Doctor of Philosophy in Geosciences
This research degree at Western Michigan University is designed for persons intending to take leadership roles in teaching and research in one of four core areas of geosciences:
- Geochemistry and petrology
- Geophysics and tectonics
- Stratigraphy and sedimentary geology.
Applicants will be expected to meet the minimum entrance requirements of The Graduate College and must demonstrate an interest in, and an aptitude for, conducting high quality research.
Within one year following matriculation, students must choose a primary graduate advisor. Within 18 months following matriculation, the student must choose a doctoral committee. This committee is chaired by the student's primary advisor, and must include two other faculty members from within the Department of Geosciences, as well as a fourth committee member from outside of the department. It is strongly recommended that the fourth committee member be chosen from an outside research facility or university, although members may also be chosen from other programs at Western Michigan University, if appropriate. The committee should be chosen to reflect the doctoral student's expressed research interests. The committee will facilitate and guide the student's development within the academic and research programs of the department and university.
Please note: Under exceptional circumstances, a student may request that their advisor petition the faculty for approval of modifications to the timelines stated below.
- Bachelor's or master's degree in geology or related field is required; an M.S. degree is strongly recommended. Students must have completed, or must complete as soon as possible upon enrollment, GEOS 1300, 1310, 3010 or 3350 and a field experience such as 4390 or their equivalent. Any remedial coursework completed upon enrollment in the graduate program must be completed with grade of "B" or better to satisfy this requirement. For students who enter the program with coursework deficiencies, program requirement timelines (see below) will begin once remedial work has been satisfactorily completed, rather than upon matriculation in the program.
- Grade-point average of at least 3.25 (of 4.0) for prior graduate work. To be admitted without an MS degree, a GPA of at least 3.25 (of 4.0) during the previous two years of undergraduate work is required.
- Three letters of recommendation are required of all applicants from persons well situated to evaluate his/her qualifications for graduate study. Applicants should have the original recommendations sent to WMU directly by the recommender and if they are coming from a faculty member at a college or university, the letter should be on that school's letterhead. Letters sent directly (i.e. not in sealed/signed envelope) by the applicant or not issued on appropriate letterhead are not considered official and will not be accepted.
- Applicants must submit the results of the verbal, analytical and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Examination.
- Complete at least 60 total credit hours, of which 30 credit hours must be at the 6000-level or above.
- Attend weekly departmental seminars. Each year except the first spent in residence, the student must give a 12-minute seminar presentation. The proposal presentation, if completed during the academic year, will fulfill this requirement for that year of study. The dissertation defense presentation, if completed during the academic year, will fulfill this requirement in the final year of study.
- Students must enroll in GEOS 6600 for at least one semester.
- Demonstrate proficiency in two appropriate research tools. At least one of the research tools must be completed outside of the student's declared core area of study. Students are strongly encouraged to complete at least one tool via coursework or other training outside of the geosciences department. For details regarding acceptable research skills, consult with a graduate advisor. Research tools may include:
- Achieving a working knowledge of statistics by receiving a grade of "B" or better in an approved course or by showing the ability to apply advanced statistical analysis to the doctoral research.
- Demonstrating competence in computer science or programming by receiving a grade of "B" or better in an approved course or by applying computer programming to the doctoral research.
- Demonstrating proficiency in areas relevant to the doctoral research, including mathematics, biological sciences, chemistry, geography, remote sensing, physics, or engineering. Proficiency will be demonstrated by achieving a grade of "B" or better in an approved graduate course.
- Mastering the design, repair or development of instrumentation used as part of an approved geosciences course or in the doctoral research.
- Acquiring appropriate research skill(s) in the geosciences. This will be demonstrated by achieving a grade of "B" or better in an approved geosciences graduate course.
- Demonstrating development, while enrolled in the doctoral program, of reading competency in a foreign language relevant (as deemed by the student's primary advisor) to the student's dissertation research. This skill will be demonstrated by receiving a grade of "B" or better in a 401 course in the language, by passing a standardized examination, or by successfully translating one or more technical articles assigned by the student's primary advisor.
- Complete at least 3 research credit hours (GEOS 6340) with primary graduate advisor by the end of the first full year of residence.
- Qualifying requirement
This requirement must be completed no later than the end of the second full year in residence. Students must achieve a grade of "A" in three of four core graduate courses. One graduate course in each of the four areas (hydrogeology; geochemistry and petrology; geophysics and tectonics; stratigraphy and sedimentary geology) will be designated as a core course (see graduate advisor for details). In some cases, students may enter the program with a strong background in one or more of the core areas. Such students may be excused from enrolling in one or more core courses by achieving a grade of "A" on the final examination for the course(s). Students who do not achieve an "A" in a core area on their first attempt will be given one additional opportunity to pass either the course or the final examination with a grade of "A".
- Proposal examination
By the end of the second year, students must develop a written proposal describing their planned doctoral research. This proposal will be presented in a public 20-minute talk. The talk will be followed by a closed-door oral examination, to be conducted by the student's doctoral committee. Students who do not pass the proposal exam will be given one additional opportunity to repeat the examination. A second attempt must be made within a timeframe to be determined by the student's doctoral committee, and must occur within one year of the first attempt. If the external committee member cannot be present on campus for the proposal examination, they may submit written comments or questions.
- At least one first-authored paper must be accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal prior to graduation.
- Students must give at least one scientific presentation in an approved (by the student's doctoral committee) external venue prior to graduation.
- Complete 15 hours of GEOS 7300, Doctoral Dissertation.
- Successfully defend dissertation
The student will give a 50-minute public presentation. This will be followed by a closed-door defense to be conducted by the members of the student's doctoral committee. See the graduate catalog for policies and procedures in the event of an unsuccessful defense. The final written dissertation must conform to the requirements explained in the University's Guidelines for the Preparation of Theses, Projects and Dissertations and may be written according to one of the following two options:
- Option 1: The student will write a traditional comprehensive dissertation based on the doctoral research. The dissertation should include an introduction, review of the relevant literature, description of methodology used in the dissertation research, presentation of the results (including appendices of data where appropriate), and discussion of the significance of the research.
- Option 2: The student will present at least two first-authored journal papers, which may include the paper written to fulfill program requirement number 8, that have been accepted for publication in appropriate peer-reviewed journals. A separately written introduction including a brief literature review, summary of the relevance/conclusions of the studies and an appendix of data (where appropriate) must also be submitted.