About the Graduate Geography Program

The University of Toronto’s Department of Geography & Planning is one of the oldest and largest geography departments in North America. Founded in 1935, the department is now present on three University of Toronto campuses (downtown Toronto, Mississauga and Scarborough), and maintains a roster of approximately 250 graduate students. It has a faculty of more than sixty professors with a diverse range of research interests, and each faculty member is associated with several research areas. This concentration of scholarship within the Department of Geography and Planning allows for the maintenance of a very energetic and creative environment.

Our Graduate Programs include Masters and Doctoral level studies in several cognate areas within Geography including: Cultural and Historical Geography, Economic Geography, Environment and Resource Management, Social Geography, and Urban Geography, Spatial Analysis and Physical Geography. In addition, our graduate students have the opportunity to customize their studies through a number of collaborative specializations established with other units at the University of Toronto.

The tri-campus graduate program offers MA, MSc, and PhD degrees in Geography and MScPl and PhD degrees in Planning. Planning programs are described in a separate handbooks for the Program in Planning.

Our Commitment to Diversity

A strong commitment to diversity is a vital feature of the geography program. We are eager to reflect the increasing social diversity in our student population and faculty, and take pride in our efforts to bring a true diversity of perspectives on geography and related issues into our classrooms and other meeting places. We recognize that these objectives can be achieved in part through curriculum development, but are also greatly enhanced by recruitment strategies. The purpose of recruiting the best talent from a wide range of ethno-culturally diverse communities is not merely to broaden existing geography programs, but to enrich them substantively by creating an intellectual environment where diversity of opinions about geography may thrive. As such, our understanding of diversity remains not only ethno-cultural but also social and political. We therefore welcome students with diverse educational backgrounds and work experiences from both Canada and other countries of the world. We especially welcome applications from racialized persons/persons of colour, women, Indigenous/Aboriginal People of North America, persons with disabilities, LGBTQ persons, and others who may contribute to the further diversification of ideas.

Fields of Specialization

The Department’s fields of specialization, and major sub-fields within geography, are listed below. The Department has regional interests in Latin America, East and South Asia, Europe, the USA and Canada.

Physical Geography and Natural Systems

Climate Modelling; Fluvial Geomorphology; Process Hydrology; Impacts of Climatic Change; Digital Terrain Analysis; Soil and Water Chemistry; Environmental Chemistry; Biogeochemical Modelling; Limnology.

Environmental Geography and Resource Management

Environmental Assessment; Natural Resource Policy; Urban Environmental Management; Water Waste Management and Recycling; Global Environmental Issues; Land Use In and Around Urban Areas; Energy Management; Sustainable Development.

Urban/Economic Geography

Industrial Location; Capital Theory and Technical Change in Regional Development; Regional Dynamics; Dynamic Global-Local Production Relations; Labour Markets; Canadian Industrial Development; Impacts of Technological Change; Population Analysis; Urban Growth and Change; Urban Systems; Housing and Housing Policy; Neighbourhood Change; Transportation Geography; Urban Landscapes; Canadian Urban Development; Transportation; Urban Environments; Inner Cities; Third World Cities.

Historical/Social/Cultural Geography

Historical Geography of Canada and the United States; Historical Urban Geography of Toronto and other North American cities; Historical Geography of Financial and Industrial Districts; Urban Social Geography; Social Policy and Political Theory; Housing; Feminist Geography; Homelessness; Community Development.

Spatial Analysis

Remote Sensing; Geographic Information Systems; Simulation Modelling.

Multidisciplinary Research Clusters within Geography

In an effort to continually monitor its direction and its social relevance, the Department has identified a series of research clusters that serve to link seemingly disparate elements of the Department in multidisciplinary areas. These research clusters include:

  • Cities and everyday life;
  • Climate processes and climate and carbon cycle modelling;
  • Earth-surface processes and hydrology;
  • Nature, society and environmental change;
  • Paleoclimate and biogeography;
  • Political ecology;
  • Political spaces;
  • Labour Geography;
  • Innovation and economic spaces;
  • Global cities;
  • Critical Planning;
  • Transportation

The Graduate Office

The graduate office is located at St. George campus, on the 5th floor, Sidney Smith Hall (100 St. George St.) within the Department of Geography and Planning.

The Graduate Administrator is the first point of contact for geography graduate students. The Administrator is available to provide student services and to direct students to available resources, for example: Enrolment and registration issues; Funding and payment questions; Award application questions; Admission questions; Information on program requirements; Information on departmental and SGS policies and procedures; Liaising with SGS on behalf of students; Signatures (approvals); Advice and referral to resources available on campus to assist graduate students.

The Associate Chair Graduate is responsible for management of academic matters related to the graduate program, including admissions, awards and curriculum. The Associate Chair is available to assist students with issues related to their academic program, for example: Supervision; Academic progress; Liaising with SGS on behalf of students for non-standard issues; Advice about resources available on campus to assist graduate students.

The Graduate Chair is responsible for overall graduate policy and strategic planning direction for the graduate program.

The graduate office works closely with the Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS) on graduate matters.

Campus Affiliation

As a tri-campus program, students have access to services and courses at all three campus. Newly admitted students are affiliated with the downtown St. George (STG) campus by default. Students who have supervisors at Mississauga (UTM) and Scarborough (UTSC) campuses may change their affiliation by completing the SGS campus affiliation form. Information about changing campus affiliation is forwarded in the summer to incoming students.

There are a number of benefits to affiliating with UTM or UTSC campuses, for example free shuttle bus and Mississauga Transit service (UTM only), access campus specific grants/awards, access to office or other shared space, and other resources. Students are encouraged to discuss campus affiliation with their supervisor when they start the program.

Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society

The Graduate Geography and Planning Student Society (GGAPSS) is the course union for graduate students in the department. The GGAPSS website provides information on activities and services for current and prospective students.