The PhD degree is largely about conducting research and developing your skills as a professional biologist. A substantial emphasis is placed on publishing results in high-quality journals, presentations at conferences, and grant support of the research. The department supports PhD students with a teaching or research assistantship, tuition waiver, and health benefits as long as students make acceptable progress toward the degree.

When applying to the program, it is essential that a faculty advisor (i.e. someone who will oversee your dissertation research) be identified in your application. It is highly recommended that applicants begin contacting potential advisors in the months prior to the application deadline to determine if they are willing to serve as a dissertation advisor. Applications are submitted online and require a BS degree in Biology or related discipline, a GPA > 3.0, a GRE > 50th percentile in both the Quantitative and Verbal sections, three strong and letters of recommendation, and a CV / résumé, and an Essay / Personal Statement. Previous research experience is preferred but not essential. Applications are due January 15 and enrollment starts in fall semesters. Before applying, we strongly encourage you to read this.

The PhD is a research-driven degree that requires 72 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree. Those with an MS degree can transfer up to 30 credit hours into their PhD program.

Four major milestones exist while in the PhD program:
  • Completion of coursework. A minimum of 27 formal coursework credit hours are required (MS credits may eliminate most or all of this requirement).
  • Completion of qualifying exam. This knowledge-based exam is issued after coursework and assesses a student’s potential to complete the PhD program.
  • Completion of the oral candidacy exam. This exam is conducted by the advisory committee immediately following a public dissertation proposal review. Upon successful completion of this exam.
  • Completion of a dissertation defense. This is a public presentation of the dissertation research, followed by an examination by the advisory committee about the dissertation.
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Program Tracks

Conservation Biology Track

The Conservation Biology track in the Integrative and Conservation Biology PhD program is intended to provide the academic background necessary to begin work in industry, nongovernmental organizations or government in a leadership role applying cutting-edge principles to problem solving in conservation biology. Students taking this track will be prepared to pursue an academic career.

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Integrative Biology Track

The Integrative Biology track in the Integrative and Conservation Biology PhD program embraces applied and basic research concerning ecological questions to address current concerns in the area of conservation biology. Students taking this track will be prepared to pursue an academic career.

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