University of Montana Catalog 2023-2024

Geography M.S. - Community & Environmental Planning

Master of Science - Geography; Community & Environmental Planning Concentration


Required Core Courses (≥10)10
Required Research Design Course
Required Methods Course
Required Option Courses19
Option Elective Courses4
Electives (Varies)
Total Hours33

Degree Specific Credits:

33 credits plus a thesis are required for the thesis and professional paper tracks.

39 credits are required for the non-thesis (portfolio) track.

Required Cumulative GPA: 3.0


  • For the M.S. Geography degree, students may select among a general option or an option in Cartography & GIS or in Community and Environmental Planning.
  • The M.S. degree in Geography with an Option in Community and Environmental Planning is appropriate for those interested in working in community planning, hazard mitigation, and land-use planning.  Beyond the core requirements specified for the General MS (10 credits), an additional 23 credits are required. 
  • Choices in the core and of remaining credits will be selected in consultation with the graduate committee to support the research program and student's professional goals.  Coursework must be approved by the committee no later than the second semester in residence, but earlier if possible.  Per the Graduate School at least 20 of the total credits must be taken within the major discipline; at least 20 of the total credits must be in coursework and at least half of the coursework credits (minimum 10 credits) must be at the 500 level or above; courses below the 400 level do not count towards the M.S. course requirements; and up to 10 of the 33 or 39 credits may be taken as thesis (GPHY 599).
  • Degree Tracks
    For the M.S. degree, with or without option, students are required to complete one of the following tracks: 
    • Thesis track: Successfully complete and defend a thesis or one or more papers (i.e., articles) of publishable quality before an examining committee. 
    • Professional Paper track: Successfully complete and defend a professional paper or one or more papers (i.e., articles) of publishable quality before an examining committee. The difference between a thesis and a professional paper is that while the thesis is directed toward advances in the discipline, the professional paper may be directed toward advances in the profession. A professional paper may also consist of one or more papers of publishable quality intended for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. 
    • Non-thesis (Portfolio) track: Requires the successful completion of a portfolio and written and oral comprehensive examinations described in the addendum of the "PDF of Graduate Degree Requirements" downloadable through the link above. 

There is no minimum number of thesis credits that must be taken for any of the tracks.


Required Core Course
Complete all of the following courses: (Students in Thesis or Professional Paper Tracks)
FORS 594Graduate Seminar (1 cr. per semester)2
Complete one of the following:3
Advanced Physical Geography
Seminar in Planning
Seminar GIS & Cartography
Or approved alternative
Complete one of the following research design courses:3-4
Research Design in the Geographical Sciences I
and Research Design in Geographical Sciences II
Conservation and Social Science Methods
Fundamentals of Academic Research
Research Design
and Research Design Lab
Complete one methods course3
Quantitative methods 1
Qualitative methods 1
Historical or survey methods 1
Advanced GIS or computer methods 1
Complete the following required option courses:
GPHY 465Planning Principles & Processes3
GPHY 466Environmental Planning3
GPHY 468Community & Regional Analysis3
GPHY 469
GPHY 468
Planning & Analysis Laboratory
and Community & Regional Analysis
GPHY 560Seminar in Planning3
GPHY 561Land Use Planning Law3
GPHY 564Planning Design3
Complete 4 or more credits from the following option elective courses:4
Community Resilience
Land Use Planning Clinic
Electives (Varies) 2
Total Hours34-35

See the Geography Advising Guide for a list of suggested courses


See Catalog listings for electives that pertain to Policy, Planning, Anthropology, Communication Studies, Environmental Studies, Forestry, Geography, Law, Native American Studies, Political Science, and other relevant courses and programs.

Minimum Required Grade: C