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Ph.D. in Applied Geology

Steps toward completion of the Ph.D. in the Applied Geology program:
  • Requirements for Graduation
  • Ph.D. Minors
  • Important Dates
  • Forms
  • Frequently Asked Questions
The Graduate Coordinator is the advisor of record until an appropriate advisor has been approved by the Graduate Studies Committee, and the dissertation proposal has been completed and filed.

Information on this page is summarized from the "Doctoral Program Requirements" (printed copies may be obtained from the Department of Geology office, 221 McGilvrey Hall or from the Graduate Coordinator). One chapter of your thesis/dissertation, in final form, should be examined by the Office of Graduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences, for conformity to the rules before you complete and photocopy all the chapters. This will assure, in advance, the acceptance of your document.  

Also see the Guide to Graduate Education at Kent State University for a summary of the policies and procedures for graduate education.

Requirements for Graduation (See University Catalog for details) (revised Sept. 27, 2013)

Minimum Graduate GPA  (must be maintained each semester)
Graduate students are expected to maintain a 3.0 average GPA in all work attempted at Kent State. A student who fails to maintain a 3.0 average is subject to dismissal. In addition, in order to qualify for graduation, a 3.0 average must be maintained for all graduate coursework. Grades below C (2.0) are not counted toward completion of requirements for any advanced degree, but are counted in evaluating a student's grade point average. Only graduate course credits count toward a graduate degree. A graduate student who receives a combination of more than 8 credit hours of B- (2.7) or lower grades, or more than 4 credit hours of grades lower than C (2.0) is subject to dismissal.


Preparation for Study
Students enrolled in the graduate program are expected to have completed undergraduate or graduate course work in mineralogy, petrology, structural geology, stratigraphy, and a geological field camp of at least five weeks duration prior to the completion of their degree. These courses may be completed by applicants prior to entering the graduate program or while enrolled at KSU.  If completed at the graduate level, these courses may count toward the graduate program of study.

Minimum number of Graduate credits
90 semester hours beyond the Bachelor's degree or 60 hours beyond the Master's degree. These hours may include formal coursework, Research (80098), and Dissertation I (80199)


Number of Dissertation I hours needed (GEOL 80199)
Dissertation I is taken in increments of 15 hours per semester for two consecutive semesters but may be taken only after completing the dissertation proposal defense.  In the event that graduation is delayed until some later term, the student must enroll for Dissertation II (GEOL 80299) continually, including summers, until graduation.


Preparation of the Preliminary Proposal and Program of Study
Potential candidates for the Ph.D. degree must develop their research plan in conjunction with their potential advisor and committee members, noting the scope of the work in the form of a preliminary dissertation proposal and determining the formal coursework required to provide the student with the skills necessary to successfully complete the proposed research project. As preparation for their candidacy exams, the student prepares a program of study listing the major field and the minor field that the examinations will cover and the coursework that has prepared the student for the exam. This should be accomplished by the third or fourth semester following admission and at least four weeks prior to the candidacy examinations.


File signed PhD Proposed Program of Study Form with the Graduate Coordinator.

Written Candidacy Examinations
Examining Committee composition: The examining committee consists of the advisor and two committee members from the Department of Geology. The advisor must have F4 grad faculty status and no more than one other committee member may hold F3 graduate faculty status.

The written exams are conducted in the student's major and minor area of study, plus general geology as noted on the Proposed Program of Study.  The written examinations normally are conducted in the fourth semester.  At least two weeks prior to the written examination, the student will present their examining committee with a preliminary dissertation proposal.  Written examinations are taken within a one-week period and the examination in each area takes 3 to 4 hours. Following successful completion of the written examinations (passing with the equivalent of an average "B" or better grade) the student proceeds to the dissertation proposal defense.


Upon completion the Report of Candidacy Examination form must be filed with the Office of Graduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate Coordinator. 

Oral Dissertation Proposal Defense
Proposal Defense Committee composition: The proposal defense committee consists of the members of the examining committee, plus the addition of an outside member with appropriate graduate standing, selected by the advisor and student. The advisor must have F4 grad faculty status and no more than one other committee member may hold F3 graduate faculty status.

During the oral proposal defense, the committee members question the student on topics related to the dissertation proposal, but may also question the students on more general topics as required.  The oral examination should be taken two to three weeks after the written examinations and is generally scheduled for 2 to 3 hours duration.

When the proposal has been successfully defended and approved by the committee, the student proceeds with the project under the supervision of the advisor and the committee. Following successful completion of the Dissertation Proposal Defense, the student or advisor must notify the Graduate Coordinator who will sign the appropriate forms and arrange for the appointment of a graduate faculty representative by the College of Arts and Sciences in preparation for the final public oral dissertation defense.

Students who have passed the candidacy examinations and have completed their formal coursework requirements for their degree are recognized as candidates for the Ph.D.


The Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus form, and an abstract of the dissertation proposal must be filed with the Office of Graduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate Coordinator. 

Request a Graduate Faculty Representative for the Dissertation Defense Committee
(Online College of Arts and Sciences Form to be used by the Dissertation Advisor)

Progress During the “Dissertation Stage”
Each committee member must approve the final written dissertation and oral dissertation defense date. To ensure progress toward this goal, non-funded students are encouraged and all departmental and grant-funded Ph.D. students are required to hold an annual committee meeting (typically in the spring semester) with a majority of their committee including the advisor in attendance to review their progress and methodologies, and discuss strategies to address problems that may have arisen. The student must provide documentation of their annual progress through an annual report, power-point presentation, or research poster that will be included in their file.

Dissertation Format
The dissertation must conform to the style dictated and approved by the Office of Graduate Affairs.


The dissertation must be written following the instructions in the Style Guide and the Libraries and  Media Services guidelines for electronic preparation of your thesis or dissertation  

Public Oral Dissertation Defense
With the approval of the advisor, the student must present the draft copy of the dissertation to the committee members, providing at least 10 working days for the dissertation to be read and evaluated. The dissertation committee must meet to determine if the dissertation is defensible in its current form or requires revisions.  Once a defensible copy is provided to the committee, a date is set for the public oral dissertation defense. The oral defense is open to the Kent State community and publicly announced at least 10 working days in advance of the event. 

All doctoral students are required to successfully pass an oral dissertation defense, which serves as a graded final examination (Pass/Fail).  The grade given at the completion of the defense is final and cannot be changed without recourse to the academic appeals process (i.e., there are no second opportunities to defend the dissertation). In extraordinary cases, if the committee determines that the student is running into difficulty during the exam, the committee can vote to suspend the defense. This suspension will involve a significant time lapse during which appropriate revisions must be made. At a later date, the defense can be continued. Presentation of their student research at a scientific meeting is recommended, but not required for graduation. Additional procedural details can be found in the Guidelines for Dissertation Final Examination (Including a discussion of the dissertation committee composition).


The Report of Dissertation Final Examination must be completed directly after the Dissertation Defense.

The Report of Dissertation Final Examination must be filed with the Office of Graduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences and the Graduate Coordinator.

Once your revisions are complete and you have the final version of your thesis ready for electronic publication, gather signatures on your signature page (see example in the Style Guide), complete the Dissertation Preparation Approval Form, and submit both to the College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Affairs Office.

Complete the Department of Geology Graduate Student Check-out Form and file with the Graduate Coordinator.

All students must apply for graduation. The process is entirely online and accessible though FlashLine. The online Application for Graduation (first time only) is available in your FlashLine account, Student Tools, Graduation Planning Tools, "Application for Graduation".

Important Dates

There are several deadlines that must be met in order to graduate in a timely fashion:

  • Applying for graduation
  • Completing the thesis/dissertation defense
  • Presentation of thesis/dissertation to the Office of Graduate Affairs, College of Arts & Sciences 

If the student applies for graduation in one term and is delayed in finishing the work, it is necessary to file a re-application in the Office of Graduate Affairs, in the term in which graduation is anticipated.  The re-application must be in the Office of Graduate Affairs by the deadline for application for graduation.  Although reminders from the Graduate Coordinator and the Office of Graduate Affairs will be sent out, the Graduate Catalogue clearly stipulates that it is the responsibility of the student to meet the deadlines.  

It is expected that the doctoral degree students entering Kent State with a master's degree will complete the degree in no more than nine years. Students possessing a master's degree will pass the candidacy examination within four calendar years of the first graduate registration at Kent State University. A doctoral candidate is expected to satisfactorily complete the dissertation and pass the final oral examination within five calendar years after having passed the candidacy examination.

Students must be continuously enrolled, including one summer term each year, prior to the completion of their degree. Please consult the Graduate Catalog for your enrollment term or the Department office for more information.

Departmental Scholarship Applications
Due by March 15 

Application to Graduate
Due by 4:00 pm Friday of the first week of classes for the semester in which you wish to graduate  

Dissertation Defense Deadline
Typically about 5 weeks before commencement (look for the posted deadlines each semester)

Dissertation Submission Deadline
Typically about 3 weeks before commencement (look for the posted deadlines each semester) 


Frequently Asked Questions

What specific course work must be taken to satisfy the Ph.D. requirements?
Students must take at least 3 courses in their minor area. Beyond this the only specific requirement that must be completed prior to graduation is 30 hours of Dissertation I (80199) and 60 hours past the M.S. or 90 hours past the B.S. degree. Specific coursework necessary to prepare the candidate for the dissertation work will be selected on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the faculty advisor and the members of the examination committee. Keep in mind that in addition to the formal courses offered in the department you have the following options available to help you develop the skills you need: 

  1. You can take courses at the University of Akron, Cleveland State University, and Youngstown State Univeristy through the Memorandum of Understanding, without transfer.  This widens your choice of coursework substantially. Fill out and submit this form well before you need to register for the desired course. Discuss this with the Graduate Coordinator and/or your Advisor.
  2. You can cross-train with coursework in allied fields. You may want to check out the GIS or Remote Sensing courses in Geography; the Wetlands, Limnology, and Ecology courses in Biological Sciences; the Environmental Chemistry courses in Chemistry; computer programming courses in Math & Computer Science; or relevant courses in Physics. See the Registrar's website for available courses by semester. 

How will the composition of my committee change as I progress toward my degree?
The candidacy examination committee consists of three members of the geology graduate faculty: the advisor, one minor advisor, and one general geology examiner. All members of the committee must have the appropriate graduate faculty rank as described in the departmental handbook.  The dissertation committee evaluates the student's dissertation proposal. It consists of the candidacy examination committee, plus an outside member who may be from another department on campus or another institution if approved by the geology graduate faculty and the College. All members of the committee must have the appropriate graduate faculty rank as described in the College of Arts and Sciences Rules Regarding the Final Examination. 

Upon completion of the dissertation proposal defense, the dissertation final examination committee is formed which consists of the dissertation proposal committee and a graduate representative appointed by the Office of Graduate Affairs of the College of Arts and Sciences. The graduate representative may also serve as the moderator for the defense, or another individual may be appointed. The guidelines regarding the graduate representative and/or moderator are found in the College of Arts and Sciences Rules regarding the Graduate Faculty Representative and Dissertation Defense Moderator. 

Requests for an outside committee member from another institution should be made in writing by the potential advisor to the graduate coordinator and accompanied by a current version of the CV for the potential outside member. The request is voted on by the graduate faculty.

Can I transfer geological coursework from another institution?
Yes, you can transfer up to 12 hours of graduate credit, graded B or higher, from an accredited institution, as long as the work was done within 9-10 years of the completion date of your Ph.D. in Geology.

Where can I go to get the Dissertation style guide and the necessary forms I will need as I progress through the program?
The KSU College of Arts & Sciences Style Guide and Instructions for Typing Theses and Dissertations (updated in June 1998) is available in the College Office 108 Bowman Hall.  You can also access these materials from this website, or at the appropriate page in the Arts and Sciences website (  Libraries and Media Services also provides guidelines for preparing your thesis or dissertation to help you complete the process. 

How can I efficiently plan my Ph.D. program, including the dissertation and coursework, so that I can finish the degree in a timely manner?
Remember that ultimately you are responsible for successful completion. Consult regularly with your advisor, committee, and the graduate coordinator.

How much time do I have to complete my degree?
See the University policy for degree completion.   Application for extension of time limits.

What are the University Polices on Graduate Student Enrollment prior to and after I defend my dissertation proposal? 
Students who have not yet defended their PhD dissertation proposal, or who have no other programmatic or funding stipulation requiring them to be registered continuously are required to register for at least one out of three consecutive semesters, with the three summer terms counting as one semester. If they fail to meet this minimum enrollment, they will be dis-enrolled and will need to re-apply to the University to reactivate their status. For example, a student who is registered for both terms during the academic year would not need to register over the summer, but a student who was not registered for a full academic year, would need to register for at least one of the three summer terms to avoid dis-enrollment.  

The Department of Geology requires all Department and University funded students to be enrolled full time (8 or more graduate credits) during the academic year. Students who are not funded by the department are recommended to be enrolled full time to ensure that they make continued progress toward their degree and to save on tuition and fees by shortening their time to degree.  

Information about the Minimum Enrollment Policy:

Students who have defended their PhD dissertation proposal, or who have some other programmatic or funding stipulation need to be continuously enrolled from semester to semester (with the three summer terms counting as one semester). Doctoral students should register for 15 Dissertation I or II credits during the academic year and 15 Dissertation I or dissertation II credits as appropriate during at least one summer term to maintain continuous enrollment. After completing 30 hours of Dissertation I credits, a student should register for Dissertation II credits each term until they defend their Dissertation.  

Information about the Continuous Enrollment Policy:

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