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Program Requirements

The Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Systems Science is conferred on students with their satisfactory completion of required coursework, a demonstrated mastery of a broad field of knowledge, and the ability to conduct original and independent research. A minimum of 75 credit hours beyond the Bachelor’s degree is required for the Ph.D. A maximum of 36 credit hours may be transferred from other graduate programs with the approval of the Departmental Graduate Committee.

Course descriptions may be found in the Graduate Catalog of Courses.

For more information on the Ph.D. Program, see the Graduate Program Handbook for the Earth Systems Science Ph.D.

  • Formal (non-research) graduate courses, 12 credits
  • Electives (formal graduate courses, seminars or supervised research), 26 credits
  • Dissertation Research, 24 credits
  • Graduation Requirements

    The basic requirements for graduation are:

    • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the formal lecture and/or lab courses
    • Satisfactory performance on a qualifying examination to determine aptitude for independent Ph.D. research and to identify deficiencies in a background that might hinder progress toward the degree.
    • Completion and successful defense of a dissertation proposal and a dissertation.

    For more information on courses, see the current graduate Graduate Catalog of Courses.

Fields of Concentration


  • Atmospheric Sciences

    Research focuses on hurricane dynamics, hurricane impacts, hurricane boundary layer turbulence structures, atmospheric convection, atmospheric boundary layer and clouds, and cloud-climate feedbacks.

  • Environmental Biogeoscience

    Research in this concentration applies knowledge of geological, biological, physical, and chemical processes to current threats facing the biosphere, including deteriorating water and air quality, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem function, soil degradation, coastal erosion, and other emerging issues at local or global scales.

  • Geophysics/Remote Sensing

    Geophysical investigative techniques use gravity, magnetism, seismic reflection and refraction, earthquake seismology, thermal properties, and satellite imagery. Land-based geophysical studies may focus on the Caribbean and South American seismicity and crustal structure. Environmental geophysical studies may be based in the South Florida and Caribbean regions.

  • Hydrogeology/Hydrology

    Research includes field and modeling approaches to groundwater flow and solute fluxes in the subsurface and near-subsurface environments. Topics include the interaction of surface water and groundwater, solute transport, chemical and isotopic tracing techniques, watershed hydrology in Florida, Central America and other locations. Igneous Petrology/Geochemistry/Economic Geology Research problems emphasize the petrology/geochemistry of igneous and metamorphic rocks with reference to their origin, and relationships in time and space. Topics include the origin of hydrothermal and other economic deposits, and the field occurrence, geochemistry, and petrogenesis of crystalline rocks, especially those of the Caribbean region and South America. Trace element and isotope geochemistry may be applied to the study of the petrogenetic associations.

  • Paleontology

    Research topics of the faculty and students include paleoecology, facies analysis, paleobiogeography, evolutionary processes, biodiversity, biostratigraphy, and the response to global climatic changes, as interpreted from microfossils, especially foraminifera and radiolarians.

  • Stratigraphy/Sedimentology

    Research in this concentration includes sedimentary petrology, sedimentary environments, paleoenvironments, paleoceanography, sequence stratigraphy, cyclic stratigraphy, microfacies analysis, and basin analysis. Field and laboratory techniques are applied to the solution of problems in these topics, especially as applied to sedimentary rock sequences of South Florida, the Caribbean and Central America. The evolution of sedimentary basins in these regions are studied in relation to global and regional tectonics.

  • Tectonics/Structural Geology

    Field- and lab-oriented research employs methods of structural analysis. Analysis of geologic deformations is based upon the principles of mechanics and utilizes field data. Field areas include the Caribbean and South America.

Natural Resource Science and Management

  • Land and Aquatic System Science

    Multidisciplinary scientific and research techniques are applied to managing environmental problems and sustainable use of land and aquatic resources; and quantifying and understanding physical, chemical and biological process operating on land and in water, soil, and other environments.

  • Natural Resource Management

    The interactions between natural systems and human systems are evaluated. Research and management problems are addressed in the fields of natural resource conservation, ecosystem restoration, agroecology, ecotoxicology, forestry, wildlife, fisheries, and coastal and marine resources.

  • Environmental Economics and Policy

    The effectiveness of policies in managing environmental pollution, sustainable development, energy resources, climate change, food and agriculture, community forests, and conservation programs are analyzed. Research methods include ecosystem service valuation, economic modeling, and ethnographic and other behavioral analyses.