basic geography, all entering graduate students are required to have the kind of knowledge presented in the Department’s introductory courses in physical geography (GEOG. 1001 Environmental Systems 1/Climate and Vegetation and GEOG. 1011 Environmental Systems 2/Landscapes and Water) and human geography (GEOG. 1982 World Regional Geography, GEOG. 1992 Human Geographies, GEOG. 2002 Geographies of Global Change and GEOG 2412, Environment and Culture). It is the responsibility of the student to obtain this knowledge prior to beginning their first graduate class. Students may gain the required knowledge by formally taking the introductory courses, by auditing the course(s), by reading the textbook on your own, or by any other means. This knowledge will enhance the student’s ability to perform at the level expected in the Geography 5152-5161 core series. In addition to knowledge of basic geography, it is desirable that the student has coursework in at least two areas outside geography in cognate fields in the social and natural sciences. Students are encouraged to have some background in college math, statistics, and computer skills.

Graduate Courses

A complete list of graduate courses is available at:   Click on the current online catalog and then on course descriptions.

If you would like to purchase a printed copy of the University Catalog, please see: The approximate cost to have a copy mailed within the US is approximately $11.50. Outside the US the price varies according to postage.

Only a small set of the total number of courses can be offered each semester. Course scheduling is done about six months in advance of each semester. Double-listed courses (e.g., 4061/5061) are available for both undergraduates (4061) and graduate students (5061). All numbers carry the departmental identifying prefix, “GEOG.”; courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise indicated. The “Registration Handbook and Schedule of Courses” will show the list of courses being offered in the current semester. Please go to the following website: