Program Requirements

Students enter the Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography with a wide range of backgrounds and eventually embark on thesis research in a wide variety of fields of study. The program is flexible, with an emphasis on reaching academic milestones rather than on the path taken.

1st summer

Participating in the summer program before the first year is strongly recommended. Students start with the annual Jake Peirson Summer Cruise. Then students undertake a research project, attend seminars, and meet with their academic advisory committee to arrange a course of study for the first year.

1st and 2nd years

Students work on obtaining general knowledge of the field of marine chemistry and geochemistry, specific knowledge in the area of their thesis research, and research experience. See Curriculum for more details.

Along with their research advisors and academic advisory committee, they set a course of study, including class work, independent study, and perhaps tutorials with faculty members to obtain the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to become a productive researcher.

Students carry out independent research throughout their first two years, though the level of research effort is expected to vary through the year because course work takes up most of the students' time during the academic semesters. The breadth of research experiences varies from student to student, but all are encouraged to undertake research in an area that is distinct from their expected thesis area. Most students begin preliminary research in their thesis area during the second year.

General exams

The general exams, taken during the spring and summer of the second year, are designed to evaluate:

  • The student's grasp of material covered in the core curriculum and other courses specific to the student's research interests as well as the ability to synthesize material from different sources
  • The student's ability to carry out and present an independent research project.

Students also present and defend a thesis proposal.

3rd through 5th years

Students carry out thesis research under the supervision of a thesis advisor and thesis committee. They are expected to demonstrate satisfactory progress through thesis committee meetings and presentations at MIT and WHOI as well as at national and international meetings. At the end of the fifth year, each student presents and defends a Ph.D. thesis that represents a significant contribution to his or her area of study.

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