The PhD in Biology is a research intensive degree which prepares you for a professional career as a researcher, teacher, policy-maker, or other leadership roles in either academia or the private sector. Students typically spend 1-2 years on course work and several years of research on the leading edge of biology. The direction and supervision of graduate work at the doctoral level resides primarily with the major professor and supervisory committee.
Students in Ecology and Evolution do not conduct rotations, but are admitted directly into the mentorship of a faculty member(s).
The overall requirements for completing the PhD are:
Establishing a Dissertation Committee: Over the course of the first year, students work with their supervisor to establish a committee. The committee is made up of the faculty supervisor, at least one tenured faculty member from outside of the Department of Biological Science, and three additional committee members.
Preliminary Exams: Students generally take their preliminary exams in (or by) their fifth semester (excluding summers). Preliminary exams are made up of a series of written exams administered by the committee, an oral examination, and the approval of a dissertation prospectus.
Course Requirements: There are no official courses required in the Ecology and Evolution area. Rather, students work with the committee to develop a program of studies. Choices often include courses in applied statistics, field methods, bioinformatics, ecology, behavior, evolution, ecological genetics, and macroevolution, among others. After passing the preliminary exams a minimum of 24 semester hours of dissertation credit is required.
Teaching Requirements: Each student must have teaching experience as a teaching assistant (TA) in at least 2 different courses.
Seminar Requirements: Each student must make 3 scientific presentations, excluding the dissertation defense. Students are encouraged to give presentations at national and/or regional meetings, and are required to give one Ecology and Evolution departmental seminar.
Defense of the Thesis:
File a Dissertation: Students must file a dissertation approved by the committee.
Thesis Masters Degree:
The Thesis Masters of Science (MS) degree involves advanced graduate classes in Biology and the opportunity to make a substantial, focused research contribution in the laboratory of a Biology faculty member who serves as the student's supervisor. Not all areas and faculty of the Department accept MS students, so be sure to review the program descriptions and contact faculty members if you are interested in pursuing the MS only.
The MS requirements should be met in two to three years. The MS degree requirements include the following:
Course Requirements: At least 30 semester hours of graduate course credit (5000 level and above courses and those 4000 level courses approved by the student's committee).
Teaching Requirement: Teaching experience in at least one course recommended by the supervisory committee and approved by the associate chair.
Seminar Requirement: One departmental presentation, excluding the formal presentation of the thesis research. MS students are encouraged to give presentations at national and/or regional meetings.
Masters Prospectus: Submission and approval of a master's prospectus.
Defense of the Thesis: Successful defense of the thesis, based on 1-2 years of original research under the advisor's supervision.
Course-Based Masters Degree:
For more information, see the course-based MS admissions page.
The Course-Based Master of Science (MS) degree is a mechanism of study for students preparing to apply for professional school, or for mid-career professionals looking for an additional graduate credential while still working. The requirements of the Course-Based MS degree can generally be completed in eighteen months to two years. The requirements include:
Supervisory Committee: Each student will form a supervisory committee in the first year that oversees the Comprehensive examination, the Directed Independent Study (DIS), and submission of the research report. The Program Director will advise students until they form a supervisory committee.
Course Work: At least 32 semester hours of graduate course credit (5000 level and above courses and those 4000 level courses approved by the student's committee), at least 21 semester hours of which must bear letter grades (not "S" or "U").
Comprehensive Examination: Students must pass a written comprehensive examination that is administered by the student's Supervisory Committee. The students must have a 3.0 or greater grade point average to be eligible to take the comprehensive examination.
Directed Individual Study (DIS) Requirement: Students must submit a written research report upon completion of either two semesters of a research-based DIS or a literature-based DIS.