Jun 23, 2024  
2018-2019 Catalog 
2018-2019 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geography Thesis, MS (In Moratorium)

The Geography, Thesis, MS program is no longer accepting applications. Prospective applicants should refer to the Environmental Studies, MA degree in the catalog.

Department of Environmental Studies, Huxley College of the Environment

Graduate Faculty

Abel, Troy D., PhD, environmental policy, conservation politics, civic environmentalism, policy analysis, globalization and environment.
Bach, Andrew J., PhD, physical geography, geomorphology, soils and weathering, geoarcheology.
Berardi, Gigi, PhD, resources management, agroecology, international community development, food security, all-hazards planning.
Bingham, Brian L., PhD, invertebrate biology, marine ecology, experimental design.
Bodensteiner, Leo R., PhD, fish ecology.
Buckley, Patrick H., PhD, economic and development geography, quantitative methods, GIS, environmental issues in Japan and China, quality of life, trans-border environmental issues.
Bunn, Andrew G., PhD, climate change, paleoecology, energy, ecological models.
Bunn, Rebecca, PhD, belowground ecology, toxicology, restoration, energy, the application of statistics.
Darby, Kate J., PhD, Social and environmental justice, environmental justice pedagogy in higher education, sustainable food systems and urban socio-ecological systems.
Flower, Aquila, PhD, environmental change from a geographic perspective using a suite of methodological approaches drawn from the fields of dendrochronology, ecology, statistics, and geospatial analysis.
Helfield, James M., PhD, ecology of rivers and riparian forests, terrestrialaquatic ecosystem linkages, watershed management and restoration.
Hollenhorst, Steven, PhD, social dimensions of natural resources, wilderness and protected area policy and management.
Homann, Peter S., PhD, biogeochemistry, soil sciences, forest ecology.
Landis, Wayne G., PhD, environmental toxicology, population biology, risk assessment.
Laninga, Tamara (Tammi), PhD, federal land use policy and planning, collaborative planning, community economic development, and the social components of bioenergy development.
Love, Brooke, PhD, geochemistry, ocean acidification, hydrothermal systems, chemistry of volatiles in the marine environment.
Matthews, Robin A., PhD, freshwater ecology, aquatic toxicology, statistical ecology.
McLaughlin, John F., PhD, terrestrial ecology, population biology, conservation biology.
Medler, Michael J., PhD, biogeography, GIS, remote sensing, forest fire and wilderness management.
Melious, Jean O., JD, environmental and land use law and policy, international environmental policy.
Myers, O. Eugene, PhD, environmental education, conservation psychology, human ecology, environmental history and ethics.
Paci-Green, Rebekah, PhD, human ecology, the Disaster Risk Reduction minor, and advises The Planet publication
Rossiter, David A., PhD, Canada, cultural-historical geographies, political ecologies.
Rybczyk, John M., PhD, wetland ecology and management, ecosystem modeling, global climate change.
Shull, David H., PhD, structure and function of marine benthic communities, pollution and marine ecosystems.
Sofield, Ruth M., PhD, aquatic toxicology, biochemical and genetic toxicology, environmental chemistry.
Stangl, Paul A., PhD, pedestrian planning, new urbanism, urban landscapes, memory and meaning; Europe and Berlin.
Wallin, David O., PhD, terrestrial ecology, forest ecosystems.
Wang, Grace A., PhD, natural resource policy, cultural resources management, community-based forestry.
Zaferatos, Nicholas C., PhD, community and environmental planning, sustainable development, European environmental policy, Native American political development.

Program Advisor: Dr. Andy Bach, Arntzen Hall 226, (360-650-4774)

Program Goals

The program prepares students in the development and management of environmental resources for careers in business, government, planning, consulting, teaching and research.

The focus of the MS degree in geography is on the development and management of environmental resources. The program is designed to allow students to develop and integrate social and natural science course work in a regional context. Students are provided with an opportunity to understand the spatial, ethical and societal (cultural) basis for the protection and management of resources.

MS Specializations

  • Resource Conservation and Management: Study of biophysical and socioeconomic processes in natural systems; a variety of perspectives and techniques are used to investigate and assess management and development policies.
  • Regional Development and Environmental Policy: Study of regional economic development processes in the context of development and planning; environmental elements — natural and human — are examined in framing development plans and policies toward improving regional community service
  • Earth Surface Processes: Study of physical processes occurring at the earth/atmosphere interface; coastal, glacial, hillslope, eolian, fluvial and soil environments are examples of the complex and dynamic systems which are examined under conditions of alteration by human or natural forces


Students with a degree in geography or allied fields, who meet the requirements of the Graduate School and who show evidence of superior scholarship, are particularly encouraged to apply. Students with degrees in fields other than geography will be considered but must acquire background, under advisement, through course work or other approved methods, in introductory human or cultural geography, introductory physical geography, regional geography, a GIS course, and two upper-division courses or equivalent in physical geography/geographic information science or urban/economic geography. Knowledge of intermediate-level statistics is required of all students as evidenced by satisfactorily completing course work or as assessed by the program advisor. A plan for completion of any outstanding prerequisites must be described in the statement of purpose and approved by the Department of Environmental Studies Graduate Program Committee prior to admission.

Admissions Information

Deadline: Students generally will be admitted into the MS in geography fall quarter only. Admission for subsequent quarters will be considered on a space-available basis. The Graduate Program Committee will begin reviewing application materials until the enrollment limit is reached or on June 1, whichever comes first. Because maximum student enrollment is limited, all applicants are strongly encouraged to submit application materials by February 1.

TA Deadline: To be considered for a graduate teaching assistantship, applicants must submit their application materials by February 1.

Specific Test Requirements: Graduate Record Exam, General Test; applicants with advanced degrees are not required to submit GRE scores.

Supporting Materials: An application for admission into the MS program in geography must include a one- to two page statement of purpose indicating which specialization the applicant is most interested in, explaining why the applicant wishes to pursue graduate studies in geography, and what future expectations she or he has for the MS degree. The statement may indicate a preferred faculty advisor; students are encouraged to review faculty research interests as described on the Huxley website, huxley.wwu.edu/department-overview-page, prior to contacting potential advisors; students are admitted to the program only upon agreement of potential faculty advisors.

Program Requirements (minimum 45 to 69 credits)

Additional Information


The thesis requires satisfactory completion of a research project emphasizing original theoretical or applied research and resulting in a comprehensive written thesis. The candidate will provide a public seminar based on the thesis, after an oral defense and acceptance of the thesis by the candidate’s thesis committee.

Committee Makeup

The thesis committee will have a minimum of two graduate faculty members from Huxley College; one will serve as chair. One of these two members is to be a geographer. The third member, with approval of the graduate advisor and Graduate School, can come from elsewhere.

Thesis Proposal Presentation

The student is to make a public presentation of her/his proposed research, followed by questions and discussion. The purpose of this presentation is to allow the student to share his/her proposed research with a broader audience than the thesis committee to facilitate further refinement of the work. The student may be asked to expand the discussion on specific theoretical and/or empirical content of her/his intended thesis, as well as the broader scholarly field. The presentation will be made as soon as the student and the thesis committee have agreed upon a topic, typically in the third quarter of residency. Major changes to the thesis topic will require a new presentation at the discretion of the thesis committee.