Project/Portfolio Description

Competency Portfolio

Students selecting the competency portfolio option will be required to compile a set of materials that summarizes and displays his or her knowledge, skills, and problem-solving capabilities. Unlike the capstone research project option that requires research in a focused area, the portfolio option will assess the student's competence over several technical areas. This option emphasizes the student’s ability to design, manage, operate, and report on a project(s), as both technical on project management skills are typical required for professional employment. The portfolio itself may even serve eventually as part of a student's application package when he or she is seeking professional employment. The portfolio option also maintains a strong research component because the student must develop research projects and write research papers in selected courses. This work will provide the student with the necessary research experience and allow the student to develop a balanced intellectual growth both in practical skills and in critical thinking.

The major adviser is responsible for helping the student select courses appropriate for the successful completion of the portfolio. This should be a part of the planning in the advisement period prior to the first semester of class work. Upon completion of the portfolio the student's adviser and a second reader must evaluate the work, and, if it is satisfactory, they will approve the portfolio and submit an M[ultipurpose]-form to the Graduate School granting permission for the student to graduate.

The portfolio must contain the following items besides any other related documents (e.g. class projects/papers, internship report, conference paper, grant proposals):

  1. A statement of academic experiences and professional goals (2 pages);
  2. A resume (2 pages);
  3. A primary research paper on a topic in the student’s concentration (at least 15 pages of text that include the basic elements of a research paper/peer-reviewed journal article, such as, introduction, literature review, analysis, results and discussion, and conclusions);
  4. An original application study
    • Environmental Modeling Analysis: environmental analysis and management case study at the local, regional, national, or global scale that includes a compilation of primary or secondary data, the management and storage of this data in a suitable spatial database environment, statistical and/or GIS analysis, spatial and/or graphic illustrations, and textual explanations
    • Geographic Information Science: (a) a sequence of spatial and/or graphic illustrations along with the necessary textual explanation to present a GIS-application case study OR (b) an algorithm, code or pseudo-code with the necessary documentation to present a problem-solving case study
  5. MA Environmental Modeling & Analysis only: An oral presentation of primary research paper or original application study in colloquium presentation (this event takes place once a semester; during or after the department colloquium). The oral presentation may be coupled with the application study or research paper mentioned above. However, we recommend choosing material for the portfolio that illustrates a diverse and broad spectrum in environmental analysis.

The materials in the portfolio must be physically assembled in a manner that achieves a professional appearance. All elements within each required item must be organized cohesively and be self-explanatory. Although the paper and application study may be initially developed in courses, it is anticipated that further revisions will usually be required in order to ensure the quality of the portfolio at a level satisfactory for graduation. One hard bound copy must be submitted to the department. 

Research Project

The research project requires research in a focused area and is to be written on a topic approved by, and under the guidance of, the student's supervisory committee. The scope of the project should be focused enough to gain knowledge of the domain of research above and beyond coursework. The project report should be substantial enough to demonstrate mastery of a specific research issue.

This project may be completed by one student or by a team of two or three students. If the project is a team effort, the magnitude of the common venture should significantly exceed that which would be undertaken by one individual. If the project is a joint effort, the team may include students who are: a) not using the particular project to meet their own project or dissertation requirements; b) enrolled in a different degree program within the Department; and c) graduate students in a department other than Geography. Students will register for 1-3 credits of GEO 631, Research Guidance while working on their research project. For students in the ITC concentration, the project is part of GEO 741, Geography Internship and Research Project.

  1. A two-person committee must be formed to supervise the project. The project Chairperson and one other member of the Project Committee must be members of the Department of Geography and Faculty of the Graduate School. A third person may become a member of the Committee. This person does not have to be from the University faculty; however, he/she must have special knowledge or competence in the subject area of the project. The Committee has sole responsibility for directing and approving the project.
  2. Students must consult with their major professors to establish a schedule for reading and revising drafts of their project. Upon completion of the project, the student's adviser and a second reader must evaluate the work, and, if it is satisfactory, they will approve the project and submit an M[ultipurpose]-form to the Graduate School granting permission for the student to graduate.
  3. A permanent copy of the completed project must be presented to the Department in a bound form that conforms to departmental standards.