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    Sep 26, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Geology Major, PhD

The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers both the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees with a major in geology. Individuals interested in these programs should contact the Director of graduate admissions in the department and the faculty most closely related to the applicant’s research interests for information and application procedures.

Campus Code

Knoxville Campus

Admissions Standards/Procedures

  • For admission, an applicant must provide transcripts of previous university work, three rating forms or letters of recommendation, and GRE scores (general). Students are not normally admitted under non-degree status.
  • Prerequisite for either graduate degree is a Bachelor’s degree in the geosciences or other field (typically, but not exclusively, from the physical, natural, or life sciences or engineering).
  • Upon admission, each student selects a major advisor before entering the Department.

Academic Standards

  • A minimum cumulative 3.00 GPA in all graded graduate coursework.
  • Once a student is in residence and begins to develop research plans, the student and advisor discuss the best possible individuals to form a committee that will be suited for advising the student. Students are expected to develop a committee by the end of the first semester.
  • The Dissertation Committee is primarily responsible for advising the student’s research activities, but also can modify the course curriculum based on the student’s area of research.

Credit Hours Required

  • 72 graduate credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree
  • 48 graduate credit hours beyond the master’s degree

Required Courses

  • GEOL 600  (24 credit hours)
  • A minimum of 24 credit hours of approved graduate coursework beyond that required for the Master’s degree (NOTE: a student entering the PhD program with a Bachelor’s degree must complete 48 credit hours of approved graduate coursework), to include
    • Enroll in course number GEOL 595  every semester they are in residence unless course or teaching conflicts preclude a student from being present.
    • Enroll in course GEOL 596  one time during their residency.
    • A student may apply a maximum of 3 credit hours of GEOL 595  and 1 credit of GEOL 596  toward graduation.
    • All PhD students are required to complete a minimum of 9 credit hours of graded approved coursework at the 600-level (this requirement supersedes the University requirement).

Additional Course Requirements

  • Taking courses from outside the department is encouraged, and are selected in consultation with the advisor and committee.
  • Students without a Bachelor’s degree in the geosciences may need to take GEOL courses at the undergraduate level, which may be recommended by the advisor and the Dissertation Committee. These courses supplement the required graduate coursework.

Non-Course Requirements

  • Approval of a written dissertation proposal.
  • Pass a comprehensive examination. The examination includes both written and oral components in which individuals are tested on their knowledge of their intended research area and related fields. The candidate is expected to be conversant across a wide range of the geological sciences.
    • Students entering the PhD program with a Master’s degree must complete the comprehensive examination by no later than the end of the student’s third semester.
    • Students entering the PhD program with a Bachelor’s degree (but without a Master’s degree) must complete the comprehensive examination by no later than the end of the student’s fourth semester.
  • Oral defense of written dissertation.
    • The written dissertation will demonstrate high-quality, original research by the student.
    • Research results will be presented orally in a departmental seminar open to the public, and will be defended in a private defense restricted to the Dissertation Committee and interested departmental faculty.
  • Publication of at least one research paper on the student’s dissertation topic (not previous work) in a peer-refereed journal or equivalent outlet is expected prior to the dissertation defense.
  • Before receiving a PhD degree, students must demonstrate committee-approved proficiency in field-based Earth Sciences, which is typically done by completing an undergraduate field camp or a field-based program of equivalent length and curriculum.

Additional Information

  • The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences offers students who enter the doctoral program with a Bachelor’s degree only the opportunity to earn a Master of Science degree with a major in Geology concurrent to the doctoral degree. For more details see the information given within this catalog for the Geology Major, MS . The current Master’s requires a minimum of 30 graduate credit hours and is only for those students who enter the doctoral program who have not earned a prior master’s degree in Geology.