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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs


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MARY ANN BRUNS, Program Coordinator
116 ASI, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management

ANGELA PACKER, Administrative Assistant
507 Deike, Department of Geosciences

Degree Conferred:

Students electing this degree program through participating programs earn a degree with a dual title in the Ph.D., e.g., Ph.D. in (graduate program name) and Biogeochemistry.

The following graduate programs offer dual degrees in Biogeochemistry: Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology; Chemistry; Ecology; Environmental Engineering; Geosciences; Materials Science and Engineering; Plant Pathology; and Soil Science. 


The Graduate Faculty


The Program

The Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program is administered by the Department of Geosciences with support from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management for the participating graduate programs. A program committee with representatives from participating departments maintains program definition, identifies courses appropriate to the program, and recommends policy and procedures for the program's operation to the dean of the Graduate School and to the deans of the participating colleges.

The dual-title degree program is offered through participating programs in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, College of Agricultural Sciences, College of Engineering, Eberly College of Science, and the Intercollege Graduate Degree Programs.

The program enables students from several graduate programs to gain the perspectives, techniques, and methodologies of Biogeochemistry, while maintaining a close association with major program areas of study. For admission to pursue a dual-title degree under this program, a student must apply to (1) the Graduate School and (2) one of the participating major graduate programs; and then subsequently to (3) the Biogeochemistry program committee. Students may only apply to the dual-title program once they have been accepted into a major program. Once a student has been accepted to a major program, application to the dual-title degree program can occur immediately or at a later time, such as upon matriculation. The application to the dual-title degree program, however, must be accepted before the candidacy examination in the major program is scheduled.

Admission Requirements

Graduate students with research and educational interests in biogeochemistry may apply to the Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program. Candidates must submit transcripts of their undergraduate and graduate course work, a written personal statement indicating their interests in the interdisciplinary arena of Biogeochemistry and their career goals they hope to serve by attaining a Biogeochemistry dual-title, and a statement of support from their dissertation adviser, if assigned. A strong undergraduate preparation in the basic sciences is expected, with evidence of an interest in multiple disciplines.

Degree Requirements

To qualify for a dual-title degree, students must satisfy the requirements of the major graduate program in which they are enrolled, in addition to the minimum requirements of the Biogeochemistry program. Students are required to have two advisers from separate disciplines: one individual serving as a primary adviser in their major degree program (i.e., Soil Science, BMMB, Material Science & Engineering, Chemistry, Ecology, Environmental Engineering, Geosciences, or Plant Pathology) and a secondary adviser in an area within a field covered by the dual-title program who is a member of the Biogeochemistry graduate faculty. The major program adviser normally will also be a member of the Biogeochemistry graduate faculty. The two faculty advisers can represent different academic programs, but this is not required, as faculty from a scientifically diverse department could 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 the adviser from an approved list of courses in the areas of biochemistry and microbiology, environmental chemistry, environmental engineering, geochemistry, materials science and engineering, and soil science.

All students must pass a candidacy examination that includes an assessment of their potential in the field of biogeochemistry. In all cases, the result of a single candidacy exam for both entrance to the student's major Ph.D. program and this dual-title program will be reported to the Graduate School. The candidacy examination committee must include at least one member of the Biogeochemistry Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs' Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. Because students must first be admitted to a graduate major program of study before they may apply to and be considered for admission into a dual-title graduate degree program, dual-title graduate degree students may require an additional semester to fulfill requirements for both areas of study and, therefore, the candidacy examination may be delayed one semester beyond the normal period allowable.

The student's doctoral committee must include at least one member of the Biogeochemistry Graduate Faculty. Faculty members who hold appointments in both programs' Graduate Faculty may serve in a combined role. If the chair of the committee representing the student's major degree program is not also a member of the Graduate Faculty in Biogeochemistry, the member of the committee representing Biogeochemistry must be appointed as co-chair. The field of Biogeochemistry must be integrated into the comprehensive examination.

A Ph.D. dissertation that contributes fundamentally to the field of Biogeochemistry is required. A public oral presentation of the dissertation is required, which may be part of the final defense within the major degree program.

Ph.D. candidates must complete a dissertation on a topic that contributes fundamentally to the fields of both the student’s major degree program and Biogeochemistry. In order to earn the dual-title Ph.D. degree, the dissertation must be accepted by the doctoral committee, the head of the graduate program, and the Graduate School, and the student must pass a final oral examination (the dissertation defense).

Student Aid

Graduate assistantships and other forms of student aid are described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin. Students on graduate assistantships must adhere to the course load limits set forth in the Graduate Bulletin. A limited number of Research Assistantships are also available through the Biogeochemistry Dual-Title Degree Program.


Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2016

Blue Sheet Item #: 45-03

Review Date: 11/15/16

Faculty linked: 5/27/14


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