NAU GPR Graduate Programs
FREQUENTLY 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 graduate programs.
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 following criteria:
A. Strength of the Statement of Interest
and Intent, including:
- Quality of writing - a clear statement that is well written
- Recent 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 webpages
- 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 that 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.
- We automatically waive the GRE for two groups of MS applicants:
- (1) 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
- (2) 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 application packet.
- Emailing, 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 coursework.
- 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 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.
h) What are the department's financial aid arrangements for MS students? I would like to Graduate Assistanceship 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.
- Students 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.
- We generally have between one and four Graduate Assistantships each year, and from one to three Tution Scholarships each year.
- Graduate Assistantships are only available to on-campus students (not students who are fully online).
- For 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.
- The GPR Department Chair oversees the appointment of both GA and the grader positions, as well as the awarding of tuition scholarships.
- BS-MS Integrated Program students must have fully completed the BS degree requirements before they can apply for a Graduate Assistantship or a Tuition Scholarship.
- This form is the application for these department opportunities.
- The 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.
- 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 background.
- 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.
- Student 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?
- Geospatial sciences 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 and a better world.
- Geospatial 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 and equitable.
m) What are potential careers for students graduating with this degree?
- Depending 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 Estate Appraisal
- EMPLOYERS: City and County Community Development Departments;
County Recorders Office;
Other city, county and tribal government agencies;
Northern Arizona Council of Governments;
Maricopa Assication of Governments;
Arizona State Land Department;
National Park Service;
Bureau of Land Management;
US National Forest Service;
The Nature Conservancy;
Arizona Public Service (APS);
o) Do graduates need additional training after their degree such as internships, fellowships, shadowing?
- Internships 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?
- Reading, 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 that?
- 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 possible classes.
s) 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 Bachelors 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.
- Official transcripts must be sent to the NAU Graduate College.