Doctor of Philosophy


The Doctor of Philosophy in geoscience is designed primarily to train students to be independent researchers and/or teachers, and to bring students to the forefront of a specialized area of geoscience.

Ph.D. students usually enter the program with established fields of interest and a research advisor already selected. Under exceptional circumstances, a student may be admitted to the Ph.D. program without an established field of interest.

The Ph.D. program requires an overall minimum 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Within broad limits, courses selected should reflect the individual needs, interests and talents of the student, and their advisor and advisory committee must approve them. All doctoral candidates must satisfy the degree requirements of the Graduate College.

After earning their first 24 s.h. of graduate credit, Ph.D. students must be either (1) enrolled at least two consecutive semesters in full-time study (9 s.h. per semester minimum) at The University of Iowa, or (2) enrolled for a minimum of 6 semester hours in three consecutive semesters during which the student holds at least a one-quarter-time assistantship certified by the department as contributing to the student’s doctoral program. They are required to include in their plan of study at least 18 s.h. of regular course work taught by tenured or tenure-track faculty members of the Department of Geoscience. Students must earn the 18 s.h. after being admitted to and enrolling in the Ph.D. program. Directed study and research credit do not count toward the 18 s.h. requirement. Ph.D. students must enroll in 12:201 Geoscience Seminar Serieseach semester they are registered until they successfully defend their dissertations, or for two consecutive semesters after the semester in which they pass their comprehensive examination, whichever comes first

Entering Ph.D. students must consult with a research advisor or the department’s director of graduate study before they enroll in courses. By the first month of their second semester of doctoral study, all Ph.D. students must select an adviser. Each student also must select a thesis topic and forward it to the department chair for approval by the end of the first month of the second semester of doctoral study.

During the second semester of doctoral study, each Ph.D. student should propose an advisory committee of at least five faculty members. Before the end of the second semester of doctoral study, each student must obtain his or her committee’s approval of a suitable plan of study, which is then submitted to the department chair for approval.  In consultation with the advisor and other faculty members, each doctoral candidate prepares a formal dissertation proposal, which must be submitted to the department chair by the end of the candidate’s third semester of doctoral study.

Students should complete most of their course work before taking the comprehensive examination, which consists of both written and oral portions and which must be passed before the end of the fourth semester of doctoral study.

Once Ph.D. candidates have passed the comprehensive examination, they are required to register each semester until they receive the degree. Candidates who have completed their plan of study may register for 000:002 Doctoral Continuous Registration or 000:003 Doctoral Final Registration.

Students must submit their written dissertation to the committee at least two weeks before the final examination. All Ph.D. candidates must deliver a one-hour public presentation associated with the dissertation defense.  Ph.D. students are also required to submit a manuscript presenting results of their graduate research to a refereed journal or other publication outlet approved by the DEO before defending their dissertation.