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Program Requirements

Students enter the Joint Program in Marine Geology and Geophysics 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 begin a research project that may become one of their General Exam projects. There are also many opportunities to attend seminars and to meet with WHOI scientists and become familiar with their research.

1st and 2nd years

Students work on obtaining general knowledge of the field of marine geology and geophysics, specific knowledge in the area of their thesis research, and research experience. Prior to the beginning of the first semester, students meet with their academic advisors from both WHOI and MIT to determine a series of classes that will provide the breadth and depth of knowledge necessary for a productive researcher. See Curriculum for more details.

Students are expected to carry out two independent research projects that form the basis of the General Exam at the beginning of the third year. The breadth of research experiences varies from student to student, but all are encouraged to use these projects as an opportunity to experience different fields and techniques in marine geology and geophysics. The ideal combination of projects:

  • Represents two different fields in marine geology and geophysics
  • Involves different approaches to the solution of problems
  • Includes supervision by two different advisors
  • Is conducted at the two different institutions

General exam

At the beginning of the third year, each student's preparation for thesis work is tested through a general examination. Students present the two independent research projects they have conducted and answer questions designed to assess the students' general background knowledge in marine geology and geophysics.

After the exam, students prepare and present the research topics they have selected for thesis work.

3rd through 5th years

Students complete a thesis under the supervision of a thesis advisor and thesis committee. At the end of the fifth year, each student presents and defends the thesis research for completion of a doctoral degree.