Doctoral (PhD) Requirements
Applicants should request a copy of current guidelines and degree requirements from Brenda Nikas-Hayes, Graduate Program Administrator (BNikasHayes@clarku.edu).
The doctoral curriculum provides an opportunity for students to pursue studies across the full array of geography: human geography (space-society), human-environment geography (nature-society), Earth System Science, Geographic Information Science/Remote Sensing, Urban and Economic geography. Students are encouraged to explore faculty and research interests across these geographies in combination with work in complementary fields and disciplines within and outside of Clark.
Requirements include 8 semesters of courses (including directed readings, research and thesis/dissertation work), satisfactory completion of doctoral examinations, fulfillment of a skills requirement, and completion, acceptance and successful defense of a dissertation research proposal and completion, acceptance and successful defense of a dissertation. Also required are three years of residence. The normal course load is three courses per semester. The usual sequence students follow is: course work, doctoral exam, research proposal, and dissertation research, write up and defense.
In the first year, students normally complete the three required courses, GEOG 318 - Explanation in Geography , GEOG 368 - The Development of Western Geographic Thought , and
(taken fall and spring) and take additional courses including seminars and professional development workshops (PDW) to help define and refine their research interests and professional skills needs. PDWs can include but are not exclusive to grant preparation, teaching skills techniques and job interviewing as well as introducing the faculty of the school to the student body. Students then meet for an end-of-year review with advisers for evaluation and planning.
In the second year, students are encouraged to fulfill the skills requirement, to prepare for doctoral exams and to begin dissertation proposal formulation (GEOG 385). Course work normally includes seminars, directed readings (GEOG 399) and directed research (GEOG 317). A review of the student’s progress is held at the end of the year.
Students who have not already completed their doctoral exams and dissertation proposal are expected to do so in the third year of study.
Students must demonstrate, through course work or examination, proficiency in two of the following areas: multivariate statistics, research design/research methods, geographic information systems, foreign language, or other courses approved by the student’s faculty adviser, the Graduate Advisor and the Director of the Graduate School of Geography.
The doctoral exam assesses the competency of a graduate student in one major and two minor fields. Competency is defined as an understanding of the substantive content and range of theoretical approaches within each subfield. Students must be able to critique the alternative research traditions and defend the theoretical frameworks they adopt. They are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the major field, to master a survey of the first minor field, and to demonstrate detailed knowledge of a single subfield in the second minor.
The doctoral examination is conducted orally. The examination in the major field lasts approximately one-and-a-half hours, and each minor takes about 45 minutes. At the student’s discretion, the major and/or first minor may have a written component, which is in addition to the oral examination.
A formal research proposal for dissertation work must be completed and approved by a committee of at least four faculty (two readers and two reviewers), three of whom are full-time faculty members of the Graduate School of Geography and one external member. The chair of the committee is always a full-time member of the Graduate School of Geography. The proposal is approved after a formal defense before the committee.
The process of conducting and writing up the dissertation research involves close interaction between student and committee members. At this stage, students register for GEOG 317 (Research) and GEOG 394 (Dissertation Writing). After extensive criticism and rewriting, a draft thesis is defended at a working session of the committee. A final version incorporating changes suggested at the draft stage is submitted for approval by the dissertation committee and then forwarded to the Director for final approval. The Director then forwards the completed approved dissertation to the Dean of the Graduate School.
For more detailed information regarding the Graduate School of Geography, please visit: http://clarku.edu/departments/geography/prospective-students/index.cfm or the Graduate Program Administrator, Brenda Nikas-Hayes, firstname.lastname@example.org.