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Departments & Programs


Ph.D. Program

Doctor of Philosophy

Objectives—The Ph.D. degree is conferred upon evidence of high attainment in Geophysics and ability to conduct an independent investigation and present the results of such research.

Requirements for the Degree—A minimum of 135 units of graduate study at Stanford must be satisfactorily completed. Required courses must be taken for a letter grade, if offered. Students are required to attend the department seminars, and to complete sufficient units of independent work on a research problem to meet the 135-unit University requirement. 12 units must be met by participation in the GEOPHYS 385 series, or equivalent series in other departments with approval of the adviser and graduate coordinator. Students are encouraged to participate in the GEOPHYS 385 series from more than one faculty member or group and relevant equivalent series in other departments. Students with a Master's degree may waive up to 12 units for approved courses.

ENGR 102W/202W, Technical Writing, is recommended but not required.

The student's record must indicate outstanding scholarship, and deficiencies in previous training must be removed. Experience as a teaching assistant (quarter-time for at least two academic quarters) is required for the Ph.D. degree. For more information, see the Geophysics Administrative Guide, section 1.4.1.

The student must pass the departmental oral examination by the end of the sixth academic quarter (third academic quarter for students with an M.S. degree); must complete second project by presentation of results at a conference or through a publication; prepare under faculty supervision a dissertation that is a contribution to knowledge and the result of independent work expressed in satisfactory form; and pass the University oral examination.

The Ph.D. dissertation must be submitted in its final form within five calendar years from the date of admission to candidacy. Upon formal acceptance into a research group, the student and faculty adviser form an advising committee consisting of at least three members who are responsible for overseeing satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree. At least two committee members must be Geophysics faculty members. The committee conducts the department oral examination, and meets thereafter annually with the student to review degree progress. The Geophysics faculty monitors progress of all students who have not yet passed their department oral examination by carrying out an annual performance appraisal at a closed faculty meeting.

Course requirements

  1. Geophysics*—12 units, lecture courses numbered 200 and above, from 4 different Geophysics faculty with different research specializations;
  2. Additional Geophysics-3 units, lecture courses numbered 120+;
  3. School of Earth Sciences (non-Geophysics)—3 units, lecture courses numbered 100 or above;
  4. Mathematics (numbered 100 or above), Science, and Engineering (non-School of Earth Sciences)—6 units, lecture courses numbered 200 or above;
  5. Any of the above categories—6 units, lecture courses numbered 200 or above;
  6. Total: 30 units
    * These units marked cannot be waived.

Ph.D. Department Examination Requirement

  1. One research proposal (10-20 pages) with a completed component that outlines a plan of research for 2 -3 year;
  2. Second scientific proposal or paper (4-10 pages) with a professor in another area;
  3. An oral presentation with the student's advising committee on both the research proposal (~30-40 min) and the second proposal/paper (~10 min), with questions by the committee constituting the qualifying exam.