IX. Graduate Programs

Environmental Sciences

PhD Program

The PhD is offered in the following fields: 1) earth and atmospheric sciences; 2) ecosystems science and biodiversity; and 3) plant and environmental health. The objectives of the PhD program are to develop highly competent, independent, creative, and critical scientists. Doctoral students of the SES graduate program will provide leadership as scholars in academic institutions, as managers and officers in the industrial research and development sector, research and policy branches within the government sector and in other social institutions. Research in the PhD program is expected to be original and novel, contribute significantly to the relevant research field, and published in high-quality peer-reviewed journals.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the PhD program is generally restricted to students with a recognized MSc degree in a related field obtained with a minimum academic standing of “A-“ (≥80%) in their postgraduate studies. Students who meet the minimum University requirement (73-76%) but not the School requirement (≥80%) may be considered depending on other criteria (e.g., letters of reference, standardized test scores, academic background relevant to the area to which the applicant has applied, degree of work experience in related field of study) for admission with provisional status. Students on provisional status must obtain an “A-“(≥80%) average in at least two graduate courses during their first two semesters of study to continue in the program. Provisional students will be funded at the same level as regular students. In exceptional cases, students may enter the PhD program directly from a BSc (Hons) if they have the minimum requirements as defined by the Office of Studies, University of Guelph.

Degree Requirements

The PhD program requires:

  • Completion of one mandatory 0.50 credit course (Research Seminar in Environmental Sciences).

  • Successful completion of a qualifying exam within five semesters of first registration in the program

  • Successful defense of a thesis describing original research, carried out under the direct supervision of a core faculty member.

In the PhD program, the qualifying exam, thesis and the oral defense of the thesis are evaluated on a pass/fail basis. An acceptable PhD thesis consists of an authoritative report of the student’s research. The project is expected to represent a well-defined research problem, or hypothesis, and should be planned such that the research could normally be completed and the thesis defended in nine semesters (12 semesters for those students transferring from the MSc program). The research described in the thesis must represent a significant contribution to knowledge in that field. Emphasis is therefore placed on the quality of the presentation, maturity in scholarship, breadth and depth of the work, and critical judgement. Successful completion of the PhD thesis occurs when the research is judged to be sufficiently meritorious to warrant publication in reputable, peer-reviewed journals in its field. PhD students are normally expected to have published, or have “in-press”, one or more papers in peer-reviewed journals prior to the defense. In cases involving intellectual property, it is recognized that publication may not always be immediately possible. In such cases, a Pass will require that the committee is satisfied that, in their opinion, the work is of sufficient quality and originality that it would meet the standards for peer-reviewed publications.

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1