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Doctoral Programs

Ph.D. in Marine Biology/Oceanography

There are two informal divisions within the Ph.D. in Oceanography Program: marine biology and physical oceanography.  Ph.D. applicants should have obtained agreement from a faculty member to serve as major professor. For the biological sciences, Ph.D. applicants should have a completed draft dissertation proposal that must be submitted with the application. The proposal content will be a major factor in acceptance.

The Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 90 credits beyond the baccalaureate. At least 42 credits must consist of upper-level course work. At least 24 credits must consist of dissertation research. The student may not register for research credits (DIS) until after successfully defending the research proposal. After faculty acceptance of the research proposal the student must register for a minimum of 3 research credits per session until completion of the degree. The student is limited to a total of 9 credits of coursework per term. In rare circumstances the student may register to take more than 12 credits/term but this requires written permission from the Associate Dean of Academic Programs.

Milestones towards the degree include:
1) submission of a successful application package,
2) a qualifying exam,
3) defense of planned research at a qualifying proposal presentation,
4) passing of a Ph.D. comprehensive examination,
5) a successful public and private defense presentation of the completed dissertation before the supervising committee.

The student’s Ph.D. Committee consists of at least four members. Three of the committee members must be Center faculty and one must be from outside the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography. The external committee member must be a recognized expert in the student’s field of research. The committee monitors all phases of the candidate’s progress and must be formed prior to the candidate’s oral defense of the proposed research. The Major Professor chairs the committee.

A successful recipient of the Ph.D. degree in Oceanography/Marine Biology is expected to:

  • understand basic marine biological, chemical, geological, and physical processes to a level sufficient to communicate and collaborate with experts in those sub-disciplines; and  be able to apply this knowledge to issues in research and resource management
  • apply the scientific method to define, investigate, and evaluate hypotheses in at least one of these sub-disciplines
  • conduct (as guided by, and to the satisfaction of, the doctoral committee and Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography faculty) advanced, original, and independent research that adds to the body of oceanographic knowledge in one or more of the sub-discipline areas
  • communicate scientific results and conclusions clearly and logically in a written dissertation and in scientific presentations and publications
  • Students are expected to complete degrees within 5 years of full-time study, and within 9 years in the case of part-time students (a minimum of 3 years enrollment in the Ph.D. program is required)

Students are expected to complete the Ph.D. program in nine years or less, a minimum of three years is required.

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