PhD Program

This page describes many of the details about the Planetary Sciences Track to our Physics PhD program. Note that we may refer to the track as the "PhD program" but this should not cause confusion.

 



Basic Background on the Program

Our PhD track emphasizes research from the first semester, since writing a submittable paper is a candidacy requirement, and one can only formally start dissertation research once one has passed candidacy. Students interested in the PhD should apply directly to the PhD program and not to the MS program. Applicants should (1) identify one or more projects they would be interested in pursuing as a potential dissertation topic, (2) contact faculty or sponsored researchers who might advise them, and (3) discuss their specific project interests in their applications. Students can always change projects once in the program, provided that another project is available.

See our page on Openings for Graduate Students for more on the application process.  In particular, closely follow the application essay instructions on that page!  We need detail about your research experiences to fully evaluate your application.  What did YOU do, what problems did you face, and how did you handle them?  Applicants with no research experience in planetary science, geophysics, astronomy, or astrophysics are rarely, if ever, accepted.

Applications received by 15 January will receive full consideration for funding, and fellowships are unlikely for applications received after this date. We evaluate applications in January, February, and March each year and make most admissions decisions and funding commitments (GRAs and GTAs) then. Officially, we can admit as late as June for Fall enrollment, and we can admit for Spring enrollment, but such cases are atypical. Since June is UCF's official cutoff for Fall, that is listed as the application deadline, but those seeking financial support should apply by 15 January.

Note that UCF does have a policy regarding parental leave for GTAs and GRAs; paid leave is provided for up to six weeks.

Below we have:

  • Course lists, schedules, and sample student course plans.
  • The graduate handbook for our track (internally known as version 1.7 and approved on August 8, 2015).

Some useful links:

 

 



Planetary graduate-level courses

Currently we offer the following courses with the indicated frequency. Other electives are added as teaching schedules permit.  

Please note that in October 2015 & September 2016 we changed the sequence of our courses slightly.

AST 5154 Advanced Planetary Geophysics odd spring
required
AST 5165 Planetary Atmopsheres even spring required
AST 5263 Advanced Observational Astronomy even spring required
AST 5765 Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis fall required
PHY 5524 Statistical Physics spring required
PHY 6246 Classical Mechanics fall required
AST 5145 Advanced Asteroids Comets Meteorites even fall Elective, VERY STRONGLY recommended
AST 6112 Origin and Evolution of Planetary Systems odd fall Elective, VERY STRONGLY recommended
AST 5334 Extrasolar Planets and Brown Dwarfs occasional Elective
AST 5937 Special Topics occasional Elective
AST 6156 Current Topics in Planetary Science occasional Elective (and can be repeated for credit)
AST 6938 Special Topics: Planetary Seminar occasional Elective (and can be repeated for credit)
PHZ 5156 Computational Physics occasional Potential alternate to AST 5765 (w/advisor approval)
MAP 6469 Bayesian Analysis & Approximation Theory occasional Elective, taught by Prof. Pensky in Math Dept.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Example course sequences for graduate students

Below we list example course sequences that allow entering students to get through the coursework by the end of the second year in the program. In theory, this allows the student to take the candidacy exam in the summer of the second year. Note that we explicitly list here only the 8 primary courses in our program -- the 6 core courses plus the 2 very-strongly recommended electives -- that we generally have every student take. Also note that a full-time, pre-candidacy student must take 9 credits in Fall, 9 credits in Spring, and 6 credits in Summer.

Note that in the parlance of UCF, 9 credits of courses -- even if some of those credits are research credit -- is considered a half load. The other half is RESEARCH (which you might be paid for, if you're a Graduate Research Assistant [GRA], or may not be paid for, if you're a Graduate Teaching Assistant [GTA]). This research that you do is the research that leads to a publishable paper in time for your candidacy exam. See the Graduate Handbook, below, for discussion of the candidacy paper's presentation and oral defense.

Please note that in October 2015 & September 2016 we changed the sequence of our courses slightly.

• If entering in Fall of 2016:

Fall 2016 Spring 2017 Summer 2017 Fall 2017 Spring 2018
PHY 6246 (3cr) PHY 5524 (3cr) research (6cr) AST 6112 (3cr) AST 5263 (3cr)
AST 5765 (3cr) AST 5154 (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) AST 5165 (3cr)
AST 5145 (3cr) research or elective (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) research or elective (3cr)

• If entering in Fall of 2017:

Fall 2017 Spring 2018 Summer 2018 Fall 2018 Spring 2019
PHY 6246 (3cr) AST 5263 (3cr) research (6cr) AST 5145 (3cr) PHY 5524 (3cr)
AST 5765 (3cr) AST 5165 (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) AST 5154 (3cr)
AST 6112 (3cr) research or elective (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) research or elective (3cr)

• If entering in Fall of 2018:

Fall 2018 Spring 2019 Summer 2019 Fall 2019 Spring 2020
PHY 6246 (3cr) PHY 5524 (3cr) research (6cr) AST 6112 (3cr) AST 5263 (3cr)
AST 5765 (3cr) AST 5154 (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) AST 5165 (3cr)
AST 5145 (3cr) research or elective (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) research or elective (3cr)

• If entering in Fall of 2019:

Fall 2019 Spring 2020 Summer 2020 Fall 2020 Spring 2021
PHY 6246 (3cr) AST 5263 (3cr) research (6cr) AST 5145 (3cr) PHY 5524 (3cr)
AST 5765 (3cr) AST 5165 (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) AST 5154 (3cr)
AST 6112 (3cr) research or elective (3cr)   research or elective (3cr) research or elective (3cr)

The above schedule describes 42 credits total. Generally for the summer of the second year the student takes 6 more credits of research, even if the candidacy exam happens during the summer. That makes 48. The student is required to have 72 credits total to earn the PhD degree, so the remaining 24 credits (72 minus 48) are usually earned from formal coursework (electives), research credit (usually AST or PHY 6918), and dissertation credit (AST or PHY 7980). At least 15 of those remaining 24 credits must be the dissertation credit. If all of the 'research or elective' credit in the table above was taken as research credit, then at least 3 of those remaining 24 credits must come from formal coursework electives, since a student must have 27 credits total of formal coursework and the 8 courses listed in the table make up only 24. Electives must be approved by the student's advisory committee but can in principle include courses from any department.  Courses in mathematics, optics, computer science, engineering, chemistry, or biology may be relevant, depending on the student's dissertation and career interests.

 

 



 

Forthcoming course schedule

Here is the forthcoming schedule as we expect it to happen as of September 2016. Please note that in October 2015 & September 2016 we changed the sequence of our courses slightly. Also note that we may have to change the schedule depending on student demand. We will add in electives as we confirm that they will be offered. Also note that we list here all the undergrad (2000-, 3000-, and 4000-level) courses as well, but generally grad students do not take those courses. 

  • Fall 2016 -- an even-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H -- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 4142 -- Asteroids Comets Meteorites (undergrad version of AST 5145)
    • AST 4700 -- Experimental Methods in Astronomy (undergrad version of AST 5263)
    • AST 4762 -- Astronomical Data Analysis (undergrad version of AST 5765)
    • AST 5145 -- Advanced Asteroids Comets Meteorites (grad version of AST 4142)
    • AST 5263 -- Advanced Observational Astronomy (grad version of AST 4700)
    • AST 5765 -- Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis (grad version of AST 4762)
  • Spring 2017 -- an odd-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H -- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 4152 -- Planetary Geophysics (undergrad version of AST 5154)
    • AST 5154 -- Advances Planetary Geophysics (grad version of AST 4152)
  • Fall 2017 -- an odd-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H and 2002L-- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 3402 -- Galaxies and Cosmology
    • AST 4762 -- Astronomical Data Analysis (undergrad version of AST 5765)
    • AST 5765 -- Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis (grad version of AST 4762)
    • AST 6112 -- Origins of Planetary Systems
  • Spring 2018 -- an even-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H -- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 3211 -- Stellar Astrophysics
    • AST 4700 -- Experimental Methods in Astronomy (undergrad version of AST 5263)
    • AST 5165 -- Planetary Atmospheres
    • AST 5263 -- Advanced Observational Astronomy (grad version of AST 4700)
  • Fall 2018 -- an even-numbered fall
    • AST 2002 and 2002H and 2002L -- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 4142 -- Asteroids Comets Meteorites (undergrad version of AST 5145)
    • AST 4762 -- Astronomical Data Analysis (undergrad version of AST 5765)
    • AST 5145 -- Advanced Asteroids Comets Meteorites (grad version of AST 4142)
    • AST 5765 -- Advanced Astronomical Data Analysis (grad version of AST 4762)
  • Spring 2019 -- an odd-numbered spring
    • AST 2002 and 2002H -- Astronomy (our Introductory GEP course)
    • AST 4152 -- Planetary Geophysics (undergrad version of AST 5154)
    • AST 5154 -- Advances Planetary Geophysics (grad version of AST 4152)

 



 

Planetary Sciences Graduate Track Handbook

Version 1.7; August 8, 2015

 

NOTE: Additions, updates, and corrections made since this version was promulgated are noted below in italics. In case of conflicting info, the Graduate Catalog supercedes anything written here. 

 

1.0 Introduction:  

1.1 Scope:

This handbook is designed to provide the supplemental information and guidelines to the Department of Physics Doctoral and Masters handbooks contain information that are unique to the Planetary Sciences Track. Where provisions conflict with the Physics handbook, such as course requirements and guidelines for committees, the Planetary Sciences handbook takes precedence. 

1.2 Introduction to the Program:

The University of Central Florida has rapidly grown to become a center for research and teaching in the planetary sciences. Our goal is to create a vibrant Planetary Sciences research environment that can attract top students, researchers, and faculty and contribute significantly to the exploration of space.  The Planetary Sciences Graduate Ph.D. and Masters Tracks are designed to prepare students to be competitive in the global planetary sciences research community.

1.3 Admission to the Planetary Sciences Track:  Students must be specifically admitted to the Graduate Planetary Sciences track, either for Masters or Ph.D. External applications and petitions to switch from the existing Physics graduate program are considered by the Planetary Graduate Committee.  Admission to the track requires a Bachelor of Science or equivalent, typically in physics, astronomy, geology, geophysics, geochemistry, atmospheric sciences, or planetary sciences.  Those without full academic preparation in physics and astronomy, or low scores on the Departmental placement test may be required to complete specified coursework in addition to the core program, as determined by the Planetary Graduate Committee at the time of admission or their Supervisory Committee at a later date. Petitions to switch from the existing Physics graduate program shall be in the form of a letter to the Planetary Sciences Graduate Committee addressed to Dr. Dan Britt (i.e. the track’s Graduate Coordinator).  The letter should include the request to join the planetary sciences track, the students degree goal (Masters or Ph.D.), the name of the students planetary sciences advisor, and a brief description of their expected area of research.  

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions and Registration section of the Graduate Catalog and the Physics Masters/Doctoral Handbook. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline(s). In addition to the general UCF graduate admission requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended.
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years.
  • The Physics Subject Test of the GRE is recommended, but not required.
  • Three letters of recommendation.
  • Statement of goals.
  • Students entering the Planetary Sciences graduate track with regular status are normally expected to have completed course work generally required for a bachelor’s degree in a closely related science field such as physics, chemistry, geology, or mathematics.
  • CV or Résumé.

Meeting minimum UCF admission criteria does not guarantee program admission. Final admission is based on evaluation of the applicant's abilities, past performance, recommendations, match of this program and faculty expertise to the applicant's career/academic goals, and the applicant's potential for completing the degree.

Application Deadlines

Planetary Sciences PhD

Fall Priority

Fall

Spring

Domestic Applicants

Jan 15

Jun 15

Nov 1

International Applicants

Jan 15

Jan 15

Jul 1

International Transfer Applicants

Jan 15

Mar 1

Sep 1

Graduate students may receive
financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or
loans. For more information, see Financing Grad School, which describes the
types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in
planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate
Catalog is another key resource.

For information on the Planetary Sciences
track contact the Planetary Sciences Graduate Advisor Dr. Dan Britt at
407-823-2600 or britt@physics.ucf.edu

2.0 Curriculum

2.1 Ph.D. Requirements:  A
minimum of 72 credit hours beyond the bachelors degree or 42 hours beyond the
masters degree.  This includes completion
of 6 core courses (18 hours) listed below, 5 electives (15 hours) of regular
coursework selected in consultation with the students Supervisory Committee, a
minimum of 15 hours of dissertation (AST and PHY 7980), and the remaining 24
hours of appropriately selected research, dissertation, and elective
courses.  Courses must be selected so
that at least one-half of the 72 hours are at 6000 level or higher.  No more than 12 hours of independent study
(AST and PHY 6908) may be credited toward the Ph.D. degree.  The Ph.D. includes a Candidacy Exam to be
taken after the completion of the core courses, a written dissertation, and a dissertation
defense before the student’s supervisory committee. 

2.2 Masters Requirements:  Master’s requirements
include at least 33 hours of graduate course work as directed by the student’s
supervisory committee.  This must include
at least 15 hours of courses from the planetary core listed below and 6 hours
of Thesis Preparation (PHY and AST 6971) with the remainder being electives and
directed research classes chosen in consultation with the supervisory
committee.  At least half of the total
credits must be at the 6000 level.  No more than 6 hours of independent study (AST
and PHY 6908) may be credited toward the M.S. degree.   The
Master's Degree in planetary sciences includes a thesis and its defense. There
is no non-thesis Master's degree in the planetary sciences track.

2.3 Planetary Sciences Core: 
The core is designed to give students a broad foundation in the
planetary sciences and a rapid training in the data analysis techniques that
will be necessary for a successful research and publications.

  • Statistical Physics (PHY 5524):  A study of physical concepts and methods
    appropriate for the description of systems involving many particles.
    Ensemble theory, partition functions. Maxwell Boltzmann, Bose-Einstein,
    Fermi-Dirac statistics.
  • Classical Mechanics (PHY 6246):  Variational principles. Lagrange,
    Hamiltonian, and Poisson bracket formulations of mechanics. Hamilton's
    principle of least action. Hamilton-Jacobi theory. Perturbation theory.
    Continuous systems. Chaos.
  • Either: Advanced
    Astronomical Data Analysis (AST 5765): Techniques for processing
    astronomical data including programming approaches for data analysis,
    probability, statistics, error propagation, astronomical detectors and
    their calibration, model fitting; or Computational Physics (PHZ 5156):
    Computational methods applied to the solution of problems in many branches
    of physics..
  • Advanced Planetary Geophysics (AST 5154):  The physics of planetary evolution,
    planetary interiors, and planetary surface processes.
  • Advanced Observational Astronomy (AST
    5263):  Design of scientific observing programs,
    acquiring astronomical data sets, applied astronomical data reduction,
    analysis of sources of observational error, publication of results. 
  • Planetary Atmospheres (AST 5165):  The physics and chemistry that govern the
    behavior of the atmospheres of Earth and other planets including
    atmospheric dynamics, vertical chemistry, radiative transfer, gas
    spectroscopy, and cloud microphysics.

2.4 Planetary Sciences Electives: 

  • Planetary Astronomy
    Seminar (AST 6938 [as Special Topics -- Ed.]):  Advanced
    topical course focused on major new developments in planetary astronomy
    including recent results from NASA/ESA missions.  This course would be taught annually
    with a new topic each year.  This
    course may be repeated for credit. [Also note that there is a similar course offered occasionally, Current Topics in Planetary Science, AST 6156, which has detailed discussions of planetary science-related subjects, usually involving forthcoming missions. --Ed.]
  • Origins of Solar Systems (AST 6112):  Formation of planetary systems beginning
    with the proto-stellar clouds, collapse, condensation, particle-disk
    interactions, accretion models, formation of satellites, what has been
    learned from observations of extra-solar planets, and the physics of magnetic
    fields generated by planetary bodies.
  • Extra-Solar Planets and Brown Dwarfs (AST
    5334):  An advanced course on the
    physics of substellar-mass objects, their formation, evolution, dynamics,
    detection, and environments. This includes the gravitational collapse of
    molecular clouds, the dynamics of planetary evolution in extrasolar systems,
    the evolution of Brown Dwarfs, and the habitability of extrasolar worlds.
  • Astrobiology (AST 5937 [as Special Topics -- Ed.]): Interdisciplinary
    branch of science that deals with the origins, development, and fate of
    life on Earth and in extraterrestrial environments.
  • Asteroids, Comets, and Meteorites (AST
    5145): An advanced study of physical, chemical, mineralogical and orbital
    characteristics of Asteroids, Comets and Meteorites, with an emphasis on
    the origin of our solar system.

2.5 Other Potential Electives:

  • Plasma Physics (PHZ 5505):   Introduction to theory and experimental
    basis of both weakly and highly ionized plasmas. Instabilities, plasma
    waves, nonlinear effects, controlled thermonuclear fusion.
  • Electrodynamics I (PHY 5346):  Boundary value problems in electrostatics
    and magnetostatics. Maxwell's equations. EM fields in matter, wave
    generation and propagation; wave guides, resonant cavities
  • Electrodynamics II (PHY 6347):  Dynamics of charged particles in
    electromagnetic fields. Antennas; radiation by moving charges; magnetohydrodynamics;
    multipole radiation and electrodynamics of materials.
  • Quantum Mechanics I (PHY 5606): Basic
    postulates of quantum mechanics, operators, eigenvalues, parity, potential
    wells, harmonic oscillator, time dependent and time independent Schrodinger
    equation, matrix formulation, and time independent perturbation theory.
  • Quantum Mechanics II (PHY 6624):  Time dependent perturbation theory,
    exchange symmetry, Dirac Equation, second quantization, and scattering
    theory
  • Introduction to Wave Optics (OSE
    5041): Electromagnetic foundation of light waves as applied to reflection,
    diffraction, interference, polarization, coherence, and guided waves.
  • Image Processing (EEL 5820):  Two-dimensional signal processing
    techniques; pictorial image representation; spatial filtering; image
    enhancement and encoding; segmentation and feature extraction;
    introduction to image understanding techniques
  • Fundamentals of Optical Science (OSE
    5312):  Microscopic theory of absorption,
    dispersion, and refraction of materials; wave propagation, introduction to
    lasers and non-linear optics.
  • Bayesian Analysis and Approximation
    Theory (MAP 6469).
  • Analysis of Low-Dimensional Structures
    in High-Dimensional Data (MAP 6938, Special Topics).

2.6 
Other Planetary Science Academic Activities:
  Integral to becoming a professional Planetary
Scientist are a range of related academic activities outside the classroom that
are essential to developing the broad background, critical thinking, and public
speaking skills required for success in this field. These include Journal Club,
the CLASS/FSI seminar, and the Physics Department Colloquium. Attendance and
active participation at these events is either mandatory or strongly encouraged
for students.

  • Journal Club:  A weekly forum provides students with
    the opportunity to hone their skills while helping everyone keep current
    with the latest research. Typically students pick an interesting recent
    scientific paper and present the research outlined. Students are expected
    to lead at least one journal club per semester. Journal clubs are also
    often used by faculty and visiting scientists to present current research
    results. Lively discussion and critical questions are journal club
    tradition. Attendance is mandatory.
  • CLASS/FSI Seminar:
    An international forum that brings some of the leading researchers in
    planetary science to UCF. The seminar is usually broadcast on AdobeConnect
    and speakers are often in remote locations, so students can participate
    remotely as well. Participation is strongly encouraged. 
  • Department Colloquium:  The Physics Department sponsors weekly
    colloquia, some of which are focused on planetary science topics.
    Attendance is strongly encouraged for planetary science colloquia.
  • Outreach:  Part of planetary science is active
    outreach to the general community to communicate the excitement of
    planetary exploration to the taxpayers who make it possible. The group
    sponsors telescope viewings for the general public and strongly encourages
    students to get involved in outreach opportunities such as judging science
    fairs, talks to student and community groups, or helping scouts earn
    astronomy merit badges.

3.0
Committees and Defenses

3.1 Supervisory Committee:  Within the first half-semester of admission
to the planetary sciences graduate track, each student must select, by mutual agreement,
a faculty advisor and two other faculty members to serve on his or her
Supervisory Committee. One of the faculty members who is not the advisor must
be from an area in the department other than Planetary Sciences.  UCF faculty and self-funded research
scientists are eligible to serve on supervisory committees. Changes in the
membership of a Supervisory Committee must be approved by the Planetary
Graduate Committee.  The advisor is
expected to meet regularly with the student. The full committee shall meet with
the student at least once per year to review and make recommendations regarding
the student's academic progress. After the completion of the Candidacy Exam, a
non-UCF planetary scientist shall be added to the Supervisory Committee.

3.1.1
Guidelines for Planetary Sciences Supervisory Committee Meetings

  1. Students will identify a research advisor and
    form a supervisory committee by the middle of their first semester in the Planetary
    Sciences program. The composition of the supervisory committee must be reported
    to the Physics Department Graduate Program Assistant and the Graduate College
    Thesis Advisory Committee form must be submitted.
  2. Students are responsible for initiating the
    formation of committees and calling committee meetings at mutually agreeable
    times for the members. The date and results of the meeting must be reported to
    the Planetary Graduate Program Director.
  3. Pre-candidacy committees should be composed of
    three faculty members. One of the faculty members who is not the advisor must
    be from an area in the department other than Planetary Sciences. UCF faculty
    and self-funded research scientists are eligible to serve on supervisory
    committees. Changes in the membership of a Supervisory Committee must be approved
    by the Planetary Graduate Committee.
  4. Supervisory committees should meet at least
    every year to review the progress of students.
  5. After passing the Candidacy Exam, a non-UCF
    planetary scientist shall be added to the Supervisory Committee.
  6. Students should present the following
    information to the committee:  Program of
    study form. Listing of Publications. Listing of presentations and scientific
    meetings attended. Schedule of courses to be taken.
  7. Students should present an overview of their
    research program and a work plan for achieving their research goals. This plan
    should include a schedule of the work and a list of planned publications.
  8. Students should briefly present the results
    and progress of their research since their last committee meeting. The committee
    members are expected to give advice and direction for the student’s research.
  9. The presentation is the student’s
    responsibility. Students should be SURE that the presentation actually runs on
    the computer/projection system in the meeting room.

10. 
Students in post-candidacy status should
present a dissertation plan that includes the chapters of their proposed
dissertation. 

11. 
Students in post-candidacy status should
outline their plans for 1-2 years beyond the PhD for both the work, if any
portion of it is to carry beyond the PhD defense, and for employment.  The committee members are expected to give
career advice.  Following this advice is
at the discretion of the student and will not affect the decisions of the
committee.

12.  The student
should review the timeline presented at the previous meeting and show how
planned work has translated into progress. 

3.2 Masters Defense:  The Planetary Sciences Track Masters
requirement includes a written thesis and its oral defense after the completion
of the Masters course work and research. 
The thesis is a journal-level research paper.  The oral defense is in two parts:  (1) A public presentation of the research
contained in the paper; and (2) private questioning on the detail of the
presented research as well as the topics covered in the student’s preparation
and course work.  The written and oral
components will be administrated by the student’s Supervisory Committee.  A student must submit the written Thesis to the
Supervisory Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled oral defense.  Committee members are expected to read it and give
a preliminary indication as to its acceptability four days after receipt. The
preliminary indication of acceptability for a written examination paper is
noncommital.  Rather, it is intended to
avoid obvious failures.  By the start of
the eighth day before the examination, the official version of the thesis is
due, and the Committee must decide whether to allow the oral defense to
proceed.  If the defense does not
proceed, either due to decision of the Supervisory Committee or that of the
student, the student is deemed not to have defended. The following outcomes are
possible for the defense:

Pass

Pass conditioned on revisions (both) or additional
coursework

Retake

Retake after additional coursework

Fail

Passes conditioned on revisions are handled as
follows: all committee members sign the appropriate paperwork except the
advisor. The advisor signs the paperwork when satisfied with the revisions.  Students may only retake a defense once, and
must do so within one year, or immediately after the next offering of a
required course, whichever occurs later.  If the student fails examination a second time
or fails to retake the examination within the specified period, the student is
dropped from the program. 

3.2.1 Guidelines for Planetary Sciences Track M.S. Thesis Defense

  1. The Thesis Defense is the final requirement for the M.S. and consists of
    a public presentation of the Thesis, typically lasting 45-60 minutes including
    the traditional question and answer period of a scientific presentation,
    followed by private questioning by the Supervisory Committee.  Revisions to the thesis may be required as
    part of the defense.
  2. There are specific university deadlines related to the final semester
    and the thesis defense listed in the Graduate College's Thesis/Dissertation
    website
    . The critical
    deadlines are the format deadline, the defense deadline, and the final
    completion date. It is the student’s responsibility to meet all of the Graduate
    College’s requirements and deadlines.
  3. It is the responsibility of the chair of the supervisory committee to
    have the Thesis reviewed through Turnitin.com in conformance to Graduate
    College requirements.
  4. The defense version of the thesis must be presented to the Supervisory
    Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled defense. It must comply with
    all UCF graduate studies style requirements. Any subsequent revision, no matter
    when presented, must be accompanied by a list of all changes (including trivial
    corrections of spelling, etc.) made since the prior official submission to the
    Supervisory Committee.  A separate electronic
    “redline” version of the thesis is acceptable for this purpose (deletions are
    indicated by red or strike-through text; green or boxed text indicates
    insertions; and marginal change bars indicate lines containing changes, to help
    find small alterations that might otherwise be missed).  Committees will generally not accept
    revisions between the defense submission and the defense itself, but may choose
    to do so in exceptional circumstances.
  5. Committee members are expected to read the thesis and give a preliminary
    indication of whether to proceed with the defense within four days. The
    preliminary indication to proceed is noncommital. Rather, it is intended to
    avoid obvious failures.
  6. The student is responsible for all scheduling and logistical
    arrangements for the defense. Notices of the defense must be posted in advance
    in a manner similar to that for a departmental colloquium and following any
    departmental, college, and university policies for the posting of such notices.
  7. The presentation is the student’s
    responsibility. The student should:

    • Be SURE that the presentation actually runs on
      the computer/projection system in the meeting room..
    • Be SURE that your presentation actually runs
      on the computer/projection system in the meeting room.
    • Be SURE that the plots and presentation
      materials are easily visible and of publication quality.
    • Be SURE that the spelling, punctuation, and
      grammar are of publication quality. 
    • Be SURE to have a working laser pointer,
      working markers, and necessary presentation materials.
    • Be SURE to have the necessary UCF and Graduate
      School paperwork for committee signature.
  8. The student is responsible for bringing to the defense the “Thesis and
    Dissertation Approval form” for the Committee’s signature.
  9. Students should present the following information to the Committee at
    the defense: Degree audit showing that all requirements up to the defense have
    been satisfied, listing of publications, listing of presentations, and
    scientific meetings attended.
  10. Written results including comments on the thesis
    from the Committee are due within three days of the defense.  The following outcomes are possible:

    • The Committee may approve the thesis, approve it subject to revisions to
      be approved by the advisor, or require a redefense.
    • A redefense must occur within one year. At the second defense, if it is
      not successful, the student may be given a failure and removal from the program
      without a conferred degree.

3.3 Ph.D. Candidacy Exam:  The Planetary Sciences Track requires a Candidacy
Exam to be taken after the completion of the core courses. Ideally this exam
will be taken at the end of second year in the Planetary Graduate program and
no later than the end of the third year. This exam is composed of a written
component and an oral exam.  The written component
is a journal-level research paper that has either been accepted for publication
or submitted for publication.  The oral
component is in two parts:  (1) A public
presentation of the research contained in the paper including the traditional
question and answer period of a scientific presentation; and (2) private
questioning on the detail of the presented research as well as the topics
covered in the student’s preparation and course work.  The written and oral components will be
administrated by the student’s Supervisory Committee.  A student must give the written examination paper to the
Supervisory Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled oral examination.  Committee members are expected to read it and give
a preliminary indication as to its acceptability four days thereafter. The
preliminary indication of acceptability for a written examination paper is
noncommital.  Rather, it is intended to
avoid obvious failures.  By the start of
the eighth day before the examination, the official version of the paper is
due, and the Committee must decide whether to allow the oral examination to
proceed.  If the examination does not
proceed, either due to decision of the Supervisory Committee or that of the
student, the student is deemed not to have taken either part of the
examination.  Both the written and oral Candidacy
examinations are deemed to take place at the time of the oral examination.
Written results including comments on the paper are due within three days of
the examination. The following outcomes are possible for either examination:

Pass

Pass conditioned on revisions (both) or additional
coursework

Retake

Retake after additional coursework

Fail with option for Master's Degree

Fail without option for Master's Degree

Passes conditioned on revisions are handled as
follows: all committee members sign the appropriate paperwork except the
advisor. The advisor signs the paperwork when satisfied with the revisions.  Students may only retake an examination once,
and must do so within one year, or immediately after the next offering of a
required course, whichever occurs later.  If the student fails examination a second time
or fails to retake the examination within the specified period, the student is
dropped from the program. 

3.3.1
Guidelines for Planetary Sciences Ph.D. Candidacy
Examination

  1. The Candidacy Exam to be taken after the
    completion of the core courses, typically at the end of second year in the
    Planetary Graduate program and no later than the end of the third year. The
    student must have given a minimum of two Planetary Sciences Journal Club
    presentations, Department Colloquia, or international scientific meeting talks
    prior to Candidacy.
  2. It is the student’s responsibility to reserve
    the room and schedule the examination. A minimum of 3 hours is required for the
    examination. 
  3. This exam consists of both written and oral
    components administrated by the student’s Supervisory Committee.  The written component is a journal-level
    research paper that has either been published or submitted.  Exceptions to this rule can be made at the
    direction of the Planetary Graduate Committee. The oral component is a two
    parts:  (1) A public presentation of the
    research contained in the paper typically lasting 45 minutes and a 15 minute question and answer period;
    and (2) private questioning on the detail of the presented research as well as
    any of the topics covered in the student’s course work.
  4. The presentation is the student’s
    responsibility. The student should:

    • Be SURE that the
      presentation actually runs on the computer/projection system in the meeting
      room.
    • Be SURE that
      the plots and presentation materials are easily visible and of publication
      quality.
    • Be SURE that
      the spelling, punctuation, and grammar are of publication quality. 
    • Be SURE to
      have a working laser pointer, working markers, and necessary presentation
      materials.
    • Be SURE to
      have the necessary UCF and Graduate School paperwork for committee signature.
    • If you have a “remote” committee member, be
      SURE to reserve one of the remote access AdobeConnect rooms (PSB 445 or the FSI
      conference room). Working with the AdobeConnect system is not trivial and you
      need to practice talking, watching/listening, from the setup. There are always
      setup and connection issues that need to be resolved, so plan on starting the
      connection process at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the exam.
  5. The student must give the written examination paper to
    the Supervisory Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled oral
    examination. Committee members are expected to read it and give a preliminary
    indication as to its acceptability four days thereafter. By the start of the eighth day before the
    examination, the official version of the paper is due, and the Committee must
    decide whether to allow the oral examination to proceed.  Revisions to the written portion may be required as part of the defense.
  6. The supervisory committee can and should question the student on any of
    the topics covered in the student’s course work.  This questioning should be at least 15
    minutes from each member of the committee.

3.4 Dissertation Proposal:  The Dissertation Proposal may be presented
simultaneously with the Candidacy Exam or in a separate meeting not more than
one semester thereafter. The Dissertation proposal is not formally an
examination in the Planetary Sciences Track and the supervisory committee may
direct any form of presentation it desires and may question the student.  Before substantial work is done on the dissertation,
the Supervisory Committee must approve the proposal and must also assess whether
additional coursework is necessary to begin the dissertation. Such coursework
should be completed at the earliest opportunity and before substantial work is
done on the dissertation.

3.4.1 Guidelines for Planetary
Sciences
Ph.D. Dissertation Proposals

  1. The Dissertation Proposal is required. The Dissertation Proposal may be
    presented simultaneously with the Candidacy Examination or in a separate
    Supervisory Committee meeting not more than one semester thereafter. This
    meeting must include the new external member. If a proposal is not approved
    within one year of passing the Candidacy Examination, the Supervisory Committee
    may terminate the student's status in the degree program.
  2. Before substantial work is done on the dissertation, the Supervisory
    Committee must approve the Dissertation Proposal and must also assess whether
    additional coursework is necessary to begin the dissertation. Such coursework
    should be completed at the earliest opportunity and before substantial work is
    done on the dissertation.
  3. The Dissertation Proposal shall contain the following:
  • A title.
  • The student's name and degree program.
  • An abstract.
  • A listing of the Supervisory Committee identifying the advisor, chair
    (generally the same person as the advisor, unless the advisor is external to
    UCF), and external member (by affiliation).
  • The scientific background of the proposed work.  This should include work already done by the
    student prior to candidacy.
  • A listing of science questions to be addressed.
  • A statement of scientific objectives.
  • A dissertation outline that includes a list of chapters along with a
    brief summary of the chapter contents and the status of the work that will be
    included in that chapter (i.e. complete, in progress, TBD).
  • A work plan that includes methods, data requirements, schedule, and
    proposed defense date.
  • List of the candidate’s relevant publications and scientific
    presentations.
  • Cited references.
  • The proposal should be approximately 15 pages.

3.5 Ph.D. Dissertation Defense:  The Dissertation Defense is the final
requirement for the PhD. It consists of a public presentation of the dissertation
typically lasting 45-60 minutes including the traditional question and answer
period of a scientific presentation, followed by private questioning by the Supervisory
Committee.  Procedures are similar to the
Candidacy exam. A student must give the dissertation to his or her Supervisory
Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled defense.  Committee members are expected to read it and
give a preliminary indication as to its acceptability 10 calendar days before
the scheduled defense The preliminary indication of acceptability for a written examination paper
is noncommital.  Rather, it is intended
to avoid obvious failures.  The student
must then post notices of the presentation in a manner similar to that for a
department colloquium. Written results including comments on the dissertation
are due within three days of the defense. The following outcomes are possible:

Approval of the dissertation

Approval subject to revisions to be approved by the advisor

Required redefense

A redefense must
occur within one year.  At the second
defense the redefense option is replaced by options for a Master's Degree or failure
and removal from the program without a conferred degree. 

3.5.1 Guidelines for Planetary Sciences Track Ph.D. Dissertation Defense

  1. The Dissertation Defense is the final requirement for the PhD and
    consists of a public presentation of the dissertation, typically lasting 45-60
    minutes including the traditional question and answer period of a scientific
    presentation, followed by private questioning by the Supervisory
    Committee.  Revisions to the dissertation
    may be required as part of the defense.
  2. There are specific university deadlines related to the final semester
    and the dissertation defense listed in the Graduate College's
    Thesis/Dissertation website
    . The critical deadlines
    are the format deadline, the defense deadline, and the final completion date.
    It is the student’s responsibility to meet all of the Graduate College’s
    requirements and deadlines.
  3. It is the responsibility of the chair of the supervisory committee to
    have the Dissertation reviewed through Turnitin.com in conformance to Graduate
    College requirements.
  4. The defense version of the dissertation must be presented to the
    Supervisory Committee 14 calendar days before the scheduled defense. It must
    comply with all UCF graduate studies style requirements. Any subsequent
    revision, no matter when presented, must be accompanied by a list of all
    changes (including trivial corrections of spelling, etc.) made since the prior
    official submission to the Supervisory Committee.  A separate electronic “redline” version of
    the dissertation is acceptable for this purpose (deletions are indicated by red
    or strike-through text; green or boxed text indicates insertions; and marginal
    change bars indicate lines containing changes, to help find small alterations
    that might otherwise be missed). 
    Committees will generally not accept revisions between the defense
    submission and the defense itself, but may choose to do so in exceptional
    circumstances.
  5. Committee members are expected to read the dissertation and give a
    preliminary indication of whether to proceed with the defense within four days.
    The preliminary indication to proceed is noncommital. Rather, it is intended to
    avoid obvious failures.
  6. The student is responsible for all scheduling and logistical
    arrangements for the defense. The student must reserve a room for the defense
    for no less than 3 hours.  Notices of the
    defense must be posted in advance in a manner similar to that for a
    departmental colloquium and following any departmental, college, and university
    policies for the posting of such notices.
  7. The presentation is the student’s
    responsibility. The student should:

    • Be SURE that the
      presentation actually runs on the computer/projection system in the meeting
      room.
    • Be SURE that
      your presentation actually runs on the computer/projection system in the
      meeting room.
    • Be SURE that
      your presentation actually runs on the computer/projection system in the
      meeting room.
    • Be SURE that
      the plots and presentation materials are easily visible and of publication
      quality.
    • Be SURE that
      the spelling, punctuation, and grammar are of publication quality. 
    • Be SURE to
      have a working laser pointer, working markers, and necessary presentation
      materials.
    • Be SURE to
      have the necessary UCF and Graduate School paperwork for committee signature.
    • If you have a “remote” committee member, be
      SURE to reserve one of the remote access AdobeConnect rooms (PSB 445 or the FSI
      conference room). Working with the AdobeConnect system is not trivial and you
      need to practice talking, watching/listening, from the setup. There are always
      setup and connection issues that need to be resolved, so plan on starting the
      connection process at least 30 minutes prior to the start of the exam.
  8. The student is responsible for bringing to the defense the “Thesis and
    Dissertation Approval form” for the Committee’s signature.
  9. Students should present the following information to the Committee at
    the defense: Degree audit showing that all requirements up to the defense have
    been satisfied, listing of publications, listing of presentations, and
    scientific meetings attended.
  10. Written results including comments on the
    dissertation from the Committee are due within three days of the defense.  The following outcomes are possible:

    • The Committee may approve the dissertation,
      approve it subject to revisions to be approved by the advisor, or require a
      redefense.
    • A redefense must occur within one year. At the second defense, if it is
      not successful, the committee will decide if the student may be given the
      option for a Master's degree (following PhD Dissertation Defenses only) or
      failure and removal from the program without a conferred degree.

4.0 Participating Faculty:

Professor Daniel Britt

Professor Humberto Campins

Professor Joshua Colwell

Lecturer James Cooney

Assistant Professor
Adrienne Dove

Associate Professor Yan Fernandez

Professor Joseph Harrington

Assistant Scientist Dr.
Ashley Kehoe

Associate Scientist Dr.
Thomas Kehoe (FSI)

Associate in Planetary
Science Research Dr. Philip Metzger (FSI)

Associate in Planetary
Science Research Dr. Gal Sarid (FSI)