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Doctoral Program Requirement

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 72 credits and completion of a diagnostic examination, a preliminary examination, original research culminating in the submission and defense of a research proposal and dissertation. 

Credits Requirement

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 72 credits. Credits earned in fulfilling the M.A. requirements in this Department may be applied toward the Ph.D. requirements. In most cases, graduate hours earned at other institutions may also be applied toward the Ph.D. requirements, if appropriate. Approval of such transfer credits will be granted only after the student's preliminary program has been outlined and approved by the student's adviser. 

Most graduate students who enter the doctoral program without a Master’s degree are required to enroll in either (a) GEO 500, GEO 501, and GEO 505, or (b) GEO 504, one (1) GEO methods course (TBD), and GEO 505 the first semester they are offered after the student matriculates. Students should consult with their advisor if they feel they are eligible to have any of these waived.

Responsible Conduct Research (RCR) Training Requirement.

All students initially admitted to a Ph.D. program for the Fall 2009 semester or thereafter are required to document successful completion of "Responsible Conduct of Research" (RCR) training when they submit their Application to Candidacy (ATC) for their Ph.D. degree. This training requirement may be fulfilled by either (1) enrolling in or passing PHI 640 Graduate Research Ethics or RPN 541 Ethics and Conduct of Research or (2) completing the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) online Responsible Conduct of Research course with an average score of 80% or higher. Students opting to complete the CITI online course must supply documentation of its successful completion with their Application to Candidacy.





Diagnostic Examination.

The scope and contents of the diagnostic examination are to be determined in advance by the Supervisory Committee in consultation with the student. The primary purpose of this examination is to determine areas in which additional work is necessary, consists of written responses to questions set by the Committee and an oral examination by the Committee.

A grade of “pass” or “conditional pass” will be determined by the Committee immediately following the Examination and will be based on both the student’s performance on the Examination and his/her course work. A pass on the Diagnostic Exam means that the Supervisory Committee believes that the student, upon completion of his/her coursework, is eligible to take the Preliminary Exam. A conditional pass means that the Supervisory Committee believes that the student exhibited certain weaknesses. The Supervisory Committee is obliged to inform the student how he/she could remedy the deficiencies by either taking formal courses, or doing specialized tutorial work with the members of the faculty.

Within seven days of the Examination the Chairperson of the Supervisory Committee must inform the student in writing of the grade achieved and the nature of any prescribed remedial work and/or reexamination. A copy of this correspondence will also be placed in the students file. In case of a conditional pass, the student's Major Advisor should certify in writing to the Director of Graduate Studies that all conditions set by the Supervisory Committee have been met before scheduling the Preliminary Examination.

Preliminary Examination.

The Preliminary Examination focuses on the general area of specialization in which the student is conducting his/her graduate studies. The Examination must include an oral component. The Committee may require a written component. A written component will normally be required when a student obtains a Conditional Pass in the Diagnostic Examination.

The decision on the Examination is determined by a majority vote of the members of the Supervisory Committee, all of whom must be present during the entire oral component of the Examination. The Committee Chairperson will inform the student and the Director of Graduate Studies of the outcome of the voting immediately following the completion of the oral component of the Examination. Unsatisfactory performance on the Preliminary Examination may be rectified by re-examination after a minimum interval of three months but no later than by the end of the semester following the one in which the student first took the examination. A student may take the Preliminary Examination only twice.

Approval of the Dissertation Proposal.

The Dissertation Proposal is written as well as oral. The written version of the Proposal is to be made available for the Department to inspect one week prior to the oral presentation. The oral presentation is made to the Supervisory Committee and is open to the Department. The proposal must receive a favorable vote from a majority of the Supervisory Committee to be considered acceptable. The student is to be informed of the outcome of the vote by the Committee Chairperson immediately following the oral presentation.

Dissertation Defense.

Upon completion of the dissertation, the PhD candidate must give an oral public defense of his/her findings. The outside reader will be selected by the Chair of The Committee and be knowledgeable in the student’s area of specialization, be familiar with the nature of university research, and have had previous experience in directing or supervising research. Following the presentation, the members of the Supervisory Committee will rule on the acceptability of the dissertation and the defense. The defense is acceptable if a majority of the Committee, including the Chairperson, so state by signing the appropriate Graduate School M form. The student is to be notified of the ruling by the Committee Chairperson immediately following the defense and the Committee’s deliberation.

Supervisory Committee

Each doctoral student is required to have a Supervisory Committee that is comprised of:

  • A faculty member or adjunct member of the Geography Department, who serves as the student’s adviser and as Chair of the Committee;
  • Two additional members of the UB Graduate faculty, at least one of whom must be a member or adjunct member of the Geography Department; and
  • Additional faculty members as appropriate (optional).

Each doctoral student must develop a technical skill appropriate to his/her proposed program of study. This skill will be determined in consultation with the student’s Major Professor and Supervisory Committee, and shall be met by the satisfactory completion of two courses. The courses may be in such disciplines as mathematics, statistics, computer science, economics, engineering, and foreign language, and will ordinarily be at the graduate level.