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Geospatial Analytics Ph.D. Program Handbook

The Geospatial Analytics Doctoral Student Handbook is designed to introduce Ph.D. students to the Center for Geospatial Analytics and to provide an ongoing reference for program and university procedures. Any questions or suggestions are appreciated and should be directed to the Graduate Services Coordinator, Rachel Kasten (

Last updated July 8, 2024


Last updated: 20 June 2023

Previous versions of the Ph.D. handbook

Land Acknowledgment

The land on which we learn, research, and work was originally the territory of several Tutelo and Saponi-speaking peoples, as well as the far western portion of Tuscarora territory. These people were displaced or killed through war, disease, and colonial expansion. Today, the Triangle is surrounded by contemporary tribes, the descendants of Tutelo, Saponi, and other Indigenous peoples of what is now central and eastern North Carolina. These tribes include the Haliwa-Saponi, Sappony, Occaneechi Band of Saponi, and Coharie tribes.

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Useful Acronyms

CGA = Center for Geospatial Analytics
CHASS = College of Humanities and Social Sciences
CNR = College of Natural Resources (CGA’s home college)
DGP = Director of Graduate Programs (Ross Meentemeyer)
GGSO = Geospatial Graduate Student Organization
GSA = Graduate Student Association
GSC = Graduate Services Coordinator (Rachel Kasten)
GSSP = Graduate Student Support Plan
OIS = Office of International Services

Relevant Academic Programs:
GA = Geospatial Analytics (this is the official acronym for the Ph.D. as designated by the university)
MGIST = Master of Geospatial Information Science and Technology (the professional master’s degree administered by CGA)

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CGA Personnel

Arcaro, ZacharyAssistant Dir. of
Jones, ChrisResearch
Jones, ShannonResearch
Hipp, AaronAssoc. Dir of Social & Behavioral Science
Kasten, RachelUniversity Program Specialist,
Meentemeyer, RossCGA Director, Ph.D. DGPrkmeente@ncsu
Mitasova, HelenaAssoc. Dir. of Earth & Environmental Science
Money, EricAssoc. Dir. of Educational Innovations, MGIST
Petras, VashekResearch Software
Petrasova, AnnaResearch Software
Sanchez, GeorginaResearch
Shukunobe, MakikoResearch
Skrip, MeganScience
Slocumb, BillResearch
Utt, LoisExecutive
Vatsavai, RajuAssoc. Dir. of GeoAI & Computational Science
Vogler, JohnResearch

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GA Graduate Faculty and Faculty Fellows

* currently advising a Geospatial Analytics Ph.D. student

NameTenure HomeEmail
Arumugam, SankarCivil, Construction & Environmental
Baker, JustinForestry & Environmental
Baran, PerverParks, Recreation & Tourism
Berglund, EmilyCivil, Construction & Environmental
*Bohnenstiehl, DelWayneMarine, Earth & Atmospheric
Cabas, AshleyCivil, Construction & Environmental
*Cooper, CarenForestry & Environmental
*Cutts, BethanyParks, Recreation & Tourism
Edwards, EricAgricultural & Resource
*Gray, JoshForestry & Environmental
*Hipp, AaronParks, Recreation & Tourism
Huseth, AndersEntomology & Plant
*Jones, ChristopherCenter for Geospatial
*Jones, DanielaBiological & Agricultural
Leung, Yu-FaiParks, Recreation & Tourism
*Machado, GustavoPopulation Health &
*Martin, KatieForestry & Environmental
*Meentemeyer, RossForestry & Environmental
*Mitasova, HelenaMarine, Earth & Atmospheric
*Nelson, NatalieBiological & Agricultural
Nelson, StacyForestry & Environmental
*Obenour, DanielCivil, Construction & Environmental
Ojiambo, PeterEntomology & Plant
*Osburn, ChrisMarine, Earth & Atmospheric
Pacifici, KrishnaForestry & Environmental
Rand, BillBusiness
*Richmond-Bryant, JenniferForestry & Environmental
*Sanchez, GeorginaCenter for Geospatial
*Scheller, RobertForestry & Environmental
Supak, StacyParks, Recreation & Tourism
*Tateosian, LauraParks, Recreation & Tourism
*Terando, AdamApplied
*Tulbure, MirelaForestry & Environmental
Vatsavai, RajuComputer
*Vukomanovic, JelenaParks, Recreation & Tourism
Watson, BenjaminComputer
*Wegmann, KarlMarine, Earth & Atmospheric
*Yuter, SandraMarine, Earth & Atmospheric

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Getting Started

Current CGA doctoral students maintain a shared Google document with answers to frequently asked questions about moving to the area, finding an apartment, and local activities.

Establishing Residency

You are a resident of the state once you arrive in North Carolina with the intention to live here. This is distinctly different from establishing NC Residency for Tuition Purposes. All US citizens and permanent residents are expected to establish residency before the beginning of their second year, which requires a minimum of 12 months of physical presence in North Carolina. You will want to begin legally establishing residency status as soon as possible after arrival. Official acts of residency include obtaining an NC drivers license or state ID and registering to vote. A lease alone is not sufficient to establish permanent residency.

Required Forms and To Do List

Please refer to your MyPack Portal account regarding the completion of your To Do List and various required forms, such as the Patent Agreement Form.

Getting Paid

You will receive an email to electronically sign your RA/TA appointment terms and conditions using your MyPack Portal login. You will be paid on a biweekly basis, with a two-week lag in the cycle. Therefore, your first payment may not arrive until the end of your first month at NC State. You can find the 2023-2024 payroll schedule on the Academic and Student Affairs website.

Health Insurance

You will be eligible for the RA-TA Health Insurance plan, as long as you have a qualifying graduate appointment and maintain full-time enrollment. Coverage starts on August 1st for the Fall semester. Coverage duration for the plan is semester-based, which means eligibility can only be established at the beginning of the Fall or Spring semesters (summer coverage is included in the Spring coverage period). If you have questions about eligibility or coverage period, please contact the GSC, Rachel Kasten.

While the Graduate School manages eligibility and payment through the Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP), any questions regarding benefits, dependent enrollment, or any other questions related to your policy should be directed to Student Blue (BCBS of NC), the insurance provider.

Students should register for Blue Connect once they have received their health insurance information from Student Blue (Subscriber & Group numbers). Student Blue Member Services allows participants to manage their policy online, including reviewing claims and printing a temporary card.

If you need to retrieve your policy information, please contact Student Blue customer service at 1-800-579-8022. The Graduate School does not keep records of individual subscriber numbers.

Please be sure to keep your mailing address updated in MyPack Portal and with Student Blue (1-800-579-8022). Your mailing address in MyPack Portal is transmitted to Student Blue for your enrollment in the health insurance plan.

New Student Orientation

There are three required orientations for new graduate students that are held shortly before the start of the fall semester:

  1. the Geospatial Analytics orientation
  2. a University-wide Graduate School orientation
  3. an orientation for international students sponsored by the Office of International Services

In addition, CGA will schedule assorted workshops helpful for new and returning students.

Registering for Classes

Course registration is completed through MyPack Portal. Your advisor will need to release any advising holds before you will be allowed to register. For more information, please see the Coursework section.

There is a financial penalty for late registration, so be mindful of all deadlines.

You should always speak with your advisor before dropping any courses to ensure that you will still meet all minimum enrollment requirements.

Tuition & Fee Payments

Tuition and health insurance will be provided for up to four years (dependent upon the student making adequate progress towards degree), which will be paid through the Graduate Student Support Plan, grants, or departmental funds and processed through the CGA Admin Office. If you have questions about tuition, please contact Rachel Kasten, Graduate Services Coordinator.

All students are required to pay their own fees. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that any outstanding fees are paid on time. Most students have the option to pay fees through a payroll deduction over six pay periods. You can find instructions and additional information about payroll deduction for fees here. There is also an option to create a monthly payment plan through the Cashier’s Office. In rare cases, advisors may offer to pay fees for their students. This should be communicated in writing to the GSC.

Note that CGA will cover tuition for a summer semester only if a student is defending in that semester.

Graduate Student Support Plan (GSSP)

The GSSP is a support package that provides tuition and health insurance benefits to students with a qualifying appointment. General eligibility requires:

  • A qualifying graduate assistantship (teaching or research)
  • Full time enrollment
  • Be within the allowed semesters for GSSP tuition support: 8 semesters for doctoral students with previous master’s degree, 10 semesters for doctoral students without a master’s degree (there is no time limit for health insurance support)

If you will not be registered full time (at least 9 credit hours, unless you have already completed 72 credit hours) at any point during the semester, please speak with Rachel Kasten right away. If you have been approved for a medical/hardship withdraw or are in your final semester, an exception can be requested to maintain your health insurance coverage.


All vehicles, including motorcycles, are required to have a parking permit on campus, unless parked in pay lots. Student parking permits are allocated based on availability, as well as priority date and time of request. Most parking permits are virtual. Students who desire parking permits should apply online through the NC State University Transportation Office website. CGA students generally opt for the Coliseum Deck (CD) permit.

There are also numerous free Park & Ride options available, with bus stops right in front of Jordan Hall. A free permit is required to use the Park & Ride lots.

Students are also invited to participate in the WolfTrails program. Students who usually take the bus, bike, or walk to campus (and do not have an NC State parking permit) can receive 6 free daily parking permits per semester.

Wolfline Transit System

Wolfline is NC State’s bus service. It is free for both students and the general public. No ID, pass, or fare is required to ride! Buses are red, white, and black with the Wolfline logo. Wolfline buses operate every day classes are in session, serving Central Campus, Centennial Campus, and the Centennial Biomedical Campus (Vet School), three Park & Ride lots, official NC State housing, and some privately owned apartment complexes. Several different bus routes stop along Morrill Drive, near Jordan Hall.

Route information can be found online or by downloading the TransLoc Rider app.


Many students and employees choose to bike to campus. All bikes must be registered each year (it’s free), and Campus Police can engrave your driver’s license number on your bike at no charge.

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CGA Services


All email communication will be through your email address. You will be added to a Google group (, and Rachel Kasten will send weekly emails with information about upcoming events, deadlines, and funding opportunities. These emails are the primary way that you will receive communication from the Ph.D. program and will often contain time-sensitive information.

You may use Google Chat to reach CGA staff when an immediate response is needed. Doctoral students also maintain a private Slack channel to communicate with each other, and new students will be added to the channel at the beginning of the academic year. In addition, there are several CGA-related email lists that you will automatically be added to for receiving updates on Center activities and job/internship postings. You are encouraged to speak to your advisor about being added to graduate email lists in their home department as well.

We encourage you to subscribe to the “CGA Events” calendar.

Lab Space

First year Geospatial Analytics Ph.D. students are guaranteed a dedicated lab space. In subsequent years, advisors will have the opportunity to request lab space for their students each summer. Zac Arcaro, Assistant Director of Operations, will grant requests based on research goals, funding sources, and other factors.

CGA seats students in the following rooms in Jordan Hall: 5118, 5117, 5111 (Geovisualization Lab), 4120, and 4117. Zac Arcaro will issue appropriate access to your lab space. Note that Zac is also CGA’s maintenance liaison; please email him ( regarding issues such as temperature, plumbing, or cleaning needs.

The Graduate Student Commons at James B. Hunt Library (on Centennial Campus) is exclusively available to graduate students. There is lounge seating, open study spaces, group study rooms, computer workstations, and lockers. A valid Wolfpack One Card is required for access. There are also small group study rooms available for reservation.


If you have lab space at CGA, Zac Arcaro will ensure that you have administrative control of your lab PC. If you need to install software and it is open-source or freely available, you may install it yourself. If the software is proprietary, check to see if the university has a license. If you need additional software, please work with your advisor.

The College of Natural Resources has an IT office that can assist you with technical support in Jordan Hall. Simply email with a detailed description of your issue. There are only three support specialists serving the entire College; please be patient after you make your request.


Office staff orders office supplies for the Center. There will be two bulk order periods, one in August and another in January. Please email Rachel Kasten ( with your requests.

Note that we keep a stock of basic supplies, such as Post-It notes, highlighters, pens, paper clips, paper, etc. for general use. If there are basic supplies that you need during the year, ask Rachel Kasten.

If you require specialized equipment, software, or supplies that exceed $50, please check with your advisor to see if they have funds available on a particular project before sending Mary Hicks your order request.


To connect your PC to a printer, open Windows Explorer and enter waterworks into the navigation bar to see a list of printers by building and room number; double-click to install. If your printer is out of toner, email Zac Arcaro ( with a request for new toner. If you are having additional problems with your printer, send a description of the issue to

Poster Printing

CGA no longer has a poster printer. To use one of the CNR printers, email a PDF of your poster to at least 48 hours in advance. If you are on a tight deadline, you may need to print your poster elsewhere; CGA does not have funding for this purpose.


The Center fax machine is located in Jordan 5118 and may be used for work-related business only. The number is (919) 513-1294.


There is a document scanner located in Jordan 4120.


Mail will be delivered to the office of the Business Service Coordinator and then distributed to student labs.

To receive letters or packages, use the following address:

YOUR NAME ℅ CGA Admin Office
2800 Faucette Drive
Campus Box 7106
Raleigh, NC 27695

Room Reservations

Two meeting rooms are available to be reserved through the Center, Jordan 5119 and Jordan 5103A. To reserve space, use this form. If a room is empty and unreserved, students are welcome to use it for collaboration. There are additional spaces available through the College of Natural Resources; see Rachel Kasten for more information.


CGA is a welcoming environment that respects all forms of diversity, including diversity in parenting status. Infants are welcome in lab spaces and classrooms at any time, and there are always people more than happy to hold babies. For unforeseen disruptions in childcare or school closings, occasionally bringing your child with you is also perfectly acceptable. Please note that there are no changing tables in Jordan Hall.

There is a lockable room available for anyone who needs to pump or breastfeed. The lactation room includes a private refrigerator, a glider, and storage for breast pumps and other items. Please see Zac Arcaro for keys or Rachel Kasten with suggestions to improve the space.

Food Storage & Preparation

Students are welcome to use refrigerators, coffee makers, and microwaves on the fifth floor as well as Jordan 4117. Please help us keep these communal spaces clean.

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Geospatial Graduate Student Organization

The Geospatial Graduate Student Organization is designed to support students in their study of geospatial science and analytics. The GGSO provides educational, networking, and other professional development opportunities to connect students in the geospatial community and advance the interests of interdisciplinary geospatial research and education.

2023-2024 GGSO Officers

Co-President: Margaret Lawrimore
Co-President: Andrew Shannon
Treasurer: Eli Horner
Secretary: Christina Perella
External Representative: Louis Goodall
Social Chair: Emma Butzler
Geospatial Forum Chair: Felipe Sanchez
DEI Chair: Jenna Abrahamson
Marketing Chair: Truffaut Harper
Distance Education Representative: Abby Wiese

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Path to Graduation

The chart below illustrates the major milestones in the Geospatial Analytics Ph.D. program, with a typical timeline to completion of four years. A student may complete the degree in as few as three years but must complete it within ten.

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The Ph.D. program consists of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. The core required courses comprise 12 credit hours, plus 6 additional credit hours of approved coursework. The remaining 52 credit hours are devoted to an individually tailored selection of electives and research hours.

For a student who holds a master’s degree from a university other than NC State, a maximum of 18 hours of relevant graduate credit from the master’s degree may be applied to the 72 hour minimum.

If a student completes a master’s degree at NC State and continues for a doctoral degree without a break in time, up to 36 relevant credit hours taken while in master’s status may be applied. If there is a break in time between completing the master’s and beginning the doctorate, the allowance is limited to 18 hours. Either allowance may include 400-level courses taken as an approved part of the master’s degree. Additionally, up to 12 credits at the 500- or 700-level taken in PBS (Post-Baccalaureate Studies) status at NC State may be transferred to a doctoral program with a grade of B or better.

Core Courses for the Ph.D.

NumberCourse TitleCredits
GIS 710Geospatial Analytics for Grand Challenges3
GIS 712Environmental Earth Observation and Remote Sensing3
GIS 713Geospatial Data Mining and Analysis3
GIS 714Geospatial Computation and Simulation3
GIS 715Geovisualization3

Students are required to take GIS 710 in their first fall semester, as well as three (3) additional core courses within the first four semesters/two years from the following: GIS 711, GIS 712, GIS 713, GIS 714, and GIS 715. Courses taught under GIS 790 (Special Topics in Geospatial Analytics) will also count as a core course. In Fall 2024, we will offer Geospatial Artificial Intelligence as a special topics course.

Students are also required to take six (6) credit hours of elective coursework. Options include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Additional GIS 700-level courses
  • 500-level Data Science Academy courses – These are rotating 1-credit special topics courses offered each semester under DSC 595. Students are encouraged to take 400-level DSC courses that match their interests, but they will not count towards credit requirements, per Graduate School policy.
  • Statistics courses
    • Suggestions include: ST 512 Statistical Methods for Researchers II, ST 533 Applied Spatial Statistics, ST 534 Applied Time Series, ST 540 Applied Bayesian Analysis, ST 563 Intro to Statistical Learning. There are often special topics course of relevant interest under ST 590 (i.e. Statistical Modeling in Ecology).
  • Communications courses
    • Suggestions include: CE 610 Advanced Communication for Engineering Research, ENT 510 Writing Proposals in Agriculture, Biology, and Ecology
  • Advanced disciplinary-specific courses

Course requirements must be met within the first two years. If a student is unable to complete the required courses in this timeframe, they must request an extension in writing from the DGP, citing both the extenuating circumstances and a detailed timeline outlining when the course requirements will be completed. Please send the request to Rachel Kasten. The DGP will evaluate the request and return a decision in writing to both the student and the student’s advisor.

Inter-Institutional Courses

Students have the option to take courses at universities with which NC State has an inter-institutional agreement, including Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill, at no additional cost. Prior approval must be received from your academic advisor, and you will need to complete the Inter-Institutional Approval Form.

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Funding & Assistantships

Assistantships provide educational and professional development opportunities that train students to become better researchers, teachers, and scholars. The supervisor of the assistantship serves in a mentoring role, which requires frequent communication and feedback, including clear expectations for satisfactory fulfillment of the assistantship activities. The accompanying funding, including a stipend, tuition, and health insurance, also aids full time students in completing their degrees.

While assistantship responsibilities may not overlap directly with a student’s dissertation research, it is a vital element of the student’s doctoral program, and there may be consequences – including receiving Unsatisfactory grades for research hours or partial loss of funding – if these responsibilities are not fulfilled. A “U” grade will not earn credit hours and does not negatively affect a student’s GPA. Supervisors are encouraged to assign U grades when appropriate; please note that an Incomplete should not be used in place of a U.

Assistantships are 20 hours per week, with the expectation that a student will need to complete coursework and additional research on their own time. Students are discouraged from accepting additional employment during the academic year and must speak with their advisors before seeking or accepting any outside work. On-campus employment is limited to no more than 9 additional hours per week (29 hours per week total) for domestic students; international students may not hold work outside of the assistantship due to visa restrictions. International students may work 40 hours per week during the summer.

As of the 2023-24 academic year, Geospatial Analytics students are guaranteed a minimum stipend of $30,000 per year for up to four years*, pending satisfactory academic and research progress. This stipend may be a combination of program funds, external grants, fellowships, etc. Students are strongly encouraged to seek their own sources of external fellowship or grant funding in addition to those provided by the program and their advisor(s).

Students on grant-funded projects (with the advisor as PI) will have a 20 hour per week research assistantship supervised by their advisor. Students funded on program funds (directly through the Center) may be assigned specific research projects and/or TA positions as a condition of their funding. Note that assistantship positions are 12 months.

If advisors have additional funding, they are encouraged to hire students for increased hours during the summer months (May 15-August 15).

*Please note that stipend funding is guaranteed for four full years, including summers. However, CGA will not fund summer tuition. If a student is graduating in the summer (i.e. completing requirements between May 15-August 15), they may be required to pay for an additional 1 credit of course registration.

Teaching Assistantships

Students who receive a significant portion of their funding from CGA program funds (i.e. “internal funds,” directly from the Geospatial Analytics PhD budget) in a given academic year are required to hold a 10 hour per week TA assignment during both the Fall and Spring semesters of that year. “Significant portion” is defined based on current GSSP rates. For 2024-2025, that amount is $7,500 per semester.

Note that the TA position only applies to 50% of the student’s RA appointment (10 hours per week). The nature of the remaining 10 hours of work per week is at the discretion of the advisor.

TAs will be able to indicate their preferences for course assignments. Courses include those at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level (for late-stage students).

Students in their first semester are not required to TA, though they will be required to TA the following semester if other conditions are met.

Students who wish to complete additional TA assignments beyond these requirements or to become a classroom instructor are encouraged to do so and should speak with their advisors.

External Funding

There are many opportunities for students to seek external funding.

Geospatial Analytics students have had previous success in securing funding through the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program, NC Sea Grant-NC Space Grant, US Geospatial Intelligence Foundation, and the NC Wildlife Federation.

The Graduate School has a full-time Graduate Fellowship Specialist who can assist students in preparing applications to nationally competitive programs. CGA students have also created a shared Google drive with resources on applying for external funding.

Program funds are designed to be used as gap or bridge funding, thus external funding generally offsets program funding. However, students will be recognized for their success in receiving external fellowships by receiving a supplement to the base stipend. Please note that this only applies to funding that an individual student actively sought out and applied for, with advisor approval, and that is paid through the university.

The first $5,000 in external funding (per fellowship) will be earned in addition to the base stipend. After the first $5,000, a student will receive a supplement of 25% of the remaining funding added to the stipend, with the rest used to offset existing funding sources. This additional funding will be capped at a total stipend of $40,000.

Example scenarios:

  • Student A receives a $5,000 award. The new stipend for that year will be $35,000.
  • Student B receives a $10,000 award. The new stipend for that year will be $36,250 ($35,000 + $1,250).
  • Student C receives a $15,000 award. The new stipend for that year will be $37,500 ($35,000 + $2,500).
  • Student D receives an NSF GRFP award, which will fully fund the remainder of their studies. They receive a supplement of $5,000, spread over two years. (see below)

Please note:

  • Recruiting fellowships for incoming students will always be paid in addition to the base stipend (i.e. University Graduate Fellowship, Diversity Enhancement Recruiting Fellowship, Mansour Fellowship, Goodnight Doctoral Fellowship).
  • TA requirements will apply for any student earning at least $7,500 per semester in stipend from program funds.
  • Funding sources that are explicitly meant to fund 100% of a student’s stipend and tuition (i.e. NSF GRFP, NASA FINESST) and/or that state a student may not hold additional campus employment do not follow the above formula. However, students who receive these prestigious awards will receive a travel fund supplement of $5,000 spread over two years ($2,500 each year).
  • In the case of multi-year graduate fellowships, surplus funds not fully utilized by the student’s graduation will be surrendered and potentially rebudgeted to fund a different student.
  • Current students who received the Global Change Fellows award will receive a total stipend of $35,000. (Please note this does not apply to incoming students.)
  • Advisors with external funding may choose to raise student stipends above the base amount. However, additional funding will first be used to offset program support for the student. Advisors are strongly encouraged to check with Rachel Kasten prior to promising students a raise above the base stipend if program funds are involved.
  • Exceptions will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by CGA’s administrative team.

Vacations/Work Schedule

Per the Positive Graduate Education Culture guidelines, graduate assistants are allowed reasonable amounts of time off and should coordinate the timing and length of these requests with their supervisor. Students should speak to their supervisors prior to scheduling any extended vacation time. As the assistantship is a 12 month position, students are still expected to work 20 hours per week during the summers, though many supervisors allow increased flexibility during this time; i.e. a student may take two weeks off and increase their hours to compensate for the missed work during this time.

At a minimum, graduate assistants should be given reasonable time to care for their physical and mental health, as well as not be expected to work during University holidays and closings.

Enrollment Requirements

Graduate students are required to maintain continuous registration (excluding summer semesters) until they have graduated. Failure to maintain continuous registration will result in termination of academic program.

Students must be enrolled in at least nine hours per semester to be considered full-time. Once you have accumulated 72 hours towards the doctoral degree, the minimum is three credit hours.

Graduate students are not required to register during the summer semester. They will maintain access to the library, but other facilities that are funded by student fees, such as the gym and Student Health Services, cannot be accessed without paying for a summer membership. As of 2023, CGA will cover the cost of summer Student Health Services for any student who utilizes them.

The maximum course load for graduate students is 15 credit hours in the fall and spring or six credits in a summer session. Courses at the 500 and 700 level must be taken for a grade (not credit-only).

Leave of Absence

Students in good academic standing who must interrupt their enrollment may, with a strong justification, request a leave of absence from graduate study for up to two semesters. Students should first speak to their advisor, then see the GSC for the required paperwork, which must be approved by the DGP. An approved leave of absence will still count towards the doctoral degree time limit of ten years, and students are not eligible to receive stipend payments.

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To be eligible for assistantships, students must be enrolled in the Fall and Spring semesters and be in good academic standing (with a 3.00 grade point average or higher), unless granted an exception by the Graduate School. Some fellowships have additional eligibility requirements.

International graduate students on F-1 and J-1 visas are limited to 20 hours of work per week during the Fall and Spring semesters.


Graduate Teaching Assistants, Graduate Research Assistants, and Graduate Fellows are provided health insurance through the Graduate Student Health Insurance Plan and in-state tuition / tuition remission as specified in the Graduate Student Support Plan.

Teaching Assistants & Classroom Instructors

Teaching Assistants (TAs) typically assist a faculty member in grading papers and providing tutorial assistance for one or more courses.

Students who have passed their preliminary exams may have the opportunity to serve as a classroom instructor in an undergraduate or 500-level course. Be sure to express your interest in teaching to your advisor and the Director of Graduate Programs.

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External Professional Experience

As of Summer 2023, the externship is now the External Professional Experience (EPE).

Students are required to complete an External Professional Experience (EPE), preferably by the beginning of the third year. This will typically take place during the first or second summer of study.

What is an External Professional Experience? It will look different for every student, but the EPE is an opportunity to work closely with, and be mentored by, geospatial professionals outside of NC State. Through the EPE, students can expand their professional network and gain insight into potential careers.

Examples include:

In summary, an External Professional Experience is not work as part of your regular assistantship responsibilities.

Students entering the program in Fall 2023 or later are required to complete the following steps in this order:

  1. Get approval from your advisor to seek out a specific experience and apply.
  2. Fill out the EPE Approval Form.
  3. Get approval from the Geospatial Analytics PhD program that the experience will meet program requirements.
  4. Register for 1 credit of GIS 810 with Dr. Ross Meentemeyer in the semester you will complete your EPE. If it is during the summer, register for 810 in the following Fall semester.
  5. Complete the EPE.
  6. Fill out the EPE Reflection Form.

Students who entered the program between Fall 2021 and Fall 2022 may simply fill out the EPE Reflection Form to receive credit for an externship/professional experience they have already completed. If they have not yet completed the externship/EPE, they should follow the steps above. Externships completed under the previous guidelines (minimum of 1 week shadowing a geospatial professional) can also fulfill the requirement for these students.

Students who entered the program prior to Fall 2021 have previously had the externship requirement waived due to COVID.

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Selecting a Graduate Advisory Committee

The function of the Graduate Advisory Committee is to direct the student’s coursework, provide advice and expertise with regard to the student’s research program, administer the preliminary and final defense examinations, and evaluate and critique the dissertation.

Members of the Graduate Advisory Committee must be members of the NC State Graduate Faculty. For a current list, consult the Graduate School website.

Rachel Kasten will hold a workshop each spring to review regulations for selecting a committee in detail.

Committee Makeup

Doctoral committees are required to have a minimum of four graduate faculty members, including the graduate advisor, who serves as chair or co-chair of the committee. If the student has declared a minor, one of these faculty members must be from the minor field.

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of Geospatial Analytics, committees typically include faculty from several different departments. A committee member with Graduate Faculty status in a program outside of Geospatial Analytics should be asked to serve as the Graduate School Representative (GSR). If you have a committee member who is not a CGA Faculty Fellow, they should serve as the GSR. The GSR may not be a committee co-chair.

The Graduate School Representative primarily acts as an observer during the preliminary and final oral examinations and should never take a dominant role in the exams. The Graduate School Representative signs the official examination form to affirm that the exam was properly conducted. In the event that the GSR indicates any substantive reservation, the Dean of the Graduate School will investigate and decide the course of action.

Graduate faculty from Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill may serve as one of the required committee members when appropriate. See the GSC for the required paperwork.

External committee members (i.e., faculty from other institutions or technical consultants) must be approved by the DGP and the Graduate School prior to submission of the advisory committee as a whole. External members do not count towards the minimum of four committee members. See the GSC for the required paperwork.

A person from industry, a governmental agency, or another university may serve as a technical consultant. Technical consultants are expected to participate in the preliminary and final examinations but do not vote on the outcome. They do not count towards the minimum of four committee members. See the GSC for the required paperwork.

Once the student and advisor have settled on a list of potential committee members, the student should set up a meeting with each faculty member. The student should give a general outline of their research program and invite the faculty member to serve on their Advisory Committee. Most faculty members who are asked will willingly serve. In some cases, a faculty member may decline if they feel they are overcommitted or do not have the appropriate expertise.

Functions & Requirements of the Committee

The primary function of the Graduate Advisory Committee is to advise the student in all aspects of the educational program and to monitor and evaluate that student’s progress toward the degree. The committee must meet at least once every semester to evaluate student progress. The committee should be active throughout the student’s graduate training, beginning with helping prepare the student’s Plan of Work.

The necessity of frequent contact between the student and committee members cannot be overemphasized. Committee members have the obligation to express to the student any concerns they may have regarding the student’s performance, to stipulate the level and quality of work expected, and to offer guidelines to aid in the fulfillment of those expectations. Committee members should be sensitive to any difficulties in the student’s progress.

Submitting the Committee Makeup to the Graduate School

The committee is included on the Plan of Graduate Work (see below), which should be submitted in the first semester of the second year. The Plan of Work and Graduate Advisory Committee are submitted online through MyPack Portal and require the subsequent approval of both the DGP and the Graduate School.

Changing Committee Members

If one of your committee members retires or leaves the university, you may ask for a change in your committee. If one of your committee members is on sabbatical leave, you may request a substitute for a particular examination. Please see Rachel Kasten for the appropriate paperwork.

Before Examinations

If the student, in consultation with the advisor, wishes to change any committee member, a revised Plan of Work must be submitted.

After Preliminary Examinations

A change in doctoral committee membership requires signatures of both outgoing and incoming committee members and the student, as well as justification for the committee change. See the GSC for the appropriate paperwork. A revised Plan of Work must then be submitted.

Resolving Disagreements

Disagreements within the committee or between the student and a committee member over the quality of student performance are not grounds for reconstituting the committee. If a student believes that they have been unjustly or unfairly treated in efforts to resolve committee conflicts, they have the right to grieve this issue, according to the University Grievance Procedures for Graduate Students.

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Graduate Plan of Work

This section is under revision in Summer 2024, as all programs will be transitioning from the Plan of Work to the new Degree Audit system.

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Preliminary Written Examination

Scheduling the Written Exam

Each doctoral student is required to take a preliminary examination, consisting of written and oral components, after they have completed the core curriculum. Prior to scheduling the written exam, the student should hold at least one full committee meeting. Written examinations should be completed by Fall Break of the fifth semester, usually the first week in October. We encourage students to take these exams earlier if possible, including in the summer.

Format of the Written Exam

The committee chair should request questions from each committee member at least 2 weeks prior to the exam date. Questions may cover any phase of the coursework taken by the student during graduate study and any subject logically related to an understanding of the subject matter in the major or minor areas of study. The questions are designed to measure the student’s mastery of the field and the adequacy of preparation for research.

Each committee member should frame their set of questions to be answered and submitted within a 10-hour time period. Individual committee members should specify if the question is to be answered with or without notes (closed or open book). Exam days should not exceed the number of committee members (e.g., four committee members = four 10-hour days).

The committee chair can choose to distribute the questions separately (questions from one committee member each day) or to send them packaged together the first morning of the exam. If receiving one question per day, the student has 10 hours to complete their response and transmit it via email to the appropriate committee member. This process is repeated on subsequent days.

Faculty should score written exams immediately in order to facilitate the scheduling of the preliminary oral examination.

Results of the Written Exam

  • A unanimous favorable vote of the committee is necessary for the student to pass the written examination. In the case of an unconditional pass, the student should proceed with scheduling their Preliminary Oral Examination.
  • Approval may be conditional and require students to meet specific requirements prescribed by their advisory committee. These conditions must be written clearly and communicated in such a manner that the student clearly understands what is expected; they must also be submitted to the DGP. The student will be given two weeks to provide a written response.
  • A student who fails the preliminary examination is terminated from graduate work at NC State unless the graduate advisory committee unanimously requests a re-examination.

The committee chair should notify the GSC of the result of the exam via email. There is no formal paperwork required for the Graduate School for the written exam.

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Preliminary Oral Examination

Scheduling the Preliminary Oral Exam

The student should provide a fully developed proposal to their committee prior to asking the GSC to schedule the exam with the Graduate School. This will ensure that the committee has ample time to review the proposal and will limit the need to reschedule exams. In order to schedule the exam, please notify the GSC of the proposed date, location, and proposal title at least two weeks in advance. The GSC will fill out the Request to Schedule Doctoral Oral Examination form and submit it to the Graduate School.

Students are required to complete their preliminary oral exam by the end of the fifth semester. Extensions must be requested using this form and approved by the DGP.

Format of the Oral Exam

  • Presentation by the candidate. The candidate makes a presentation of a research proposal.
  • Questioning of the candidate. Anyone attending the presentation will be allowed to ask questions of the candidate at the conclusion of the presentation.
  • Deliberation and decision. Only the advisory committee and the Graduate School Representative will be allowed to participate in the deliberation and decision.

Note that the Preliminary Oral Exam is not open to the university community.

Results of the Oral Exam

  • A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required for passing the preliminary examination. A doctoral student is admitted to candidacy by the Graduate School upon successfully passing the preliminary examinations.
  • Approval may be conditional and require students to meet specific requirements prescribed by their advisory committee. These conditions must be written clearly and communicated in such a manner that the student clearly understands what is expected; they must also be submitted to the DGP and the Graduate School.
  • A student who fails the preliminary examination is terminated from the program unless the graduate committee unanimously requests a re-examination. Only a single re-examination will be allowed; it can encompass written, oral, or both components as determined by the advisory committee. If the DGP or the Graduate School denies the request for a re-examination, the student’s program is terminated.

All oral exam results and committee signatures will be collected via the e-signature system. Committee members will be sent a link to approve the exam result by the Graduation School liaison (currently Jenni Wilson).

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Upon completion of your dissertation research, you will defend your research. The final defense consists of a formal, public seminar of the research, followed by a “closed-door” examination conducted by your committee.

Please note that it is the program’s policy that there must be a minimum of 4 months between the preliminary oral exam and the final oral defense.

Scheduling the Defense

We strongly discourage summer defenses (between May 15-August 15), as faculty are mostly on 9-month appointments and we will be unable to celebrate you properly as a community. However, we do not want to delay any student from completing their degree. If you believe you will need to plan a summer defense, you should request program approval before officially scheduling a date with your committee (email Ross and Rachel with your request). Please see the “ETD Deadlines” section for more information about scheduling your defense.

It is the student’s responsibility to set the date and time of the defense with their committee members. The request must be received by the Graduate School at least two weeks prior to the date requested.

There are a few steps necessary before your defense can be scheduled:

  • Look at the ETD deadlines to ensure your preferred date lines up with the semester in which you want to graduate. You must register for classes during the semester in which you plan to defend. If you are defending in the summer, then you must register for one credit hour of GIS 895 for the 10-week summer session. Your existing enrollment carries over if you defend by the No Registration Deadline.
  • Confirm a potential defense date and time with your committee members as far in advance as possible. Please do not schedule at a time that conflicts with the Geospatial Forum.
  • Most Geospatial Analytics defenses are held in Jordan 5103. This room is not reserved internally by CGA, so please reach out to the GSC (Rachel Kasten) in as far advance as possible , as the room must be confirmed prior to submitting the official defense request.
  • You will be responsible for setting up a Zoom link for your presentation, if desired. Ask a fellow student to be the co-host and to monitor the chat during the defense. You may choose whether to record your presentation.

To submit your defense request to the Graduate School, send an email to the GSC (Rachel Kasten) at least three (3) weeks prior to the date requested (but preferably one to two months in advance) with the proposed date, dissertation title, and t-shirt size, if you would like a small gift from the Graduate School. The GSC will fill out the Request to Schedule Doctoral Oral Examination form and submit it to the Graduate School. Two (2) weeks prior to the defense, the student must also provide the committee with a copy of the dissertation (see the ETD Guide for formatting guidelines and templates).

Students are encouraged to book a practice session in the exam room. This provides the student the opportunity to become familiar with the room, the audiovisual equipment, and to sort out any technological issues before the date of the defense.

Publicizing the Defense

For the purpose of dissemination of research, it is required that a presentation of the dissertation be open to the community before the closed-door defense. The Center’s Science Communicator, Megan Skrip, will ensure that all defense presentations are promoted through social media, email, and other methods.

Once your defense date has been approved, the GSC will connect you with the Science Communicator. You will need to provide the following:

  • Representative image from your presentation
  • Abstract (100–150 words)
  • Headshot
  • Zoom link

Format of the Defense (2.5 hours max)

  1. Welcome and introduction by Advisor
  2. Oral presentation (40-45 minutes; generally with no questions from audience or committee members): The candidate typically presents the project justification, methodology used, the data collected, and the conclusions reached as reported in the dissertation. This presentation is open to the university community.
  3. Q&A with audience (10 minutes; committee refrains from asking questions)
  4. Break. Committee meets without candidate (5-10 minutes)
  5. Questioning of candidate by committee (60 minutes)
  6. Deliberation by committee (candidate excused, only the advisory committee and the Graduate School Representative are present)
  7. Grade and conditions shared with candidate

Results of the Defense

  • Passing the final oral examination: A unanimous vote of approval of the advisory committee is required to pass the final oral examination.
  • In the case of a conditional pass, the specific requirements must be submitted to the student as well as the Graduate School attached to the Exam Results form. Final approval by the advisory committee is dependent upon a student’s successful completion of those conditions.
  • Failure to pass the final oral examination: Should a student fail the final examination, this terminates a student’s academic program unless the advisory committee recommends a re-examination.

Committee members will be sent a link to approve the exam result, and the final report will be sent automatically to the GSC and the Grad School.

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Submission of the Dissertation

It is strongly recommended that students thoroughly read the Graduate School’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation (ETD) website and attend an ETD workshop in preparation for submission.

All dissertations must be submitted to the Graduate School electronically using the ETD Submission System. This must be completed by the graduation deadline for the semester as noted on the Graduate School ETD Deadline page and cannot be done until after the final examination/defense. Students electronically submit the PDF file of their dissertation to the ETD Reviewer via the ETD submission system for review.

Instructions for Submission

  1. All members of the advisory committee review the dissertation and must give their approval prior to submission by signing the title page. The dissertation must be formatted according to the ETD Guide.
  2. The student applies to graduate through MyPack Portal. If the student has a minor, they must also apply to graduate for the minor.
  3. The student submits the dissertation electronically following procedures as outlined on the ETD website, within a week of unconditionally passing the final oral exam.
  4. Submission must take place at least four weeks prior to the last day of classes in the semester in which the degree is to be conferred. Specific deadlines are published at least a year in advance.
  5. Via the ETD system, the ETD Reviewer will return the draft with comments.
  6. After making the requested changes, students submit their error-free Final File Submission to the ETD System. In order to ensure approval in time to graduate, make this submission well before the Final Error-Free Deadline. The Final File Submission, once approved, will be the file that is published by the library, so the content should be final.
  7. At this time, students are also required to submit the required forms and fees.
  8. Once the ETD Reviewer has finalized the ETD, the committee members––but not the committee chair––will immediately be notified by email and prompted to accept or deny the ETD submission. Faculty with the standard “Committee Member” role must approve the ETD before a Committee Chair is able to approve it. The entire committee must approve the ETD by the Final Committee Approval deadline.

ETD Deadlines

There are two ETD Deadlines to choose from. This deadline refers to the submission of your initial ETD draft:

No Registration Required Deadline

If the first ETD draft is submitted by this deadline (usually the first day of classes), the student does not have to register for classes that semester.

Note that international students should speak to the Office of International Services regarding their visa status.

Registration Required Deadline

If the ETD is submitted after the No Registration Required deadline, the student must register for classes. In order to graduate within the semester, students still must submit the first draft before the Registration Required Deadline, around 6 weeks prior to Graduation.

If you miss ANY of the deadlines after the Registration Required Deadline, you will not be able to graduate until the following semester.

Here is what the ETD deadlines look like for a typical Spring semester:

  • In order to officially graduate in May, the student must pass their defense (including clearing ALL conditions set by their committee) and submit their first ETD draft by mid-March (for Spring 2025, this is March 18). The defense should be planned for early March (or earlier in the semester). The final ETD is due April 1, with final committee approval required by April 15.
  • If a student misses the mid-March deadline, they still have until mid-May to avoid needing to register for additional credits (for Spring 2025, this is May 14). The student will officially graduate in July.
  • If a student is unable to defend by mid-May but are aiming for a summer graduation, they should register for 1 credit in the 10-week summer session. Students will be required to pay for this credit. Again, the program strongly discourages summer defenses, so please plan ahead to avoid this.

Exit Survey

Following the successful defense and submission of the dissertation, students are asked to complete an Exit Survey to provide feedback that will be used for program assessment and improvement.

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Annual Reporting

Please use the Center’s Accomplishment Report form to report each time you win an award, receive a grant, publish a paper, or any other achievement. Your accomplishments will be included in the Center’s annual report and celebrated on the bulletin board, news blog, and/or social media channels.

Additionally, all doctoral students are required to complete an annual self-evaluation each May to report on their progress towards degree, research accomplishments, and professional development. These evaluations will be reviewed by the DGP and the Education Committee to ensure student success and to assess the program itself.

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Professional Development

Geospatial Forum

The Geospatial Forum brings together researchers, educators, practitioners, and students of geospatial sciences in an exciting series of lively presentations and discussions of cutting-edge work. Speakers are nominated by the GGSO’s Forum Committee and span academia, research organizations, and industry. The Forums take place on select Friday afternoons from 3:00pm-4:00pm. Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to attend. Refreshments are often available both before and after the Forum.

The Forum can be livestreamed at

Travel/Conference Funding

Student attendance and presentations at professional meetings are an important part of career development. Funds for travel may be provided by the student’s major professor, grants, fellowships, or other sources.

Before making any travel arrangements using university funds, you must meet with Lois Utt. Email to set up an appointment.

Because there is limited travel funding available for students:

  • Speak to your advisor about which conferences will be best suited to your professional development. If you are funded through a grant, there may be funds designated for you to travel to a specific conference.
  • Identify the conference you would like to attend as far in advance as possible. Apply for travel grants through the sponsoring body; most conferences offer opportunities for students to compete for travel funding. In addition, many conferences offer the opportunity for students to volunteer in exchange for free or reduced registration fees.
  • Apply for the Geospatial Analytics Travel Award. Geospatial Analytics doctoral students in good standing may apply for up to $800 twice per year. There is no limit to the number of times a student may apply for or receive the award, though priority may be given to students who have not previously received it. There are four deadlines: August 15, November 15, February 15, and May 15. Applications will be accepted for conference opportunities that fall outside of these deadlines on a case-by-case basis. For more information, contact Rachel Kasten.
  • Apply for additional travel grants. Funding is available through the Graduate Student Association (see below), as well as private foundations.

GSA Award for Conferences

The GSA Award for Conferences is a highly competitive, merit-based award that is intended to cover the costs of attending a conference (up to $1,500) for NC State graduate students.

The deadline for the Fall and Spring semesters are September 15 and February 15, respectively by 5 pm. A student can receive the GSA Award for Conferences only once per graduate degree.

Although students may apply in advance for funding, the GSA Award for Conferences operates on a reimbursement basis, meaning that awardees are reimbursed for costs after travel takes place.

If awarded, a student is reimbursed up to $1,500 to cover conference and travel expenses.

GSA Travel Assistance Award

The GSA Travel Assistance Award was created through collaborations between the GSA and the Graduate School. These are merit-based, $500 travel awards for NC State graduate students attending and presenting their research at conferences.

The deadline for the Fall and Spring semesters are September 15 and February 15, respectively by 5 pm. A student can receive the GSA Travel Assistance Award only once per graduate degree.

Although students may apply in advance for funding, the GSA Travel Assistance Award operates on a reimbursement basis, meaning that awardees are reimbursed for costs after travel takes place.

If awarded, a student is reimbursed up to $500 to cover conference and travel expenses.

Graduate Student Workshop Support Grant

This new collaboration between Student Government and the Graduate School will provide funding for graduate students who want to attend workshops to further their academic development and build their skill sets.

The organizers anticipate three funding cycles annually with one in the Summer, Fall, and Spring with submission deadlines early in each semester. Applicants can request up to $500, and there will be $5,000 available per semester. These awards can only be used for future travel; the grant will not cover costs for travel expenses incurred prior to the decision deadline.

Graduate School Opportunities

The Graduate School offers many professional development opportunities for students; here are just a few:

Teaching Certificate

The Teaching Certificate is ideal for students who want to pursue a faculty career and provides guidance for how to effectively teach and mentor within a higher education environment.

Writing Certificate

The Graduate School also offers a Writing Certificate. As with the Teaching Certificate, students who earn it will have it noted on their official transcripts. Workshops include Concise Writing, Lit Reviews, and How to Plan a Journal Article.

Career Readiness for Non-Academic Careers

From the Graduate School: “As a graduate student, you possess a wealth of skills and knowledge that is highly sought after in various industries and sectors outside of traditional academic settings. Whether you aspire to work in technology, government, non-profit organizations, or the private sector, our goal is to equip you with the tools, resources, and guidance necessary to navigate and thrive in careers outside of academia.” Both career workshops, such as Interview Preparation and Salary Negotiation, as well as individual career coaching are available. The Accelerate to Industry (A2i) program also offers an industry Immersion Week.


Workshops in oral & written communication, teaching, and wellness may also be taken a la carte. Most can count towards one of the certificate programs.

Graduate Student Research Symposium

The Graduate Student Research Symposium, held each March, includes poster presentations from more than 200 graduate students from NC State University. Posters are judged by faculty, and students receive recognition for top posters. Each program can nominate a maximum of four students to present at the Symposium, so it is important to let the GSC know of your interest when nominations open.

Graduate Writing Center

Peer consultants provide feedback for writers based on clarity, structure, and organization. While consultants are not editors, they work with writers to help them become better editors of their own work. All writing support services are free. The Writing Center offers one-on-one consultation and organizes three Writing Retreats each year.

NC State Libraries Opportunities

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning is an online library containing thousands of professionally made video courses. All NC State students have full access to LinkedIn Learning. Topics include Data Visualization, Data Science, and Programming in R.

Data and Visualization Workshops

These free workshops are hosted at D.H. Hill Library (Central Campus) and Hunt Library (Centennial Campus) and include topics such as: Beginning R, Creating Thematic Maps in Tableau, Coding 3D Landscapes of Sound, and Elements of Visualization Design.

Coffee & Viz Series

This forum for NC State researchers to share their visualization work is free and open to the public.

Peer Scholars

The Peer Scholars Program is a series of workshops run through NC State Libraries and led by postdoctoral scholars and graduate students with specific research skills, including design, programming, analytics, immersive technologies, visualization, and data analytics.

Racial & Environmental Justice

Understanding and responding to issues of racial and environmental justice should be considered essential elements of each student’s academic and professional development. To that end, CGA strongly recommends that students participate in at least one of the following:

Several faculty members also work at the intersection of equity and geospatial analytics, including Bethany Cutts, Aaron Hipp, and Madhusan Katti in CNR, as well as Frederico Freitas and Matthew Morse Booker in CHASS.

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There are three official graduations per year: at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters and at the end of the second Summer session. Formal commencement exercises are held only at the end of the Fall and Spring semesters; students who complete their degrees during the summer can participate in the Fall commencement exercises. Students must notify the Graduate School in writing if they wish to have their degree conferred in absentia.

There are a number of required forms associated with Graduation. All of them must be submitted prior to the “Apply to Graduate” deadline, generally six weeks prior to the commencement ceremony. After passing the final oral examination but before submitting the ETD, students should apply to graduate through MyPack Portal (Student Homepage -> Planning & Enrollment -> Apply to Graduate). If a student has a minor, they must also apply to graduate for the minor.

Students who have completed all program requirements and are awaiting graduation can request the Graduate School to write a letter for prospective employers that these requirements have been met.

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Mental Health and Work-Life Balance

Graduate students are at a greater mental health risk than the general population. Students are strongly encouraged to invest time in caring for their mental health. CGA supports its students, faculty, and staff engaging in ongoing self-care, including exercising, leaving the office for lunch, bringing babies and children to work or class, working from home, taking sick days for both physical and mental health needs, and setting boundaries as necessary. If you have concerns or require accommodations due to mental health or other needs, please speak with Rachel Kasten or Ross Meentemeyer.

CGA will periodically offer workshops and other opportunities for faculty, staff, and students to learn about or engage in self-care. If you have any suggestions for topics you would like to see covered, let Rachel Kasten know.

Counseling Center

The Counseling Center provides free services to currently enrolled students, including one-on-one appointments, ongoing group counseling, and drop-in hours. Psychiatric services are also available.

We also encourage students to take advantage of free telehealth appointments available through AcademicLiveCare.


If you are worried about a student or employee’s well-being or witness concerning behavior (no matter how small or insignificant the concern may seem), please use the online referral system. A case manager will follow up on the report.

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Diversity and Inclusion

At the Center for Geospatial Analytics, diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values. Diversity is more than broadly representative demographic differences. Rather, diversity embodies cultural sensitivity and openness, collaboration, and full inclusion. CGA embraces a notion of intellectual community enriched and enhanced by diversity along a number of dimensions, including race, ethnicity and national origins, gender and gender identity, sexuality, physical ability, socioeconomic class, age, family and marital status, and religion. We are especially committed to increasing the representation of those populations that have been historically excluded from participation in U.S. higher education.

CGA students are encouraged to take part in opportunities to increase their understanding of diversity and inclusion, such as the Developing Cultural Competence Student Certificate Program or the GLBT Student Advocate Program.

If a student believes they are not being fully respected, valued, and included as a member of CGA, the following resources are available:

Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity (OIED)

The Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity assists in resolving violations of NC State’s Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Policy. Anyone in the NC State community can file a complaint regarding sex discrimination, sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination, or other Title IX violations.

Bias Impact Response Team

Bias incidents and trends degrade institutional trust, prevent open and honest collaboration, and often impede the learning of those involved. NC State’s OIED Bias Impact Response Team (BIRT), serves the campus community by offering a system and processes that invite students, faculty, and staff to document and proactively address the impacts of bias-related behaviors and actions. BIRT has an online submission form to report biased statements, actions, or behaviors. This report can be submitted by individuals directly affected by bias-related behaviors/actions, observers, or those indirectly impacted (advisor, family, friends, etc.).

CNR Diversity and Inclusion Office

The College of Natural Resources has an internal Diversity and Inclusion Office that can help connect students to resources and support. Stacy Nelson, a CGA Faculty Fellow, is currently the Interim Associate Dean for Diversity for the College.

Several CGA faculty and staff members serve on the College DEI (Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion) Committee and can serve as liaisons between students and the larger university community in addressing diversity-related needs or challenges:

  • Caren Cooper
  • Rachel Kasten
  • Eric Money
  • Jennifer Richmond-Bryant
  • Stacy Nelson

Inclusive Excellence Certificate

The Inclusive Excellence Certificate program (formerly the Equal Opportunity Institute) provides foundational training in diversity, equity, and inclusion for faculty, staff, and graduate students. Several members of the CGA community have completed this program and are available to speak to students about DEI-related concerns:

  • Rachel Kasten
  • Stacy Nelson
  • Megan Skrip
  • Lois Utt

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Withdrawal from the University

Terminating an Active Program

A student who wishes to terminate the graduate program must first, in writing, notify the DGP, who will forward the request to the Graduate School for approval. If the student is not in good standing, they will receive a “Termination” notation on their transcripts. If the student is in good standing, they will receive a “Termination without prejudice” notation on their transcripts. The student is responsible for dropping all courses prior to the end of the drop period (otherwise, the student will receive a failing grade).


In order to maintain continuous enrollment, a student who withdraws during the official registration period (usually the first 10 days of a semester) must obtain a leave of absence. Students who withdraw after the official registration period ends do not need to obtain a leave of absence and will be considered as having met their continuous registration requirement.

Neither courses nor grades are recorded on the permanent record for students who withdraw during the regular drop period. After the drop period, withdrawals without academic penalty are approved only under exceptional circumstances.

Late Withdrawal

Graduate students may receive withdrawals after the last day of the drop period but before the end of the semester under one or more of the following conditions:

  • Certification by a physician of inability to continue for medical reasons.
  • Certification by the Counseling Center or an independent psychiatrist or psychologist on inability to continue for mental health reasons.
  • Documentation of a personal or family hardship that adversely affected the student’s academic performance in a significant way.

The DGP, Dean of the College of Natural Resources, and the Graduate School will review the student’s request, consulting with the Counseling and Student Health Centers as appropriate.

Retroactive Withdrawals

Requests for retroactive withdrawals may be made if the semester in which the student was registered has passed. A student who wishes to pursue a retroactive withdrawal must go through the official withdrawal process through the Counseling Center.

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Academic Difficulty

Academic Warning

Graduate students are given a notice of academic warning if they have less than a 3.000 GPA and have accumulated fewer than 18 credit hours. Students on academic warning may continue to hold an assistantship or fellowship or receive financial aid, provided that the DGP supplies a justification.

If a student’s GPA is below 3.000 after their first semester, the student and the student’s advisor must meet together with the DGP to develop a comprehensive mentoring plan.

Academic Probation

Graduate students will be placed on academic probation if they have accumulated more than 18 credit hours and have a GPA between 2.667 and 2.999. Students on academic probation will be ineligible for financial aid and appointment/reappointment to an assistantship or fellowship.


Graduate students will be terminated from their program of study if they have accumulated more than 18 credit hours and have a GPA below 2.667 or have accumulated 30 or more credit hours and have less than a 3.000 GPA.

Students may be terminated from the program at any time if, in the judgement of the Geospatial Analytics program and the Graduate School, a student fails to make satisfactory progress towards the completion of the degree (regardless of grades) or violates the NC State Code of Student Conduct. Examples of unsatisfactory progress include, but are not limited to, inadequate research progress, inability to sustain a normal course load, or failing the preliminary examination. Students are automatically terminated if they fail to complete the doctoral degree within ten years.

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Conflict Resolution

CGA understands that, occasionally, conflicts arise between students and faculty members. Students are strongly encouraged to first attempt to resolve the problem with the faculty member if at all possible. If that is unsuccessful, the student should contact the DGP, who will work with the student informally to seek a satisfactory resolution. If these steps fail, the student has the following options:

Student Ombuds Services

The Student Ombuds assist students to resolve problems related to their university working, learning, or living experience. The Student Ombuds can serve as a confidential resource and sounding board, providing you information on university policies and procedures. An Ombuds is also a liaison for broader systemic concerns and can bring those issues to the university. Note that speaking with an Ombuds or sending communication to an Ombuds does not constitute notice to the university.

Students may contact the Student Ombuds Services regarding any university-related issue; however, some issues have defined procedures or other designated offices established to address them. The Ombuds will let you know if S.O.S. is able to assist you with your concern and will refer you to a more appropriate office if necessary.

Some common concerns include: interpersonal conflicts with faculty, advisors/major professors, or peers; graduate committee functioning; groups/team functioning; housing issues; exam procedures; and ethical concerns.

University Mediation Services

If the student is employed by the university through an assistantship or other role, they have access to Mediation Services through Employee Relations. Mediation is an informal, semi-structured process in which an impartial third party (a mediator) assists disputing parties in working through and resolving work-related problems or conflicts. It is a non-judgmental, voluntary process that focuses on helping parties find mutually satisfying resolutions to their problems, consistent with each of their interests and without formal grievance proceedings.

Mediation is an appropriate tool for dealing with most interpersonal and work-related conflicts, including personal disputes, office behaviors, and issues of respect and cooperation. It also is an effective tool for addressing many content or process conflicts related to work assignments and duties, such as resource allocation and ownership issues.

Filing a Formal Student Grievance

Student grievances are limited to matters that both adversely affect the student and involve a misinterpretation or misapplication of university policy, regulation, or rule, or a violation of state or federal law. Grievances may not be used to challenge policies or procedures of general applicability.

The following items may not be grieved through this avenue: test grades or partial grades, claims based on purchases or contracts, claims not directly related to a faculty member or administrator’s status as an employee at NC State, student disciplinary decisions (administered by the Office of Student Conduct), or complaints, grievances or appeals that are subject to another university procedure (e.g., residency appeals, FERPA grievances, research misconduct).

The person filing the grievance must be the alleged victim of unfair treatment that is related to his or her status as a graduate student. A grievance cannot be filed on behalf of another person. Any grievance should be filed within 60 calendar days from the decision, action, or event forming the basis of the grievance. Filing occurs when the written grievance is provided to the department head, dean, or vice chancellor. This time limit may be extended by the applicable department head, dean, or vice chancellor for good cause shown, if the grievant makes a request for extension within the 60 day period.

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Campus Resources

African American Cultural Center

The African American Cultural Center promotes awareness of and appreciation for African American and other African descent experiences through activities and events that enhance academic excellence and strengthen cultural competence for the campus and surrounding communities.

Disability Resource Office

Contact the Disability Resource Office (DRO) should you require academic accommodations due to physical, mental health, and/or learning disabilities.

If you have a concern about access on campus (for example, a video needs closed captioning or a path is not accessible), you can report it online.

DRO offers Wolfpack Pick Up anywhere on Central Campus for students living with disabilities or who have injuries hindering their mobility. Rides can be scheduled from 6 hours to 30 days in advance.

GLBT Center

The GLBT Center serves students of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, asexual, queer, transgender, genderqueer, gender fluid, gender non-conforming, non-binary, agender, intersex, and questioning students and their allies. Students are encouraged to participate in ally training.

Military and Veteran Services

NC State’s Military and Veterans Resource Center offers a centralized resource to support military-affiliated students. There is also a Student Veterans Association that serves as a peer support group.

Multicultural Student Affairs

Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA) promotes academic success, retention and graduation of students, with an emphasis on African American, Native American, and Hispanic/Latino students.

Office of International Services

The Office of International Services (OIS) is the most important resource for international students. International students should contact OIS for all visa-related or employment questions.

Student Health Services

Student Health Services offers confidential, professional health care ranging from general medical care to specialized treatments—all conveniently located on campus. Capabilities extend to allergy injections, immunizations, travel medicine advice, laceration repair, and X‐rays. The Student Health Center is just a short walk from CGA.

Onsite physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dietitians, physical therapists, and pharmacists treat students with common acute and chronic care problems. They provide care for a wide range of issues including injury management, diabetes, hypertension, ADHD, anxiety, depression, and sports medicine.

Sexual Assault Hotline

If you or someone you know is dealing with interpersonal violence, call 919-515-4444 or email to reach a trained Advocate. An Advocate can assist you with accessing academic, legal, medical, emotional, and student conduct resources.

Violence Prevention & Threat Management

The Violence Prevention & Threat Management staff address behaviors of concern, such as threatening communications or behaviors, domestic violence, and stalking. Anyone can file a report, whether or not they are the target of the behaviors.

Women’s Center

The NC State Women’s Center offers workshops, support, and community in the pursuit of gender equity and social justice.

Women in Science Discussion Group

The College of Natural Resources Women in Science Discussion Group meets on Wednesdays from 12:00pm–1:00pm in Jordan 5119. The objectives of the Women in Science Discussion Group are two-fold: 1) to provide a space to discuss the challenges and biases facing women and strategies for addressing these challenges, and 2) to help build a peer support, mentoring, and sponsorship network. For more information, contact Jelena Vukomanovic (

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Previous Versions

Previous versions of the Geospatial Analytics Ph.D. handbook were in PDF form.