About the Ph.D. Program

PhD-Ecology students are trained to become independent scholars with the skills and depth of disciplinary understanding to lead their own research programs.  The major emphasis is on dissertation research, with foundation knowledge provided by coursework in ecology and related disciplines.  There are three core courses required for the PhD-Ecology program: ECOL 8000 (Topics in Modern Ecology), ECOL 8310 (Population Ecology), and ECOL 8322 (Ecosystem Concepts). Students may also take additional course work in organismal and community ecology.  The program is deliberately designed to be flexible to complement the student’s background and emphasize their career objectives in ecology. Major emphasis is on course work related to dissertation research, but students are expected to develop a broad background in ecology and allied disciplines, such as evolutionary biology. A wide array of relevant courses is offered by the Odum School and other departments (especially plant biology, entomology, forest resources, genetics, geology, microbiology, and statistics).

PhD-Ecology students work with faculty mentors to design a course of study that provides rigorous theoretical and methodological training while addressing fundamental questions in basic and/or applied ecology.

Read about PhD-Ecology student Laura Naslund


The PhD in Ecology requires at least 34 hours (30 if you matriculate with a MS) [these requirements include 3 hours of ECOL 9300] to be distributed in the following way:

  • 21 hours of in-class instruction (face-to-face classes)  (16 hours must be 8000-level or above)
    • Ecology PhD requirements
ECOL 8000Topics in Modern Ecology
Choose two of the following:
ECOL 8100Evolutionary Ecology
ECOL 8310Population Ecology
ECOL 8322Ecosystem Concepts


    • Additional electives, at least 6 of which must be 8000/9000 in-class instruction (face-to-face classes), but do not have to be within Ecology


  • 9 hours of dissertation research and writing (required)
ECOL 9000Doctoral Research6 hours (maximum 14 hours)
ECOL 9300Doctoral Dissertation3 hours (maximum 3 hours)


  • If you don’t have a MS, then you will require 4 additional hours of graduate electives (these do not have to be face-to-face nor 8000-level or above, but they do need to be open only to graduate students)