Frequently Asked Questions

Can I be admitted to the program with a bachelor's degree, or is a master's degree required?

You may be admitted to the program with a bachelor's degree and an outstanding undergraduate record; a master's degree is not required, but applicants will be strongly encouraged to seek their master's prior to admission to the CRM program.

How long will it take to complete the program?

Starting with a bachelor's degree, we estimate that including required coursework, comprehensive examinations, a required internship, and a doctoral dissertation, it will take between four to seven years to complete the program. Much, of course, depends on the student’s commitment and energy.

If my overall GPA is below 3.0, or my GRE scores below the target total of 1800 will that prevent me from being accepted into the program?

Not necessarily. The admissions committee considers a variety of factors, including GPA, GRE scores, work and volunteer experience, communications skills, personal references attesting to the applicant’s academic capabilities and performance, evidence of commitment to completing such a rigorous program, and clear indication that the CRM program is compatible with the applicant's long-term career aspirations.

What is the Residence Requirement?

The residence requirement is defined as taking courses on the campus of East Carolina University or at designated off-campus residence centers. PhD students must complete at least five consecutive semesters in residence. In exceptional cases and with adequate academic justification, the departmental graduate committee may waive this requirement.

Can I hold a full-time job and still be enrolled in the CRM program?

The demands of a doctoral program, especially a multidisciplinary endeavor such as the CRM program demand large amounts of time and personal commitment, consequently students will not be admitted while holding full-time positions outside the university.  Possible exceptions may be made for applicants in CRM positions and the likelihood that they will continue to work in this area.  Applicants holding such positions must include a letter from their senior supervisor endorsing the applicant's desire to pursue doctoral study and acknowledge the time required by the applicant, and where possible, identify employee support for the applicant.

Do you accept applications for spring enrollment?

We accept admissions for the fall only.

Do I have to have an undergraduate background in biology, geology, marine biology, or archaeology to be admitted?

No. We do, however, find that students with strong undergraduate programs in the arts and sciences, with well-rounded foundations in the natural, physical, social, and mathematical sciences are well prepared for the challenges of the coastal resources management program. It may also be necessary for students to enroll in or audit undergraduate courses to prepare them for graduate work in fields for which they have little or no academic background.

What kinds of career opportunities are open to a graduate of the CRM program?

The program emphasizes breadth and diversity in order to prepare students for service in resource management agencies, private companies, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, and advocacy groups. In addition, students with strong research interests, a record of publication, and interest in an academic career will be competitive for the increasing number of college and university positions in interdisciplinary environmental studies.

Do the comprehensive exams come mainly from questions on the courses I've taken?

No. The courses provide the framework and basic information for the fields under study, but it is the student’s responsibility to read, study, and reflect broadly on the themes introduced in classes.

How long should I allow to prepare for the exams?

There is no one best answer. Few students plan for more than twelve weeks of organized review. When anticipating setting a date for exams, students should consult with their committee chair and members, students who have been through the process, and faculty members in their areas of study.

What tips have students provided on how to prepare for the exams?

Use course syllabi and bibliographies as points of departure for preparing your study plan; develop your own reading list from here;  Get to know your committee member’s academic and research interests, and meet regularly with them to discuss the progress of your review; Read everything you can in these areas; Get specific topics from professors and put together an organized study approach early in the process; Read, read, read! Review, review, review! Think, think, think!

What kinds of questions can I expect?

Compared to the amount of time allowed for review and preparation, the time allotted to the actual exams is limited. Consequently, students are expected to demonstrate mastery of their chosen tracks through their ability to synthesize, analyze, and draw conclusions from extensive amounts of information. Questions tend to fall in several broad categories. These include reviews of the major areas of controversy in a field; application of knowledge from the disciplines under review to solving a problem; a synthesis of core principles from the disciplines and their relevance to issues in coastal resources management; and problems related to your doctoral research problem.

What role does the oral examination play in the comprehensive exams?

The oral exams provide an opportunity for the student and committee members to explore and develop issues discussed in the written exams. They are considered as an integral part of the comprehensive exam process.