Geology and Geophysics Doctoral Programs

Doctor of Philosophy

The Ph.D. degree programs in geology and geophysics are intended primarily for those students who plan research careers in the Earth sciences in universities, industry or government agencies. The goals of the Ph.D. degree program are to prepare the student for a career in research by providing coursework in an area of specialization in geology or geophysics, provide a strong background in allied fields such as mathematics, physical science, biological science, and engineering to give the student the necessary tools to conduct original and significant geological research; and encourage critical thinking and analysis of geological problems through the design of original research projects.

The Ph.D. degree in geology normally requires a minimum of three years beyond the M.S. degree. The Graduate College at the University of Oklahoma requires 90 post-baccalaureate semester hours of coursework. Generally, the first year of residence is devoted primarily to coursework in preparation for the general examination; the remaining two years are devoted to both coursework and research. There are no specified course requirements for the Ph.D. degree in Geology. Rather, a coursework program is designed for each student in consultation with a doctoral committee composed of at least five graduate faculty members, including at least one from outside the major department within the University and one member outside the University. The Ph.D. in Geophysics has specific core requirements which will be determined by the faculty advisor. The purpose of the coursework is to prepare the student for the general examination, which tests the mastery of the field of specialization and related fields as well as the capacity for synthesis, sound generalization, and critical thinking. The examination consists of a written section in the major field of study, written sections in related fields, and oral defense of an original research proposal. Frequently, the original research proposal is the student’s dissertation topic.

The dissertation is the culmination of an original research project in the student’s field of specialization and should make a significant contribution to scientific understanding in the field. Normally, the student works closely with the faculty advisor in the design and execution of the research project. The student and the advisor may submit proposals to foundations or industry for financial support to carry out the research, and they report the results of the research at regional, national and international meetings and in papers published by national and international journals.

A graduate degree candidate in geology and geophysics must present the results of his/her dissertation research at a Graduate Colloquium of the ConocoPhillips School of Geology and Geophysics before he/she may schedule the final oral examination.