NAU GPR Graduate Programs
FREQUENTLY ASKED APPLICATION QUESTIONS (FAQ)
MS Geospatial Sciences Degree Applications
see our General Graduate
Application FAQ, which covers questions related to all of our GPR graduate
1) I would like any advice on what I can do to make
myself a qualified and competitive applicant.
look at the entire packet that the applicant submits. The strongest
candidates (of which there are only a few) have high accomplishments
across the board: references, prior coursework (GPA), GRE, and their personal
statement. You do not, however, need to be stellar in all areas when you
apply to be admitted. We also tend to look favorably on students who have
a very clear idea of what they want to focus on in their graduate
education. We mostly want to feel confident that you will be able to
succeed as a graduate student.
general, applications for admission to the MS Applied Geospatial Sciences
degree are assessed based on the following criteria:
A. Strength of the Statement of
Interest and Intent, including:
of writing - a clear statement that is well written
personal growth and potential - evidence of motivation to succeed and
potential for intellectual growth
with the MS Geospatial Sciences program and faculty - please see our
of past experience - professional, educational and volunteer work in the
subject areas covered by the degree
B. Evidence of ability to do
succeed in graduate level study - as seen in transcripts or other relevant work
C. Strength of Letters of
Recommendation - with a focus on the ability to succeed and work in a
The GPR Graduate Review Committee
tends to look more favorably upon applications that are neat and attractive.
2) When do I need to take the GRE and when/how do I
give you the results?
should take the GRE so we can get your scores by at about the same time as
we receive your application. We access your GRE scores online through the
NAU Registrar's Office. You tell the GRE people to send your scores to NAU,
which is how they get them.
can admit student before they take the GRE on a conditional status. The
GRE will still be required and students may be required to take additional
coursework to make up for any weaknesses demonstrated in the GRE score.
3) What is your minimum score for the GRE and TOEFLE?
have no set minimum on the GRE. A weak GRE score can be balanced by
strengths in other parts of the application. A low score in one area
(English or Math) may result in your being required to take additional
coursework in that area if you are admitted.
requires a minimum score of 80 on the TOEFL Exam. Students with less than
80 may be admitted on the condition that they take the NAU Intensive English
Program and then retake the TOEFL Exam and receive a score of 80.
Graduate Certificates do not require your taking the GRE. You must still,
however, meet the university's minimum TOEFL score.
4) Can I waive the GRE based on evidence of my abilities
from my previous courses?
GRE is the only measure we have that is comparable across all institutions
and regions of the world. That is why require it.
can petition (request) to have the GRE requirement waived via a letter to
the department's Graduate Program Coordinator. The petition would take it
to our Graduate Admissions Committee or to the full department for
discussion and a vote.
automatically waive the GRE for two groups of MS applicants:
those who already have a masters degree
and are applying for a second masters, because they have already
demonstrated the ability to complete a graduate degree program; and
undergraduate NAU students who are applying for our BS-MS Integrated
Program, because we already know these students through at least two
years of teaching them in our classes.
here for the department's GRE Waiver Policy.
5) Do I need to find a professor to advise me before I
apply, do I just call them up?
you need someone in our department to agree to be your advisor, before the
department will review your application. Just putting someone's name down
on your application form is no sufficient. We need an email from the
academic advisor stating that they agree to advise you if you are admitted
to the degree. This will be included in your application material that
will be reviewed by the department. You need an advisor as part of the
calling or dropping by during their office hours (if you are in town) are
all appropriate ways to approach potential advisors. Click
here for a list of GPR graduate faculty advisors and topics.
- It is
generally recommended that when you first contact a potential advisor, you
provide them with a copy of your Statement of Interest (may be a draft) so
they can determine if your interests match with their specialties.
6) Are there any specific prerequisites to the program?
I have not taken any geography classes, will I have to do make up
work for that?
new MS Applied Geospatial Sciences degree does not require previous
you do need to be accepted by an advisor prior to admission, and GIS
advisors are in high demand. They, therefore, tend to only accept students
that show the most potential for success -- by whatever criteria they
submit, usually through their Statement of Interest.
in our planning and recreation areas tend to be more available to take new
advisees. It is possible to do the Geospatial Technologies (GIS) emphasis
under an advisor who does not have a major teaching or research focus in
GIS, if other areas of interest are compatible.
7) What is the PSM (Professional Science Masters)?
- The Geospatial
Technologies emphasis has been approved as a PSM degree by the
national PSM organization. The organization promotes the introduction of
practical and real world knowledge for highly scientific and technical
degree programs. If you complete the requirements, you may indicate the
PSM designation with your degree on your resume. Click Here to
see our department requirement for the PSM designation.
8) What are the department's financial aid
arrangements for MS students? I would like to Graduate Assistantship or
internship, but what other aid can I get?
- For MS
applicants applying for a Graduate Assistantships and Tuition
Scholarships for the Fall semester, we have a
priority application deadline of February 15th.
- For MS
applicants applying for Tuition Scholarships for
the Spring semester, we have a priority application
deadline of October 15th. Graduate Assistantships are rarely
available for students starting in the Spring semester. Tuition
Scholarships are sometimes available for students starting in the Spring
semester, but not always.
who submit their full application by these dates (including their GRE
scores and Letters of Recommendation) will receive priority consideration
for Graduate Assistantship and Tuition Scholarships.
generally have between one and four Graduate Assistantships each year,
and from one to three Tuition Scholarships each year.
Assistantships are only available to on-campus students (not students who
are fully online).
tuition scholarships, out-of-state (non-resident) students can only apply
for Out-of-State Tuition Scholarships. In-state (resident) students can
only apply for In-State Tuition Scholarships.
GPR Department Chair oversees the appointment of both GA and the grader
positions, as well as the awarding of tuition scholarships.
Integrated Program students must have fully completed the BS degree
requirements before they can apply for a Graduate Assistantship or a
form is the application for these department opportunities.
department also has grader positions, which are more flexible and which
certificate students could qualify for. We do not know how many of grader
positions we will have until classes start because they are based on
enrollment in our online classes. Please contact the Dept. Chair if you
are interested in this option.
other scholarships are also available for graduate students. See this list
of College and Department Scholarships for more
9) I'm wondering what kind of graduate assistantships
and research opportunities there would be for someone with my background.
you might guess, Graduate Assistantships are very competitive. In general,
students with strong GIS skills are better positioned to receive a GA
position. However, the overall strength of the application is the primary
consideration that we look at.
admitted 'conditionally' (usually due to low undergraduate GPA or not yet
having taken their GRE) will receive lower consideration for GA positions
and Tuition Scholarships.
of our positions are for teaching assistants. Research assistantships are
rare and are more likely to go to students who have already been at NAU
for at least one semester.
10) I am almost through with the letters of
recommendation and essay. I believe this is the last step (correct me if I am
wrong). How long does it take to review the application and get back to me?
needs to be reviewed by a department committee. Because people are gone
during the summer, it is harder to get the committee together, which can
cause delays in reviewing applications. I am currently not in Flagstaff,
and so nothing is going to be reviewed until I return in the middle of
11) I'm guessing a practicum involves working with
either a government entity or private company in whatever the specified field
of study that one chooses for their degree?
guess is correct. Practicums are much more flexible than theses. The
specific details on how any one practicum works will vary quite a bit from
one student to the next. The work should be something that has a beginning
and an end point, and which can be packaged into a single document that
would be submitted to our department, the details of which are worked out
between you and your MS advisor.
12) Why is it important to pursue a degree in
Applied Geospatial Sciences?
science is an applied field of study in which students learn about the
variety of place-based data, including environmental, socioeconomic and
cultural, how to collect and analyze that data, and how to develop and
implement policies and designs to build better communities and a better
Sciences, both GIS and Community and Recreation Planning, are essential to
understanding and managing our world. GIS deals with mapping and analyzing
all forms of data that are associated with the surface of the earth.
Community and recreation planning deal with the policies, perceptions and
behaviors of human societies that shape the places we live in and our
relationships with the natural environment. The geospatial sciences, and
associated geodesign professions, help
to ensure that decision related to diverse topics from economic
development to environmental stewardship are sustainable, efficient and
13) What are potential careers for students graduating
with this degree?
on your particular area of focus, the following are possible:
- FIELDS: Education;
Business; Government; Nonprofits
- TITLES: Urban
Planner/Community Development; Cartographer/GIS Specialist;
Transportation Management; Environmental/Natural Resource Management;
Environmental Interpretation; Writer/Researcher; Emergency Management;
Demographer; Marketing Analyst; Librarian/Information Scientist; Real
- EMPLOYERS: City
and County Community Development Departments; County Recorderís Office;
Other city, county and tribal government agencies; Northern Arizona
Council of Governments; Maricopa Association of Governments;
Arizona State Land Department; National Park Service; Bureau of Land
Management; US National Forest Service; The Nature Conservancy; Arizona
Public Service (APS); Southwest Gas; Peabody Energy; Pulte Homes; among
14) Do graduates need additional training after
their degree such as internships, fellowships, shadowing?
are strongly recommended for students who do not already have professional
work experience in their specialty areas. This is not, however, required
for the degree.
15) How do the online courses work?
Videos, Discussion forum, Papers, maybe a Quiz or Exam. All of this
depends on the faculty member.
16) I saw on the site that this program qualifies for
an in-state tuition exchange; what is the process to qualify for that?
need to contact NAU Financial Aid about that.
17) Are there classes in other departments that I
could take as a graduate student in the MS Applied Geospatial Sciences degree?
you can take any graduate class for which you meet the prequesites. Here is a sample
list of possible classes.
18) I want to do GIS and Physical Geography, but all of the faculty in
those areas that I have contacted say that they are not able to advise on any
additional students. What should I do?
Unfortunately, the GIS and physical geography
faculty in the department are in very high demand and are not able to meet the
requests of all of the applicants who would like to have them as an advisor. We
are a small department and we cannot guarantee that all potential applicants
will be able to find a suitable advisor. We also do not want to admit
applicants who cannot find a suitable advisor.
Applicants who cannot find a preferred advisor
have two options: (1) request an advisor who is not in their area of interest
(a GIS or physical geography faculty member in your case), or (2) look at other
For option #1
- it is still possible to have a GIS or physical geographer on the student's
committee, just not as the primary advisor (who does most of the work);
- the student should clearly indicate that they will do an internship-based
practicum, as this is the easiest to advise, requiring less expertise on the
advisor's part -- the internship usually has an on-site supervisor who is an
expert in the area of interest;
- and the student might consider tailoring their interest more toward the
non-GIS/physical geographer advisor's interests, as this will make it more
likely that they will agree -- some other faculty also have higher numbers of
advisees than they prefer.
19) Where do I
find and send the department application forms and letters?
The application form is mostly done online
through the NAU Graduate College.
Students from U.S.
universities are required to submit an unofficial digital copy of their
undergraduate transcripts with their application. They are only required to
submit official transcripts after they have been admitted by the GPR
Department. Students will not be able to enroll in classes until their official
transcripts are received by NAU.
Applicants with a
Bachelor degree from NAU do not need to submit transcripts.
Students from non-U.S.
(international) universities must submit official transcripts before their
application will be reviewed by the GPR Department.
must be sent to the NAU Graduate College.