NAU GPR Graduate Programs
ASKED APPLICATION QUESTIONS (FAQ)
MS Geospatial Sciences Degree Applications
Also see our General
Graduate Application FAQ, which covers questions related to all of our GPR
a) I would like any advice on what I can
do to make myself a qualified and competitive applicant.
- We 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.
In general, applications for admission
to the MS Applied Geospatial Sciences degree are assessed based on the
A. Strength of the Statement of Interest
and Intent, including:
- Quality of
writing - a clear statement that is well written
personal growth and potential - evidence of motivation to succeed and
potential for intellectual growth
- Fit with the
MS Geospatial Sciences program and faculty - please see our faculty
- Relevance 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 professional environment
The GPR Graduate Review Committee tends
to look more favorably upon applications that are neat and attractive.
b) When do I need to take the GRE and
when/how do I give you the results?
- You 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.
- We 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.
c) What is your minimum score for the
GRE and TOEFLE?
- We 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.
- NAU 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.
- Our Graduate
Certificates do not require your taking the GRE. You must still, however,
meet the university's minimum TOEFL score.
d) Can I waive the GRE based on evidence
of my abilities from my previous courses?
- The GRE is
the only measure we have that is comparable across all institutions and
regions of the world. That is why require it.
- You 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.
- Click here for the
department's GRE Waiver Policy.
e) Do I need to find a professor to
advise me before I apply, do I just call them up?
- Yes, 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.
f) 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?
- The new MS
Applied Geospatial Sciences degree does not require previous geography
- However, 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.
- Advisors 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.
g) What is the PSM (Professional Science
- 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
h) 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
- 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
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
- This 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
- Some other
scholarships are also available for graduate students. See this list of College
and Department Scholarships for more information.
i) I'm wondering what kind of graduate
assistantships and research opportunities there would be for someone with my
- As 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.
- Most 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.
j) 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?
- It 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 May.
k) 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?
- Your 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.
l) 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 equitable.
m) What are potential careers for
students graduating with this degree?
- Depending on
your particular area of focus, the following are possible:
Education; Business; Government; Nonprofits
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 Estate Appraisal
City and County Community Development Departments; County Recorder’s
Office; Other city, county and tribal government agencies; Northern
Arizona Council of Governments; Maricopa Assocation
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 others....
o) 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.
p) How do the online courses work?
Videos, Discussion forum, Papers, maybe a Quiz or Exam. All of this
depends on the faculty member.
q) I saw on the site that this program
qualifies for an in-state tuition exchange; what is the process to qualify for
- You need to
contact NAU Financial Aid about that.
r) Are there classes in other
departments that I could take as a graduate student in the MS Applied
Geospatial Sciences degree?
- Yes, you can
take any graduate class for which you meet the prequesites.
Here is a sample list of
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.
with a Bachelor degree from NAU do not need to submit transcripts.
from non-U.S. (international) universities must submit official
transcripts before their application will be reviewed by the GPR
transcripts must be sent to the NAU