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Graduate Program Assessment Plan

Assessment of graduate student learning is based upon five instruments:

1) Coursework – including examinations, presentations and laboratory and field components

2) Mentorship by the Thesis advisor and committee – they will assess written and oral communication skills and quality of research.

3) Annual research progress reports made to the entire department as part of our seminar series

4) Comprehensive Examinations (PhD students only)

The Geology Department graduate program requires all PhD students to pass both written and oral comprehensive examinations in order to advance to candidacy for the degree. The purpose is to ensure that a student is academically prepared to conduct Dissertation-level research.

The written examination has a breadth part and a depth part, which are administered in a PhD student’s second semester and second year, respectively, so that any deficiencies identified can be addressed in a timely manner by coursework, independent study, or the retaking of all or part of the examination. The oral comprehensive examination occurs close after the completion of the written depth examination. The oral exam hinges upon a presentation and defense of the research proposal. More specifics of the PhD comprehensive exams can be found in the Geology Graduate Handbook and Policies.

5) Communication of the results of graduate-student research at national meetings and via referred scientific journals.


The efficacy of our graduate-degree programs may be assessed by the following metrics:

1) Degree completion rates

2) Time to completion

3) Employment outcomes or acceptances into advanced degree programs

Outcomes data for these are found on our graduate Outcomes Data page.