Graduate Program Overview

Our program will prepare you for a wide range of careers in the environmental sciences, sustainable development, geospatial technologies, and community planning. Specific areas of emphasis within our program include atmospheric science, community and regional planning, geographic information science and technologies (GIST), and human-environment relations and climate change.

Our graduate students join an active and collegial community in which they work closely with faculty to develop a program that is tailored to their own interests. The department offers two MS degree programs.

  1. M.S. in Geography: This program offers two concentration areas: Geography and a Professional Science Masters in Geographic Information Science (PSM). Students may choose either a thesis or an internship option within the Geography concentration. The thesis option is not available for the PSM-GIS concentration which only offers the internship option.:
    • Thesis option: 30 credit-hours of coursework, including an original research project and an MS thesis.
    • Internship option: 36 credit-hours of coursework including an internship and an Internship Report in an area relevant to your interests.

The Professional Science Masters in GIS concentration is tailored to professional students who want to combine GIS skills with advanced training in logistics, management information systems, marketing, or public administration.

  1. M.S. in Planning and Development: This is a fully online program offering three concentration areas: Coastal/Environmental Planning, Urban/Community Planning, and Rural/Regional Planning. There are no cohorts or a dictated pace. Hence, students can select the academic load that is appropriate for them. Courses may be taken in any order. This is a non-thesis program with no internship requirements. Students must submit a portfolio to graduate.

The department also offers two graduate certificates, the Geographic Information Science and Technology Certificate and the Development and Environmental Planning Certificate.

For additional information, please reach out to our Graduate Program Director, Anuradha Mukherji, at We look forward to hearing from you!

Graduate Programs

Plan a Visit

Are you interested in visiting our department to learn more about our programs and research? Please fill out the Contact Form or call us at 252-328-6230. If you have a specific research interests, please let us know and we can help in planning your visit schedule. The earlier you schedule your visit the more rewarding it will be!

Cost of Study

ECU offers exceptional value and the M.S. in Geography offers a high quality program at very competitive costs. Click the link for current information on cost of attendance, including tuition, fees, and room and board.


Merit based graduate teaching and research assistantships are available and all applicants are considered for financial assistance, which includes departmental graduate assistantships. We encourage you to apply by the priority application deadline of February 15th for the best chance to obtain funding. We begin to make funding decisions by mid- to late February.

Graduate students are eligible to work up to 25 hours per week. Students attending ECU on federal visas (for example, F1, J1 etc.) may have different work hour requirements.

Duties usually assigned to students on graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) in the department are listed below:

  • Graduate students with an interest in Physical Geography are assigned as instructor of record for lab courses (e.g., GEOG 1251). Our second-year graduate students become the lead GTA for the lab courses and train the first-year graduate students.
  • Graduate students with interest and skills in GIS are assigned to our GIS lab courses and to manage the GIS Center where they guide and assist undergraduate students with their GIS projects.
  • Graduate students also serve as tutors/consultants for undergraduate students in our large enrollment courses (e.g., GEOG 1000, PLAN 1900) and may lead breakout sessions in such courses, while also assisting course instructors with test preparation, grading, and proctoring.

GTAs in the Department of Geography, Planning, and Environment are currently paid $14,000 for the academic year (fall and spring semesters). Students must enroll full-time, i.e., registered for 9 credit hours, during the semester to qualify for a GTA. During their final graduating semester, a student may register for 3 credit hours but must apply for graduation to be eligible for a GTA. For summer graduation, a student must be enrolled in at least 3 credit hours during the spring semester prior (and have applied for graduation) to be eligible for a spring GTA. Health insurance requires 3 credit hours of an on-campus class. Further information can be found on the Graduate School website.

International students on federal visas may have different enrollment requirements each semester and during the graduating semester than domestic students. At times, this may include enrolling for less than full-time, but this varies by visa type and federal regulations are subject to change. International students must be enrolled in an on-campus class during their graduating semester as per federal requirements. For international students, the Office of Global Affairs website has more information.

Graduate research assistants (GRAs) are funded to do research for an externally funded project under the direction of our faculty. GRAs currently pay $14,000 – $15,000 for the academic year (fall and spring semesters).

Additional funding is often available for summer research and/or teaching. Students can remain employed during the summer semesters without being enrolled.

Further information on funding options and graduate assistantship opportunities outside the department are available from the Graduate School and the Student Affairs GA program.


Establishing North Carolina Residency

Your residency status is determined by the NC Residency Determination Services (RDS) unit within the NC systems office, who ultimately makes the decision about your residency classification. ECU has no authority to change this. You may apply to have your residency reviewed by visiting the  RDS website. Additional information on the process and related guidelines is available on the RDS website under Residency Guidelines.