General Information

Request Information
Arid Lands Resource Sciences (PHD) 
Program Description

The Arid Lands Resource Sciences Graduate Interdisciplinary Program at The University of Arizona leads to the Doctor of Philosophy degree with a major in Arid Lands Resource Sciences (ALRS). The program prepares students for careers in both academic and non-academic settings. Located in the heart of the Sonoran Desert, The University of Arizona provides a unique interdisciplinary environment as well as a natural living laboratory for the study of arid and semi-arid lands. These dynamic lands encompass nearly one-third of the Earth’s total land surface and embody one-fifth of its total population. Increasing pressures on these considerable and important regions demand increased attention be given to the ecological, economic, and socio-cultural factors that affect them. ALRS is a unique interdisciplinary doctoral program aimed at addressing the complex problems of sustainability of arid lands.

The breadth of research opportunities ALRS PhD program provides can be recognized through the research performed by its graduates and current students. Some of these areas include international development; famine, famine early warning systems, and food security; land use, history, change, degradation, desertification, management, and policy; sustainable agriculture and farming systems; remote sensing and spatial analysis; carbon sequestration; political-ecology of natural resources; ethnoecology and other ethno-sciences; economic and agricultural policy and development; economic botany; borderlands issues; globalization; civil conflict; and urban development as they relate to the arid and semi-arid lands of the world

Department/Academic Unit(s)

Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs -

The Graduate College sponsors several Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs (GIDPs) in addition to the many interdisciplinary possibilities available through regular graduate degree programs. GIDPs transcend departmental boundaries by facilitating cutting edge teaching and research at the nexus of traditional disciplines. The high value placed on interdisciplinary research and education is indicative of The University of Arizona's enthusiasm and commitment to fostering innovation and creativity among its faculty and students.


Graduate College/GIDP  
Campus where offered
Main Campus - Tucson  
Admissions Contact
Maria-Lourdes Myers
Graduate Program Coordinator
Maria-Lourdes Myers
Director of Graduate Studies
Istvan Molnar
Graduate College Degree Counselor
Abraham Edward Cooper
Tuition and Fees
Please refer to the UA Bursar's Office Tuition and Fees Calculator for up-to-date information about tuition and fees. 
Please refer to the UA Registrar's's Office Special Course Fees for up-to-date information about special course fees. 

Admissions Information

Admissions Requirements

Required Documents include:

  • A completed Graduate College application form for admission;

  • One official transcript from each university/college attended;

  • A $85.00 application fee for domestic students, and $95.00 application fee for international students.

As stated in The University of Arizona Graduate Catalog, the Arid Lands Resource Sciences Executive Committee must approve all applicants for this degree program. To assist the committee in an orderly review, we have found it advantageous to circulate among members a dossier covering those areas of most concern to the committee members. Although providing all information requested may require considerable time to prepare, the thoroughness and orderliness of the dossier is a measure of the applicant's maturity, one of the criteria by which the applicant is evaluated by the committee. The completed dossier should consist of the following:

  1. Official transcripts of all previous college or university work.

  2. Graduate Records Examination scores no more than five years old.

  3. TOEFL score for foreign applicants whose native language is not English.
    International students must demonstrate proficiency in English as one of the conditions for admission. Submission of a minimum score of 550 (or a computer-based score of 213) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is required for all applicants whose native language is not English. The 550 score is a Graduate College requirement and cannot be waived.

  4. A list of publications and special papers (whether published or not). Reprints of journal articles are helpful but not necessary.

  5. A minimum of three letters of reference. Letters should be from academic advisors as well as from professional supervisors.

  6. A curriculum vitae, giving name, date and place of birth, resume of professional work with dates of employment and identification of all previous and present employers, membership in professional organizations, academic awards, professional honors, and any other pertinent information that may be useful to the committee in evaluating your qualifications for the degree program.

  7. A brief statement, submitted separately or as part of your curriculum vitae, setting forth your long-range professional plans, such as the type of work you plan to pursue upon completion of the doctoral program.

  8. A proposed graduate program, which should include two basic areas:

    1. While not necessary, you may list specific courses by title and number. A general statement showing the relationship of various disciplines within your program is sufficient.

    2. A brief description of the type of research you plan to undertake for your dissertation.

  9. Applicants should specify one or more faculty members with whom they may wish to work. Applicants may learn more about the interests and research programs of ALRS faculty by (1) consulting the ALRS website (2) consulting the home pages of the faculty members' home departments, or (3) contacting faculty members directly (e-mail addresses provided on the ALRS website). Applicants who have contacted potential mentors are more likely to be admitted to the program, while otherwise well-qualified applicants may not be accepted if there is no mentor to match the applicant's stated interests.

  10. It is clearly understood that in many cases it will be difficult to delineate a research program without benefit of the advance course work that you will be pursuing. Nonetheless, your ability to identify a research project which can make a meaningful contribution to the understanding or solution of worldwide problems of arid lands is also a demonstration of your ability to complete an interdisciplinary doctoral program. The program is flexible enough so that you may, with the consent of advisor and dissertation committee, change the direction of your research, provided it is consistent with the goal of making a meaningful contribution to our knowledge of arid lands.

    Dossier materials are to be uploaded in UA Grad App at:

Standardized Tests

Recommended tests:
Recommended GRE Subject tests: General test only (scores no more than 5 years Old)

Minimum GRE Verbal:  130-170, in 1 point increments
Minimum GRE Quantitative:  130-170, in 1 point increments
Minumum GRE Written:  0-6 in half point increments
Minimum MAT:
Minimum TOEFL:  79 for internet based (iBT); 550 paper baed (PB)
Minimum IELTS:  7 (no subject aread below 6)

Financial Aid

GraduateTuition Scholarships and Graduate College Fellowships

The ALRS Graduate Interdisciplinary Program receives a limited amount of funding for graduate tuition scholarships and fellowships.  The awards are based upon academic merit.  Current students must indicate their desire to be considered for these awards on their annual report which is due on March 15th of each year.  New students should submit their request for consideration for these awards in writing to the graduate coordinator by March 15th.

Graduate Research/Teaching Assistantships

Students are encouraged to contact appropriate faculty to determine if funding is available for research or teaching assistantships.  The terms of these assistantships are negotiated between the faculty and student and are administered by the department that houses the funding from which the assistantship will be supported.  Also, each year the Graduate Interdisciplinary Administrative Office coordinates the recruitment and placement of Tier One teaching assistantships.  Again, students are encouraged to apply and participate in these teaching opportunities.  Application procedures and deadline will be circulated when they are made available.

Miscellaneous Funding Opportunities

Other funding opportunities include but are not limited to Peace Corp Fellows Program, Graduate Student Research Fund, AHSS: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences Graduate Fellowships,  Minority Graduate Student Research Fund, Summer Research Support Program, Minority Academic Assistance Program, Minority Student Travel Fund, Graduate and Professional Student Travel Grant Fund, Travel Incentive Program, the Dean’s Fellowship Program in the Graduate College, Michael A. Cusanovich Research Fellowship, The Herbert E. Carter Travel Award and the Raphael & Jolene Gruener Research Travel Awards in the Graduate Interdisciplinary Programs and the William E. McGinnies Fellowship.  All awards are competitive and meritorious.


Admissions Deadlines

Domestic and International Applicants:

  • Fall: Month day   December 1st
  • Spring: Month day   August 1st
International Conditional Admission
International applicants will not be considered for conditional admission by this program.
Other Information
The GRE Institution Code for The University of Arizona is 4832

Completion Requirements

Degree Requirements


Students are required to demonstrate proficiency in a foreign language. This may be demonstrated by:

  1. Passing the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) (contact the UA Testing Center at 621.7589) or individual department proficiency examination. Online information is available at
  2. Student may also present a transcript showing a grade of "B" or better in a fourth semester (undergraduate) course in a foreign language taken at an accredited college or university.

A student whose native language is not English may offer English to satisfy the foreign language requirements.


Total Credits Required by the Graduate College

Credits beyond Masters Degree: 36*

Dissertation Credits: 18

Credits Required for Minor: 9 – 15* (varies by Department/Program)

Minimum: 63 – 69

* Graduate College policy requires that at least ½ (one-half) of these units receive a letter grade of A, B or C.


The common core curriculum provides a base from which all students can proceed to more detailed studies in their selected areas of research interests. The core curriculum required of all students consists of 16 (sixteen) units in the following courses. NOTE: A grade of A, B, S or P must be received in all core curriculum.

Course # Title Units

ARL 564 The Arid and Semiarid Lands 3

ARL 565 Physical Aspects of Arid Lands 3

ARL 595a Arid Lands Current Research 1 X 4**

ARL 641 Natural & Human Impacts on Arid Lands 3

ARL 642 Use and Management of Arid Lands 3

**1 (one) unit per semester for a minimum of 4 (four) semesters.


Registration for the 18 (eighteen) required dissertation units (ARL 920) should be spread over the period actual research is being conducted. The oral and written comprehensive examinations must be successfully completed prior to registration of ARL 920 units unless prior approval has been granted by the major advisor and/or the Program Chair. Failure to successfully complete the comprehensive examinations may cause a lapse in eligibility for registration of dissertation units.


ALRS students are required to take at least one research methodology course relevant to the student’s research. An appropriate research methodology course should be identified during the student’s Qualifying Exam.

Minor Requirements


Students from other disciplines can elect to complete a doctoral minor program in ALRS.  The requirements for the ALRS minor degree are participation in ARL 564, 565, 641 and 642.  (These requirements can be modified based upon prior experience and course work if approved by the minor advisor and ALRS Department Chair).

The written comprehensive examination is given by the two minor faculty members selected for the student’s graduate committee.  Both members are required to participate in the written and oral comprehensive examination.  The minor committee members should review the dissertation and are expected to participate in the final defense.  The members of the minor should be faculty members of ALRS, but on a case-by-case basis we can substitute other tenure-track faculty with prior approval by the Chairperson in consultation with the student’s major advisor.  Also, continuing eligible faculty can be permitted to serve on committees with prior approval but they cannot serve as major advisors

Student Handbook  

Program StatisticsInformation about these numbers

Program-level Information
Application Acceptance Rate 40%
Med. Time-to-degree (years) 4.75
Department-level Information
Enrollment Percent Male 50%
Enrollment Percent Female 50%
Enrollment Percent International 50%
Enrollment Percent URM 0%

Back to statistics
Persistent link:
Last revised 11 Apr 2019