Graduate Advisement-Current Students

Graduate Progress Report

Online Report

Regular advising will ensure steady progress towards completion

Making steady progress through your coursework and research is key to successful completion of the M.S. or Ph.D. degrees. Many faculty schedule weekly meetings with their students, which enables them to regularly assess the student's progress and for the student to present tangible progress on a weekly basis. In general, the meeting schedule is up to the student and their primary advisor. In addition to presentations at scientific or engineering conferences, publication in first-rate peer-reviewed journals is expected and strongly encouraged of graduate students in this Department, especially for those pursuing their Ph.D. A typical milestone for a Ph.D. student is three papers published, or submitted, prior to scheduling the dissertation defense.

Annual Progress Report

Yearly progress will be assessed by using the Annual Progress Report form, which is to be completed by all graduate students no later than April 15 of each year of graduate study. Separate on-line forms are submitted by the student and the faculty advisor. Input will be examined by the Graduate Program Director who is also available to all graduate students for discussion and feedback on their graduate progression.

Graduate Handbook

The current DGSE graduate handbook will be provided electronically to all new students. Significant changes are being implemented or considered for the 2016/2017 academic year with regard to seminar credit and the PhD comprehensive exam. Students should work closely with their advisor to assure they are meeting Departmental requirements. General guidelines are provided here and in case of any discrepancy the graduate handbook is the ultimate authority on requirements.

Required Course Work

All MS candidates are required to take GEOL 790 (Graduate Seminar, 1 credit) a total of three times during their tenure at UNR. All PhD candidates are required to take this course a total of five times. This requirement replaces GEOL 697/698. The remainder of required coursework is defined by the student in close collaboration with the primary advisor and their committee. The graduate school and current handbook provide the breakdown of total course and thesis/dissertation credits and the minimum number of course credits at the 700-level for each degree.

Master of Science (M.S.)Comprehensive Exam

All MS candidates are required to file a program of study with the Graduate School by the end of their third semester of residence. To facilitate meeting this requirement MS students are required to develop a thesis proposal and have a first committee meeting by the end of their second semester. Students should register for 1 credit of comprehensive exam (GEOL 795) during the semester when they will present their thesis proposal. If the student fails to have this committee meeting and get their program of study approved by the end of the second semester in residence, they and their advisor must petition for continuation in the MS program into the second year with a specific and detailed plan for developing the program of study and thesis.
Additionally, Geological Engineering requires the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying and given twice a year (typically October and April).

Ph.D. Qualifier Exam

This exam serves as the first dissertation committee meeting where the student presents a thesis proposal and plan of study. This first meeting and submission of the completed program of study must be on file with the Graduate School by the end of their fourth semester of residence. The doctoral student gives a PowerPoint presentation of ~ 30 minutes describing the proposed area of research including why it is important to the advancement of the field. Based on the student's presentation and Q&A session, the committee evaluates if he/she is qualified to pursue a Ph.D. here, and in the topic area. Some faculty in our Department see the student preparing and defending a written research proposal for the Ph.D. work that is almost a contract; other faculty use the Qualifier Exam as an all-around evaluation of the student, program of study, and science area. You should contact your dissertation advisor as soon as you can to find out what will be expected of you on this exam, since its format (but not the general purpose) does vary from program to program within our Department. The student should leave a successful Qualifier Exam with a signed Program of Study form.

Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam

The general objective of the Comprehensive Exam (both written and oral components), is to see whether the student is functioning at a Ph.D. level; if not, then additional courses or guidance could be recommended. The Comprehensive Exam provides the opportunity for the committee to dig as deeply as they wish to test the student's grasp of fundamentals of geology as well as specifics of the field of study. You should contact your dissertation advisor as soon as you can to find out what will be expected of you on this exam, since its format (but not the general purpose) varies from program to program within our Department.

Written Comprehensive Exam

Commonly, each committee member provides 2-4 questions for the student to answer in a closed-book, closed-note, closed-web format with about 3 hours to complete. The full written exam with questions from all committee members is a series of three or four afternoons of answer writing. The dissertation advisor can coordinate questions from the committee into a series of written exams or each committee member may deliver questions directly to the student cc-ing the primary advisor. The examining committee is usually the same as the dissertation committee though they may be different. Normally the committee member will discuss with the student the scope of their dissertation and coursework, and then suggest some topics or areas for study before the exam.

Oral Comprehensive Exam

This is usually taken within two weeks of the written comp exam. The student's committee usually meets in the examination room first, without the student, to discuss his/her written comps or any other issues about the student that are considered important, and then the committee will invite him/her into the examination room. The committee members then ask questions to assess the candidate's knowledge of the field and capability as an imminent Ph.D. The committee chair typically leads, and each committee member takes a turn. Each committee member can ask anything they like for as long as they wish, but normally the questions focus on what's related to the student's subject area and background.

This exam is usually limited to ~3 hours total time. After the committee is done asking questions, the student is recused while the committee discusses and decides if the student passes both the written and oral components of the exam. ,They then bring him/her back in for the decision. If the student successfully passes the exam they will advance to candidacy and the committee signs the appropriate form from the Graduate School that was previously prepared and brought to the examination by the student. The student may have recommended course work or additional work before being admitted to candidacy or the committee may conclude the student is not functioning at the level expected for a PhD in which case the next steps will be discussed with the student.

Important Dates and Deadlines

Be sure you are aware of the deadlines you must meet during your graduate career; these are maintained by the Graduate School.