Ph.D. Program and Procedures
Program and Coursework. The doctoral program generally includes sixty hours of work beyond the M.A. of which eighteen to thirty hours will be satisfied by the dissertation. No specific credit-hour figure can be set for a doctoral degree because each program is designed on an individual basis. Of greater importance is the student's demonstrated competence in the selected area(s) of specialization. The program is comprised of formal courses, seminars, individual research and reading, and preparation of a dissertation. Although no "outside minor" is formally required of candidates, the department favors study in auxiliary departments.
Programs are planned with the advisor and then approved by the GSC. Such approval must be secured at latest by the second month of the second semester of study. Changes in the approved program can be initiated by the student at any time but must be approved by the advisor and the GSC. Program sheets are available in the department office and must be filed before the comprehensive examination can be scheduled.
Required Courses. Geography 714, Field Experience, is the only required course at the Ph.D. level. This three-week summer course is designed to familiarize the student with field techniques in both physical and human geography. Students wanting to petition for an exemption or alternative to GEOG714 should examine the characteristics of the course, which are listed below:
1. Approximately three weeks of fieldwork in an environment unfamiliar to the student.
2. Extensive on-site instruction from at least two professors.
3. A course content that includes both human and physical geography along with geography techniques (e.g., interviews and GPS), and that addresses the means to attack and solve geographical problems.
4. Stresses a team approach to problem solving.
Any student who wishes to propose alternate work (or document previous experience) as a substitute for 714 should petition the Graduate Studies Committee (GSC), and provide a detailed plan for that work. GSC must approve this plan before the work can be substituted for Geog 714. Upon completion of the work, students must prepare a 10-page report summarizing the content of the substituted activities for approval by GSC. One alternative to 714 is to take a similar course at another college or university.
Any questions about Field Experience class should be directed to the department's director of graduate studies.
An advisor, upon review of the student's record, may recommend Geography 805 and/or Geography 806 to an incoming Ph.D. student.
Major Areas of Study. The capabilities and interests of the department fall into four areas of study: geographic information science, physical, human, and regional geography. A student concentrating within one of these divisions will develop a program in consultation with professors in that area. This program usually will include work in other aspects of geography and related disciplines. A student also may develop a second concentration if he or she takes at least nine hours in that specialty and includes a professor from that second area on the committee for the comprehensive examination. This second area of concentration may lie outside of geography.
Major Areas of Study for the Ph.D.
I. Geographic Information Science
|Cartography||McCleary, Slocum, Pearce|
|Geographic Information Systems||Dobson, Egbert, Feddema, Li, Slocum|
|Remote Sensing||Braaten, Brunsell, Egbert|
II. Physical Geography
|Biogeography||Brown, W. Johnson|
|Climatology||Braaten, Brunsell, Feddema, Tucker, Mechem, van der Veen, Rahn|
|Geomorphology||W. Johnson, Hirmas|
III. Human Geography
|Cultural||Cheong, Herlihy, O'Lear, J. Johnson, Pearce
J. Shortridge, Woods
|Historical||Herlihy, J. Shortridge, Woods, Pearce, Diener|
|Political||O'Lear, Warf, Diener|
|Regional Development||Brown, Cheong, Warf|
IV. Regional Geography
|Latin America||Brown, Herlihy, Woods|
|Russia and East Europe||O'Lear|
|United States||J. Shortridge|
The level of competence attained in the major study area should be such that the graduate can teach upper-level seminars and conduct research in that area. If a second area of concentration is chosen, it is often complementary to the first. Here the graduate is expected to have knowledge sufficient to teach undergraduate courses at the introductory and intermediate levels, even if teaching is not the ultimate career objective.
In addition to the area(s) of specialization, the candidate is expected to have a broad background in general geography as well as knowledge of those research skills most appropriate to the areas of specialization. This background is primarily gained through coursework requirements in the bachelor's and master's degree programs, which are prerequisites for Ph.D. work.
FLORS Requirement. Foreign language or research skills (FLORS) are important elements of any graduate program. Coursework necessary to meet this requirement should commence early in the program. Selection of a particular FLORS option must be approved by the student's advisor.
Possible options include the following:
1. Demonstrate a reading knowledge of two foreign languages relevant to the student's research interest. Usually this is accomplished by passing an examination with an appropriate member of the geography faculty (or with a member of a language department faculty if expertise is not available within the department) or by completing French 100, German 101, Italian 100, Dutch 101, Danish 101, Russian 101, and/or Spanish 100. See the Graduate Catalog for details.
2. For a single foreign language, demonstrate a reading, writing, and speaking capability sufficient to enable the student to do field work without an interpreter. An examination for competence, including written and oral portions, will be conducted by a member of the geography faculty having expertise in that language or an examiner from the appropriate language department.
3. Demonstrate a satisfactory capability in two research skills from the list below. The actual courses must be approved by the student's advisor with the agreement of the GSC.
a. Computer Science--complete a computer-programming course in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (e.g., C++, Fortran, or Visual Basic) and create a substantial computer program that illustrates a geographic application of that language. Both the course and computer program must be approved by the Computer Programming Committee of the Department of Geography.
b. Mathematics--pass nine hours of courses at the 500 level or above.
c. Statistics--pass nine hours of courses outside the Geography Department at the 500 level or above.
d. An outside discipline relevant to the student's field(s) of specialization within geography, e.g. anthropology, biology, economics, geology, history, psychology--pass nine hours of courses at the 500 level or above, normally at KU, including at least one research seminar. (Atmospheric science courses may be used for this option, but not courses listed or cross-listed as geography.)
4. Demonstrate a reading knowledge in one foreign language and a satisfactory capability in one of the research skills listed above.
Students whose native language is not English may, in some cases, use their native language to fulfill part of the reading-knowledge aspect of FLORS. The Graduate School has ruled that the student must, however, combine this native-language option with either reading knowledge of another non-English language (i.e. option 1 above) or one of the research skills mentioned in option 3. Using a native language to fulfill part of the FLORS requirement must have advisor and GSC approval.
Residency Requirement. In order to fulfill the university's residency requirement, a student must be involved full-time in academics for two semesters. One of these semesters can be a summer session. Full-time is defined as any of the following combinations:
1) 9 credit hours per semester; or 6 credit hours per summer session;
2) 8 credit hours per semester with a 30% TA or RA;
3) 7 credit hours per semester with a 40% TA or RA;
4) 6 credit hours per semester with a 50% TA or RA;
5) 5 credit hours per summer session with a 25% TA or RA;
6) 3 credit hours per summer session with a 50% TA or RA.
Comprehensive Examination. The comprehensive examination is scheduled when the student and the advisor believe that competence in the specialty or specialties has been achieved. Normally the process occurs after the student has completed nearly all of his/her coursework, although Graduate School regulations stipulate that the testing can take place as soon as five months after enrollment in the Ph.D. program. Admittance to the examination is by approval of the GSC. In petitioning for admittance, the student must submit the following materials at least three weeks prior to the scheduled examination (forms are available for 1 and 2 in the departmental office).
1. a program sheet listing courses taken, grades received, etc.
2. demonstration that the FLORS requirements have been satisfied (see description above).
3. demonstration that the Residency Requirement has been satisfied (see description above).
4. a written dissertation proposal approved by the advisor (see Theses and Dissertations tab on main menu).
5. a list of examination committee members. The Graduate School requires that the committee consist of at least five members of the graduate faculty. People outside the university can be appointed ad hoc members as necessary. At least one member must be from a KU department outside of geography and at least three members must represent the department. Members are chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor on the basis of expertise in the areas of specialization. They must also be approved by the GSC and recommended by the department to the Graduate School.
6. The date and time proposed for the oral portion of the examination.
The comprehensive examination normally focuses on the student's areas of specialization, including proposed dissertation research. It consists of two parts: written questions submitted by the committee members and then an oral examination. At least four members of the committee must submit written questions. The procedure is for each examiner to give his/her questions to the chair of the student's committee at least one week before the written examinations begin. The committee chair has the responsibility of screening these questions for overlap and clarity, and then administering them, one set per day. The questions may be open-book or closed at the discretion of the individual submitting the questions, and the student normally will have up to eight hours to complete each set of questions. At the conclusion of the written portion of the examination, the committee chair will poll the committee. A majority of the members must approve their individual written portions of the examination in order for the second (oral) portion to take place. Three grades are possible for the overall examination: "honors," "satisfactory," and "unsatisfactory." In the unsatisfactory case, the student may be allowed to repeat the process upon recommendation of the committee. Such repetition can be undertaken no sooner than ninety days after the last testing. The comprehensive examination may be taken no more than three times. Approval of the Graduate School must be secured for the scheduling of this procedure and the request must be submitted three weeks prior to the proposed date for the examination.
The Doctoral Dissertation. Serious work on the dissertation should begin no later than the third full-time semester of study for the Ph.D. and well before the scheduling of the comprehensive examination. When selecting a topic, the student first should make sure that an advisor exists who is able and willing to supervise on that subject. Then, usually in close consultation with this advisor, a proposal is developed to articulate the research idea for the rest of the examination committee. The advisor also serves as chair of this committee.
The dissertation committee, consisting of the advisor and at least four others, is designated immediately following the passing of the comprehensive examination and is usually comprised of members of the examination committee. This committee must include at least one member from a KU department outside of geography and must have at least two members from Geography. Committee members must be approved by the GSC and recommended to the Graduate School.
After successful completion of the comprehensive examination, the student is officially admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. By passing to the candidacy stage, the examination committee records its view that this person has a satisfactory dissertation proposal as well as the capability to complete the proposed task of research and writing. Although formal coursework is finished at this point, continued scholarly and professional development obligates the candidate to continue attendance at special-interest seminars and colloquia while still in residence. After passing the comprehensive oral exam, every student must be continuously enrolled, including summer sessions, from the time of candidacy until the dissertation is deposited at the Graduate School office. The Graduate School further stipulates that a minimum enrollment of six hours is required each semester (plus three in summer) until a total of eighteen is achieved. Thereafter the enrollment may be dropped to one hour per semester, assuming that the dissertation is deposited in the Graduate School office within six months after the defense. Students who exceed this six-month limit must enroll in three hours per semester until the dissertation is so deposited.
When the dissertation committee has tentatively approved the dissertation, approval is sought from the Graduate Studies Committee to schedule the final oral defense. At least five months must elapse between the successful completion of the comprehensive examination and the date of this oral defense. The final oral defense committee has the same composition requirements as does the dissertation committee. Approval of the Graduate School must be secured for the scheduling of this exam and the request must be submitted to the GSC three weeks prior to the proposed date for the examination. Submission procedures for the dissertation are described on page two of this booklet.
When the final oral defense has been passed and the dissertation completed, both electronic and hardbound copies need to be prepared. Both should include an abstract of no more than 150 words. A hardbound copy with original signatures by the advisor and the other committee members is required for the department.The KU Libraries recommend the following binders that can bind paper copies of your thesis and additionally offer print-from-electronic file services: 1) Heckman Bindery (http://www.thesisondemand.com/) or 2) Acme Bookbinding (http://www.acmebook.com/bindery/thesis). The student must turn in a receipt showing that arrangements have been made for such work prior to the deadline for graduation set by the Graduate School. It is also customary for the student to provide a bound copy for the advisor.
The dissertation must be submitted to the graduate school and UMI Dissertation Publishing electronically using Portable Document Format (PDF). Instructions for this process are available at the KU graduate school website. See also UMI’s website at http://dissertations.umi.com/ku/. In addition to this electronic submittal, a student must submit a paper copy of the title page and an “acceptance page” with original signatures to the College Graduate Studies office in 108 Strong Hall. Formats for both of these are at the graduate school website. A copy of the title page should also be turned in to the Geography office.
The Graduate School has established a maximum time limit of eight years between initial enrollment in the doctoral program and completion of all degree requirements. For people earning both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from KU, the combined time limit is ten years.