Frequently Asked Questions


The application deadline is January 10 in each calendar year, for entrance into MA, MSc and PhD programs in September of the same year. Complete applications received by January 10 will be considered in the first round of decisions. Depending on how many offers are made in the first round, it is possible that a second round of applications will be considered in the spring of the same calendar year.

Complete applications submitted after January 10 and before June 30 will only be considered for outstanding students, with the support of a prospective faculty advisor. However, most spaces will be filled, and most awards assigned, after the first round. To ensure that you will be considered in the first round, you should aim to have your application (all components) uploaded by January 10.

NOTE: a complete application includes the following components: a. name of potential advisor[s], b. two or three Assessment of an Applicant for Graduate Studies from academics (professors are preferred), c. statement of research interest, d. Resume/CV, e. transcripts from all institutions you have attended (even if one course was taken), and f. English Language Proficiency Test (see requirements here).

Consult the program requirements for our Master's programs and then choose the one that best suits your interests and the type of research that you would like to conduct. Prospective advisors can also indicate which program is best suited to you. You can change your mind after you submit your application, but there's a fee; the Graduate Program Assistant can help you in such cases.

Yes. In our program, faculty members typically provide a portion of the guaranteed minimum funding package and support research expenses. Thus, individual faculty members decide whether or not they want to take on graduate students. If you haven't found a faculty member who has indicated that he or she will give your application serious consideration, then you will not receive an offer.

Courses at the University of Guelph are completed in approximately 12 weeks. Students therefore must be proficient in the use of English, both written and oral, when they begin their studies at Guelph. The university requires that certification of such proficiency be provided by applicants whose first language is not English. Examples of acceptable assessment of proficiency include official scores or results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of the Educational Testing Service, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB), Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE-A) and the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) assessment. The minimum acceptable score is 550 for the paper-based TOEFL, an overall score of 89 with no individual component below 21 for Internet Based TOEFL, 6.5 for IELTS, 85 for MELAB, an overall score of 60 with a minimum score of 60 in each of the 4 categories for PTE-A and 60 for CAEL. (These minimum acceptable scores are subject to change.) Applicants should make arrangements to take one of these tests at least nine months before the opening date of the semester.

We do not require this test.

Your personal statement of interest should describe your research interests and expertise, and should reflect the discussions you have had with the faculty member with whom you would like to work. The statement of interest should be ½ to 1 page in length (single-spaced) and uploaded as part of your electronic application. Please note: because you are uploading a separate statement of interest, you may leave blank the section titled ‘statement of academic intent’ on the electronic application.

  • Do your homework. Before you apply, study our programs and confirm that we're a good fit for you.
  • Identify one or more faculty members with whom you'd like to work. Read about their current research opportunities. Review some of their publications to see what kinds of work they do, and whether or not you find it interesting. Faculty will receive numerous inquiries; hence, generic inquiries and those that do not demonstrate knowledge of the faculty member's research will not be well received.
  • Contact the people with whom you'd like to work early in the application process. September is not too early.
  • Make a good first impression. Email prospective faculty members who don't know you as well as a written note that demonstrates that you've done your homework about our program and the person's research, and which highlights your strengths and qualifications. State your average in your last two years of full time study; if your grades are close to the minimum required, then be sure to highlight other strengths and qualifications that you would like considered. If your educational background might at first seem inappropriate, then explain why you think it is a good fit. Finally, in your first communication, make sure to request a follow-up conversation (in person or on the phone).
  • If you have applied for external scholarships and awards, let us know; the on-line application form has a space for this information. People who have a good chance of winning a major external award tend to be viewed very favourably (assuming their research interests and qualifications are appropriate).
  • Strong letters of reference are essential. At least one of the letters must be from an academic. The second letter may be from someone who knows you in a professional context and can evaluate your suitability for graduate school. Ideally, both letters will be from academics.
  • We appreciate professionalism. If you decide to apply, read the application instructions carefully and follow them.

We normally will circulate your application to a number of faculty members, even if it is clearly tailored to just one person. It's sometimes the case that the faculty member with whom you'd like to work can't take you on, but someone else might be interested. Hence, you might be contacted by a faculty member who would like to discuss an opportunity with you.

The Graduate Program Assistant tracks the progress of every application and will contact you by email when your application is complete. Nonetheless, it is your responsibility to ensure that all necessary steps are completed by the application deadline (see application instructions).

The Graduate Admissions and Programs Committee will meet in mid-January 2022 to review applications received by the application deadline (January 10, 2022). If you are selected to receive an offer of admission, then you will receive a letter from the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics in early February 2022 that indicates that the Department has asked The Office of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies to make you a formal offer of admission. This letter will spell out the details of the offer, and will identify the faculty member who has agreed to be your advisor. The formal offer of admission will be sent to you by The Office of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies (usually within 2-3 weeks of our letter). You will have several weeks to respond to the formal offer, but we will request an indication from you at your earliest convenience so that we can make plans.

The Graduate Admissions and Programs Committee will meet in mid-January, 2022 to review applications received by the application deadline (January 10, 2022). If you are selected to receive an offer of admission, then you will receive a letter from the Department of Geography, Environment and Geomatics in early February, 2022 that indicates that the Department has asked The Office of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies (OGPS) to make you a formal offer of admission. This letter will spell out the details of the offer, and will identify the faculty member who has agreed to be your advisor. The formal offer of admission will be sent to you by OGPS (usually within 2-3 weeks of our letter). You will have several weeks to respond to the formal offer, but we will request an indication from you at your earliest convenience so that we can make plans.

Formal notification that applications have not been accepted is emailed to rejected applicants between February, 2022 and late March, 2022. If there is no prospect of your receiving an offer, then we will let you know as soon as we can. However, sometimes if you don't hear from us it's because a faculty member is still considering your application.

If your application is rejected, you will receive a formal notice from the OPGS that identifies a general reason (e.g. funding was not available). The faculty member with whom you have communicated during the application process may be able to offer additional information. In most cases, otherwise qualified applicants are rejected simply because faculty members have had to choose one or two people from a large pool of qualified applicants, and those people were better qualified or more suitable. Thus, there may have been nothing "wrong" with your qualifications.

No, that would be unprofessional. If you receive multiple offers, you must pick one and honour that choice.

Prospective Applicants

The Department offers research-focused MA/MSc and PhD degrees in Geography. Students may also register in Geography to undertake the MA/MSc/PhD program in Collaborative International Development Studies.

On average, we accept 16-18 Master's students and 3-5 PhD students.

  • Guaranteed financial support for all full-time students (Master's and PhD).
  • Comprehensive support for field work and research expenses, including travel – over and above salaries and scholarships.
  • Outstanding faculty dedicated to a collaborative model of graduate studies.
  • A research-intensive department in one of Canada's top comprehensive universities.
  • Coherent programs that offer exciting opportunities for advanced research in Canada and around the world.
  • Exceptional facilities for graduate students.
  • A spacious campus with modern amenities located in a vibrant community that is close to other universities and cultural centres

Applicants to the Master's program should have an average in their last two year's of full-time study of at least B, and a recognized honours degree; successful applicants typically have an average of B+ or better. Applicants to the PhD program should have an A- average and a recognized Master's degree. Applicants whose degrees are from non-Canadian universities should see the University's International Credential Evaluation Guidelines to determine whether or not their degree(s) qualify them for admission. Alternative admissions criteria exist for special cases, for example, students whose degrees or grades do not meet the University's requirements, but who have a significant record of relevant experience.

Normally applicants should have degrees in Geography, but students who have degrees in related or pertinent disciplines also may be admitted. Contact prospective advisors to determine whether or not your educational background will be acceptable.

Guelph's Geography graduate programs are designed for full-time students. As a general rule, we do not accept students into the program on a part-time basis. However, if you can come to an accommodation with a prospective advisor, this may be possible in exceptional circumstances.

We are housed in our own building, which has outstanding facilities. All full-time students within their normal program durations have newly-renovated office space in our building. The Department has modern physical geography labs and up-to-date computing facilities supported by experienced technical staff. The University Library is top-notch; through the Tri-Universities Group of Libraries, Guelph students also have full access to the libraries of Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo.

A list of current funded research opportunities is available on the web site. This is a starting point. Once you've identified some opportunities that seem interesting, contact the faculty members who are offering those opportunities. You can also inquire with faculty members about other opportunities they have available that are not identified in this list. A strategy for contacting communicating with faculty about research opportunities is outlined above (see "How can I improve the chances of getting an offer of admission?")

Our general funding policy for full-time graduate students describes the funding that is provided to full-time Master’s and PhD students. If you receive an offer of admission, your specific guaranteed minimum funding package will be spelled-out in detail in writing.

We only accept students in the fall semester of each year (i.e., starting September).

During the past seven years, the mean completion time of Master's students has been just less than 2 years, while the mean completion time for PhD students has been slightly more than 4 years.

Graduate training in Geography opens the door to a broad range of careers in the private and public sectors. Master's graduates have found employment in international agencies of the United Nations, Canadian federal government departments, provincial and state agencies in Canada and the United States, local governments across North America, private sector consulting firms, and a host of nongovernmental organizations. Our Masters graduates also have careers in the education sector, as teachers and administrators. Many have gone on to conduct doctoral research. All of our PhD graduates have careers as academics, researchers and administrators in universities and other organizations in Canada and around the world.

A full schedule of fees applicable to both Canadian and International students can be found in the University of Guelph Graduate Calendar. Note that the guaranteed minimum funding that we provide to full-time students is meant to support the cost of living and tuition. Research expenses typically are paid for by your advisor. In other words, our graduate students normally do not have to pay their research expenses from their guaranteed minimum stipend.

Yes! The city (pop. 130,000) combines an urban atmosphere and a rural setting. Guelph boasts a thriving downtown and a vibrant arts and music scene, including the annual Hillside Festival. Walking and cycling trails crisscross the city and join its many parks and riverside green spaces. Numerous housing options exist, on campus, downtown and in the suburbs. Guelph's public transit system makes it easy and affordable to get around. Additionally, Guelph is located in close proximity by train, bus and car to Canada's largest city, Toronto, and to numerous other universities. Visit Guelph at

  • Our web site has information about programs, courses, funding, research opportunities and prospective advisors and their research programs.
  • The Office of Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies provides general information for all prospective students.
  • Geography's Graduate Program Assistant (email address) can provide details about application procedures.
  • The Graduate Program Coordinator (email address) can explain program rules, funding policies and other issues.
  • Individual faculty will provide information about research opportunities they can offer.
  • Current students can share their experiences.
  • Once you've reviewed the material on the web site, come for a visit and see for yourself.