Master’s Degree Program in Biology, Specializing in the Ecology and Evolution of Medicine


Future breakthroughs in human health issues such as cancer, heart disease, infectious and zoonotic diseases, the human microbiome, and psychiatric illness will be advanced by a fundamental understanding and application of ecological and evolutionary principles. At UCLA, we have a vibrant Program in Evolutionary Medicine that spans multiple departments throughout our campus. Collaborations between faculty members at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and College of Letters and Sciences are at the heart of the Master’s program. The College contains a variety of top-ranked departments in the biomedical sciences as well as social sciences and there are a remarkable number of evolutionary biologists and ecologists who study health and disease across campus.

Students study advanced topics in ecology and evolutionary biology in the context of current medical practice. The program will include both coursework and experiences within the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, including Grand Round lectures at the David Geffen School of Medicine and other medical experiences. Students learn how and why ecological and evolutionary principles can be translated into biomedical successes. Graduates will be prepared for future medical and veterinary careers as well as academic graduate programs in the biomedical sciences.

The curriculum includes courses and seminars in Evolutionary Medicine and Applied Evolutionary Medicine, as well as coursework in evolution, ecology and behavior. This is a two-year program with a terminal comprehensive exam. The degree for this program will be reflected on the transcript as a Master’s of Science in Biology.

Incoming master’s students receive support packages that include two academic years (6 quarters) of teaching assistantships, which cover the cost of standard tuition and fees and provide a quarterly salary of approximately $7,500 per quarter.

For questions about the MS program and application process, please contact the EEB Graduate Student Affairs Office via email at

Steps to Apply:

There are two application deadlines for Fall 2024 admission: December 1st, 2023 and May 1st, 2024. All applicants can expect to receive admission decisions in June 2024. All application materials, including letters of recommendations and transcripts are due by stated deadlines.


  1. First complete and submit the UCLA Online Graduate School Application by the December 1st deadline. You will be asked to create an account, and we strongly recommend writing down your password. Select the Fall 2024 admission term, and Biology MS. For the Academic Program (or Biology Academic Division) option, select the MS specializing in Ecology and Evolution of Medicine – Biology.
  2. You will need the following information to complete the online application:
    1. Brief description of your research interests (50 characters max, including spaces).
    2. Prospective Faculty Advisor(s) and brief rationale. Select up to two faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (300 words max).
    3. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Supplementary Essay (800 word limit): The essay should tell the admission committee about your background in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and proposed focus, and give the committee information about your work and professional experience. The essay should address the following:
      • How did you become interested in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology?
      • What work or academic experiences prompted you to apply for a graduate degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology?
      • In what area of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology do you plan to specialize?
      • What are your career goals?

Our department in particular is looking for applicants with knowledge and creativity in their research area of interest, strong communication skills, resiliency in the face of setbacks, capacity for planning, organization, and teamwork, and high standards of ethics and integrity. We encourage applicants to share examples that highlight strengths in these areas.

    1. Personal History Statement (500 word limit): The Personal Statement is an opportunity for you to provide additional information that may aid the selection committee in evaluating your preparation and aptitude for graduate study at UCLA. Please respond to one or more of the following prompts. The University of California Diversity Statement can be found online here.
      • Are there educational, personal, cultural, economic, or social experiences, not described in your Statement of Purpose, that have shaped your academic journey? If so, how? Have any of these experiences provided unique perspective(s) that you would contribute to your program, field or profession?
      • Describe challenge(s) or barriers that you have faced in your pursuit of higher education. What motivated you to persist, and how did you overcome them? What is the evidence of your persistence, progress or success?
      • How have your life experiences and educational background informed your understanding of the barriers facing groups that are underrepresented in higher education?
      • How have you been actively engaged (e.g., through participation, employment, service, teaching or other activities) in programs or activities focused on increasing participation by groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education?
      • How do you intend to engage in scholarly discourse, research, teaching, creative efforts, and/or community engagement during your graduate program that have the potential to advance diversity and equal opportunity in higher education?
      • How do you see yourself contributing to diversity in your profession after you earn your advanced degree at UCLA?
    2. Statement of Purpose: This is a mandatory university-wide prompt for all graduate programs. Feel free to upload the statement used for the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Supplementary Essay.
    3. Names and email addresses of three recommenders. Specific instructions concerning letters of recommendation are described in the online application. Note that recommenders should be given enough time to upload letters by the December 1st or May 1st deadlines.
    4. Copy of unofficial transcripts for uploading.
    5. Curriculum vitae for uploading as a PDF or MS Word document, which should include:
      • Awards and other Distinctions. Any academic awards, prizes, honors, fellowships or other distinctions that you have received.
      • Pertinent work experience. Paid or volunteer positions, such as research internships, that you feel are relevant.
      • Any publications, or manuscripts submitted for publication, on which you are an author.
  1. ONE official, sealed copy of your academic transcripts.  Electronic transcripts are preferred and should be sent the EEB Graduate Student Affairs Office  at  . If sending physical transcripts, please have the registrar’s office of your institution send transcripts here:

EEB Graduate Student Affairs Office
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
610 Charles E. Young Drive East
University of California Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA 90095-7246

  1. International applicants should review the UCLA Requirements for International Applicants.

Please note GRE scores are no longer considered during the application review process. You may see a place for them on the general application, but do not have an official score report sent to our department.

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology MS Program is one of 18 Graduate Programs in the biosciences.