Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Ph.D.


All curricular requirements are aimed at preparing students for timely and successful completion of a doctoral dissertation. The Ph.D. curriculum in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) includes six stages: 1) required coursework, 2) the comprehensive examination, 3) the qualifying examination, 4) two quarters of teaching experience, 5) submission of at least one paper for publication, 6) the research, writing, and defense of the dissertation.

Advancement to Candidacy

Course Requirements

Core Courses

Ph.D. students must take BIOE 200A and BIOE 200B in the fall of the first year, and BIOE 279 in the winter of the first year. Two quarters of BIOE 203 are taken before the end of year 2. In addition, two quarters of BIOE 215 (formerly BIOE 295), or one quarter of BIOE 215 and an additional quarter of BIOE 203 seminar, should be completed by the end of the third year.

BIOE 200AScientific Skills


BIOE 200BAdvanced Organismal Biology


BIOE 203Introductory Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


BIOE 200CEvolutionary Ecology


BIOE 215Advanced Seminar in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


The following courses must be taken every quarter the student is in residence.

All students must be enrolled in at least 15 credits per quarter, unless on approved part-time status.

BIOE 281Graduate Seminar


BIOE 294Ecology, Evolutionary Biology Seminar



Either this course

BIOE 297Independent Study

or this course

BIOE 299Thesis Research

BIOE 297 or BIOE 299 is required, not both. BIOE 297 is taken until the student advances to candidacy. BIOE 299, thesis research, is taken after the student advances to candidacy.

Elective Courses

BIOE 208Marine Ecology


BIOE 245Plant Ecology


BIOE 245LField Methods in Plant Ecology Laboratory


BIOE 247Community Ecology


BIOE 239Mathematical Modeling and Data Science in Ecology and Evolution


BIOE 238Modeling Evolution and Ecology


BIOE 258LExperimental Marine Ecology


BIOE 262
/CSP 245
Facilitating Change in Coastal Science Policy


BIOE 271Disciplinary Communication for Biologists


BIOE 272Population Genetics


Teaching Requirement

Each Ph.D. student is expected to complete at least two academic quarters as a teaching assistant during their graduate career.

Pre-Qualifying Requirements

The comprehensive examination is completed in the spring quarter of the first year. This is a written examination, the goal of which is to examine the student’s breadth and depth of knowledge of evolution, ecology, organismal biology (including physiology and behavior), and general biology. The student should demonstrate a level of knowledge of basic biology ranging from an introductory level in fields most removed from the student’s focus area to a more substantial and advanced level in fields closer to the student’s focus area.

Qualifying Examination

The qualifying examination, also known as the proposal defense, is completed no later than the third year of the Ph.D. program. The goal of this two-part examination is to establish the student’s proposed dissertation project. Students submit a dissertation research proposal to their qualifying exam committee and defend it in an oral examination. The proposal should be submitted no less than 10 business days before the oral defense. The proposal defense must be completed by the spring quarter of the third year and be followed by a departmental seminar on the student’s research proposal. Students advance to candidacy after having completed all required coursework, the comprehensive examination, and the qualifying examination.



Within EEB, a dissertation usually contains three or four chapters that comprise original research, each of which is substantial enough to be published in a scientific journal, plus a short introduction and a conclusion/synthesis. The conclusion synthesizes the results of the dissertation as a whole, reflects on how novel insights come from the whole body of work, and may point the reader toward future research directions.

At least one chapter of the dissertation must be submitted to a refereed journal for publication as a final program requirement before receipt of the Ph.D.

Dissertation Defense

The dissertation is defended in a three-hour closed oral examination and then presented in a departmental seminar.

Academic Progress

Normative time to degree is six years, though it is possible to complete the program in less time. Academic progress is formally reviewed in the spring quarter of each academic year.

Applying for Graduation

Information for applying for graduation may be found on the EEB Graduate Program website. Deadlines should always be confirmed with the Graduate Program coordinator.