Doctoral Program

ESGP offers a flexible curriculum which allows doctoral students to customize their program of study to their particular interests.  This is accomplished by selecting coursework to complement the student's research direction and career goals. The Doctor of Philosophy degree requires a minimum of 60 credit hours beyond the M.S. degree.  Students must also complete a program assessment form upon completion of degree, and return it to the program coordinator. The Ph.D. curriculum includes 36-45 course work hours and 15-24 dissertation hours. The Plan of Study must be comprised of at least 75 percent of courses at the 5000 to 6000 level. 

Core curriculum requirements are:

  • ENVR 5123 Environmental Problem Analysis
  • ENVR 5303 Issues in Sustainability
  • Natural or Physical Science - 3 hours
  • Skills Component- 6 hours
  • Dissertation  - 15 to 24 hours

Transfer of Credits

Transfer of credit will only be considered if it was earned when the student was post-baccalaureate (i.e. after earning a bachelor's degree) at an accredited institution and the applicable course(s) was/were certified as a graduate credit by that institution.  All courses used as transfer credit must have a grade of "B" or better. A maximum of nine semester hours of approved transfer credit may be applied towards the graduate degree.  None of the aforementioned nine semester hours of approved transfer credit may have been previously applied to an earned graduate degree.

Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee will consist of at least two departments and least two different graduate faculty groups. Four faculty members are on the committee. The outside committee member is to represent the Dean of the Graduate College and must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty.The outside member may not be from the same department as the Chair. Students create their Plans of Study with the assistance of their advisor and committee. It must be completed prior to completion of their 28th credit hour. For more information about the Plan of Study, refer to the Graduate College.

Comprehensive Exams

Ph.D. students are required to take both written and oral exams for their comprehensive exams. The committee chair will be responsible for conducting the exams. Doctoral students must take the comprehensive exam after completing at least 30 hours but no more than 45 hours course credit and before enrolling in the last 10 hours of dissertation research. Exceptions may be granted only with approval of the student's committee chair and the ESGP Director. The presentation of the dissertation proposal is usually integrated with the oral portion of the comprehensive exam, although this is not a requirement. See Conduct of Doctoral Comprehensive Exams for additional information.


Every doctoral student must complete a research-oriented dissertation.The ESGP program is an interdisciplinary program and thus the students’ research efforts are expected to address an environmental problem from multiple perspectives, which may include a social and/or economic perspective. Students will work closely with their committee members to develop a dissertation proposal; this is typically presented to the Advisory Committee in conjunction with the oral portion of the comprehensive exam.  See Preparation and Defense of a Dissertation Proposal for additional information.

Upon successfully defending the research proposal, doctoral students work to complete their dissertation and consult with committee members to schedule a final dissertation defense. The dissertation defense includes a public seminar and a closed examination by the advisory committee. See the ESGP Student Handbook for more information.