Jul 20, 2018  
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog 
2015-2016 Graduate Catalog

Environmental Sciences, PhD

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Degree Requirements

The PhD in Environmental Sciences

Please see the general statement of degree requirements for doctoral programs in the “Academic & Administrative Policies ” section of this publication. For the PhD in Environmental Sciences, sixty credits are required. These credits are earned through a combination of course work and research. Formal course work includes a required core curriculum and a concentration area.

Skills Course

One course in data analysis from the following list:

Ethics Course

A 1 credit course is required.

School for the Environment Seminar

All PhD students must attend seminar each week throughout their enrollment in the program but will receive no more than 4 credits for seminar.

Dissertation Research

PhD students must complete 18 credits of dissertation research.  More than 18 credits may be taken but only 18 will be applied to the degree.


Science Elective

Choose one science course not already taken to satisfy degree requirements.

Policy Elective

Choose one course not already taken to satisfy degree requirements.

Additional Electives

Select courses and independent research hours to fulfill 60 credit hour requirement.

Choose from any of the above courses not taken to satisfy core requirement or choose from additional 600+ level electives as approved by your faculty mentor.

Additional Information:

Each student’s program of study and dissertation research are guided by a graduate committee. By the end of his/her second semester, the student must select a major professor (or two co-major professors), who will serve as chair (or co-chairs) of this committee. The major professor and the student together select at least two additional School for the Environment faculty members to complete the graduate committee.

By the end of the third semester, the student meets with the committee to formulate his or her program of study. The balance among course credits, seminar credits, and research credits in a given student’s program of study will vary, depending on his/her area of concentration and the recommendations of his/her graduate committee. The academic plan developed by the committee will include the specification of areas for which the student will be responsible on the comprehensive examination; a written dissertation proposal; and, if considered necessary by the committee, a scientific communication, computer language, or foreign language requirement.

No later than the sixth semester, the graduate committee administers the comprehensive written and oral examination, which tests intellectual maturity and competence both in the broad area of environmental sciences and in the student’s area of specialization. In order to advance to the oral portion of the examination, the student must perform satisfactorily on the written portion. A student who fails the comprehensive examination may, at the committee’s discretion, be permitted a second and final examination.

The student who successfully completes the comprehensive examination becomes a candidate for the PhD degree and is required to publically present and defend a scholarly dissertation based on original research.

The student’s dissertation committee consists of at least four members, one of whom will be from outside the School for the Environment PhD faculty. The student’s major professor will chair the committee.

Dissertation research may be done in the laboratory or in the field or may be carried out in part during residency with an appropriate private business or governmental agency.

If the presentation and successful defense of the dissertation do not take place within five years of admission to candidacy, the candidate must repeat the comprehensive examination. Please see the general statement on statutes of limitations and leaves of absence in the “Academic & Administrative Policies ” section of this publication.

The adequacy of each student’s progress toward the degree will be assessed at least once a year. Until the student’s graduate committee is formed, this assessment is made by the graduate program director in consultation with the faculty. The student’s committee, when selected, assumes the responsibility for the ongoing assessment of the student’s progress.

Criteria for adequate progress include performance in courses and seminar presentations (starting in the second year, each student presents one departmental seminar per year) and substantive progress in selecting/conducting doctoral dissertation research. Students are expected to maintain, at minimum, a B average (3.0) in courses; students who fall below that mark will be placed on academic probation and be subject to dismissal. Normally, two grades of C or one grade of F will result in dismissal from the program. Students on academic probation are not eligible to sit for the comprehensive examination.

Admission Requirements

Please see the general statement of admission requirements for all graduate studies programs in the “Admissions” section of this publication.

The graduate admissions committees for all programs and tracks recommend admissions on the basis of the completed application, official transcripts, Graduate Record Examination scores (aptitude tests only), letters of recommendation, and (when applicable) TOEFL exam scores (normal minimum: 600). Applicants should feel free to contact a member of the School for the Environment faculty within their field of interest. Students are also advised to review the subject matter of the prerequisite courses before they begin the program.

A BS or BA degree from an accredited institution is required for admission. Candidates who have completed a master’s degree are particularly welcome in the doctoral program.

Completion of at least one year each of college level mathematics (including calculus), biology, chemistry, physics and social sciences will generally be considered as minimum prerequisites for admission to study at the master’s or doctoral level. Applicants should consult with prospective advisors, as there may be additional prerequisites for specific specialty areas. Students are also advised to review the subject matter of the prerequisite courses before they begin the program.

At the discretion of the graduate admissions committee, and depending on the area of concentration an applicant chooses, academic deficiencies at the undergraduate level may need to be remedied before the applicant is admitted to either the master’s or the doctoral program. After admission, the student’s advisory or dissertation committee may also require that academic deficiencies be remedied. The stated interest of a prospective student must coincide to an acceptable degree with the faculty specialties represented within the program. Generally, prospective students should identify potential faculty advisors in their application.

To ensure applicants of full and timely consideration, completed applications should normally be received by December 15 for the upcoming fall semester and by October 15 for the upcoming spring semester; however, applications received after those dates may be considered. Notification of admission is made as soon as possible. In general, students who have been admitted will be notified of assistantship awards shortly thereafter.

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