Baylor University
Environmental Science
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Baylor > Environmental Science > Graduate Programs > Ph.D. in EEES
Ph.D. in EEES

Ted Valenti - Doctoral Student
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EEES Contact Information
TIEEES Fellows - Faculty Listings
TIEEES PhD Program

Graduate Program Director:
Dr. Joe Yelderman
E-mail: Dr. Yelderman
Phone: 254.710.2185

TIEES Office:
C.409., Baylor Sciences Bldg.
Phone: 254.710.2224

Mailing Address:
Baylor University
Institute of Ecological, Earth & Environmental Sciences
One Bear Place, #97205
Waco, TX 76798-7205

Information on the Ph.D. program in Ecological, Earth and Environmental Science may be found below. This exciting new Ph.D. program was approved by the Baylor Board of Regents in 2007 and is presently accepting applications. For more information, please contact the EEEs Graduate Program Director, Dr. Joe Yelderman Joe_Yelderman@Baylor.edu.

Program Description

The EEES program is a Ph.D. level program that provides a framework for interdisciplinary collaboration among the Departments of Biology, Geology, Environmental Science, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Statistics, Museum Studies and other departments at Baylor. Within this framework, students will work on interdisciplinary research and coursework that is designed to suit an individual research concentration tailored by the student and their committee.

Admission Criteria

Graduate applicants will be required to submit a letter of intent, a supporting letter from a TIE3S Fellow mentor, along with standard GRE scores, transcripts, and if necessary TOEFL scores. As applicants are expected to be exceptional and ambitious, emphasis on the student's ability to articulate a potentially intellectually stimulating course of research coupled with enthusiastic support from a TIE3S Fellow mentor will be especially regarded in the application process. Success in graduate studies and career advancement is partially predicted by combined GRE verbal and quantitative scores; therefore a minimum value of 1200 is expected for applicants. Likewise, minimum grade point averages of 3.2 with a preferred value of 3.5 from either undergraduate or graduate school (Master's work) are expected from applicants. For non-native English speakers, recommended TOEFL scores will be 600 for the "paper" exam and 250 for the "computer" exam. As the program matures and the quality of our applicants improves, the target levels for these criteria will likely increase.

Incoming Ph.D. Students

Incoming students are expected to enter the program with a Master's degree in either Biology, Ecology, Geology, Earth Science, Environmental Science or a related discipline. Students with a Bachelor's degree will be conditionally accepted provided that they demonstrate exceptional qualities including research experience. A graduate course in basic statistics is also required. Most students are expected to have at least one published work related to their previous research experience. Appropriate background courses or their equivalents for applicants in one the following areas:

  • Life Sciences. 24 semester hours in life sciences including courses in ecology, genetics, physiology (animal or plant), and evolutionary biology (e.g., taxonomy or systematic), or
  • Physical Sciences. 24 semester hours including courses in geology, earth science, atmospheric science, hydrology, and at least 3 hours in an advanced chemistry or biochemistry, or
  • Environmental Science. 24 semester hours of science or engineering, including a minimum of 8 hours in advanced chemistry and physical sciences, engineering or Environmental Science
  • Chemistry. 24 semester hours including courses in physical chemistry and instrumental analysis, and at least 6 additional hours of coursework in one or more of the three areas listed above.

Ph.D. curriculum requirements

The doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree program has two components: (1) the course work component, and (2) the research component. The course work component requires a qualifying examination early in the Ph.D. program and not less than 60 semester hours, which includes credit of course work beyond the bachelor's degree and approved by the student's committee. After successfully completing all coursework, the student will concentrate on the remaining research planning leading to the preliminary examination, the doctoral research, dissertation preparation, and the final defense. The dissertation committee administers the preliminary (comprehensive) exam and evaluates the proposal and the student's preparedness in the area of his/her dissertation and related fields. The preliminary exam will include a written and an oral portion. The written exam will assess the student's knowledge of foundations of general areas of Biotic Systems, Physical Systems, and Quantitative Analysis. The oral portion will test the student's knowledge of their proposal background and methodology as an assessment of the student's preparation to move on to the dissertation phase of their program. Admission to doctoral candidacy requires successful completion of the preliminary exam coupled with acceptance of the written dissertation proposal by the doctoral committee. Specific requirements are as follows:

  • A minimum of 60 semester hour credits of approved course work and research credit hours beyond the Bachelors degree is required, at least 21 of which must be in regular graduate-level foundation courses as required for the Ph.D. by the Baylor University student handbook. A master's degree from an approved university may be accepted for up to 30 semester hour credits upon approval of the faculty mentor and Baylor Graduate School.
  • A qualifying examination (oral and/or written at the discretion of the student's committee) must be passed.
  • A dissertation composed of three published (or submitted) written papers. A student may proceed to the defense with one published work, with two additional submitted manuscripts in national or international journals pertinent to the field of study and highly regarded.
The minimum 60 semester hours required beyond the Bachelor's degree may be expanded depending on the students' research concentration, background and recommendation of the graduate committee. Students entering the program with post-baccalaureate work or a master's degree in a related scientific discipline may apply up to thirty semester hours of approved courses toward the Ph.D. A list of applicable courses may be found by referencing the The Institute of Ecological, Earth, and Environmental Sciences in Baylor University's Graduate Catalog.

Additional hours beyond thirty may be considered on a course-by-course basis by the program's Graduate Program Director and Graduate Committee. EEES does not have a foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree; however, students are strongly encouraged to become competent in technological interface skills including computer programming, instrumentation, or analytical software such as SAS, Mathematika or IDL. At least half of the hours of coursework (exclusive of dissertation) must be at the 5000/6000 level. The remaining hours will normally come from the dissertation (minimum of 12 hours) and its associated research, but a portion may be devoted to additional course and laboratory work at the discretion of the student's dissertation committee.

Core Curriculum

Courses required in the core curriculum are all currently available through the affiliated programs of Biology, Geology, and Environmental Science. All Ph.D. students must fulfill the core curriculum, which consists of foundational coursework associated with the holistic earth system curricula and philosophy of the program. These courses exclude research specialization that will depend on mentor expertise and consultation. Individual courses cannot fulfill more than one core requirement, but may count toward requirements for specialization areas. Students who have completed equivalent courses in a master's program may request waivers from the Graduate Program Director and Graduate Committee. While the program is designed to be flexible in its scope and coursework is dependent on the students' research area, there are required core competencies. These foundational competencies are designed to give the student a common base for scientific research in the EEES program. The following are acceptable courses to satisfy competency requirement for these foundational areas:

  • Advanced Chemistry Foundation Course (3-4 course hours): CHE 4316 Instrumental Analysis, CHE 4341 Biochemistry, CHE 5314 Separation Science, ENV 5387 Advanced Environmental Chemistry, GEO 5320 Geochemistry, GEO 5321 Isotope Chemistry, ENV 5303 Environmental Chemical Analysis
  • Quantitative Foundation Course (3-4 course hours) –BIO 5340 Ecosystem Process Modeling, BIO 5413 Advanced Ecological Data Analysis, GEO4386 Principles of Remote Sensing , GEO 4387 Applied Geographic Information Systems, GEO 5348 Applied Groundwater Modeling, STA 5305 Advanced Experimental Design
  • Physical Systems Foundation Course (3 course hours) – GEO 4346 Hydrology, GEO 4373 Global Soils Systems, GEO 4459 Engineering Geology, GEO 5347 Advanced Hydrogeology, 5389 GEO Earth System Science
  • Ecological Foundation Course (3-4 course hours) – BIO 4310 Biogeography, BIO 4405 Limnology, BIO 5377 Landscape Ecology, BIO 5404 Wetland Ecology and Management, BIO 5405 Stream Ecology, ENV 4450 Applied Forest Ecology, ENV 5342 Ecological Risk Assessment.
  • EEES Seminar Course (2 course hours) –Applicable seminar courses given each semester from Biology, Environmental Sciences, or Geology.
  • Six or more credits in upper-division earth science, ecology and environmental science courses most related to the intended research interest. The number of upper-division credits required varies with the research program recommended by the students committee.
  • Completion of any courses listed as prerequisites for the courses listed above is also generally required.
  • Six or more credits in dissertation research credit as currently offered as 6V99 courses from Biology and Geology.
A plan for completing the foundation courses is to be prepared by the student and their adviser, and then submitted to the students' graduate committee for approval by the start of the student's second semester. Courses taken to fulfill these requirements must be taken for credit and listed on the student's program of study. An overall GPA of 3.0 must be maintained in these courses.

Research Publications

Students must conduct original research under the direction of a TIE3S Fellow. The dissertation must be completed as two peer-reviewed publications with one submitted manuscripts, although a dissertation meeting Graduate School guidelines will also be produced. Because the primary purpose of the EEES degree program is the instruction for conducting original research, and because the purpose of all such research is to increase the state of knowledge and understanding within the scientific communities, it is essential that such knowledge and understanding be disseminated for the benefit of all. For this reason, methods for such dissemination are an integral part of the instruction in these degree programs.

Field of specialization

Specialization of knowledge by students is directed by the scholarly area of expertise of each student's mentor. All Ph.D. students must also complete the coursework for a core level of knowledge for their area of specialization. Many of these requirements can be fulfilled by judicious selection of courses for the core curriculum. A proposed field should be approved by the Ph.D. student's dissertation committee by the end of the first year of enrollment at Baylor.