Ph.D. Certificate Program

Biogeoscience Advanced Graduate Certificate Overview

Ph.D. students enrolled in any of the participating programs qualify to complete the “Certificate Program in Biogeoscience.” Admission to the certificate program requires the submission of an official application to the Program Director (Lucy Hutyra). The one page application is reviewed by the program chair and advisory committee, with admission based on the student’s potential and match of interests with the program’s mission. Upon completion of the certificate program, students are required to submit a certificate program completion form to the Program Director (Lucy Hutyra), in order to receive their official certificates upon graduation.

Upon successful admission, students are required to complete 16 credits of coursework: Colloquium in Biogeoscience (2 credits), Practicum in Biogeoscience (2 credits), one course in Biogeophysics (4 credits), one course in Biogeochemistry (4 credits), and one course in Methods in Biogeoscience (Statistics, Modeling & Geospatial Sciences; 4 credits). See below for list of course offerings in each area.

The certificate program is designed such that requirements can be fulfilled as part of, and not in addition to, requirements for the Ph.D. degree in the student’s home department. Many students will complete more than the 16-credit requirement for the certificate because of their interest in the subject matter. Each student admitted into the program is required to constitute a five-member Ph.D. committee. At least two of the members must be drawn from participating faculty, one of whom must be outside of the student’s sponsoring department. This latter requirement, in combination with the coursework requirement, ensures strong, interdisciplinary education and training in biogeoscience.

Biogeoscience Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate academic mastery in Biogeoscience.
  • Attain research expertise and complete original research that advances a specific field of study within the field of Biogeoscience.
  • Be prepared to enter the job market.
  • Communicate research questions and results to the scientific community and communicate research findings and wider implications of Biogeoscience research to the general public.

Colloquium and Practicum in Biogeoscience

This two-semester course series focuses on topics and applied questions in Biogeoscience, is taught annually, and serves as a focal point for students and faculty participating in the program. It is highly recommended that this yearlong pair of courses (Colloquium & Practicum) be taken in sequence. This is not required, however, because extenuating circumstances such as spring admission to the program and travel for research could excuse interested and otherwise qualified students. Because the course instructors for this two-part series rotates annually, students are encouraged to take the colloquium and practicum more than once.

The two-credit fall Colloquium (GRS EE/BI 719) includes talks by participating faculty and speakers from outside BU (see our Seminar Calendar) followed by an intensive reading and discussion period. In addition to providing a foundational course in interdisciplinary research, the colloquium introduces new students to faculty research at Boston University and brings together the Boston University community of scientists in the field of biogeoscience. All participating Ph.D. students are encouraged to attend the research seminars beyond the year in which they are enrolled for course credit.

In the spring semester, students complete a two-credit Practicum in Biogeoscience course (GRS EE/BI 720) or Urban Biogeocience and Environmental Health Applied Research Methods course (GRS EE 765). Students can choose between either course. Both practicum courses focus on an in-depth analysis of an emerging topic in Biogeoscience and are designed to teach students how to read and organize information from the primary literature, develop basic data synthesis techniques, and prepare a position paper. The specific topics vary from year to year and are determined by the faculty member organizing each course.

Biogeoscience Course Offerings


  • CAS EE 503 Micrometeorology: Energy and Mass Transfer at the Earth’s Surface (Mark Friedl)
  • CAS EE 504 Physical Climatology (Bruce Anderson)
  • CAS EE 511 Introduction to the Atmospheric Boundary Layer (Dan Li)
  • CAS EE 512 Urban Climate (Dan Li)
  • CAS EE 514 Dynamic Land Surface Hydrology (Guido Salvucci)
  • CAS EE 533 Quantitative Geomorphology (Sergio Fagherazzi)
  • CAS EE 543 Estuaries and Nearshore Systems (Sergio Fagherazzi)
  • GRS EE 683 Geodynamics II: Fluids and Fluid Transport (Dan Li)


  • CAS BI/EE 530 Forest Ecology (Pamela Templer)
  • CAS EE 540 Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Change (Jeffrey Geddes)
  • GRS BI 648 Biodiversity and Conservation Biology (Richard Primack)
  • GRS EE 656 Terrestrial Ecosystems and the Carbon Cycle (Lucy Hutyra)
  • GRS EE 675 Urban Ecology (Lucy Hutyra)

Statistics, Modeling, and Geospatial Sciences:

  • CAS EE 501 Advanced Topics in Remote Sensing (Curtis Woodcock)
  • CAS EE 505 Geographic Information Systems (Suchi Gopal)
  • CAS EE 509 Applied Environmental Statistics (Michael Dietze)
  • CAS EE 516 Multivariate Analysis for Geographers (Mark Friedl)
  • CAS EE/BI 529 Modeling and Monitoring Terrestrial Ecosystems Processes (Ranga Myneni)
  • CAS EE 585 Ecological Forecasting and Informatics (Michael Dietze)
  • GRS EE 622 Aquatic Optics and Remote Sensing (Jeffrey Geddes)
  • GRS EE 645 Physical Models of Remote Sensing (Ranga Myneni)

    For information on how to apply, please contact Lucy Hutyra (, Director of the Biogeoscience Program.