A detailed time line towards completing a PhD in EEB is available HERE.


The EEB Graduate Handbook is available HERE.


All academic affairs for graduate students in the department are directed by the departmental graduate adviser who is assisted by the administrative staff of the Graduate Division. The graduate adviser establishes, at the time of admission to graduate study, a guidance committee for each student that consists of three faculty members for each student. The guidance committee supports the student until a doctoral committee is established.

The chair of the guidance committee acts as the provisional adviser until the student secures a permanent adviser, ideally by the end of the first year. Service as a provisional adviser is designed to be provisional for both professor and student. It does not commit the professor to supervise the dissertation, nor does it commit the student to a provisional adviser. The provisional adviser serves until a permanent adviser is found and the doctoral dissertation committee is established.

Students are required, as part of their degree requirements, to find a faculty member who agrees to serve as their permanent adviser and dissertation research supervisor/chair of the doctoral committee. Students who fail to find or retain a permanent adviser and dissertation research supervisor will be placed in departmental probationary status for one quarter. If the student does not find an adviser by the end of that quarter, they are recommended for academic disqualification to the Graduate Division. Students are urged to discuss permanent sponsorship and dissertation research with faculty at the earliest opportunity, to pick a permanent adviser by the end of their first year, and are expected to advance to candidacy by the end of Winter Quarter of their third year of graduate study.

Course Requirements

Students must enroll for full-time study as defined by the university. Doctoral students must complete a minimum of 20 units of graduate-level courses (200-series). Students must take the following courses during their first year: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology M200A, 200B, and 250. Students also must complete an advanced course (100 or 200 series) in statistics, biomathematics, or bioinformatics. Other specific course recommendations are established individually for each student by the guidance committee.

Teaching Experience

Each student is required to serve a minimum of three terms as a teaching assistant.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations

Academic Senate regulations require all doctoral students to complete and pass university written and oral qualifying examinations prior to doctoral advancement to candidacy. Also, under Senate regulations, the University Oral Qualifying Examination is open only to the student and appointed members of the doctoral committee. In addition to university requirements, some graduate programs have other pre-candidacy examination requirements. What follows in this section is how students are required to fulfill all of these requirements for this doctoral program. All committee nominations and reconstitutions adhere to the Minimum Standards for Doctoral Committee Constitution.

Students are required to take the Departmental Written Qualifying Examination during their first year in residence. The examination consists of a research proposal that is eight to ten pages in length. The first version of the proposal must be submitted to the student’s advisory committee for comment by the first week of spring quarter. A final version of the proposal, which should incorporate the advisory committee’s comments, must be submitted to the advisory committee in the eighth week of spring quarter. The advisory committee evaluates and grades the research proposal as pass or not pass. The results are forwarded to the graduate adviser.

The University Oral Qualifying Examination is conducted by the doctoral committee and must be completed by the end of the second year of graduate study. Students prepare, present and defend an original written dissertation proposal, which may or may not directly build upon their research proposal for the Departmental Written Qualifying Exam. The oral examination focuses on the content of the dissertation proposal and topics directly related to it. The dissertation proposal generally follows the format of a National Science Foundation Dissertation Improvement Grant and forms the basis of the student’s oral defense of the dissertation proposal. The oral qualifying examination is graded pass, fail, or repeat. A repeated examination is graded pass/fail only. Students who do not pass this repeated oral qualifying examination and advance to doctoral candidacy by the end of winter quarter of their third year will lose fellowship support and access to departmental grants, and will be recommended for academic disqualification.

Advancement to Candidacy

Students are advanced to candidacy and awarded the Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree upon successful completion of the written and oral qualifying examinations.

Annual Committee Meeting

After advancing to candidacy, PhD students are required to have an annual committee meeting during each calendar year (July 1 – June 30). Committee meetings can be conducted in any agreed-upon format, including fully remote or fully in-person. Upon completion of the committee meeting, students must submit a signed summary of the meeting to the EEB Grad Office.

Doctoral Dissertation

Every doctoral degree program requires the completion of an approved dissertation that demonstrates the student’s ability to perform original, independent research and constitutes a distinct contribution to knowledge in the principal field of study.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of Dissertation)

Not required for all students in the program. The decision as to whether a defense is required is made by the doctoral committee.


The normative time for the Ph.D. degree is 18 quarters.

Ph.D. 6 18 24