Doctoral Degree Requirements
Graduation requirements for the doctoral degree include completing specific coursework, completing written and oral qualifying examinations, writing a dissertation, and completing a final examination.
Students admitted into the joint doctoral program are expected to take common core courses. At SDSU, these include: Geography 700 (Seminar in Geographic Research Design) and Geography 701 (Seminar in Development of Geographic Thought). At UCSB, students are required to register in Geography 200A (Introduction to Geographic Research) and Geography 201 (Colloquium) each quarter. No specified number of courses beyond core courses is required for the doctoral degree. However, students are expected to have a broad understanding of modern geographic principles in addition to a specialist’s competence in their own sub-field. In addition, all doctoral students must have computational skills and knowledge of spatial analysis.
The process of qualifying to write a Ph.D. dissertation has three steps. First, the student must take a written qualifying examination that normally consists of three portions devoted to: 1) the student’s substantive area, 2) the technical or methodological field(s) of interest, and 3) general geographic thought and inquiry. Second, the student prepares a dissertation proposal that describes the dissertation topic, summarizes the relevant background literature, and presents a comprehensive research plan for the dissertation. Third, the student’s doctoral committee will conduct an oral qualifying examination to ensure that the student possesses the full knowledge and competence required to carry out her or his dissertation research. The doctoral committee will assign a pass or fail grade for each examination. Passing the written examination allows the student to proceed to the preparation of the dissertation proposal. The doctoral committee must conditionally approve the dissertation proposal before the student takes the oral qualifying examination. Passing the oral examination signifies that the doctoral dissertation proposal is approved. A student may repeat each examination once.
Following the successful completion of all prescribed coursework and qualifying examinations, the major remaining requirement for the Ph.D. degree will be the satisfactory completion of a dissertation consisting of original research of publishable quality carried out under the guidance of the major professor. Approval of the completed dissertation by the joint doctoral committee implies that an organized investigation has been carried out yielding substantial conclusions of interest which expand the frontiers of knowledge and understanding in the discipline. Results must be reported in a manner demonstrating the ability of the candidate to effectively pursue and report independent investigation.
The final examination, organized and administered by the joint doctoral committee, shall consist of a public dissertation defense, before the joint doctoral committee.