Advising Information


All students must maintain an average of at least three grade points per unit (B) in all courses taken for a grade during residence. All courses taken to satisfy degree requirements during residence must be taken for a letter grade, except those for which letter grades are not normally assigned.

Faculty Roles

Graduate students will have a major professor who serves as the student’s research adviser and a faculty member who serves as an academic adviser. In addition faculty serve on a guidance committee for each student. Plan I MS students will also have a thesis committee. Students working towards a Ph.D. also have an oral exam committee and a dissertation committee. Each of these individuals and committees plays a role in helping a graduate student reach his/her educational goals.


The major professor guides and directs a graduate student’s research. A major professor is identified for each student as a condition of admission to the graduate program. Once in the program, students are allowed to select a new major professor among the faculty in the Graduate Group in Soils & Biogeochemistry. The choice is subject to mutual agreement by the student and the major professor.


Students are assigned an Academic Adviser who maintains student records, is available for advice on course requirements, who answers academic questions and who is the liaison between the student and the Dean of Graduate studies. The liaison role is to recommend examination, thesis and dissertation committee membership to Graduate Studies. The academic adviser is also responsible for appointing a Guidance Committee and for completion of various official forms and documents such as the advancement to candidacy form and qualifying examination committee nomination form.


The Guidance Committee consists of the academic advisor, the major professor and an additional Graduate Group member. It is appointed by the academic adviser when a new student begins his/her graduate program. A graduate student may discuss the membership of the guidance committee with both his/her major professor and academic adviser. The Guidance Committee assists the student with academic planning such as course selection and timing and serves as another source of academic information. A student's program of study is subject to the approval of his/her graduate adviser and guidance committee. The guidance committee will meet as needed until the student advances to candidacy or passes the MS exam. Either the student or any member of the guidance committee may request guidance committee meetings. Typically, the guidance committee will meet once a year. The guidance committee will meet more often in the first year of a student’s residency.


The MS thesis committee consists of the student’s major professor and no fewer than two other faculty. The members of the committee are typically selected through consultation between the student, the major professor and the guidance committee. The academic adviser nominates the committee to the Dean of Graduate Studies. The Dean makes the official appointment. The thesis committee advises the student, supervises the student’s research and has the final authority to review and approve the thesis. It is the responsibility of the student to keep the thesis committee informed of his/her progress.


The Ph.D. qualifying examination committee membership is determined by the academic adviser after consultation with the graduate student. Typically five members of the faculty serve on the committee. The Office of Graduate Studies requires that one member of your committee be external to the graduate group. It has been the tradition of the Soils & Biogeochemistry Graduate Group that the student’s major professor does not serve on the examination committee. The Dean of Graduate Studies appoints the qualifying examination committee after nomination by the academic adviser. The committee examines the student in each of the five major areas of soil science: soil chemistry, soil fertility and plant nutrition, soil genesis and classification, soil microbiology, and soil physics.


Typically, the committee consists of the major professor and two or three additional faculty members. The committee may not consist of fewer than three members. The academic adviser in consultation with the major professor and graduate student determines committee membership. The student submits the advancement to candidacy form to Graduate Studies with the recommended committee membership following successful completion of the qualifying examination. The dissertation committee is formally appointed by Graduate Studies based upon the recommendation of the academic adviser after the student has submitted the form. The dissertation committee advises the student, supervises the student’s research and has the final authority to review and approve the thesis. It is the responsibility of the student to keep the thesis committee informed of his/her progress.

Time Limitations

The maximum time that a student may remain in the Soils & Biogeochemistry Graduate Program is five years for the MS degree and ten years for the Ph.D. degree.


The current year's student fees are available from the Office of Resource Management and Planning. Domestic students may establish residency in one year, however international students are subject to nonresident tuition in each quarter of registration. International students advanced to candidacy are eligible for a 75% reduction in nonresident fees. In state educational fees for students on 25% or greater research assistantship positions are paid as part of the research assistantship. Nonresident tuition fee waivers are available on a competitive basis for both domestic and international students.