funded GIS graduate positions: Michigan Tech

Fully-Funded MS and PhD Graduate Assistantships Available
Department of Social Sciences
Michigan Technological University

The Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Technological University is now accepting applications for its MS and PhD programs. Our department is exceptionally interdisciplinary with core strengths in studying the processes and impacts on communities of industrialization, deindustrialization and revitalization through the use of GIS and spatial analysis, material culture, the built environment, ethnography, and heritage practice.  We also have strengths in environment, energy, and heritage policy.


Teaching and research assistantships are available that provide two years of funding for MS students and a minimum of three years of funding for PhD students. The assistantships include a stipend and tuition.

The MA and PhD programs involve courses and a thesis advised by an interdisciplinary faculty with perspectives from geography, history, archaeology, anthropology, heritage studies, political science, and sociology. Students from many different backgrounds are welcomed into our community, united by our interest in industrial and post-industrial communities.

Faculty research engages questions that investigate capitalism, labor, commodities, globalization, critical heritage, industrial & post-industrial communities, participatory GIS and public history, heritage and environmental policy, and the relationship between built and natural environments.

Students and faculty regularly work on projects with the National Park Service, National Forest Service, international heritage organizations, museums, and communities interested in heritage, history, environmental policy, and economic development.  Our graduates pursue careers in cultural resources management, museums, state historic preservation offices, the US park and forest service, and universities.

Faculty are now recruiting graduate students for funded positions within several projects, including:

  • Keweenaw Time Traveler, a public-participatory historical GIS project (, led by Dr. Don Lafreniere
  • International Migration of French-Canadians, a historical demography project, led by Dr. Don Lafreniere
  • Children’s Health in Industrial Communities, led by Dr. Don Lafreniere
  • Cultural and Economic Impacts from UNESCO World Heritage in Wales led by Dr. Mark Rhodes (tourism, identity, and heritage in post-industrial communities)
  • Working Class Labor, Social Mobility, and Mining Communities, led by Dr. Sarah Scarlett
  • Adaptive Reuse, Economic Revitalization, and Cultural Renewal: repurposing decommissioned mines into underground pumped storage facilities led by Dr. Roman Sidortsov
  • Finger Lakes Farmstead Archaeology Project, led by Dr. LouAnn Wurst (exploring capitalist transformations in agriculture)
  • Coalwood Archaeology Project, led by Dr. LouAnn Wurst (focusing on labor in Cleveland Cliffs Iron Mine lumber camps)
  • Archaeological Perspectives on the Nordic Diaspora, led by Dr. LouAnn Wurst (industrial labor in Finland and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula)
  • Keweenaw Communities Heritage Survey, led by Dr. Sam Sweitz and Dr. Timothy Scarlett (community-based archaeological, architectural, oral-historical, and archival study of the Copper Country’s underrepresented communities).


Other department foci include:

History of Industrial Communities

Brownfield Revitalization and Heritage Management

Environmental History

Critical Memory and Heritage Studies

History of Technology and/or Industrial Production

Heritage, Landscapes, and Water/Energy Systems


Application Procedure


Application deadline is January 15, 2020 for admission in Fall 2020.   Those seeking funding should apply by this time in order to be considered for support. We encourage PhD applicants to identify and contact a potential advisor or sponsor in the department before submitting their application.


In addition, Michigan Tech cooperates with AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program, providing opportunities for VISTA volunteers to study for Master’s degrees that drawing upon their service year experience in post-industrial communities.  See the website for details:


You can find information about our faculty, courses, degree requirements, and guidelines for preparing your application on our program webpage:


For specific questions about projects and research assistantships, please contact the lead faculty member.

Don Lafreniere
Associate Professor of Geography and GIS
Department of Social Sciences and Great Lakes Research Center
Michigan Tech University