Jul 20, 2024  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Integrated Coastal Sciences, PhD


Program Coordinator: Siddhartha Mitra (377 Flanagan Building; 252-328-9406; mitras@ecu.edu)

The Integrated Coastal Sciences, PhD program is a research-intensive doctoral degree program at ECU that educates students to resolve complex problems facing coastal systems, using multidisciplinary solutions that integrate across both natural and social science disciplines.

The minimum degree requirement for the integrated coastal studies degree is 68 s.h. as follows:

2. Primary Concentration - 12 s.h. (minimum)


Select one of the following as the primary area of concentration.

a. Coastal Natural Sciences


Students meet with the Dissertation Committee to determine appropriate coursework for the primary concentration. After gaining the approval of the program coordinator, the primary concentration coursework is submitted to Degree Works by way of a petition.

b. Coastal Health and Social Sciences


Students meet with the Dissertation Committee to determine appropriate coursework for the primary concentration. After gaining the approval of the program coordinator, the primary concentration coursework is submitted to Degree Works by way of a petition.

Note:


Core courses do not count toward the 12 s.h. (minimum) primary concentration requirement.

3. Research Methods - 6 s.h.


An additional 6 s.h. of coursework related to the student’s methodology and practical skills relevant to their dissertation research as determined by the student’s dissertation committee.

4. Secondary Concentration - 6 s.h. (minimum)


Select the concentration not chosen as the primary concentration.

a. Coastal Natural Sciences


Students meet with the Dissertation Committee to determine appropriate coursework for the secondary concentration. After gaining the approval of the program coordinator, the secondary concentration coursework is submitted to Degree Works by way of a petition.

b. Coastal Health and Social Sciences


Students meet with the Dissertation Committee to determine appropriate coursework for the secondary concentration. After gaining the approval of the program coordinator, the secondary concentration coursework is submitted to Degree Works by way of a petition.

Note:


Core courses do not count toward the 6 s.h. (minimum) secondary concentration requirement.

6. Dissertation - 22 s.h. (minimum)


Admission


Admission to the Integrated Coastal Sciences, PhD program is based on several criteria considered together in a holistic manner. These include GPAs, GREs, writing samples (e.g. co-authored manuscripts or publications), letters of reference, and statement of purpose indicating why an interdisciplinary degree integrating natural and social sciences is sought by the student. The Integrated Coastal Sciences Admissions Committee has broad campus representation. The Committee has six members, with three active members in natural sciences, and three active members in social and health sciences. Two members of each of those committees will be from within the Department of Coastal Studies.

Selection of Major Professor


If a student has not already identified a major professor, upon admission to the ICS program, the program director/coordinator, in consultation with the student and the admissions committee, will identify a faculty advisor/mentor from the student’s declared primary area of concentration. The role of the faculty advisor will be to assist the student in identifying appropriate courses, to guide the student toward an appropriate dissertation topic, and to serve as chair of the student’s dissertation committee. Ideally, the student will have identified a suitable major professor within the first year, even as early as the application process.

Annual Student Evaluation


In accordance with the ECU Graduate School Policy, all doctoral programs are required to evaluate each student’s progress toward their degree annually. Student funding is contingent on satisfactory progress as determined in the presence of the program director and major professor, at this annual meeting.

Doctoral Candidacy Examination


Acceptance into doctoral candidacy is based on maintaining a grade of B or better in all graduate level coursework, successfully passing the written Core Competency Examination, and successfully defending the oral dissertation proposal. Upon completing these requirements, the student is admitted to candidacy for the degree.

The Core Competency Examination will consist of two parts, one-part testing thematic knowledge of subject matter in the required core courses and the other part testing the integration of that subject matter. The thematic part of the exam will consist of one section for each of the core courses. The part of the exam focusing on the integration question(s) shall deal with the student’s ability to synthesize knowledge across the core course disciplines. There are a variety of answers available to the students for the integrative portion. As such, this portion is designed to test the student’s ability to demonstrate their understanding of cross-disciplinary thinking. The purpose of the question(s) is thus not specific content, but rather the student’s ability to address a coastal problem from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Each part of the exam, i.e., thematic and integrative, should take approximately one day (6-8 hours) to complete. Total exam length for both parts should be restricted to 2 days. The exam must be taken in its entirety within a single work-week, beginning on Monday and ending by 5 pm on Friday.

The exam may be open or closed book at the discretion of committee members. The closed book part(s) should be labeled as such and students are bound by the ECU Honor Code to complete each part according to the guidelines provided. Although the exam may allow use of a computer for typing responses to the examination questions, consultation of external sources (e.g. internet, textbooks) is not allowed for the closed-book part(s). Students may use internet resources, textbooks, and papers for open-book parts. Students may not confer with any other individuals for the open-book parts.

Core Competency Examination Committee members will consult with the program director/coordinator and the group will decide collectively if the questions are reasonable. Questions used for written core competency exams will be available to all faculty if requested and a copy of the written exam will be included in the student’s academic file where it will be available for viewing by any program-affiliated faculty member who requests it.

The examination committee members will grade their exam questions for each of their sections. Based on the expected answer as outlined in writing by the committee member prior to reading the student’s answers, each committee member will provide a grade of Pass/Fail for their section. Eighty percent (80%) is considered a passing grade.

If a student is not able to pass two sections, or if the student is not able to demonstrate proper integration across the sections, the student will be required to have a follow up oral re-examination. Any student required to have a follow up oral re-examination is encouraged to meet with the appropriate committee member(s) before the re-examination. In general, the re-examination should occur no later than the first few weeks of the fall semester immediately following the summer in which the exam was initially taken. The re-examination will last approximately one hour.

Each oral re-examination will cover primarily the sections failed in the original exam, but can also include, at the examination committee’s discretion, any other material germane to the student’s fundamental coursework and dissertation research. The re-examination may also retest the student’s ability to integrate across the subject areas.

The whole examination committee shall sit on each oral re-examination. The program director/coordinator and the student’s faculty advisor may also be in attendance. However, the re-examination is to be conducted by the examination committee. The program director/coordinator shall serve as an independent observer, and as a mediator if the need arises. The faculty advisor may be involved in the re-examination process before the exam, and after the exam, but not during the exam. They are not to participate or inject themselves into the conversation during the exam itself. If the faculty advisor interjects or interferes with the exam, they will be removed from the exam and the student’s re-examination postponed to a later date.

At the end of the oral re-examination, the examination committee will make one of three recommendations (PASS - no further action required related to core courses; EXTENSIVE ADDITIONAL REMEDIATION - this recommendation can include additional course work at a future date and may delay the student’s advancement to candidacy. This option is tantamount to a probation and may also result in suspension of institutional funding;
FAIL - recommend that student’s program of study be terminated.

The student is only allowed one exam retake and must take remediation action as soon as possible after the re-examination.

Doctoral Advisory Committee


It is the student’s responsibility to explore and identify prospective doctoral dissertation topics as early as possible. Once a topic has been identified, the student should invite faculty members to serve on a Doctoral Advisory Committee to provide the guidance and oversight required to support completion of this requirement.

A minimum of five individuals (4 internal to ECU and 1 external to ECU) are required for a full ICS PhD student committee. Most of the committee, including the chair, must have expertise in the primary concentration area. At least one committee member must have expertise in the secondary concentration area. The external committee member may be an individual from another university or a specialist (e.g. federal or state agency representative) with demonstrated research expertise of relevance to the ICS PhD student’s primary or secondary concentration area. The external committee member must submit a vitae for approval to ECU’s graduate school. A committee will be considered unacceptable unless at least one faculty member (internal or external) is an expert in the student’s secondary concentration area.

Integrated Coastal Sciences Curriculum Committee


The Integrated Coastal Sciences Curriculum Committee for the degree will have broad campus representation including six members each, with three active members in natural sciences, and three active members in social and health sciences. Two members of each of those committees will be from within the Department of Coastal Studies.

Dissertation Proposal Defense


Prior to the preparation of the dissertation, students are required to prepare and defend before their doctoral advisory committee a proposal that provides a literature review of the topic proposed for study; a statement of the objectives and hypotheses or research questions guiding the study; a description of the proposed methodology; and a statement about the contribution the proposed project will make to a compelling coastal problem.

The dissertation proposal must be written in consultation with the dissertation committee, and be no more than 30 double spaced pages in length. The dissertation proposal must be approved by the doctoral advisory committee prior to preparation of the doctoral dissertation itself. The proposal defense presentation is open to the university community at large. Essentially, the proposal defense is the opportunity for the student to demonstrate that they are knowledgeable about coastal matters in general and more specifically, adequately prepared to undertake their proposed research.

Doctoral Dissertation


Each doctoral student is to write and successfully defend orally, a dissertation of high quality, representing original and meaningful interdisciplinary research that contributes to the literature in the field of integrative coastal sciences.

The content of the dissertation is the responsibility of the student. It is essential that the dissertation be written so that it is accessible to an interdisciplinary audience. The student’s dissertation must represent study in both a primary and a secondary concentration area, with one of those being natural sciences (coastal ecology, coastal geosciences) or social science (coastal economics, maritime history, and coastal human dimensions).

The student shall submit preliminary drafts of the dissertation to the members of the doctoral advisory committee. The committee members, either separately or jointly, should advise the student as to how the dissertation might be improved. The committee should keep in mind that the student may receive conflicting advice and should allow maximum freedom for the student’s judgment to operate. A final draft of the students dissertation proposal must be approved by the committee and the program director (via signatures on the Advancement to Candidacy Form).

When in the judgment of the advisory committee, the dissertation is essentially complete and defensible, the student, in consultation with the committee chair, members, and program director shall schedule a formal presentation of the research open to the public. Upon completion of the public presentation, the student will defend the dissertation before the committee. Upon satisfactory completion of this oral defense and appropriate modifications of the dissertation manuscript and their assessment, the committee and the program director will sign and submit to the Dean of the Graduate School certification that the student has completed the requirements to receive the doctoral degree.

Other


In addition to course requirements, students are expected to participate in scholarly activities, such as experience as teaching assistants and involvement in university-wide seminars (e.g. Going Coastal Interdisciplinary Seminar Series) and assist with regional ocean sciences bowl games (e.g. Bule Heron Bowl). Such activities should be considered as components of the overall program of study.