Ph.D. Degree

For the Ph.D. in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, the student must complete a minimum of 30 credits, a minimum of 18 course credits (12 credits 500 level or above), and a minimum of 6 credits thesis research. Most EES PhD students take many more credits than this. A program of study, including a list of courses to be taken, should be completed in consultation with your advisor and signed off by your entire graduate advisory committee. The student is expected to form a graduate advisory committee and to submit this fully signed program of study to the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Graduate Coordinator by the end of the second semester of study. The student’s graduate advisory committee will be composed of a minimum of five faculty from at least two different home departments.

To be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D., the student must successfully complete a comprehensive examination consisting of written and oral questions prepared by their graduate advisory committee. The structure of the written and oral exam depends largely on the traditions of the advisor’s home department. Timing and grading also depend on the advisor, advisory committee, and home department traditions. Students should work with their advisor and graduate advisory committee members to understand the structure and expectations of the comprehensive exams. In general, students are expected to take the written component of the comprehensive examination by the end of the second year of study. The Graduate School provides relevant forms related to comprehensive exams that students should make themselves aware of and complete. Graduate School rules regarding failed exams apply.

Prior to initiation of the dissertation research, each student should prepare a written thesis proposal and present a thesis-proposal seminar to their graduate advisory committee. This proposal may or may not be a public seminar, depending on the advisor’s preferences. The seminar should discuss the objectives, hypotheses, background, literature and methods of the proposed research investigation.

After the doctoral candidate has completed the research dissertation, the student must undergo a thesis defense administered by their graduate advisory committee after approval by their advisor. This defense will consist of a public seminar and open question session followed by a separate session of questioning by the student’s graduate advisory committee. Upon successful completion of the thesis defense and final revision of the dissertation, the student will be awarded the Ph.D. degree. It is expected that the student will complete the Ph.D. within four years.

Students will be expected to meet all general requirements of the Graduate School not explicitly indicated here. Students wishing to petition for modification of any of the degree requirements specific to the program of Ecology and Environmental Sciences must make a formal written request to their graduate advisory committee and the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Graduate Coordinator for approval.