Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology

We are happy to announce that the Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology program at the University of Arizona is accepting applications!

All applications and all application materials must be submitted through the UA Graduate College application web page (

If you are presently enrolled at the University of Arizona, you must still apply to the certificate program through the Graduate College.

Applications are due not later than April 15, annually.


The Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research (LTRR) at the University of Arizona (UA) is pleased to offer a “Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology.”

The LTRR is the world’s premier tree-ring research laboratory with the most diverse curriculum in dendrochronology, and this certificate will serve to increase awareness of this unique opportunity for UA and non-UA graduates and professionals. Indeed, no other college or university in the country offers a degree or graduate certificate in dendrochronology.

The certificate is available to graduate students and non-degree seeking professionals interested in dendrochronology. The certificate program serves primarily to provide a baseline and structure that will guide students to the set of courses that the LTRR faculty deem essential for well-rounded training in dendrochronology. The LTRR expects this training will aid students and professionals in their careers by demonstrating their competence in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of dendrochronological data.

This certificate is offered, in part, to fill a need for a formal record and acknowledgement of dendrochronology education obtained at the LTRR, which has become increasingly apparent as LTRR graduate students seek recognition on their transcripts of the unique and diverse training and skills obtained. Similarly, visiting scholars and professionals who come to UA and attend sets of courses now have the possibility of obtaining a formalized certification of their successful completion of our courses and training workshops.

Certificate Name and Description

“Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology”

The Certificate is not affiliated with any existing degree program and is an interdisciplinary stand-alone certificate. It can be pursued by students in addition to a graduate degree(s), or by non-degree seeking professionals enrolled for formal study at UA.

The Certificate is administered by a Committee composed of LTRR faculty. The LTRR faculty collectively hold joint appointments in a variety of departments and schools (e.g., Anthropology, Atmospheric Sciences, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Geosciences, Hydrology and Water Resources, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Natural Resources and Environment, Geography and Development, etc.) and colleges (e.g., Agriculture and Life Sciences, Science, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Public Health, etc.). The committee (minimum 3 core faculty) choose a chair to serve as the “Graduate Certificate Program Coordinator” – the primary contact for interested parties.

Current Coordinator: Dr Paul Sheppard (

Certificate Requirements

To obtain the Certificate, students must complete a 12-unit program of study that includes 7 units of core courses and at least 5 units selected from a list of approved Advanced Courses. Core courses focus on establishing proficiency in dendrochronological methods and theory, while Advanced Courses focus on a variety of related applications of dendrochronology in the behavioral, environmental, and social sciences. The program is designed for students to begin in the fall semester and complete in one to two academic years. All courses in the curriculum are taught at the University of Arizona.

Core Curriculum (7 units)

The core curriculum consists of seven (7) credit hours of regular classroom instruction. All courses listed in the section must be completed at graduate level at the University of Arizona. None of the Core Curriculum requirements can be substituted (e.g., met through transfer credits or exempted based on previous educational experience or degree) or waived, except as noted:

GEOS/ANTH/WSM/GEOG 539A Introduction to Dendrochronology (4 units)
Description: Survey of dendrochronological theory and methods. Applications to archaeological, geological, and biological dating problems and paleoenvironmental reconstruction. Emphasis on dating methods, developing tree-ring chronologies, and evaluating tree-ring dates from various contexts.
This course can be substituted only for students who have taken the undergraduate-level co-convened course at the University of Arizona (GEOS/ANTH/WSM/GEOG 439A). In this case, the student is not required to repeat the graduate course and the units requirements can be satisfied by replacing these four units from Advanced Courses listed below.
NOTE: This course was previously listed as GEOS/ANTH/WSM/GEOG 464/564. As the curriculum, outcomes, and course description were the same as the course listed above, “Introduction to Dendrochronology” completed at the University of Arizona prior to the implementation of this Certificate program will be accepted for this requirement.
GEOS/ANTH/WSM 597C Dendrochronology Workshop (2 units)
Description: The practical application of theoretical learning within a group setting and involving an exchange of ideas and practical methods, skills, and principles.
At least two units must be included. Units in excess of two can be applied towards the Advanced Course requirements below, with a maximum of four total units applied to this certificate.
This course can be substituted only for students who have taken the undergraduate-level co-convened course at the University of Arizona (GEOS/ANTH/WSM 497C). In this case, the student is not required to repeat the graduate course and the units requirements can be satisfied by replacing these four units from Advanced Courses listed below.
GEOS/ANTH/RNR/GEOG/WSM 594 or 694 Practicum (1 unit)
Description: The practical application, on an individual basis, of previously studied theory and the collection of data for future theoretical interpretation.
A guided study of a specific dendrochronology-related research topic proposed by the student. The result is expected to be an original presentation of approximately 45 minutes given at the LTRR’s “Tree-Ring Talk” lecture series. This component will be overseen by a faculty member in the LTRR, typically one who specializes in the student’s primary area of interest.

Advanced Courses (5 units)

The remaining five (5) units must be chosen from the courses listed below:

GEOS/WSM 595E Topics in Dendrochronology, Dendrochronology Colloquium (up to 9 units)
Description: The exchange of scholarly information and/or secondary research, usually in a small group setting. Instruction often includes lectures by several different persons. Research projects may or may not be required of course registrants.
GEOS 585A Applied Time Series Analysis (up to 3 units)
Description: Analysis tools in the time and frequency domains are introduced in the context of sample data sets drawn from ecology, hydrology, climatology and paleoclimatology. Students optionally use their own data in assignments applying methods.
GEOS/ANTH/WS 597I Practical Dendroclimatology (up to 3 units)
Description: An intensive introduction to the practical application of dendrochronology to paleoclimatology.
GEOS/ANTH/WS 597J Dendroarchaeology (up to 3 units)
Description: An intensive introduction to the practical application of dendrochronology to a selected topic drawn from archaeology, ecology, forest science, or geosciences.
GEOS 597K Dendroecology (up to 3 units)
Description: An intensive introduction to dendroecology, the study of ecology through the use of the tree-ring record, theory and techniques of dendrochronology and applications to forest ecology. Lectures, laboratory training, and a multi-day field trip including data collection.
GEOG 696M Geography and Dendrochronology (up to 3 units)
Description: This graduate-level seminar will focus on a review and discussion of the literature on various topics in dendrochronology. The goal of the seminar is to become familiar with the current body of research on the featured topic, and to critique a set of papers that have appeared in the peer-reviewed literature.

Other Requirements and Limitations

The certificate must be completed in 4 years or less. Students enrolled at the UA as of fall 2011 (when this certificate was initially approved) who have been continuously enrolled in a program of study, and have coursework applicable to earning this certificate that is more than four years old may request a waiver of this limitation. Individual requests will be considered by the Certificate Committee but, per Graduate College guidelines.

All units from the Certificate are applicable to a degree program, unless otherwise limited by University or degree program policy.

All courses must be letter graded (except the required Practicum, for which a grade of “S” or “P” must be achieved to apply).

A GPA of 3.0 must be maintained. Only one grade of “C” will be allowed. No Grade Replacement Opportunity (GRO) will be allowed in the Certificate program.

Student Learning Outcomes

The Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology is designed to build student proficiency in formulating a feasible research question, identify the tree-ring data set appropriate for addressing the question, collect and analyze the appropriate tree-ring data using qualitative and quantitative methods, interpret those data in a meaningful way, and present the results to the professional community. The course offerings provide the theoretical and methodological foundations of the field, yet allow for maximum flexibility to meet individual student needs and interests.

Student Admittance/Advising/Completion

The Certificate is free-standing and available to University of Arizona graduate students in all departments and registered non-degree-seeking professionals. Students must be admitted to the University under the requirements of the Graduate College. Concurrent enrollment in a degree program is allowed, but not required. No prerequisites or standardized tests are required for admission.


Students must formally apply to the Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology program, via the Graduate College. Admission materials will include, but is not limted to, program application (online), past transcripts of all previous university coursework, a one page statement of background and goals, and contact information for two professional references (letters may requested by the LTRR Committee).

Selection of participants will be based on submitted materials (per above). The Committee will be responsible for reviewing applications, at least once annually. The Committee may review applications more often, should demand merit additional review(s). Students are recommended for admission by the LTRR Committee to the Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology program only. Prospective students must also meet the requirements for admission into the Graduate College. Recommendation for admission by the LTRR Committee does not guarantee admission by the Graduate College.


Students wishing to complete the Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology will be formally mentored by the LTRR faculty member most closely associated with the student's interests (often this is a thesis advisor or committee member). The Graduate Certificate Program Coordinator will be available to advise students only in matters related to the Certificate. Students are responsible for coordinating with academic advisors in their degree-granting units, if so enrolled, as needed.


Credits from other universities may NOT be transferred to the Certificate.

As there is no degree program in dendrochronology, only a certificate. Students currently in a degree program may change to another degree program (e.g., Anthropology, Geography, Hydrology) while they continue to pursue the Graduate Certificate in Dendrochronology, provided they meet the appropriate requirements in both programs. Students in the Certificate Program who wish to apply to a degree program must follow the regular University and program admissions policies.

Certificate and Student Outcomes

The Committee will take a multi-faceted approach to assessment, including informal feedback and formal assessment instruments. Each year the Committee will meet annually to review:

  • initial student assessment for entrance into the program
  • recruitment strategies and publicity
  • program curriculum in light of Student Learning Objectives, faculty resources, and student needs

Expected Faculty Participation

As the “cradle” of dendrochronology (the field was formalized here in the early 20th century) and leading institution in multi- and inter-disciplinary applications of tree-ring research, the LTRR houses the largest and most diverse collection of faculty with expertise in dendrochronology in the world.

The University of Arizona is uniquely positioned to offer this Graduate Certificate. All faculty members in the LTRR collaborate with scholars in other departments, and in many cases advise graduate students pursuing their degrees in several different departments. Dendrochronology is by necessity interdisciplinary, and the University of Arizona’s strengths in many related fields provides an unmatched opportunity for students pursing the Graduate Certificate.

The Core and Joint faculty list at are expected to play active roles in recruiting, teaching, and encouraging students to complete the Certificate.