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Geology Graduate Program

Doctoral students can specialize in any area where the faculty has sufficient expertise, including sedimentology, paleontology, tectonics, geobiology, glaciology, geophysics and hydrogeology.  The M.S. degree is not a prerequisite for admission to the doctoral program, and doctoral students are subject to the same initial requirements as master’s students.  A student that is initially admitted to the M.S. program but performs exceptionally well during the first two semesters may be invited to proceed directly toward the doctorate. Upon admission to the Ph.D. program, the new student is classified as a Ph.D. aspirant.  Once the student has completed coursework, completed a satisfactory Ph.D. dissertation proposal, and passed oral comprehensive exams, the student is advanced to candidacy and classified as a Ph.D. candidate.This degree program, usually completed in five years, requires coursework, publications and a dissertation. Information about the geology doctoral program can also be found in the Doctoral Program Profile.

Required credit hours for the Ph.D. degree:

  • There are no formal credit hours requirements for the Ph.D. degree, although all Ph.D. students are required to fulfill requirements for Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship (see below). 
  • The actual program of study will be developed by the advisory committee in consultation with the student and designed to meet the needs of the students research and career interests.

Required courses for the Ph.D. degree:

  • GEOL 791: Graduate Student Professional Skills and Ethics
  • GEOL 999: Doctoral Dissertation*

*  Doctoral aspirants can enroll in GEOL 999 beginning the semester they intend to take their Oral Comprehensive Exam, or after they have passed the Oral Exam and they have been advanced to candidacy.  Exceptions should be made only through consultation with the Graduate Academic Advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.

All doctoral students must meet the Research Skills and Responsible Scholarship* requirement before proceeding to comprehensive exams. The requirement must include at least 2 components:

  1. Every doctoral student is required to obtain research skills pertinent to the doctoral level of research in their field(s).
  2. Every doctoral student is required to have training in responsible scholarship pertinent to the field of research.

*The University requires that all Ph.D. students receive “training in responsible scholarship relative to the field of study.”  The Department of Geology offers a 2-credit hour course to meet this requirement, GEOL 791: Graduate Student Professional Skills and Ethics, during the fall semester of each year.  Topics include but are not limited to human subjects, data management, conflicts of interest, appropriate research conduct, collaborative research, authorship of research articles and grant applications, citation ethics, plagiarism, copyright, peer review, confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements, mentor/student responsibilities, classroom behavior and ethics, and professional liability. The format will consist of readings, policy reviews and resources, short presentations, case studies, and discussion.

Please contact the Graduate Academic Advisor, Cicily Corder, with any questions about degree requirements, policies, and procedures.

Cicily Corder
Graduate Academic Advisor

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Upcoming Colloquium


2/25/21: Dr. Katherine Ryker, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina

3/25/21: Dr. Jonathan Payne, Professor, Geological Science, Stanford University, Stanford, California.

4/8/21: Dr. Peter Burgess, Professor of Sedimentary Geology and Head of Earth Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, United Kingdom.

4/29/21: Dr. Hildegard Westphal, Professor, Geoecology & Carbonate Sedimentology and Director of the Center for Marine Environmental Science, Bremen University, Bremen, Germany.

Geology Scholarship

The 2021-2022 Academic-Year Undergraduate Scholarship Award Application is now online.
Complete the online form to be considered for the scholarship award.