Geography and Environmental Sustainability Doctoral Programs

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Doctor of Philosophy  

The Ph.D. degree certifies that a student has mastered a significant body of geographical knowledge and has demonstrated a high degree of professional competence as a geographer by making an important, original contribution to knowledge. The Ph.D. requires:

  • a total of at least 90 semester hours of graduate credit beyond the bachelor’s degree;  
  • successful completion of GEOG 6973, GEOG 6953, and three three-credit hour seminars or graduate courses, and one field course;  
  • the demonstration of an acceptable level of competence in two areas of specialization;  
  • development of a cognate field; and
  • completion of an acceptable written dissertation followed by an oral defense of that dissertation.  

All Ph.D. students must identify an advisory committee which will consist of the advisor and four other faculty members, one of whom must be from a discipline other than geography. The committee must be approved by the Department faculty, upon the recommendation of the advisor and student.

 Students are expected to declare provisional specialties, in consultation with the advisory committee, by the end of the second semester of residence in the Ph.D. program. Coursework requirements in connection with this specialty, as well as with the cognate field, are determined by the student and the advisory committee in a formal conference held before the end of the first year of residence.

 Each student must select a cognate field or discipline related to his or her area of specialization. A cognate field will normally consist of at least nine hours of courses in more than one discipline. The advisory committee must approve both the cognate field and the courses which fulfill this requirement.

The readiness of a student to proceed with dissertation research will be evaluated by a proposal as well as written and oral examinations. The proposal presentation will be open to the general public and must be announced in advance, giving the entire department and public a chance to participate. participate. A written statement of the proposal shall be given to each member of the dissertation committee and to the remaining members of the faculty. A student will not be allowed to sit for the comprehensive examination until the advisory committee has approved his or her dissertation proposal. The comprehensive examinations will be administered by an examining committee of at least five faculty members from geography, one, designated the external committee member, must be from outside the discipline. The written portion of the examination will cover the degree specializations and cognate field. The examination will be prepared by the advisor from questions suggested by members of the examining committee. The oral examination will consist of follow-up questions related to the written portion and to the student’s knowledge of geographic thought and methodology. Satisfactory completion of the written and oral portions of the general examination is followed by formal certification of candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.

The final requirement is the preparation and oral defense of a Ph.D. dissertation, which must be a major piece of research recognized by the dissertation committee as a significant contribution to knowledge. The dissertation committee must consist of at least five faculty members (except by petition to and approval by the faculty); three or more of them must be faculty members in the department and also on the geography graduate faculty of the University. Members of the advisory committee will normally remain as members of the examination and dissertation committees. All changes in committee membership must be forwarded to the Graduate College for approval at least 30 days prior to defense of the dissertation.

 After advancement to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree, a student is expected to submit a dissertation manuscript within four years. After this time, at the discretion of the Department of Geography faculty, the student may be required to repeat the general examinations and/or to resubmit a dissertation proposal as a condition for remaining a degree candidate. As long as there is clear evidence that a student is making progress and is keeping up-to-date professionally, the four-year time period may be extended on recommendation of the dissertation committee. Experience shows, however, that long delays tend to increase the likelihood of problems in completing a dissertation.

 The final defense of the dissertation will be scheduled only after the committee has agreed to approve the draft as nearly complete. Procedures for this defense shall follow those outlined by the Graduate College. Major points of conflict regarding substance or style should be resolved before the final defense. However, minor additions and revisions may be expected after the defense.