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Is my discipline compatible?


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Hello everyone, I'll cut to the chase, I'm currently a grad student getting an MA in Anthropology (Environmental Anthro focus) and a Graduate Certificate in GIS. I'm especially interested in coastal adaptation to climate change, especially among port cities in North America. 


I really do like anthropology, but I'm noticing that geographers tend to focus more on what I'm interested in. I'm more interested in how people behave as a collective in relation to their environment. I've looked at some research by geographers and it is easily something I could see myself doing. Even my anthro advisor thinks I should be doing human geography. 


My question is, with an MA in Anthro and a cert. in GIS, will there be enough overlap for me to transition into a PhD program smoothly, or would I have to start over from scratch?


Thanks for all your advice

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I would say, absolutely. Many of my professors who are geographers started in other disciplines (political science, history, economics, and engineering, specifically). That's the wonderful thing about geography: it is EXTREMELY interdisciplinary and welcoming of people with other backgrounds.

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I'm not the best person to answer your question, as I'm not a geographer myself (yet :D). However, I would quite confidently second what Paolaplease wrote - your background in anthropology sounds very adequate, and the GIS certificate definitely doesn't hurt.

I'm actually in a similar situation with you, as I aspire to transition into geography; however, my background is in interdisciplinary ecology. When I first started to research PhD programs, I was looking into the programs in my own field before realising that professors in geography were doing research that much more closely matched my research interests (human-environment interactions in the context of environmental change, and climate change adaptation).

When I started contacting POIs, I was frank about my background and asked whether they thought that I could pursue a PhD in geography. All of them said that they considered my background suitable and just encouraged me to use some 'geography language' in my SoP and to discuss why I was interested in applying to a geography program.

Obviously, I haven't been admitted to any program yet, so there is no way to tell if my background really is compatible enough. However, what I was trying to say is that, as paolaplease mentioned, people transition into geography from various disciplines, which are way further from geography than yours. So go for it and good luck!

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 2 weeks later...

To add on, there is considerable overlap between human geography and environmental anthropology. In fact, our department offers a course called "Environmental Anthropology" (ANG prefix) that is cross-listed with "Advanced Political Ecology" (GEO prefix). The course is taught on an alternating basis by both an anthropologist and a geographer. We also have a professor who did her PhD in Environmental Anthro and later went on to do a postdoc in a geography department only to be hired as an anthropologist. You really have nothing to worry about.

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  • 3 weeks later...

How bout political science?  I am finishing my MS in Political Science, focusing heavily on theory and political ecology.  My thesis deals with the Industrial Revolution viewed as a world-ecological event.  I think geography is the most excited academic field right now and that political science is all but dead in the water.  

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