University News

WIU's First Ph.D. Program Gains Approval

February 3, 2014

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL - The Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Higher Learning Commission have granted approval to Western Illinois University to establish a Ph.D. program in environmental science. The new degree program, which focuses on large river ecosystem, will be available at the WIU-Quad Cities Campus.

"We are pleased the University's first Ph.D. program has been approved and that students can begin their studies in Fall 2014," said WIU President Jack Thomas. "Students in Western's environmental science doctoral program will gain the knowledge and skills necessary to find solutions to regional, state and national environmental problems."

WIU also currently offers a doctoral program in educational leadership (Ed.D).

The degree will allow WIU to advance its position as a leader in environmental research on the upper Mississippi River, noted Provost Ken Hawkinson.

A multidisciplinary committee of WIU faculty members developed the proposal for the new program. They are affiliated with geography, biological sciences, mathematics and the WIU College of Arts and Sciences Dean's Office. The committee was assisted by a number of organization representatives, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and River Action.

"It is a great honor to host this program, its students, faculty and staff in our new Riverfront facilities," said Vice President for Quad Cities and Planning Joe Rives. "We are grateful for the community support and partnerships as Western Illinois University continues to grow, innovate and thrive in the Quad Cities."

Roger Viadero, director of the WIU Institute for Environmental Science, will direct the new Ph.D. program. In addition to faculty assigned full-time to the ES doctoral program, other WIU teaching and research faculty lend their expertise in support of the program.

To qualify for the program, students must have earned a thesis-based master's degree in a physical, life or mathematical science and fulfill several other requirements. The 60-semester hour degree includes 14 hours of core curriculum that focuses on the connection between environmental compartments, the development of advance methods for the quantitative analysis of environmental data and the integration of the principles into environmental decision-making.

For more information on the new degree program, visit

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