VIII. Graduate Programs
The PhD in Rural Studies is an interdisciplinary program drawing faculty from primarily five departments/schools in two colleges. The departments/schools involved include: Agricultural Economics and Business, Environmental Design and Rural Development (Landscape Architecture, Rural Extension Studies, Rural Planning and Development), Geography, Political Science, and Sociology and Anthropology. The Program also has associated faculty from other units in the university.
The objective of the rural studies PhD program is to prepare specialists who will take leading roles in dealing with problems and opportunities in rural communities. Graduates will be expected to be highly proficient in some specific aspects of the many associated with the subject; to be able to integrate their area of emphasis with other aspects of the social, economic and biophysical scope of rural studies; and to be able to participate effectively in team efforts. Graduates will be prepared to carry out their roles through original research, integration of knowledge, teaching and other forms of education, and by providing services to members of the community.
The program focuses on a single field, sustainable rural communities. Sustainable rural communities are characterized by long-term well-being based on the integration of economic, social and environmental factors in their planning and activities. Four sectors have been designated: environment and sustainability, social structure and processes, human resource development, and sustainable rural economic development. Each represents an area of emphasis, not a specialization or discipline. A number of different disciplines are represented in each sector and in each an interdisciplinary approach is taken. Students will choose one sector for relatively more intensive study.
To be considered for admission, an applicant must have a master's degree (or the equivalent) from a recognized university in a relevant discipline. Master's graduates in a range of humanities, social-science and applied-science disciplines are eligible for consideration for admission. As examples, master's graduates in geography, sociology, planning, environmental science, rural extension studies and international development may be particularly suitable. Applicants who have not completed courses relevant to rural studies or gained experience in rural communities may be required to do so prior to admission or as part of initial phases of the PhD program.
The program's admission policy is governed by the availability of graduate advisors and other resources and by the need to admit applicants from a variety of disciplines and backgrounds. The interaction of students with diverse backgrounds will greatly enhance the multidisciplinary approaches in the program. The program also seeks to achieve the significant participation of women and aboriginal people from North America and international students. The director of the program receives applications directly from prospective students or through prospective advisors and ensures that application files are complete for review by the admission committee. The committee then consults with prospective advisors and recommends applicants for admission to Graduate Program Services. Applicants should consult the program for the deadline for admission.
Each doctoral student has an advisory committee composed of faculty members from a range of disciplines pertinent to the field, specialization and research topic. Each committee consists of at least three members. It is broadly based with at least two major disciplines represented by its members. The advisor and the advisory committee provide guidance to allow for the student's intellectual growth in the program
The advisory committee assesses and approves the thesis-research proposal which is to be prepared by the student by the end of the second year, concurrent with preparation for the qualifying examination.
The minimum course and credit requirements for the PhD in rural studies consist of a common 2.0 -credit core of two integrative 1.0 -credit courses (Sustainable Rural Communities, and Integrative Research Methods), a 0.25-credit research seminar, and one elective graduate 0.5-credit course or the RST*6500 Special Topics course. Additional courses may be required by the student's advisory committee. Make-up courses may be required prior to admission to the PhD program or early in the program. All courses will normally be completed prior to the qualifying examination. All or most of the courses should be taken in the first year of study.
To foster the interdisciplinary nature of the program, some courses are team taught. Attention is also paid to the sequencing of courses to promote interdisciplinarity.
The qualifying examination for the PhD program in rural studies is used to determine the acceptability of the intellectual capability and research potential of students. The examination committee is constituted to represent a range of disciplines pertinent to the field.
It evaluates the student's ability to integrate knowledge in the field of sustainable rural communities and the student's particular sector within the field. The qualifying examination has both written and oral components. The written component is based on the common core area of the field and the student's selected sector. The oral examination is devoted to discussion of the written materials. It evaluates the student's ability to integrate disciplinary knowledge within the field and to undertake interdisciplinary research. The qualifying examination must be completed by the end of semester five.