The Department of Geography offers a limited number of assistantships each year. Students with funding offers are guaranteed departmental support for the duration of their program of study—4 semesters for master’s students and 6 semesters for Ph.D. students, contingent on the student’s satisfactory progress in the program. Students who take longer than the allotted time to complete their degrees are not guaranteed funding for the incremental time to completion. 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 courses. Students on assistantships are responsible for a number of university fees, which may be deducted from the student’s stipend.
Students who do not receive a funding offer may still receive funding on a semester-by-semester basis. Many of our students receive funding through faculty grants; others are given ad hoc teaching assistantships. Such funding entitles students to a tuition waiver and a stipend in the semester in which the student serves as a TA or RA. Students who have not been extended a funding offer must be mindful that their funding is not guaranteed, and that they are responsible for their tuition, fees, and subsistence if funding is not available in a given semester. The department typically extends a small scholarship to students without funding, which qualifies them for in-state tuition. The Financial Aid office at USC and Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programs can also help students secure funding.
Departmental Graduate Instructor Award
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. Applicants should submit a course syllabus, course evaluations, and a brief (1-2 page) teaching statement that describes their general teaching philosophy and teaching methods and approaches. All materials should be given to the Awards Committee via email by May 10. Up to two awards will be given each year. This award comes with a small monetary prize.
Teaching Assistant Award
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. The faculty member should compose a brief letter (1 page) to the Awards Committee explaining why the student should be considered for the award. If teaching evaluations are available, those should be attached to the application. All nominations should be submitted to the Awards Committee via email by May 10. A maximum of two Teaching Assistant Awards will be given each year. This award come with a small monetary prize.
The Paul E. Lovingood Graduate Research Award
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. The manuscript must be designated as ‘in press’ (have a DOI) between April 15th of the previous year and April 14th of the current year. Students may win the Lovingood Graduate Research Award multiple times during their graduate career. The application package, prepared by the student, comprises a cover letter and the manuscript compiled as a single PDF and emailed to the Awards Committee by the fourth Monday of April. The cover letter should include information about the publication status of the manuscript (e.g., accepted to Professional Geographer on January 1), and should indicate if the Lovingood Graduate Research Award has been previously won. If the paper has multiple authors, the cover letter should also provide a detailed statement of each author’s contributions. The entire application should be submitted to the Awards Committee for review.
The Cynthia MacCharles-Medina Memorial Award
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. Students applying for the award should submit a one-page (single-spaced) statement describing their use of GIS for a business-related application. Applications should be submitted (via email) to the Awards Committee by the second Monday in March.
The Bennett S. Masaschi Graduate Award
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. To apply, students should write a 500-word description of their field work that includes how this money will be used. Students should also indicate additional support received for their master's or doctoral research (not included in the word count). Students must be in good standing. Applications should be submitted (via email) to the Awards Committee by the second Monday in March.
The Richard G. Silvernail Scholarship for Geographic Education
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. Students must be nominated by a faculty member (deadline is the second Monday in March) to the Department of Geography Awards Committee. The nomination consists of a one-page letter from the faculty member and a CV from the student, sent as a single document to the Awards Committee.
The Grace and Allan Davis Scholarship
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. Students apply for the award by composing a brief letter (1-2 pages) outlining their interest in geographic information science, remote sensing, and/or cartography. Applicants should also provide a very brief, general statement describing their financial need. Letters must be submitted (via email) to the Department of Geography Awards Committee by the second Monday in March. By submitting an application for this award, the applicant gives permission to the Department of Geography to access FAFSA information through the Registrar.
Departmental Travel Awards
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.
Graduate School Travel Awards
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 USC. 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) fellowships.
Other Graduate School Awards
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 Bilinski Fellowship
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.
Support to Promote Advancement of Research and Creativity (SPARC)
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 VP-R 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.
Walker Institute Fellowships
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.