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Washington State University

Ph.D. Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences

Program Description

The fields of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences comprise several broad, overlapping, and highly flexible interdisciplinary areas of study at WSU.

These sciences focus on a wide array of issues in ecology and social science that promote a better understanding and management of the environment and the natural resources that support human society and the conservation of biological diversity.

The Ph.D. program provides opportunities to work with leading scientists to design and perform customized and in-depth studies of specialized ecological topics in these engaging and important fields of science.

We provide a variety of cutting-edge research labs and other science facilities, along with the vast and beautiful outdoor laboratory of the Pacific Northwest and the western U.S. to address complex environmental problems of global significance.

The culminating Ph.D. dissertation should be a significant intellectual contribution to the Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences, and be worthy of publication in peer-reviewed international journals.

If you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree and being mentored and developed as a scientist by of one of our faculty members, start by visiting their website and contacting them directly.

Objectives

The objectives of the Ph.D. program in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences are:

  • To provide an atmosphere of scholarship coupled with research opportunities that will produce people capable of responding to the complicated issues of use, management and protection of the environment and its natural resources.
  • To foster the pursuit of interdisciplinary research in the environmental and natural resource sciences and to facilitate a better understanding of the ecological, social and economic relationships inherent in environmental and natural resource issues.
  • To produce scientists who will assume leadership roles in the research and management of natural resources and the environment.
  • To prepare students for working with, and within, public and private agencies responsible for the management or protection of natural resources and the environment.

Curriculum

Each student will develop a program of study in cooperation with a Supervisory Committee that includes his/her faculty advisor as chair. As preparation for a preliminary examination, a core curriculum must be completed through preceding and/or new course work that will yield competencies in five broad areas list below:

  • Advanced knowledge of ecosystems, including both biophysical structure and function, and roles of humans.
  • Advanced knowledge in research methods.
  • Advanced knowledge in environmental and natural resource issues and ethics. To be met by completion of SOE 594.
  • Advanced interdisciplinary cognizance/appreciation.
  • A specialized subject area to be defined by the student and the student’s Supervisory Committee.

Developing a Program of Study

Each student will develop a program of study in cooperation with a Supervisory Committee that includes his/her Faculty Advisor as Chair. As preparation for a Preliminary Examination, a core curriculum must be completed through preceding and/or new coursework that will yield competencies in five broad areas:

  • Advanced knowledge of ecosystems, including both biophysical structure and function, and roles of humans. This competency may be met by the equivalent of at least 6 semester hours of graded coursework.
  • Advanced knowledge in research methods; This competency may be met by the equivalent of 3 semester hours of graded coursework in each of the following two areas, Statistics and Modeling as applicable to dissertation research.
  • Advanced knowledge in environmental and natural resource issues and ethics.
  • Advanced interdisciplinary cognizance/appreciation
  • A specialized subject area to be defined by the student and the student’s Supervisory Committee
  • 72 hours minimum of total credits consisting of 15 minimum credits hours of 500 level if a student has an M.S. or 17 hours minimum of graded 500 level coursework if a student has only a B.S.  9 hours maximum of 300-400 level graded course work, 20 hours minimum SOE 800 and 1 credit during each semester enrolled except summer.

Both preliminary and final exams will be required to test the candidate’s knowledge of Environmental & Natural Resource Sciences with emphasis on the work presented in the dissertation and general fields of knowledge pertinent to the degree.