Ph.D Degree Requirements

Refer to the Graduate Handbook (right) for details


There are no formal course requirements for the Ph.D. Courses are to be selected by the student in collaboration with his advising and dissertation committees.


University residency is a minimum of one year.

Plan of Study

Students admitted to the Ph.D. program will have identified a prospective research area and advisor prior to admission. The student will meet with an Advising Committee prior to the first week of classes in order to draft a Plan of Study. The Plan of Study will identify a preliminary dissertation topic, coursework, and areas of specialization for the candidate.

PhD Seminar

Each student must enroll for Geology 796, Ph.D. seminar, for 1 credit during 2 separate semesters. The Ph.D. student is required to take his/her first Geology 796 seminar during his/her first year of studies.

Preliminary Examination

The preliminary exam will be completed by the student prior to the end of the second semester of studies as part of the Ph.D. seminar. The purpose of the preliminary examination is to evaluate the student's ability to perform fundamental skills necessary for completion of a doctorate: (1) writing, (2) presenting, and (3) critical thinking. The student must demonstrate their ability to evaluate existing literature and scientific ideas, and from that, to generate testable hypotheses.

Proposal Defense and Oral Exam

The student will present his/her formal dissertation research proposal by the end of their fourth semester of studies. Following the oral presentation, the student will respond to questions from the general audience, and then from the student's Dissertation Committee. After the public session, the Committee will examine the research plan, the feasibility of the proposed goals, the practicality of the work plan/scope, and the appropriateness of the methodology. In addition, the student will answer questions that demonstrate mastery of the general area of knowledge of his/her dissertation research.

Evaluation of Examinations

All exams will be judged as pass or fail, based on closed vote of the respective committee. One retake (only) is allowed for each exam or defense. Students must pass all examinations to meet requirements for award of the doctorate.

Dissertation Defense

A final draft of the dissertation must be approved by the student's committee members before the defense can be scheduled. In a presentation open to the public the student will outline highlights of the research results. After the presentation, the student will respond to questions from the general audience, and then the Dissertation Committee. Following revision of the dissertation according to committee comments and after final approval/sign-off by all committee members, the dissertation is submitted to the library (3 copies, acid-free paper) for binding. The COMPLETED PLAN OF STUDY is prepared by the student's advisor, allowing award of the degree.