Geology Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Admissions to this program are currently suspended.

The general aim of the program is to prepare qualified students for research careers in the geological sciences in universities, industry, and governmental research agencies. This program offers advanced training in three fundamental and interrelated areas of geological science: tectonics, structural geology, and geochemistry.

The program of study and research requires at least three academic years of full-time study and research, or the equivalent over a longer period beyond the baccalaureate, and may typically involve as many as four years.

Requirements for Admission

An applicant must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, with specialization in one of the physical sciences or engineering. Although the program is designed primarily for students who have majored in geology at the undergraduate level, there may be instances in which a science student with less than a major in geology may be admitted to the doctoral program provided that the deficiencies are made up in undergraduate geology courses during the first year of graduate study.

Program of Study and Research (60 credits, minimum)

The course of study of each student is planned with the advisory committee which takes into account the student's previous preparation, area of specialization, and professional objectives. The student must complete a minimum of 60 credits of advanced courses, seminars, independent study, and research. In addition to taking other courses as advised by the Graduate Committee of the department, all students in the Ph.D. program must complete Geo 512 and Geo 517 and four courses from the following: Geo 518, Geo 612, Geo 640, Geo 535, Geo 545, Geo 673, Geo 675 and Geo 676.  Students are required to take Geo 500 each semester of their registration.


The student must submit an acceptable dissertation which represents a significant and original research contribution in the area of specialization chosen

Departmental Examinations

  1. The student must pass a written qualifying examination in one of the following fields: structural geology, tectonics, igneous petrology, metamorphic petrology, geochemistry. This examination will normally be taken during the third or fourth semester of graduate study.
  2. The student must pass an oral examination focused on presentation and defense of an original research proposal. This examination will normally be taken during the fourth or fifth semester of graduate study.
  3. The student must satisfactorily complete an oral defense of the dissertation.

Research Tool Requirement

A foreign language may or may not be required for the Ph.D. depending on the relevance of such a language to the student's thesis. The relevance of a foreign language is to be decided by the student's committee. If a decision for no foreign language is made, then an alternative research tool proposal must be made by the committee. The acceptance of this alternative is to be made by a majority vote by the departmental faculty. If a decision for a foreign language is made by the committee, then this must also be submitted to the departmental faculty for ratification. The advisory committee may, at its discretion, require a second foreign language.

Full Time Study in Residence

Each student in a doctoral program must engage in full-time study beyond the master's degree or equivalent at the University in at least two sessions after admission to the advanced program. This requirement is designed to insure for each doctoral student a sustained period of intensive intellectual growth. For this purpose a student will enroll in full-time study (12 credits) taken in each of two sessions, or in a regular session and a summer session, not necessarily consecutive, which must be completed satisfactorily, except as indicated here:

  1. Students authorized to register for work on a dissertation may meet this 12 credit per session requirement by satisfactorily completing a minimum of 8 earned course credits and registering for work on the dissertation for load credits that will bring the total to 12 credits for each of two sessions.
  2. Graduate assistants holding a full assistantship may meet the residency requirement by completing one academic year in such a position, including the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 15 registered credits during the year plus satisfactory completion of assigned duties.

Admission to Candidacy

A student is admitted to candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy upon the following:

  1. Satisfactory record in course and research study;
  2. Completion of the University residence requirements;
  3. Satisfactory completion of research tool requirement;
  4. Satisfactory completion of the comprehensive and qualifying examinations;
  5. Approval of proposed dissertation topic.

Ancillary Duties

In addition to the completion of course requirements, satisfactory performance in some ancillary teaching, research, or practicum duties contributing to the academic development is required, whether or not the student receives financial support from this institution. These duties will be assigned with educational objectives in mind.