Ph.D. Environmental Science & Public Policy
This interdisciplinary program draws on faculty and expertise from the Environmental Science and Policy core faculty as well as from the departments of Molecular and Microbiology, Public and International Affairs, Chemistry, Economics, Geography, and Sociology and Anthropology; and the schools of Computational Sciences, Public Policy, Information Technology and Engineering, and College of Education and Human Development.
This program provides training to contribute to the solution of complex environmental problems, which require the development of knowledge and skills in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of scientific data as well as in the integration of scientific understanding into the public policy process.
Admission Requirements [top]
Applicants should have a bachelor's degree with an overall GPA of at least 3.00. They should have taken at least two semesters of chemistry, two semesters of biology, and a course in ecology. The application deadline is February 15 for admission to fall semester. Admission to spring semester is not available for the PhD program.
In addition to the materials required from all applicants for graduate study at Mason, applicants must submit the following:
- Bachelor's degree in natural or earth sciences, engineering, resource planning, or related fields from an accredited institution
- GRE exam scores
- Three letters of recommendation (at least two from individuals with doctorates)
- Recent resume (required if funding is desired)
- Substantial statement of interest to include the following
-Description of a potential focus (environmental science or environmental public policy)
-Explanation of career goals
-Research skills and goals
-Substantial explanation of proposed dissertation research
- Email from a potential advisor (It is recommended that applicants schedule an interview with an environmental faculty member in a chosen research focus and submit an agreement (email) from that faculty advisor. Admission is based on that agreement as well as the availability of the faculty member. Faculty advisors can be found on our website at http://esp.gmu.edu/people/facultybios/index.html.
On admission to the program, students are responsible for identifying a member of the Environmental Science & Policy faculty who is willing to serve as their advisor. The advisor guides the student through course selection. An advisor may be changed by mutual consent of student and advisor, or by petition to the program director and the College of Science (COS) dean.
Degree Requirements [top]
The doctoral program requires a minimum of 78 graduate credits beyond the bachelor's degree. Students with a master's degree in an appropriate field may obtain a reduction of credit for appropriate course work of up to 30 graduate credits. To ensure that all students obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to function as environmental professionals, the program requires all students to fulfill the following four category requirements:
- Natural Sciences (12 credits): At least 12 credits are required in biology, chemistry, environmental science, geology, geography, or environmental engineering.
- Public Policy (12 credits): At least 12 credits are required in public affairs, economics, sociology, and business. A course in environmental law is also required as part of this category.
Coursework Emphasis (12 credits additional): Beyond the basic 12 credits in the Natural Sciences or Public Policy, those focusing on environmental science should take another 12 credits (for a total of 24 credits) in natural science while those focusing on environmental public policy should take another 12 credits (for a total of 24 credits) of public policy coursework. (Thesis research credits may not be applied to this requirement).
- Research methods and technology (9 credits): At least 9 credits are required in statistics, remote sensing, geographic information systems, analytical chemistry, modeling, or information technology. Students should carefully choose course work to ensure they have the necessary skills to support dissertation research. Course work for the first two categories, with a methods component, may be used to meet some of this requirement, subject to approval of the student's committee.
Doctoral seminar (4 credits): Students must take a total of 4 graduate seminar credits, with EVPP 991 (Advanced Seminar in Environmental Science) required to be taken twice.
Students are required to complete a course work proposal by the end of the second semester of courses. The proposal must be approved by the advisor and program director. In keeping with the general philosophy inherent in a PhD degree, students adopt an individual program that focuses on a specific area of research. The students' course work must provide the knowledge base from which original research projects in their specific areas of interest can be successfully completed.
Advancement to Candidacy [top]
Coursework Proposal and Program of Study: Before the end of the fourth semester of course work,students, in coordination with their advisor, should propose a dissertation committee of at least four members, three of whom must be from the Mason graduate faculty with representation from at least two academic departments. The dissertation committee is appointed by the Dean of the College of Science. After reviewing the student's course work proposal, progress to date, and area of research, the committee makes final recommendations concerning course work that will be codified in the program of study to be signed by all committee members to develop the course work program in order to facilitate the process of course selection.
Qualifying Exams: On completion of all or nearly all course work, students may request to take the qualifying or candidacy exam. The qualifying exam has both oral and written parts. The written portion consists of questions submitted by each member of the dissertation committee. Upon approval of the program of study, completion of all or nearly all course work, passing the qualifying exam, and approval of the dissertation proposal, the student is recommended for advancement to candidacy by the Graduate Program Director, Department chairperson, and the Dean. Students must advance to candidacy within six years of admission to the program. Dean. The dissertation and defense must be completed within five years of advancement to candidacy.
Before students may enroll in dissertation research (EVPP 999), they must have advanced to candidacy and have a dissertation proposal approved by the dissertation committee, program director, and dean of the College of Science.
Dissertation Proposal, Research and Defense[top]
Proposal: Students must complete a dissertation (12 to 24 credits) by registering for credit in a combination of EVPP 998 and 999. This may be accomplished by taking EVPP 999 (Doctoral Dissertation) alone, or in combination with 1-6 credits of EVPP 998 (Doctoral Dissertation Proposal). However, no more than half the credits specified for dissertation credit on the student's program of study may be taken as EVPP 998. Students must initially take 3 credits in EVPP 998 or EVPP 999 before attempting to enroll for 1 credit.
Research: The dissertation is an original written work, demonstrating mastery of subject matter, methodologies, and conceptual foundations on a specific problem in the general field of environmental science and public policy. The dissertation generally involves collection and analysis of original data, or the substantially new analysis and reinterpretation of existing data.Defense: Students must present the completed dissertation in a public seminar, and defend the work before the dissertation committee. Awarding of the degree is contingent on approval of the dissertation by the dissertation committee, Graduate Director, and dean. The dissertation and defense must be completed within five years of advancement to candidacy.
Total: 78 credits