Graduate Studies

Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems

Admission | Courses | Program | Requirements | Profile

Chairperson:  Roger C. Viadero, Jr.
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Roger C. Viadero, Jr.
Office: Tillman Hall 301
Telephone: (309) 298-1632 Fax: (309) 298-2669
Location of Program Offering: Quad Cities

Graduate Faculty


  • Roger C. Viadero, Jr., Ph.D., West Virginia University

Faculty teaching in the Ph.D. in Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems are full, associate, or temporary members of the graduate faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences or are recognized as affiliate faculty by Western Illinois University.

Learning Outcomes

For student learning outcomes, please see

 Program Description

The Ph.D. in Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems is a multidisciplinary effort that is intended to accommodate student-scientists from a variety of physical, life, and/or mathematical science disciplines. The objectives of the program are to: train scholars who create new knowledge based on fundamental research; produce graduate who are critical thinkers with the skills necessary to develop and manage complex solutions to open ended challenges; and mentor students to become recognized for their distinctive academic training and sought after for positions of responsible charge in academic, government, or private sector employment.

 Admission Requirements

  • A minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA
  • An earned thesis-based Master’s degree in a physical, life, or mathematical science from an accredited institution*
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if required by the WIU International Admissions
  • Three letters of reference
  • Statement of research interest
  • A curriculum vitae

*Applications will be accepted from students who are in the final stages of completing a Master’s degree. However, no one will be admitted to the program until he/she completes his/her Master’s degree.

Applicants who are otherwise qualified, but would benefit by taking a course (or courses) prior to enrollment as a regular student in the program, may be offered probationary admission. Conditions needed to satisfy full admission to the program will be specified and monitored by the Program Director. Students admitted on probationary status will receive a letter from the Program Director detailing requirements which must be satisfied before full admission can be granted. Probationary students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA in those courses taken to meet academic deficiencies.

 Degree Requirements

When a student is admitted to the program, he/she will be assigned a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor will be the student’s academic advisor up until the student passes the Qualifying Examination (QUAL) and establishes a Doctoral Examining Committee (DEC).

Students must complete at least 60 semester hours of credit in the following areas: core courses, 14 semester hours; electives, at least 16 semester hours; and dissertation/research, 30 semester hours. Students must maintain a 3.25 cumulative GPA, calculated at the end of each regular academic semester (fall and spring). Any student with a cumulative GPA less than 3.25 will be notified in writing by the Program Director and given one regular academic semester to meet this requirement.

All students will take a minimum of 16 semester hours of elective courses. The selection of elective courses will be made by the student in consultation with his/her major advisor. In particular, elective courses will be selected based on the academic background of each student and the needs presented by his/her area of research. Elective courses must be taken at the 500, 600, or 700 levels. Courses taken by students to meet deficiency requirements cannot be used to meet the elective course requirement.

Within three regular academic semesters (fall/spring) of completing the core courses, students must take and pass a Qualifying Examination. The QUAL will be based on topics covered in the three core courses and will consist of a written and an oral component. Upon passing the QUAL, a student is elevated to the status of “Doctoral Candidate”. Any student who does not pass the QUAL will be allowed a second attempt, which must be taken within one calendar year of the first attempt. Students who do not pass the QUAL on the second attempt will be removed from the program and may apply to a suitable master’s degree program.

Within one regular academic semester (fall/spring) of passing the QUAL, Doctoral Candidates must establish a Doctoral Examining Committee (DEC) consisting of five members. The DEC will be chaired by the student’s “major advisor”. The DEC Chair and at least three other DEC members must be full members of the Graduate Faculty and members of the ES Doctoral Program faculty. With the written approval of the DEC Chair and the Program Director, one member of the student’s DEC may not meet all of the qualifications above; however, in all cases, DEC members must hold a research-based terminal degree from an accredited institution. This provision is intended to provide an opportunity for students to benefit from the input of faculty from other institutions as well as recognized experts from private industry, government, and/or non-governmental organizations.

Doctoral Candidates must successfully complete a Preliminary Examination consisting of a written and oral defense of the dissertation research plan. The oral component of the candidate’s preliminary examination will be open to the University community. The PRELIM is generally completed within three regular academic semesters of establishing a DEC. Completion of elective coursework is not necessary for a student to take the PRELIM. At least four members of the DEC must agree that the research plan presented by the candidate is acceptable for the student to proceed.

The candidate will present his/her research to the DEC as a written dissertation. An oral presentation of the dissertation will be made by the candidate following the submission of the written dissertation. The candidate must submit the written dissertation to all members of the DEC at least four weeks prior to his/her oral defense. The oral component of the candidate’s Final Examination will be open to the University community. The DEC Chair and at least three other DEC members must agree that the dissertation and oral presentation are acceptable for the student to graduate.

I. Core Courses: 14 s.h.

ENVR 730 Environmental Systems (4)
ENVR 740 Advanced Analytic Tools in Environmental Science (4)
ENVR 750 Integrated Environmental Decision Making (3)
ENVR 799 Dissertation (3)

II. Electives: 16 s.h.

III. Qualifying Examination: 0 s.h.

ENVR 790 Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Qualifying Examination (0)

IV. Dissertation/Research: 30 s.h.

ENVR 798 Dissertation Research (1-10, repeatable)


 Course Descriptions

Environmental Science (ENVR)

730 Environmental Systems. (4) Using a systems-based approach, this course examines the outcome of physical and biological component modifications on system function. It provides the background to relate diverse and disparate facts and phenomena to one another in a dynamic environment. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program and an undergraduate or MS level course in ecology, natural resources, or equivalent.

740 Advanced Analytic Tools in Environmental Science. (4) Development and use of advanced methods for the collection and analysis of environmental science data including mathematical modeling/statistical analysis, molecular techniques, and geospatial analysis and simulation. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program and an undergraduate or MS level course in ecology, statistics, or geographical information systems (GIS).

750 Integrated Environmental Decision Making. (3) The linkages between scientific data and the information needs of environmental managers, environmental data use by the general public and public and private agencies, and the development of management plans or environmental impact statements in the creation of high-quality decisions for use of the environment at the local, regional, national and global scale are examined. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program; ENVR 730 and ENVR 740.

790 Environmental Sciences Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. (0, repeatable one time) Students will demonstrate their ability to synthesize materials from the core curriculum and communicate this information at an appropriate level in written and oral formats. Environmental Sciences Ph.D. students are required to satisfactorily complete a Qualifying Examination before being admitted to candidacy. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: Completion of ENVR 730, ENVR 740, and ENVR 750.

798 Dissertation Research. (1-10, repeatable to 48) Supervised research related to a dissertation topic of relevance to environmental science. The student will work under the supervision of a major advisor in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program.

799 Dissertation. (3) Preparation of a dissertation under the direction of a major advisor. Prerequisites: Graduate standing in the Environmental Science Doctoral Program; completion of all core courses; successful passage of qualifying exam and preliminary examination.