Application Procedure

The Department of Geography is committed to supporting a diverse, international and active community of graduate students. The Department’s Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) is responsible for evaluating all applicants to the graduate programme and recommending admission and funding decisions to the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, NUS. The GSC is, by necessity, highly selective: successful applicants are admitted on merit and compatibility with the research interests of faculty in the Department.

Selection criteria

The GSC normally makes one of four decisions concerning each application received: accept with full scholarship (including fees); accept with a tuition fees waiver; accept without funding; reject. Applicants may, on occasion, be funded directly through a research grant awarded to their supervisor(s). Selection of graduate students is made according to the following criteria:

(1) Qualifications and experience of the candidates, including (i) previous degree results; (ii) Statement of Purpose (see below for further information); (iii) for students for whom English is not their first language, evidence that they have attained the basic level of English language proficiency (TOEFL= 100 for the internet-based test (with a minimum of 22 for the writing section), IELTS = 7.0 ); (iv) stature of previous schools and programmes; (v) letters of recommendation; (vi) any additional relevant experience (including publications, involvement in seminars, workshops, conferences, relevant work experience etc);
(2) The match between a prospective student and the research interests of faculty; and
(3) Potential contributions to the life of the Department and to the discipline of Geography

Please note that the number of graduate students registered in the Department is constrained by departmental facilities and resources, faculty load and availability of funding – this is to ensure that the community of graduate students in the Department receive supervision and support of the highest order.

Application forms and other relevant information on requirements are available from FASS, Graduate Studies Division.  Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to apply online.  For further queries on the Graduate research application procedure in Geography, please email Ms Pauline Lee.  Pauline is the administrator in the Department with responsibility for providing support to the Graduate Studies programme In Geography.

Candidates are expected to have been in contact with members of academic staff in Geography before applying.  Those interested in applying should therefore first identify and correspond with a member of academic staff in Geography whose research interests closely match their own.  Information on the research interests of academic staff in the Department can be obtained from the profile pages.  Admitted research students will be linked with one or more of three research groupings in the Department.

Once you have submitted your application online and uploaded the supporting documents:

    (i) Official or up-to-date academic transcripts,
    (ii) degree scroll (if applicable),
    (iii) Statement of Purpose, and
    (iv) TOEFL/IELTS result (if any - for international applicants),

please email to notify the Geography officer.

Statement of Purpose

As part of the application process, candidates are required to produce a Statement of Purpose (rather than simply a research proposal), the structure of which is outlined below. While recognising that a graduate student’s ideas are likely to vary during the early stages of their research, the Statement of Purpose is read carefully by members of the GSC in order to ascertain a candidate’s background, sense of purpose, initial research focus and career intent. When evaluating a Statement of Purpose the GSC will therefore attempt to determine the extent to which an applicant is focused, skilled, enthusiastic, likely to make a contribution to the life of the Department, able to express her/himself and, overall, is a great match for the program.

The Statement of Purpose must be no more than 2500 words long and would normally cover the following:

  • Specific area of academic interest (research topic the applicant wishes to work on) and the name(s) of the faculty members in Geography at NUS who have been consulted prior to the application being submitted;
  • The methodological approach, techniques and or conceptual framing that a candidate is considering using to structure, guide and operationalize their research, together with, if relevant, an indication of the preferred geographic focus of the research;
  • How the past education and other experiences of the candidate have served as preparation for graduate-level work in their specified area of interest;
  • Other relevant information, including – and certainly not restricted to - existing work that has inspired the interests of the candidate (using a recognised system of referring to the publication(s)), details about their own publications (e.g. arising from a master’s degree etc), and contributions they have made to seminars, workshops, conferences etc).

Application deadlines

Geography recruits graduate research students through two intakes per year. Each of these intakes is tied to one of two application deadlines.  Candidates wishing to commence their studies in August (the beginning of the first semester of a new academic year) should submit their application in advance of the November 1st deadline in the previous year.  Similarly, a candidate wishing to be considered for the January intake (beginning of the second semester of an academic year) should apply before the May 15th deadline of the previous year.   Applications received after the deadlines will be considered for the next relevant intake.  An application fee must accompany each application.  Note that the application fee is non-refundable.

Further information on the application procedure, including on the deadlines and associated intakes, application fees etc is available here: coursework programme feesresearch programme fees.  Please read the set of instructions that is attached to the application form carefully and follow as advised (especially on the submission of transcripts/TOEFL results), so as to avoid unnecessary delays.

Short-listed applicants

Applicants who are short-listed for funding should expected to be interviewed.  Generally interviews will be carried out over the telephone/SKYPE.  The outcome of applications will be made known to applicants as soon as possible following the passing of the application deadline.

Important: The University has not engaged any external agencies to undertake graduate student recruitments on its behalf. Candidates interested in our graduate programmes are advised to apply directly to the University and not through any agents. Candidates who apply through agents will not have any added advantages in gaining admission and the University reserves the right to reject such applications without giving reasons.