General Information

Financing your graduate education is primarily your responsibility. However, the Department of Geography has access to some support and there are other potential sources of funding. This page outlines some of the most common ways in which our students finance their graduate studies.

Graduate Assistantships

The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies controls some support, which it uses to grant a Teaching Assistantship (TA) or a Research Assistantship (RA) to qualified applicants. The Department’s intent is to provide four semesters of funding to MAG students in the department, subject to funding availability and adequate progress. The allocation of a TA or RA is based primarily on departmental teaching or research project needs, not on students’ desires for the type of work they wish to do. Continuation of funding is contingent upon students adequately fulfilling their TA or RA duties, making adequate progress in their coursework, and making sufficient progress on their thesis research. The Department of Geography and Environmental Studies will withdraw funding if these criteria are not met. Students working as TAs are primarily responsible to the faculty member with whom they are working. Students working as RAs are primarily responsible to the faculty member who is funding the research on which the students are working. In either case, the supervising faculty member evaluates whether or not a TA or RA is adequately fulfilling his/her duties. “Adequate progress” in coursework is defined as maintaining a 3.0 grade point average in all graduate work, and passing GEOG 501 (Research Design and History of Geographic Thought), with a grade no lower than a “B-“. “Sufficient progress on research” depends upon the timely completion of the goals outlined in the “Thesis Research Timeline” Section of the Geography and Environmental Studies MAG Graduate Handbook (PDF). 

To apply for financial support from the Department of Geography, please clearly indicate your interest in financial support in both your application letter and online application form

All new graduate assistants, including graduate, research, teaching, administrative, and other assistants, must participate in a Graduate Assistant Orientation. If you have been offered a graduate assistantship, be sure to register for the orientation and complete it as instructed by the Graduate School.

As employees of New Mexico State University, all graduate assistants have certain rights and responsibilities. If you are a graduate assistant, be sure to understand the Guidelines on Employment of Graduate Assistants (PDF) and educate yourself about rules and regulations outlined in the Graduate Assistant Handbook (PDF). For additional information, see the Graduate Assistant Resources.

Need-Based Financial Aid

Graduate students may apply for need-based loans and work-study awards through NMSU Financial Aid and Scholarship Services.

Fellowships and Grants

Fellowships and grants, which do not have to be paid back, are intended to support highly qualified students during their graduate studies and are either institutional (e.g., offered by NMSU) or portable (e.g., offered by an external organization, but for study at NMSU). At NMSU, both the Graduate School and the different Colleges offer a series of Fellowships and Grants. External funding is available, for example, through the Association of American Geographers (AAG) or via the NMSU Office of the Vice President for Research or online search engines like FastWeb.

Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP)

The Department of Geography at NMSU is one of the graduate program that meets “the criteria of distinctiveness and quality” required for inclusion in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which “makes high-quality, distinctive graduate programs and healthcare-related programs available to students of the West at the resident tuition rate. As part of the Student Exchange Program of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, WRGP helps place students in a wide range of graduate programs, all designed around the educational, social, and economic needs of the West.” For more information on how to apply for the WRGP resident tuition rate for this program, see Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

SMART Scholarship Program

This program offers full scholarships, internships, and career opportunities with the DoD to eligible STEM students. Students who are awarded the scholarship will intern at one of many sponsoring facilities that go from Hawaii and Alaska to New Hampshire and Massachusetts. The student will also be employed at the sponsoring facility post-graduation for a certain period, with the opportunity for permanent employment. It is suggested that students who have more than two years to complete their degree should apply as it takes one year for the application and awarding process and a minimum requirement of one year in the program.

Personal Resources

Graduate students may also fund their education through personal funds and resources or by taking out loans from private lending institutions, either for the duration of their graduate studies or until a different source of funding (e.g., a Graduate Assistantship) becomes available to them.