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    Jan 30, 2023  
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Graduate Catalog

Plant, Soil, and Environmental Sciences Major, Environmental and Soil Sciences Concentration, PhD


A doctorate with a major in plant, soil, and environmental sciences and a concentration in environmental and soil sciences is offered under a multi-departmental doctoral program. Two departments participate – Plant Sciences and the soils faculty in Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science. Other concentrations within the plant, soil, and environmental sciences doctoral program include crop sciences, horticulture, plant breeding, plant molecular genetics, and weed science. Focus areas in the environmental and soil sciences concentration include soil and water chemistry; nutrient management; pedology, genesis and classification; environmental climatology; soil biology and biochemistry; and soil physical processes. See the Department of Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences Graduate Studies webpage for additional information or contact a faculty member in the area of interest.

Admissions Standards / Procedures

  • To the Office of Graduate Admissions submit
    • the online application,
    • application fee,
    • official transcripts, and
    • Optional - scores from the general portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is recommended but not required for admission to the program. Scores from the general GRE test are given different weights by various faculty advisors, so applicants are encouraged to directly contact their desired faculty advisor to determine the importance of this indicator to the success of their application.
  • The online application procedure will also direct the applicant to submit
    • an updated resume,
    • three letters of reference (or three Graduate Rating Forms) from persons capable of assessing the applicant’s suitability for graduate work, and
    • a statement of professional goals, research interests in environmental and soil sciences, and
    • reasons for applying (less than one page).

Credit Hours Required

72 graduate credit hours beyond the Bachelor’s or

48 graduate credit hours beyond the Master’s

Required Courses

  • ESS 600  Doctoral Research and Dissertation, 24 credit hours
  • A candidate for the doctoral degree must complete a minimum of 24 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the master’s degree, or for candidates not having a master’s degree must complete a minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate coursework beyond the baccalaureate degree, 24 credit hours of which must be numbered 503 or higher.
    • A minimum of 12 of the 24 credit hours, or 30 of the 48 credit hours, must be graded A-F.
    • ESS 603  (1 credit hour) must be taken three times during the course of the program (total of 3 credit hours), the last of which must be in the student’s final semester before graduation. The 3 credit hours of ESS 603  can be used toward the minimum of 24-(or 48-) credit hour requirement.
    • At least 9 credit hours of the student’s coursework must be from outside the environmental and soil sciences concentration that are related to the students’ research area. These courses must be approved by student’s major advisor and advisory committee.
    • A minimum of 6 credit hours of courses numbered 601 or higher, excluding ESS 603 , must be taken at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Non-Course Requirements

  • The student and the major professor will select a minimum of three additional faculty, holding the rank of assistant professor or above, to serve on the student’s doctoral committee.
    • The major professor and two committee members must be approved to direct doctoral research by the Graduate Council.
    • At least one member of the committee must be from outside the department. The doctoral committee must be formalized by the end of the second semester of graduate study.
  • An approved program of study must be submitted by the end of the second semester of graduate study.
  • Satisfactory preparation of a written dissertation proposal and an oral defense to the student’s committee are required. These must be completed during the first two semesters of graduate study and before enrollment in ESS 600.
  • Both written and oral sections of the comprehensive examination must be passed. The candidate will be tested on their knowledge of the proposed dissertation and related fields. The student is expected to be conversant in the wide area of soil and environmental sciences.
  • Preparation of a written dissertation and its oral defense to the student’s doctoral committee are required.
  • See the Biosystems Engineering and Soil Sciences Graduate Student Handbook for additional specific program information or contact the Graduate Director of the Environmental and Soil Sciences programs.