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  • College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology General Program Information

The EEOB Graduate Program Handbook provides general information about the program.

Students select one of the following specialization tracks: Evolutionary Biology, Ecology, or Physiology. While the general requirements are the same for each specialization, the course requirements differ across tracks. Information about the specific requirements for each track can be found by following the links.

The Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. degree requires demonstration of broad knowledge of Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, or Physiology, and substantive ability and accomplishment in original research. The general requirements are the same for each specialization (except for course requirements) and include (in approximate chronological order):
  • completion of basic course work (course requirements for PhD; course catalogue)
  • completion of one year of teaching (a minimum of three quarters of service as a Teaching Assistant)
  • passing the Written Qualifying Examination (instructions)
  • preparation of an original research proposal
  • passing the Oral Qualifying Examination
  • completion of research and preparation of the Ph.D. Dissertation itself
  • successful defense of the Dissertation through a final Oral Examination.


Time to completion

The normative time for completion of the Ph.D. degree requirements is six years, but students are strongly encouraged to complete the requirements within five years. During the first two years, emphasis is on course work and reading as well as initial research in preparation for Written and Oral qualifying examinations. The final two or three years are devoted primarily to research and to the writing and defense of the Dissertation. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. in Biology.


Qualifying Procedure

Students meet with their guidance committee as soon as possible in their initial quarter of study. The guidance committee is assigned by the Graduate Advisor for Recruitment on the basis of your perceived interests indicated in your statement of purpose provided with your application. The committee works with you to design an appropriate academic course of study for your degree plan and helps you select an appropriate major professor.

The Ph.D. qualifying procedure requires satisfactory completion of the written qualifying examination, preparation of a research proposal, and an oral qualifying examination. The written qualifying examination is a comprehensive examination in the field of specialization. It is normally taken in the student's sixth quarter of residence. The Oral Examination is conducted by the student's Qualifying Committee and may cover any material relevant to the interest and goals of the student, especially those in the student's area of research specialization. Work on the proposal and preliminary experiments may begin at any time but the final proposal should be submitted before the beginning of the third year. After successful completion of the Oral Examination, the student is advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. and the Dissertation Committee is formally appointed.


Requirements for the Ph.D

The format of the dissertation is somewhat flexible (e.g., it may be a formally prepared 'stand-alone' document or a collection of autonomous research papers with appropriate introductory and summary sections), but must meet with the approval of the Graduate Division and the Dissertation Committee. It is the responsibility of this Committee to decide when data of sufficient quality and quantity have been gathered to demonstrate proficiency in independent research. The final Oral Examination includes a public formal presentation (seminar) on the dissertation research followed by a question period. Once the Committee is satisfied with the dissertation, and it is filed with the Graduate Division, all requirements for the Ph.D. will have been met.

For more information please refer to the EEOB Graduate Program Handbook


The Master of Science Program

The UCR Biology Department EEOB program offers a Master's Degree based on research; we do not offer a 'coursework' M.S. degree.

Students accepted into the M.S. program should, in the first year, take basic course work in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, or Physiology and also plan and begin a research project. By the end of the second quarter, the student should select a faculty research sponsor and prepare a brief description of the proposed research. The general expectations and/or requirements include:

  • Research should be initiated by the third quarter, and students should register for Biology 297, Directed Research.
  • Twenty-four units of course work in graduate courses (200 series) in biological sciences, of which at least 12 must be courses other than 290-299. The remaining 12 units can be taken either in the 100 or 200 series.
  • Enrollment is expected in Biology 252 seminar and the 265 "lunch bunch" for all students during the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters.
  • It is generally advisable to concentrate on formal course work during the first year and on research in the second year.
  • Thesis preparation should begin no later than the beginning of spring quarter in the second year.
  • Presentation of an acceptable thesis and final oral defense of theses are required of every candidate for the M.S. degree.

For more information please refer to the EEOB Graduate Program Handbook

Progress Evaluation

For both M.S. and Ph.D. students, evaluations of progress are carried out each year by the faculty of each specialization, or a committee thereof. All evaluations are reviewed by the Graduate Advisory Committee which is responsible for making specific recommendations to the Graduate Division concerning the student's progress. It is also the responsibility of the Graduate Advisory Committee to recommend exceptions to the normal time schedule occasioned by unusual circumstances. The student is notified in writing of the results of the annual evaluation and a copy is forwarded to the Graduate Division.


Updated 16th Nov. 2009 by HMR.