Return to: USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
Research Tool Requirements
To be determined by qualifying exam committee.
The PhD degree in Ocean Sciences requires at least 27 units of formal course work (including seminars) of the 60 total units needed. Two core courses are required (OS 512, OS 582). No more than 15 units of 400-level course work may be applied. A maximum of 30 units may be transferred from an accredited graduate school.
Students are required to maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 in all graduate work.
Students may request permission to take the PhD qualifying examination on completion of 24 units of course work, including two core courses in Ocean Sciences.
Students in the PhD program must pass the screening procedure before their 25th unit of graduate credit. Screening consists of a review of the student's progress and is usually done by the GPOS Review Committee following a written recommendation by the student's adviser(s). Screening occurs at the end of each semester.
Qualifying Exam Committee
The doctoral qualifying exam committee is formed after the student has passed the screening procedure. The committee is appointed by the department with the advice of the student's research adviser. The five-member committee consists of the adviser, a minimum of three other members from the GPOS faculty, and one additional tenure-track faculty member. The committee must include faculty members from more than one academic department. A tenure-track faculty member must serve as research adviser or co-adviser. The committee consults with the student, recommends an appropriate program of study and administers written and oral qualifying examinations.
The student may request permission to take the PhD qualifying examination upon completion of 24 units of course work, including two core courses in ocean sciences. The qualifying examination consists of a written and an oral part, both parts prepared, conducted and evaluated by the student's examination committee. The written examination will consist of a number of questions given on two consecutive days. Questions will be comprehensive in scope with respect to the student's chosen area of specialization and will be designed to test the student's conceptual, analytical and integrative ability and preparation.
The written part of the qualifying examination must be taken before the oral examination. The oral examination will be in the area of the student's intended research and will be based on a research project selected and developed by the student into a written proposition. The oral examination will be conducted and evaluated by the student's examination committee. The oral examination must be taken within one month of the written examination.
Defense of the Dissertation
After the student has passed the qualifying examination, the qualifying exam committee recommends to the Graduate School that the student be admitted to candidacy for the PhD degree. Following admission to candidacy the student must register for OS 794 Dissertation every semester, except summers, until the degree is awarded.
Once the qualifying examination is passed, the student is required, as soon as possible, to appoint a dissertation committee, using an appointment of committee form which can be found on the Graduate School Website (usc.edu/schools/GraduateSchool). All or some of the qualifying exam committee may be nominated. Until a dissertation committee is appointed, the qualifying exam committee will have responsibility for the student's program of study. The student must undertake an original investigation of a problem in ocean sciences. The topic must be approved by the student's dissertation committee and will usually be based on the written proposition presented in the qualifying examination.
A dissertation based on the student's research must be approved by the student's dissertation committee. The student must then defend the dissertation. The process for submission of the dissertation to the Graduate School can be found on the Graduate School Website under "Current Students — Thesis and Dissertations." This process should be started approximately one month before the defense, and the student must allow adequate time after the defense for final copy preparation.
The dissertation must conform to the general regulations described in Regulations for Format and Presentation of Theses and Dissertations, also available from the Graduate School Website, Additional regulations and information on the organization and preparation of the dissertation are provided in Directions for Preparation of Dissertations and Research Reports as Required by the Graduate Program in Ocean Sciences/University of Southern California, available in the GPOS office.