Jun 25, 2024  
2018-2019 SDSM&T Academic Catalog 
2018-2019 SDSM&T Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, PhD

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Contact Information

Dr. William J. Capehart, Program Director
Mineral Industries 213
(605) 394-1994
E-mail: William.Capehart@sdsmt.edu

PhD in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences

The Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences PhD program links expertise in atmospheric and environmental science, biogeochemistry, geology, hydrology, water quality and water resources to address regional and local issues that may also be nationally or globally significant. The fundamental objective lies in developing the ability to address linkages between earth system components and land management practices in a way that benefits decision-making at regional and national levels.

Degree requirements

Distribution of credits

Core requirements: 4 credits
Research requirements: 20-36 credits
Elective requirements: 32-48 credits
Total credits: 72

At least 36 of the required 72 credits must be taken at the 600 level or above.

Students may apply 24 coursework credits and 6 research credits from a previous MS degree toward the PhD requirements, subject to approval by the student’s committee.

Core requirements

Research requirements

The completion of a doctoral dissertation, approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee and the Dean of Graduate Education, is required for this degree.

  • Credits: Credit to be arranged. *
  • * A minimum of 20 credits of AES 898 are required for the degree. No more than 36 credits of AES 898 may be counted toward the degree.

Elective requirements

A total of 32 credits of elective courses are required and must include:

  • One elective course in measuring and/or modeling techniques
  • Additional elective courses selected in consultation with the student committee

Students must complete at least one course in measuring and/or modeling techniques, to be selected by the student’s committee. Suitable courses for this requirement  are offered in Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and also programs on campus that include Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geology and Geological Engineering, Chemistry and Applied Biological Sciences, Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Mathematics and Computer Sciences.

All elective courses must be approved by the student’s graduate advisory committee. Listed below are examples of courses that might be included as electives in an AES program of study. These lists are intended as examples and are not intended to limit a student and committee as they construct an individual program. Cross-listed 400/500 level coursework must be taken at the 500 level to apply.


Qualifying examination

A written or oral qualifying exam is used to assess the student’s mastery of the graduate coursework.  Students who have received an MS degree from SD Mines can waive this requirement.

Comprehensive examination and admission to candidacy

A comprehensive examination is given to evaluate the student’s ability to formulate a research problem based on substantive literature review, and to test the student’s knowledge in the area of specialty. It is given in two parts: 1) a written examination consisting of a review paper in the student’s field of study and a research proposal, and 2) an oral examination to evaluate the research proposal and verify the student’s understanding of the basic sciences and specialized field of study.  The comprehensive examination, and subsequent admission to candidacy, must be completed at least 12 months before the dissertation is defended.  

Dissertation defense

The dissertation forms the final test of the student’s ability to perform and communicate research. The student must prepare a doctoral dissertation and successfully complete a public defense covering the scientific validity of the work, as well as the student’s basic and specialized knowledge in the field of study.

Additional requirements

There is no language requirement in the AES program. However, all AES students are expected to be proficient in speaking, understanding, and writing the English language.

In addition to these degree-specific requirements, the student must also meet the requirements and policies applied to all graduate degrees  by the Council of Graduate Education.

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