Future Students

What's the PhD program all about?

The Earth, Environment, and Society Doctoral program provides an opportunity for the student to engage in relevant research while acquiring advanced academic training in Environmental Science & Management, Geology, or Geography. One of the goals of the program is to provide a broadly based understanding of the field of environmental science coupled with scientific training in one or more specialty areas. The student will follow a program of study and research approved by the EES program, and will be awarded a degree in Earth, Environment, & Society.

Are students admitted to the EES PhD program automatically granted funding?

No. However, support can come from graduate teaching assistantships, the IGERT program, or the GK-12 program.

What are my funding options for being a doctoral student in the EES PhD program?

There are three main funding options for School of the Environment EES PhD students:
  1. Teaching Assistantships. Applicants wishing to apply for teaching assistantships should contact the home department they'd like to work in; Environmental Science Management, Geography, or Geology.

How do I apply to the EES PhD program?

See our application instructions.

When’s the program application deadline?

January 15th. Applications will not be considered after this date in any circumstance.

What are the minimum GRE scores required to get in to the EES PhD program?

We have no strict requirement for minimum GRE scores, however, most successful applicants have combined verbal and quantitative scores of at least 300 and an analytical score of at least 3.7. Contact potential advisers to find out the score range they will be looking for.

What are the school and SOE unit codes for GRE and TOEFL scores ?

Portland State University: 4610. School of the Environment: 0599.

Do I have to identify a potential advisor when applying to the EES PhD program?

Yes. Applicants should specify in their statement of interest which faculty members with which they are interested in working, as placement in the program is dependent upon available advisers. More than one potential adviser may be identified.

How do I identify an advisor prior to my application to the PhD program?

The best way to identify a major professor is to communicate directly with faculty that may share your research interests. When contacting a potential advisor, it is advisable to send them an email with a brief introduction of yourself and your research interests, accompanied by a resume. You should contact potential advisers early on, to let them know you plan on applying for the program and to find out if they would be interested in advising you. Students who are already communicating with willing advisers have a better chance of being accepted, as placement in the program is dependent upon available advisers.

Do I have to have professional experience in the field to apply to the EES PhD program?

No. Some students enter the School of the Environment's EES PhD program straight from earning their undergraduate or Master's degree, and others come to the program after many years of experience in the field.

Do I need a Master's to get in to the EES PhD program?

No. While it is helpful, some students come into the program with an undergraduate degree only. Students may apply Post-Baccalaureate classes to the degree.

What courses are required in the EES PhD program?

A complete program of study for doctoral students will be determined in consultation with his/her adviser and Advisory Committee. See our required courses.

How long does it take to finish the PhD program?

The amount of time it takes to complete the program varies depending on how long it takes to research and write the dissertation. Generally, full time students will take two years of coursework, then take comprehensive exams the beginning of their third year in the program. Once comprehensive exams have been passed, students finish any courses still needed and begin working on their dissertation in their third or fourth year. Typically, it takes 4-5 years total.

I’m interested in getting a Master’s degree in Environmental Science. Tell me all about it!

The Masters programs are run by the Environmental Science and Management, Geography or Geology departments. Please contact them for more info at:

Environmental Science and Management: www.pdx.edu/esm, esmoffice@pdx.edu,  or 503-725-4982.
Department of Geology: www.pdx.edu/geology, gepdept@pdx.edu or 503.725.3022.
Department of Geography: www.pdx.edu/geography, geog@pdx.edu or 503-725-3916.

Current Students

What is the purpose of the EES PhD comprehensive examination?

The purpose of the qualifying exam is for the primary adviser, advisory committee and the director to certify that the PhD student has mastered an area of study that will contribute to the student’s success. The student must have an advisory committee that has been approved by the director in order to initiate this process. The primary adviser and the advisory committee will determine the content areas that the student will be examined on.

What are the written EES PhD comps?

The written qualifying exams will be a set of exercises designed by the exam committee. The written portion may contain any mix of assignments or exams that is designed for the purpose of assessing the student’s mastery of content knowledge. Reading lists will be provided at least a month ahead of time. The questions are determined by what the examiner decides that a PhD student in our program should know and be able to answer.

What are the oral EES PhD comps?

After the student passes the written portion of the comprehensive exam, there will be oral exam. The oral exam should take place no more than two weeks after the student successfully passes the written exam. The oral exam will include the adviser and the exam committee. The student is responsible for arranging a time and a location for the oral examination. It should last several hours with each committee member asking questions to confirm that the student is ready to advance to candidacy. The oral exam will focus on the results from the written exam and any other topics that the committee wants to explore.

Do I have to schedule my EES PhD written and oral comps at the same time?

Yes. Written and oral examinations must be scheduled simultaneously, and must be scheduled within two weeks (14 days) of each other. The student is responsible for arranging a time and a location for the oral examination.

When am I required to take comps as part of the EES PhD program?

All EES PhD students within the School of the Environment must take their comprehensive examinations by the beginning of their third year in the program. Contact your advisor to arrange your Comps Committee and schedule your exam.

My By Arrangement class isn’t showing up in Banweb. What do I do?

By Arrangement forms typically take ten days to process. If ten days have passed since you dropped it off for signatures and you still aren’t seeing your class, submit a second form to the SOE office in SRTC 118.