Jun 27, 2022  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog ARCHIVED CATALOG: CONTENT MAY NOT BE CURRENT. USE THE DROP DOWN ABOVE TO ACCESS THE CURRENT CATALOG.

Doctor of Philosophy - Geoscience


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Plan Description


The Doctor of Philosophy – Geoscience degree is designed to prepare students for demanding research-oriented careers in academia, government service, private consulting, and industry. Working closely with their advisors, students focus on original research in an emphasis area. Research expectations are high; students are expected to develop original lines of research that will lead to three or more original manuscripts that are suitable for submission to a refereed scientific journal. Students are expected to have strong content knowledge in their area of emphasis and three additional sub-disciplines of the geological sciences. Fundamental knowledge levels are tested first in a diagnostic interview that is used to guide coursework taken by the student, and then later in a comprehensive exam.


For more information about your program, including your graduate program handbook and learning outcomes, please visit the Degree Directory.

Plan Admission Requirements


Application deadlines

Applications available on the UNLV Graduate College website.

All domestic and international applicants must review and follow the Graduate College Admission and Registration Requirements. 

The emphasis in Geology includes the fields of economic geology, environmental geology, geochemistry, geochronology, geomorphology, igneous petrology, paleontology, metamorphic petrology, Quaternary geology, paleoclimatology, pedology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, structural geology, surficial processes, tectonics, and volcanology. Applicants must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. For the Post-Bachelor’s Track: A bachelor’s degree in geology or equivalent.
  2. For the Post-Master’s Track: A Master of Science degree in geology or equivalent.
  3. It is recommended that the student have completed the following courses for unconditional admission to the program. An introductory geology class and six of the following eight classes (or their equivalents): mineralogy, geochemistry, geomorphology, structural geology, igneous and metamorphic petrology, paleontology, field geology, and sedimentology/stratigraphy.

Students are accepted into a degree program as described in the Graduate Catalog. The faculty and corresponding sub-disciplines and sub-plans within the described programs are subject to change at any time.

Subplan 1 Requirements: Post-Bachelor’s - Geoscience Track


Total Credits Required: 60

Course Requirements


Required Course – Credits: 3


Elective Courses – Credits: 45


Complete 45 credits of 600- or 700-level GEOL courses, or other advisor-approved courses.

Dissertation – Credits: 12


Degree Requirements


  1. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  2. A minimum of 24 of the 60 credits required must be at the 700-level.
  3. Although more course work and dissertation credits may be taken, only 12 credits of Dissertation, and 48 course credits will be counted toward the degree program.
  4. Doctoral students are encouraged to take courses from outside of geoscience; however, a minimum of 15 credits must be geoscience (GEOL) courses.
  5. A maximum of three credits of Independent Study are permitted, except in special circumstances in which case permission from the doctoral advising committee, the department Graduate Coordinator and the department chair is required.
  6. Satisfactory progress toward meeting the degree requirements is required of all candidates. Satisfactory progress is defined as, at a minimum:
    1. Maintenance of at least a 3.00 grade point average in all graduate-level courses. Two grades of B- are permitted in the degree program as long as the GPA remains at or above 3.00. One grade of C+ or lower results in academic probation even if the overall GPA is above 3.0. Two grades of C+ or lower will result in automatic suspension from the program.
    2. Selecting a dissertation advisor and committee. The advisor must be selected before the end of the first semester and the committee before the end of the second semester.
    3. Scheduling of an interview with the advisor either during or before the first semester. If an advisor is not selected, a temporary advisor will be assigned by the graduate coordinator. The purpose of the interview is to develop a plan of course work for the first year.
    4. In consultation with his/her advisor, a student will organize a thesis committee of at least three departmental members. In addition, a fourth member from outside the department, known as the Graduate College Representative, must be appointed. An additional committee member may be added at the student and department’s discretion. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
    5. Scheduling of a diagnostic interview with the Advisory Committee before the end of the 2nd semester. The purpose of the interview is to develop a list of recommended courses and design the student’s degree program, which must be submitted prior to completing 16 credits of course work toward the degree.
    6. Preparation of a dissertation proposal and satisfactory performance on a Proposal Defense Examination. This examination must be completed prior to the end of the third semester. The Proposal Defense Examination focuses on the dissertation proposal and the student’s ability to perform the research. It includes a formal oral presentation of the student’s dissertation proposal, research to date, and questions by the dissertation advisory committee on the dissertation topic. The Proposal Defense Examination is to be taken prior to the Comprehensive Examination.
    7. Satisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination. Ph.D. students must have a basic knowledge of Physical Geology in addition to a comprehensive knowledge of three fields of geosciences (see Department of Geoscience Graduate Student Guidelines for recommended fields for each Ph.D. Emphasis). The format and content of the exam will be determined by the student’s doctoral advisory committee with approval of the department graduate coordinator. The Comprehensive Examination will be taken either the semester after all course work is completed or before the end of the fourth semester, whichever comes first.  The Comprehensive Examination can be taken either entirely as an oral examination or with both oral and written components. The decision of which of these options to take is decided by unanimous agreement by the student’s doctoral advising committee. In the case of non-unanimous agreement, both the oral and written components will be given.
    8. Preparation of a dissertation proposal and satisfactory performance on a Proposal Defense Examination. This examination must be completed prior to the end of the fifth semester. The Proposal Defense Examination focuses on the dissertation proposal and the student’s ability to perform the research. It includes a formal oral presentation of the student’s dissertation proposal, research to date, and questions by the dissertation advisory committee on the dissertation topic. The Proposal Defense Examination is to be taken after the Comprehensive Examination.
    9. Students who fail to pass the Comprehensive Examination or Proposal Defense on the first attempt must successfully complete a second examination (as specified by the doctoral advisory committee) within the next six months to remain in the program. Students who entered the program with a baccalaureate degree and who fail the second examination may be allowed to continue as a Master of Science student with the consent of the doctoral advising committee. Students who entered the program with a master’s degree who fail the examination a second time will be separated from the program. A student who has successfully passed both the Proposal Defense and Comprehensive Examinations will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
    10. Satisfactory performance on a final examination will consist of the presentation and defense of the dissertation research. The defense will consist of an oral presentation open to the public, a short period of questions from the public, a closed session of questions from the doctoral advising committee, and a closed deliberation and vote by just the advisory committee members. Any graduate faculty member may attend the closed session of questions of the defense.
  7. Using Degree Audit as a guide, a degree program must be approved by the advisory committee prior to the beginning of the third semester of enrollment.
  8. It is recommended that the student be a teaching assistant or instructor for at least one semester.
  9. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken at UNLV prior to admission be included in the graduate degree program, providing those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements and a grade of B (3.00) or higher was achieved.

Subplan 2 Requirements: Post-Master’s - Geoscience Track


Total Credits Required: 36

Course Requirements


Required Course – Credits: 3


Elective Courses – Credits: 21


Complete 21 credits of 600- or 700-level GEOL courses, or other advisor-approved courses.

Dissertation – Credits: 12


Degree Requirements


  1. Students must complete a minimum of 36 credit hours with a minimum GPA of 3.00.
  2. A minimum of 12 of the 36 credits required must be at the 700-level.
  3. Although more course work and dissertation credits may be taken, only 12 credits of Dissertation, and 24 course credits will be counted toward the degree program.
  4. Doctoral students are encouraged to take courses from outside of geoscience; however, a minimum of 15 credits must be geoscience (GEOL) courses.
  5. A maximum of three credits of Independent Study are permitted, except in special circumstances in which case permission from the doctoral advising committee, the department Graduate Coordinator and the department chair is required.
  6. Satisfactory progress toward meeting the degree requirements is required of all candidates. Satisfactory progress is defined as, at a minimum:
    1. Maintenance of at least a 3.00 grade point average in all graduate-level courses. Two grades of B- are permitted in the degree program as long as the GPA remains at or above 3.00. One grade of C+ or lower results in academic probation even if the overall GPA is above 3.0. Two grades of C+ or lower will result in automatic suspension from the program.
    2. Selecting a dissertation advisor and committee. The advisor must be selected before the end of the first semester and the committee before the end of the second semester.
    3. Scheduling of an interview with the advisor either during or before the first semester. If an advisor is not selected, a temporary advisor will be assigned by the graduate coordinator. The purpose of the interview is to develop a plan of course work for the first year.
    4. In consultation with his/her advisor, a student will organize a thesis committee of at least three departmental members. In addition, a fourth member from outside the department, known as the Graduate College Representative, must be appointed. An additional committee member may be added at the student and department’s discretion. Please see Graduate College policy for committee appointment guidelines.
    5. Scheduling of a diagnostic interview with the Advisory Committee before the end of the 2nd semester. The purpose of the interview is to develop a list of recommended courses and design the student’s degree program, which must be submitted prior to completing 16 credits of course work toward the degree.
    6. Satisfactory performance on the Comprehensive Examination. Ph.D. students must have a basic knowledge of Physical Geology in addition to a comprehensive knowledge of three fields of geosciences (see Department of Geoscience Graduate Student Guidelines for recommended fields for each Ph.D. Emphasis). The format and content of the exam will be determined by the student’s doctoral advisory committee with approval of the department graduate coordinator. The Comprehensive Examination will be taken either the semester after all course work is completed or before the end of the fourth semester, whichever comes first. The Comprehensive Examination can be taken either entirely as an oral examination or with both oral and written components. The decision of which of these options to take is decided by unanimous agreement by the student’s doctoral advising committee. In the case of non-unanimous agreement, both the oral and written components will be given.
    7. Preparation of a dissertation proposal and satisfactory performance on a Proposal Defense Examination. This examination must be completed prior to the end of the third semester. The Proposal Defense Examination focuses on the dissertation proposal and the student’s ability to perform the research. It includes a formal oral presentation of the student’s dissertation proposal, research to date, and questions by the dissertation advisory committee on the dissertation topic. The Proposal Defense Examination is to be taken after to the Comprehensive Examination.
    8. Students who fail to pass the Comprehensive Examination or Proposal Defense on the first attempt must successfully complete a second examination (as specified by the doctoral advisory committee) within the next six months to remain in the program. Students who entered the program with a baccalaureate degree and who fail the second examination may be allowed to continue as a Master of Science student with the consent of the doctoral advising committee. Students who entered the program with a master’s degree who fail the examination a second time will be separated from the program. A student who has successfully passed both the Proposal Defense and Comprehensive Examinations will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
    9. Satisfactory performance on a final examination will consist of the presentation and defense of the dissertation research. The defense will consist of an oral presentation open to the public, a short period of questions from the public, a closed session of questions from the doctoral advising committee, and a closed deliberation and vote by just the advisory committee members. Any graduate faculty member may attend the closed session of questions of the defense.
  7. Using Degree Audit as a guide, a degree program must be approved by the advisory committee prior to the beginning of the third semester of enrollment.
  8. It is recommended that the student be a teaching assistant or instructor for at least one semester.
  9. Students may request a maximum of 15 graduate credits taken at UNLV prior to admission be included in the graduate degree program, providing those credits were not used to fulfill undergraduate requirements and a grade of B (3.00) or higher was achieved.

Plan Graduation Requirements


  1. The student must submit all required forms to the Graduate College and then apply for graduation up to two semesters prior to completing his/her degree requirements.
  2. The student must submit and successfully defend his/her dissertation by the posted deadline. The defense must be advertised and is open to the public.
  3. After the dissertation defense, the student must electronically submit a properly formatted pdf copy of their dissertation to the Graduate College for format check. Once the dissertation format has been approved by the Graduate College, the student will submit the approved electronic version to ProQuest. Deadlines for dissertation defenses, format check submissions, and the final ProQuest submission can be found here

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