CERI Graduate Degree Programs

I. The Center for Earthquake Research and Information (CERI) offers graduate programs leading to the Master of Science degree in Earth Sciences with a Concentration in Geophysics and the Doctor of Philosophy in Earth Sciences with a Concentration in Geophysics.

All graduate students must comply with the general requirements of the Graduate School (see Admission Regulations, Academic Regulations, and Minimum Degree Requirements) as well as the program requirements of the degree being pursued.

II. MS Degree Program

Program objectives are: (1) competence in a common core of material in geophysics that provides the basis for original research; (2) experience in data acquisition and analysis methods, and oral and written presentation of research results; (3) preparation for professional employment in geophysics or for entering a doctoral program.

A. Program Admission and Prerequisites

Applicants must apply to both The University of Memphis Graduate School (http://apply.memphis.edu/) and CERI (http://www.memphis.edu/ceri/study/admission.php). Prospective students, in addition to meeting the requirements for admission to the Graduate School, are required to present as a prerequisite for admission, a satisfactory record of undergraduate work in geophysics or a related field such as physics, engineering, mathematics, geology, or computer science. Normally, mathematics through differential equations will be required. Please see the CERI website for specific admission instructions.

B. Program Requirements

  1. Course Work Requirements - Thirty two credit hours of graduate credit are required and subject to the following restrictions:
    1. No more than 9 credit hours at the 6000 level may be counted toward the degree.
    2. A minimum of 12 credit hours must be in courses numbered CERI 7104-7603
    3. A minimum of one seminar selected from CERI 7701 or CERI 7702
    4. 6 credit hours of CERI 7996 (Thesis) also the maximum that can be applied to the 32 hour total
    5. No more than 6 credit hours of Independent Study (CERI 7621) can be counted toward the degree
  2. Comprehensive Examination - A written comprehensive examination will be administered by the student’s graduate committee covering course work taken within the program just before the start of the third semester of residence. If the examination is not passed, it may be taken again after one additional semester of residence.
  3. Thesis Option - A thesis must be submitted that is acceptable to the student’s graduate committee. The Thesis can be based upon work done for CERI 7996 (Thesis), for which a maximum of 6 credit hours can be applied to the degree requirement.
  4. Non-Thesis Option - If a non-thesis program is selected, a student must take two additional CERI 7000 level courses. Thesis is replaced by submission of a paper for publication in a refereed journal, earning 3 credit hours in Independent Study (CERI 7621). Thesis credits (CERI 7996) do not count toward the non-thesis degree.
  5. The Advisory Committee – Upon admission, the student will be assigned a temporary committee consisting of three faculty members based upon research interests expressed in the application documents. A permanent advisor and committee must be selected at the start of the first Spring Break for students entering in the fall semester and the start of the first fall semester for students entering in the spring semester.
  6. Final Oral Examination for the Thesis Option - The student’s graduate committee will administer a final oral examination based upon the student’s thesis after completion of all other requirements. This examination will be held two weeks after the student has distributed the thesis to the graduate committee and must occur at least one week before the deadline for submission of material to the Graduate School for review. If the oral examination is unsatisfactory, it must be repeated within one year and may not be repeated more than once.
  7. Retention - A student pursuing the Master’s degree may be terminated for any of the following reasons:
    1. Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above. A student who has a cumulative grade point average below 3.0 will be placed on probation. The Dean of the Graduate School must approve continuation in graduate school. Any person whose continuation is denied may appeal the decision to the University Council for Graduate Studies.
    2. Failure to complete the degree requirements within six years of initial enrollment in the graduate program.
    3. Failure to pass the Comprehensive Examination.
    4. Failure to satisfy the graduate committee on the final oral examination.

III. PhD Degree Program

Program objectives are: (1) understanding geophysical concepts and theories and in- depth knowledge in a chosen branch of geophysics; (2) experience formulating and conducting original research projects; (3) experience in data acquisition and analysis methods, and oral and written presentation of research results; (4) become competitive for professional positions in geophysics.

A. Program Admission

See MS Degree Program requirements

B. Program Requirements

  1. Course Work Requirements - The doctoral degree program includes the requirement of the satisfactory completion of a minimum of 72 hours of graduate credit beyond the Bachelor’s degree. The 72 credit hour total is subject to the following restrictions:
    1. No more than 12 credit hours at the 6000 level may be counted toward the Ph.D. degree.
    2. At least 12 credit hours must be in courses numbered CERI 7104-7702.
    3. A maximum of 36 credit hours for CERI 9000 (Dissertation) may be counted toward the Ph.D. degree. A minimum of 6 credit hours of CERI 9000 is required.
    4. A maximum of 6 credit hours of CERI 7621/8621 (Independent Study) may be counted toward the Ph.D. degree.
    5. A maximum of 32 hours of graduate course credit completed at the University of Memphis or another accredited institution (including credit applied to a MS degree) may be applied to the 72 credit hour requirement subject to the approval of the students graduate committee. A minimum of 9 hours other than CERI 7621, 7701, 7702, 9000 must be completed at the University of Memphis.
    6. The last 30 hours of credit must be earned at the University of Memphis.
  2. Residency – A student must commit to full-time study for a minimum of two successive semesters after admission to the degree program to fulfill the residency requirement. The purpose of the residency requirement is to provide students with significant time for sustained participation with peers and faculty in scholarly and creative activities. Summer terms will count toward residency.
  3. Qualifying Examination – The purpose of the qualifying examination is to determine if a student has the appropriate aptitude and background to be retained in the Ph.D. program. The student is required to write an abstract identifying an original research proposition. The subject of the proposition may or may not become part of the dissertation. The examination will begin by the student giving a brief presentation of the material in the abstract. An oral examination, not to exceed two hours, will follow covering the topic described in the abstract but the questions can and should broaden to other areas. The qualifying examination will be given just prior to the start of the third semester of residence. If the student does not pass on the first attempt, the examination can be taken a second time at the beginning of the fourth semester.
  4. Comprehensive Examination - A comprehensive examination will be administered by the student’s graduate committee covering course work taken within the program just before the start of the fifth semester of residence. The student will take a one day, 6 hour written examination. This will be followed by a two-hour oral examination scheduled no later than two days following the written examination. The oral examination will be broad in nature. The graduate committee members will grade the written exam and discuss the overall performance of the student. In general, a student will have to receive a grade of 60% or higher on the written portion of the exam to pass. If a majority of the committee members vote pass, recommendations may be made to remove deficiencies in background by coursework or reading. In the event of a tie, the outcome is a failure and the committee may recommend completion of a M.S. thesis followed by a reexamination, or a second examination at the option of the student. A second failure of the comprehensive exam results in termination.
  5. The Advisory Committee – upon admission, a student will be assigned a temporary committee consisting of 5 faculty members based upon research interests expressed in the application documentation. A permanent advisor and committee must be selected at the start of the first Spring Break for students entering in the fall semester and the start of the first fall semester for students entering in the spring semester. One member of the permanent committee must be external to CERI. External members from other universities/institutions/agencies may serve on the Ph.D. committee but must obtain adjunct faculty status through the University of Memphis and must agree to be present for the dissertation defense.
  6. Submission of Manuscripts to Refereed Journals - Each student is required to be an author on two manuscripts submitted to refereed journals. The student does not have to be first author on either manuscript to fulfill this requirement but must be first author on any manuscript included in his/her dissertation. Both manuscripts must be submitted prior to filing for candidacy.
  7. Doctoral Research and Dissertation – A minimum of six semester hours of CERI 9000 (Dissertation) is required for the doctoral degree. NOTE: Students should familiarize themselves with the Thesis/Dissertation Preparation Guide before starting to write.
  8. Final Oral Examination - The student’s graduate committee will administer a final oral examination based upon the student’s dissertation after completion of all other requirements. This examination will be held two weeks after the student has distributed the dissertation to the graduate committee and must occur at least one week before the deadline for submission of material to the Graduate School for review. If the oral examination is unsatisfactory, it must be repeated within one year and may not be repeated more than once.
  9. Retention – A student pursuing the doctoral degree may be terminated for any of the following reasons:
    1. Failure to maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or above. A student who has a cumulative grade point average below 3.0 will be placed on probation. The Dean of the Graduate School must approve continuation in graduate school. Any person whose continuation is denied may appeal the decision to the University Council for Graduate Studies.
    2. Failure to pass the Qualifying exam.
    3. Failure to pass the Comprehensive Examination.
    4. Failure to make satisfactory progress towards completion of the degree in a timely manner, as determined by the student’s graduate committee.
    5. Failure to satisfy the graduate committee on the final oral examination.

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