Assessing the Structure of Geoscience Graduate Programs in the United States

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To assess the relationship and connection between graduate student outcomes and the structural components of various geoscience graduate programs it is necessary to collect a parameterized description of the structure and nature of all graduate geoscience programs in the country. While most undergraduate geoscience programs have a common structure and curriculum, the fundamental structure of programs at the graduate level can vary greatly, ranging from traditional thesis and dissertation driven research programs to cohort-based, interdisciplinary, and interdepartmental programs. Data was compiled through publicly available sources, such as departmental and program websites, and through direct canvasing of graduate geoscience programs through the distribution of a survey. A database will be constructed for the objective categorization of programs based on their underlying structures and programmatic organizations. This initial categorization can lead to further investigations looking at student outcomes, departmental outcomes, preparation for the workforce, and other parameters that can be considered in the context of the underlying structure and nature of these programs.

This study was developed to support the NSF-funded project, "Universal Skills for Geoscience Graduate Student Success in the Workforce", which will hold a series of workshops discussing the need to improve geoscience graduate education in order to better prepare the future workforce. This presentation will describe the full scope and framework for the project and the very preliminary categorization of the data collected.

  • Carolyn Wilson*
  • Christopher Keane*
  • Annika Leiby*
  • 2018 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting