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Ph.D. in Spatial And Earth Sciences

Horseshoe LakeThe Department of Earth and Environmental Systems offers an exciting, interdisciplinary doctoral degree in SPATIAL AND EARTH SCIENCES. The program offers advanced studies in geography, geospatial sciences and earth sciences.  Students have a wide range of research topics to choose from, including remote sensing, geographic information science, human geography, dendrochronology, environmental sciences, geoarchaeology, geochemistry, paleoecology, and paleoceanography.  Students can select either a geography or earth science concentration depending on their research interests and career goals. The doctoral program allows for a flexible program of study that can be tailored to a students interests. 

Coursework Requirements

The College of Graduate and Professional Studies requires that at least one-half of the credit hours must be taken in courses numbered 600 and above.

Core Courses 9-12 hour core
ENVI 611 - Research Design
ENVI 610 - Field Techniques
ENVI 645 - Adv. Spatial Analysis and Quant. Methods
ENVI 733 - Seminar in Earth and Environmental Systems

Cognate Courses Outside Department - 6 Hours outside the department
The student's dissertation committee will determine courses to be taken within the major and outside the department, as well as additional requirements that may be appropriate.  These requirements may include, but are not limited to, courses to remove any deficiencies.

Concentration hours - 9 hours minimum at 600 Level or above

Geography Concentration
In the geography concentration all students complete a minimum of 9 additional hours of coursework in geography (GEOG) at the 600-level or above (excluding dissertation hours) completed in consultation with, and approved by, the student’s dissertation committee. The required nine hours must be completed while in residency at ISU

Earth Science Concentration

In the earth science concentration all students complete a minimum of 9 additional hours of earth science coursework (ANTH, ENVI, or GEOL) at the 600-level or above (excluding dissertation hours) completed in consultation with and approved by the student’s dissertation committee.  The required nine hours must be completed while in residency at ISU. 

Dissertation Research - 18 hours
18 hours of dissertation research (GEOG 899 or GEOL 899) are required.


Degree Summary

In summary, a minimum of 83 semester hours of graduate credit are required, including an acceptable dissertation (899--18 hrs.), 9-12 hours of core courses, 9 hour specialization (Geography or Earth Science), 3-6 hours of electives in the Department (ANTH, ENVI, GEOG, or GEOL), and a minimum of 6 hours of cognate courses taken outside the Department of Earth and Environmental Systems selected in consultation with, and approved by, the student’s dissertation committee.  Master’s hours may be included in the total. 


Candidacy Exams and Dissertation

Demonstration of “research proficiency” is required for all doctoral students prior to being admitted to candidacy.  Students will have met the NADEFresearch proficiency by completing all core courses with a B (3.0) or better. 

The student must:

  • submit an acceptable dissertation proposal
  • satisfactorily pass oral preliminary examinations
  • demonstrate satisfactory performance on a final oral examination and dissertation defense. 

To help ensure teaching proficiency, each Ph.D. candidate must participate in the teaching program of the department for at least two semesters or one semester and a full summer session. 

For more information on our graduate courses go to our course listing page or for more detailed information see our course descriptions in the graduate catalog.


How to Apply
Current Graduate Catalog
Course Listings


Contact Information

For more information about the M.S. Degree contact Jeffery Stone or Suzanne Walters