Jul 15, 2024  
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog 
2016-2017 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Geology, PhD

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College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics  >Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences  >Geology, PhD


A doctoral applicant will have earned a Master’s degree or have completed 30 semester hours of graduate credit, and submitted scores from the General GRE examination (verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing; advanced GRE is recommended but optional).  The admissions committee will evaluate the credentials of each applicant for the PhD program, considering a broad range of criteria, including:

  1. Content of undergraduate and, if applicable, graduate programs and grades earned, particularly in the areas of Geosciences, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry.
  2. Letters of recommendation from three (3) individuals (preferably faculty members), who are able to judge the candidate’s academic abilities and potential for scholarly research.
  3. Scores earned on the General GRE test (and TOEFL test, where applicable).
  4. Scientific, professional, and technical publications, and Master’s Thesis (if applicable).

In addition to these requirements, graduate admission may also be contingent upon a faculty advisor agreeing to supervise the applicant.  Therefore, prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact faculty members in the applicant’s field of interest prior to the application deadline.

Program Information

The award of the Doctorate of Philosophy degree signifies that the recipient has achieved broad knowledge of the discipline and demonstrated research competence meeting national standards through completion of an acceptable dissertation.

The first year of studies will concentrate on courses in the expected area of research, as well as courses needed to remove deficiencies that have been identified by the relevant graduate advisor upon admission.  In order to ensure breadth, each student is required to take at least one course from 3 of the 4 Graduate Core Course Categories (i.e., Category 1: Geochemistry/ Petrology, 2: Sedimentary Geology; 3: Structure/Tectonics; and 4: Applied/Analytical).  A list of the courses in each category is available on the department website. 

During the first year, the student is expected to have selected a Dissertation Committee to reflect research interests.  It is assumed that the student will complete most course work during this first year of study.  The second year will consist of additional course work, where necessary, research, and final preparation for the Candidacy Examination and the presentation of the Dissertation Proposal.  The oral Candidacy Examination and Dissertation Proposal should be completed by the fourth semester for full-time students, or before completion of five semesters for part-time students.  Upon successful presentation of the research proposal, the applicant will be granted Ph.D. Candidacy status.

Sequence and Timing

  • First year in program:
  1. Appropriate course work.
  2. Removal of all deficiencies.
  3. Establishment of PhD Research Committee.
  • Second year in program:
  1. Presenting Research and Dissertation Proposals during the second year.
  2. Completion of all formal course work.
  3. Initiation of research.
  • Third and successive years: 

Completion and defense of dissertation.

Financial Support for the Student in the Doctoral Program

In accordance with University regulations, a student accepted into the program and offered Departmental support (e.g., Teaching Assistantship (TA) or Research Assistantship (RA)) may receive such support for up to 10 long semesters (5 years) provided the student is deemed to be making adequate progress toward the degree and such resources are available.  It is the goal of the department for students to finish their degree within the shortest possible time in concert with the completion of an acceptable dissertation.  Students must be registered as full-time students and may not hold any additional employment while holding a TA or RA. 

Progress toward the degree will normally be measured in terms of course work (maintaining at least a B average), elimination of deficiencies,and timely  selection of a Dissertation Committee, completion of requirements for Candidacy and presentation of a Dissertation Proposal.  After the first two semesters, progress will be evaluated and continued support will be granted on the basis of a favorable review and availability of resources.  The Dissertation Committee will then review the student’s progress, inform the student of their findings, and place a statement in the student’s departmental file in each subsequent semester.

Questions pertaining to Department  specific requirements should be addressed to the Geology Graduate Advisor.


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