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Graduate Guide --> II. Graduate Study --> The Ph.D. Degree


The Doctor of Philosophy degree is the highest academic degree offered by Colorado State University. Those who earn the Ph.D. must demonstrate significant intellectual achievement, high scholarly ability, and great breadth of knowledge. A more specific listing of the departmental expectations of each successful Ph.D. candidate is given below.

  1. A demonstrated breadth of knowledge and command of basic principles underlying the field of atmospheric science together with a demonstrated aptitude for research.
  2. Command of background, methods, and current works that apply to the specific area(s) encompassing the candidate's proposed research topic; demonstration of a creative ability for research.

    Evaluation mechanisms for (1) and (2):

    1. Successful completion of an M.S. degree with thesis.
    2. Successful completion of the Ph.D. preliminary examination.
    3. Successful research topic proposal presentation.
  3. A Ph.D. dissertation prepared under the mentorship of the student's advisor and graduate committee which meets the following criteria:

    1. Displays original and creative scholarship.
    2. Contributes new knowledge to the field.
    3. Expresses good literate style.
  4. Successful defense of the dissertation before the candidate's graduate committeeSee Appendix 1 and any other members of the academic and scientific communities who desire to attend the dissertation defense.

    Ph.D. students are prepared for careers as leaders of independent research in their chosen fields. Recipients of the Ph.D. degree are therefore required to demonstrate an exceptional research capability for which readiness is developed by carrying out noteworthy components of their advisor's research program. A means for acquiring the breadth and depth of knowledge expected of Ph.D. candidates is provided by the large selection of course offerings from which students, with their advisor's assistance, may structure a program of study which best serves their own needs.

The necessary steps to advance to the Ph.D. I level:

In all cases, the student applies to the Department for admission to the Ph.D. program. This may be done at any time after the M.S. defense (current ATS students), or during the regular admissions cycle (students obtaining M.S. degrees outside the Department). A student cannot advance to the Ph.D. I level until this application process has been completed. Application materials include:

  1. A nomination letter, written by the proposed Ph.D. advisor, indicating that the faculty member agrees to advise the student and indicating the means of financial support.
  2. A statement of research interests / goals prepared by the student.
  3. The studen's official academic record (M.S. coursework, breadth and grades; standardized test results, as applicable).
  4. The student's official academic record (M.S. coursework, breadth and grades; standardized test results, as applicable).
  5. In the case of students with M.S. degrees from our Department, the application will also contain:

  6. A recommendation by the student's M.S. committee, which evaluates M.S. thesis, defense (presentation skills), and perceived research aptitude. This recommendation is normally in the form of a memo to the Department, submitted after the defense.
  7. A statement indicating the expected completion date of the preliminary exam, including a rationale for deviating, if necessary, from the 12/18 month guideline established for continuing/new graduate students, respectively.

Each application is screened by the Department Head, the Graduate Student Counselor, and a representative from the Departmental Graduate Committee. The Ph.D. advisor cannot be the Department Graduate Committee (DGC) representative. This group comes to a consensus decision whether the applicant will be admitted to the Ph.D. program. The DGC representative documents this decision with a brief memo, to be placed in the student's file.

Upon admission, the student's status becomes that of Ph.D. I.

Each semester, during an Executive Session at a designated faculty meeting, the Departmental Graduate Committee presents the list of all admissions since the last presentation. This presentation is for information only.

The necessary steps to advance to the Ph.D. II level:

  1. Upon successful completion of the Preliminary Examination a student is eligible to move to the Ph.D. II and to receive an accompanying increase in stipend.
  2. Advancement to the Ph.D. II level is initiated by a specific request from the Major Professor, in the form of a memo, requesting that the student's appointment be changed to Ph.D. Level II.

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