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Students on outdoor research trip

Applied Earth Sciences Ph.D.

Offered by: Department of Earth Sciences Students entering the AES PhD program will come from a range of science backgrounds, but will share a common interest in studying and discovering the interactions between earth processes and humans. This common interest will be built upon by enrollment in some common courses and in a concentration area within the program.

Why choose this program?

The Ph.D. program prepares students for academic positions or research and leadership positions in local, state, national, or private environmental organizations. The goal of the program is to prepare future researchers and leaders who assess complex environmental systems and assist in providing sound options and solutions for optimizing human-environment interactions.

Research specialization at the PhD level is supported by concentrations, which provide students with adequate technical expertise to excel in research and to be able to apply defined skills to a wide range of problems in applied earth sciences.

See Earth Science PhD's

What will you learn?

Course Concentration

Research specialization at the Ph.D. level is supported by concentrations in water resources, geochemical processes, and physical Earth, which provide students with adequate technical expertise to excel in research and to be able to apply defined skills to a wide range of problems in applied earth sciences. Students must identify their course concentration cluster by the second semester of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Students will take courses within their cluster, with guidance from their research advisor and research committee, and one course from each of the other clusters. Students must complete a minimum of nine credit hours of coursework in the IUPUI ES department from
among the course topics below.

Water Resources
  • Hydrology
  • Hydrogeology
  • Geomorphology
  • Remote Sensing
  • Aqueous Geochemistry
  • Limnology
  • Microbiology
Geochemical Processes
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Soil Geomorphology
  • Isotope Chemistry
  • Aqueous Geochemistry
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Limnology
  • Microbiology
Physical Earth
  • Advanced Earth Materials
  • Glacial Geology
  • Paleoecology
  • Geological Oceanography
  • Geomorphology
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Remote Sensing
  • Planetary Geology
Colloquium Course

All students are expected to attend departmental colloquium presentations, made by local and
national/international experts in various areas of applied earth sciences. Students must enroll in
Applied Earth Sciences Colloquium (1 cr.) for at least two semesters during their program.

What will you do?

PhD Minor

All students must also complete a PhD minor, comprised of 12-15 credit hours of coursework in a related area. This coursework must be independent than the coursework used to satisfy the concentration requirement. The minor is chosen in consultation with the student’s graduate research committee.

PhD Examination structure

Students are recommended to submit their research proposal and stand for the oral qualifying exam in their fourth semester, and must do this no later than the end of the fifth semester of enrollment. The oral exam process includes the submission of a substantive written research proposal to their graduate research committee at least two weeks in advance of the examination, followed by an oral defense of that proposal in front of the committee. The committee may ask questions directly related to the research proposal, as well as questions related to the research area that the student in pursuing. After the exam, the committee may decide to pass the student on to candidacy for the Ph.D., provisionally pass the student pending corrections and satisfactory response to questions that arise from the exam, or fail the student. A student failing the qualifying exam may retake it one additional time.

Soon before completion of the program, all students are required to present their results in a public oral dissertation defense.

PhD Research Committee

Initially, students will be assigned a graduate advisory committee consisting of three faculty, who will meet with students upon entrance to the program, will review their background, and will make initial judgments on coursework. By the end of the second semester, all students will identify their graduate research committee in consultation with a research advisor. While the advisor is responsible for regular oversight of progress, the graduate research committee will guide the student's research progress via meetings every semester, will serve on the oral exam committee, and will act as reviewers and signers of the PhD dissertation. The graduate research committee will consist of five members, including the research advisor. One the members (up to a maximum of two) must have a primary faculty appointment outside of the Earth Sciences Department.

Admission requirements

Prospective students should have a B.S. or M.S. degree in the physical, biological, or health sciences, and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is expected. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is required. Individuals for whom English is a second language must demonstrate proficiency in English. Scores from the TOEFL exam should be submitted with the application for admission. Each student must submit three letters of recommendation.

Application deadline for fall semester with priority consideration for financial aid is January 15th

Degree requirements

Upon admittance to the program, students are assigned a preliminary advisory committee from among program faculty. Students identify an appropriate sub-discipline after their first year, and the preliminary advisory committee is reconstituted into a research committee to suit the research goals of the student. The research advisory committee ensures successful progress in later coursework, coordinates oral qualifying exams, and advises students in their progress to degree completion as appropriate. Students must complete all degree requirements within six years of beginning the study program, and must maintain a B (3.0) average.

Applied Earth Sciences Program Guidelines (PDF)

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