Graduate students may qualify for several awards and scholarships offered by the department,
the graduate school, the college and other campus units. Students are encouraged to
explore the websites of government agencies, non-profit organizations, professional
associations (including the American Association of Geographers) and research institutes
for further information about funding opportunities.
The Department of Geography offers a limited number of assistantships each year. Students
on assistantships typically serve as teaching/lab assistants (TAs) or as research
assistants (RAs); Ph.D. students may also serve as instructors of record for undergraduate
Students with funding offers are guaranteed departmental support for the duration
of their program of study—4 semesters for master’s students and 8 semesters for Ph.D.
students, contingent on the student’s satisfactory progress in the program. Funding
includes a tuition waiver, a stipend, and a supplement to cover student health insurance.
Students, however, are responsible for various university fees. Students who take
longer than the allotted time to complete their degrees are not guaranteed funding
for the incremental time to completion.
Students who do not receive a funding offer may still receive funding on a semester-by-semester
basis. Such funding entitles students to a tuition waiver and a stipend in the semester
in which the student serves as a TA or RA. The department typically extends a small
scholarship to unfunded out-of-state students, which qualifies them for in-state tuition.
For more information about funding graduate studies, please visit the Financial Aid office at USC.
The Departmental Graduate Instructor Award recognizes outstanding graduate student
instructors. Graduate students who are serving as instructor of record for a course
may nominate themselves for the Instructor Award. Up to two awards will be given each
year. This award comes with a small monetary prize.
The Teaching Assistant Award recognizes outstanding TAs (i.e. graduate students who
lead lab sections or who have a significant role in classroom teaching; graders do
not qualify). Faculty members whose courses requires a teaching assistant may nominate
students for this award. A maximum of two Teaching Assistant Awards will be given
each year. This award come with a small monetary prize.
The Lovingood Graduate Research Award ($500) is awarded annually to recognize the
most outstanding peer reviewed paper authored or co-authored by a geography graduate
student. The competition is available to graduate students in good standing in the
Department of Geography. The graduate student must be the first author, but multiple
authorship papers are acceptable as long as the student is first author.
Cynthia MacCharles-Medina Memorial Award ($200) is awarded annually to a graduate
student emphasizing the business application of GIS in their research. The fund was
established in memory of a USC Geography graduate student, Cynthia MacCharles-Medina,
who was passionate about GIScience and business-related applications of GIS.
The Bennett S. Masaschi Graduate Award ($500) is awarded annually to graduate students
in financial need to conduct fieldwork. A maximum of three awards will be given annually.
Students may only receive one award per degree, and doctoral students have priority.
The Richard G. Silvernail Scholarship for Geographic Education ($500) will be awarded
to a graduate student pursuing research in geographic education. Students may only
receive this award once per graduate degree.
The Grace and Allan Davis Scholarship ($750) is awarded annually to a graduate or undergraduate student majoring in geography with a focus on geographic information science, remote
sensing, and/or cartography and has a financial need (preference is given to graduate
students). In addition to financial need, the award priority is given to students
that are: 1) married with children; 2) married; or 3) single. All students applying
must have a 3.0 GPA; graduate students must be in good standing.
The department wishes to encourage student travel to domestic and international conferences.
All students presenting a sole- or first-authored conference paper or poster are eligible
for a departmental travel award, with priority given to Ph.D. students. The amount
of this award varies between $150 and $250 per year, depending on departmental resources.
The graduate school offers travel funding to Ph.D. students who are presenting sole-
or first-authored papers or posters at academic conferences. Ph.D. students are only
eligible to receive these funds twice during their time at the university. The graduate
school offers up to $500 for domestic travel and $800 for international travel in
four application cycles.
The graduate school administers several trustee fellowships. The largest is the Rhude
M. Patterson award ($5,000), which is given each year to two outstanding female graduate
students in the humanities and social sciences. Female graduate students at the master's
or Ph.D. level working in human geography and environment-society areas of the discipline
qualify for this award. All geography graduate students are eligible for several smaller
trustee awards, including the Royal ($2,500), Reeves ($750), and Parkinson ($750)
In addition to the trustee fellowships, the graduate school administers the Dean's
Award for Excellence in Leadership, the Outstanding Thesis and Dissertation Awards,
and the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award. Each of these awards comes
with a monetary prize.
The College of Arts and Sciences administers the Bilinski Fellowship, which provides
a substantial sum for living and research expenses to geography graduate students
working in the humanities and social-science sides of the discipline.
This award, administered by the Office of the Vice President for Research, provides
$5,000 to support doctoral research. SPARC funds can be used to pay for salary, supplies,
travel and other costs essential to completing and promoting student projects. The
SPARC program requires all applicants to complete and submit a competitive grant proposal.
The Vice President of Research also sponsors the Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award,
which honors Ph.D. students who have made considerable contributions to their field
of study. This honor does not carry a monetary award, but it is very prestigious and
is awarded to only a dozen students at the university.
The Walker Institute for International and Area Studies typically offers fellowships
of up to $3,000 for international fieldwork or travel. Interested students should
consult the Walker Institute for further details.
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