For prospective Ph.D. students
Application information: The EEB application deadline is December 1 for all required materials. Applications to the EEB Ph.D. program should be submitted via the Rackham Graduate School's on-line application process. Please do not submit application materials directly to the department! Students are admitted to the doctoral program only for the fall term, which begins in September. Applications that arrive after the deadline, or remain incomplete beyond the deadline will be at a competitive disadvantage during the admissions process.
Read more about EEB's application requirements.
Ph.D. in EEB
The Ph.D. degree program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is recognized internationally for its breadth and depth in the study of ecology and evolution, which seeks to understand the origin and complex interactions of the earth's biodiversity and ecosystems. At EEB, we embrace education and research on questions such as the origins and history of species, the processes by which diversity has evolved at the molecular and organismal levels, and the ecological context in which this evolution takes place. Our faculty members are accomplished and remarkably diverse in their interests and expertise.
The Ph.D. program is intended for those interested in carrying out distinguished scholarly activities and contributing to the body of knowledge in their selected fields of specialization. Those who are awarded Ph.D. degrees are expected to have developed competence as teachers and a background in quantitative methods and techniques appropriate to their areas of study.
Completion of a dissertation research project under the guidance of a major advisor is the primary goal of EEB doctoral students. Several milestones mark progress through the anticipated five year program.
During the first year students take several courses and seminars under the guidance of their faculty advisor, while exploring their research interests. During the second year, in consultation with a research advisor, students identify a research problem, and lay the groundwork for a dissertation project. At the end of winter term of the second year, students undertake the Qualifying Examination, which consists of a faculty evaluation of a written review article, a research seminar presentation, and an oral examination. After passing all portions of the qualifying examination, students select dissertation committee members, write a dissertation proposal, and meet with their committee for a "candidacy exam." If their proposal is accepted, students will be recommended for advancement to candidacy for the fall of their third year in the program
The EEB Ph.D. program requires two terms of teaching as part of the curriculum. Through teaching, students gain experience organizing and presenting scientific material to diverse student audiences. Teaching experience is critical for anyone who chooses a scientific career, and especially for those who remain in academic positions at colleges or universities.
Ph.D. candidates complete their dissertation research under the guidance of an advisor and committee. In the final year, as research and writing are completed, candidates apply to defend their dissertation. Successful passage of the defense, and submission and acceptance of the dissertation by the Rackham Graduate School are the final steps in completion of the EEB doctoral program.
Ph.D. funding package
EEB provides an outstanding support package to doctoral students, with a guarantee of five years (10 terms + five summers) of funding, provided satisfactory progress is made. Funding typically includes academic year and summer support through a combination of Graduate Student Instructorships (GSI), Graduate Student Research Assistantships (GSRA) and department fellowships. The funding package includes a full tuition waiver, health insurance eligibility for yourself and your family, and an annual stipend of at least $24,000 for the guaranteed five years of study. (See the FAQ below for the components of the typical five-year funding package.)
In addition to these components of the EEB funding package, research and supplemental funding are available to EEB Ph.D. students through a variety of departmental sources including Block Grant programs and awards, and department-administered scholarships, as well as through Rackham and other external sources such as the National Science Foundation (NSF). Check out a select list of more funding opportunities.
Consult this list of faculty accepting students for training in their labs.
Read about EEB's varied research, field and laboratory facilities.
For specific information, see the Ph.D. requirements page.
What current students are doing
Correspondence and information
For general inquiries about the Ph.D. program, or applying to graduate school in EEB, please contact:
Graduate Coordinator, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 2019 Natural Science Building, 830 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1048. Phone: (734) 615-7338.
FAQs for prospective students
What pre-requisites are required for application to the EEB Ph.D. program?
No set pre-requisite coursework is required for acceptance to the EEB Ph.D. program. Student applications are reviewed on a holistic basis, with overall academic record, research experience and recommendations taken into consideration. However, it is recommended that students applying for admission to the Ph.D. program take the following courses during their undergraduate study:2 terms of general or inorganic chemistry, & 1 lab 2 terms of organic chemistry & 1 lab, 2 terms of physics or 1 term of physics & 1 lab, 2 terms of analytic geometry or calculus
Should I contact an EEB faculty member with whom I'm interested in working prior to/during the admissions process?
Absolutely! A suitable match with an advisor is an important part of the application review process. We encourage potential applicants to contact faculty with whom they share research interests as early as possible. A list of EEB faculty currently accepting students can be found on the website, along with faculty contact information.
What are the components of the EEB Ph.D. funding package?
EEB provides an outstanding support package to doctoral students, with five years (10 terms + five summers) of departmental funding guaranteed. Funding includes academic year and summer support with an annual minimum stipend of $23,000, full tuition waiver during the academic year, and year-round health insurance. Health insurance is provided for all dependents. Components of the funding package generally include the following, but this formula may be customized based on individual circumstances: • 1 term: pre-candidate* department fellowship (usually taken during the fall term of the second year as students undertake their preliminary examinations) • 1 term: candidate department fellowship • 6 terms: GSI (Graduate Student Instructor) appointment • 2 terms: GSRA (Graduate Student Research Assistantship) support, from advisor or external funding sources, during two academic terms (i.e. fall and/or winter) • 5 summers of support: department guarantee (includes one term of advisor GSRA support)
* Pre-candidate refers to a student who has not yet passed preliminary exams, formed a committee and advanced to candidacy via submission of Rackham paperwork. Pre-candidacy usually includes a student's first two years in the Ph.D. program.
Why is teaching required as part of the doctoral program?
The EEB Ph.D. program requires two terms of teaching as part of the curriculum. Through teaching, students gain experience organizing and presenting scientific material to diverse student audiences. This teaching experience is critical for anyone who chooses a scientific career and especially for those who remain in academic positions at colleges or universities. New GSI's are provided guidance through both EEB department-required seminars and optional resources offered through the U-M Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT)
Is there a foreign language requirement?
There is no foreign language requirement associated with the EEB Ph.D. program.
Are international students required to take English Language training?
Incoming international students must successfully complete the English Language Institute (ELI) Graduate Student Instructor workshop, a month-long course offered in July and August. At the end of the workshop, they must take and pass the Oral English Test in order to be allowed to accept a GSI teaching position. If students do not pass, they must take additional courses recommended by ELI and re-take the exam at the end of fall term. This continues each term until the student is successful. If an international student is not able to teach during their first term because of failure to pass the OET, they can be funded by the one-term of pre-candidate EEB fellowship or as a GSRA (Graduate Student Research Assistantship) by the advisor.
What if my interests change after I begin my studies?
EEB graduate programs focus on developing students as independent scientific researchers, and the programs can be flexible. Students are initially matched by mutual consent with an advisor based on shared research interests. However, students can change advisors if their interests shift significantly as they proceed through the program. It is a student's responsibility to identify and coordinate with a new advisor if they choose to switch. However, students interested in changing advisors should meet with their program director and/or the grad chair to discuss this matter prior to making any such arrangements.
Can EEB Ph.D. students earn a M.S. degree in EEB?
Yes! Ph.D. students who want an "embedded M.S. degree" listed on their transcript must fulfill the EEB Traditional Master's degree requirements, and then let the graduate coordinator know of their intentions. The department will accept up to 12 credits of relevant non-EEB department graduate credits that have been earned at UM while studying for the doctoral degree (this includes research-related credits other than EEB 990 and EEB 995, and courses such as SNRE 438, CMB 630, etc.). Thus, to earn a M.S. in EEB, at least 16 credits must be earned through EEB's course offerings.
How many years does a Ph.D. student have to complete their degree?
The progress of individual students in graduate work is monitored by the graduate chair and the Graduate Affairs Committee (GAC). At the end of their sixth year, students must petition to continue their dissertation committees, and are given notice that their committees will be dissolved if they have not defended by the end of their seventh year. A student must complete all doctoral work within seven consecutive years from the date of first enrollment in the Rackham degree program, and continuous enrollment required. Funding is only guaranteed by the department for the first five years of study (10 academic terms + five summers).
For more information about our recommendations and requirements for applying to our programs, take a look at our application information webpage.