How to Apply

How to Apply:

Applying to the Dual-Title Degree Program

Graduate students with research and educational interests in biogeochemistry may apply to the Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program after they have been accepted into one of eight approved graduate programs. Students are expected to have strong undergraduate preparation in the basic sciences, with evidence of an interest in multiple disciplines.

To apply, students must submit to the Biogeochemistry Program Director 1) transcripts of their undergraduate and graduate coursework; and 2) a personal essay (no more than two pages) indicating their interests in Biogeochemistry, career goals they hope to serve by attaining a Biogeochemistry dual-title degree.

Biogeochemistry students are required to have two faculty advisors. Before submitting the application essay, it should be reviewed and signed by the advisor and ideally, by the student’s co-advisor chosen from the Biogeochemistry faculty (see below under Degree Requirements). In certain cases, applications may be approved without a co-advisor’s signature. However, students are encouraged to seek out a co-advisor early, and the co-advisor should be identified by the time of the candidacy exam.

Enrollment Prior to Candidacy Exam

Once a student has been accepted to a major program of study, application to the dual-title degree program can occur immediately or at a later time, such as upon matriculation.

On receipt and approval of a student’s application materials, the Biogeochemistry Program Director notifies the Graduate School to enroll the student for the Dual-Title Degree.

The Graduate School must enroll the student the dual-title degree program before the candidacy examination takes place. This is because the Graduate School requires that a single candidacy exam be administered for both entrance to the student’s major Ph.D. program and the biogeochemistry program.

Degree Requirements

To obtain the dual-title Ph.D. in Biogeochemistry, students must satisfy the requirements of the major graduate program in which they are enrolled. In addition, the dual-title student must:

  • be advised by two faculty in separate disciplines;
  • pass one candidacy examination that includes an assessment of their potential in the field of biogeochemistry;
  • take 15 credits of courses from the Biogeochemistry Curriculum Table;
  • pass a comprehensive examination that integrates content from the field of Biogeochemistry;
  • complete and present a Ph.D. dissertation that contributes fundamentally to the field of Biogeochemistry.

All students will be supervised by two faculty advisors from separate disciplines: one individual serving as a primary advisor in their major degree program (i.e., Geosciences, Soil Science, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Material Science & Engineering, Chemistry, Ecology, Environmental Engineering or Plant Pathology) and a secondary advisor in an area within a field covered by the dual-title program and a member of the Biogeochemistry faculty. The major program advisor normally will also be a member of the Biogeochemistry faculty. The two faculty advisors can represent different academic programs, although this is not required, as faculty from a scientifically diverse department can represent very different areas of expertise.

To fulfill the course requirements for the dual-title in Biogeochemistry, students must complete a total of 15 graduate credits chosen in consultation with their advisors from an approved list of courses in six categories:

  • Biogeochemistry
  • Biochemistry and Microbiology
  • Soil Science and Materials Science and Engineering
  • Water Reactions and Transport
  • Plant-Microbe Interactions and Plant Systems
  • Research Tools

Credits must be chosen from at least three categories, with no more than six credits taken from one category. The two-credit course Topics in Biogeochemistry (co-listed as GEOSC/SOILS/CE 536 is highly recommended for all Biogeochemistry students, and the credits from this course can be applied to any of the six categories.

A public oral presentation of the dissertation is required, which may be part of the final defense within the major degree program.

If you know what academic home you will have and are interested in the program but unsure about the course work, time commitment, or whether the dual-title is a good route for your graduate program, here is a list of people who would be happy to answer your questions or talk to you about the program:

Chemistry: Paulina Piotrowski

Civil and Environmental Engineering: Diana Ayala

Ecology: Curt McConnell

Geosciences: Ben Barnes

Plant Pathology and Environmental Microbiology: Philip Martin

Soil Science: Mara Cloutier