M.A. & Ph.D. Degree Programs

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology offers degree programs leading to the Ph.D. and M.A. in a wide range of areas of biological inquiry.

Ph.D. Program

The PhD is a research degree, involving the production of a major piece of original research (the dissertation). Most recipients of the PhD from EBIO go on to teach and conduct research in a university setting, or to do research and pursue leadership roles in private or government institutions. Students form an advisory committee of faculty to help the student design a research program and choose appropriate courses. The student’s dissertation committee administers a comprehensive exam consisting of a written research proposal on the dissertation topic, a formal presentation summarizing the student’s research progress, and an oral examination about the student’s research. The dissertation committee also administers a final examination upon completion of the dissertation, the culmination of typically five or more years of study. A total of 30 hours of course work and 38 hours of PhD dissertation credits must be taken. PhD students are required to teach at least 2 semesters, generally by serving as a departmental teaching assistant.

M.A. I Program

A master’s degree with thesis is offered for students interested in continuing their training as professional biologists. For some students the MA I provides a basis for work on a PhD at the University of Colorado or at another institution, although the MA is not required for admission to the PhD program. Thirty hours of course work are required for the degree, at least 24 of which must be at the 5000 level or above, including 4–6 hours of thesis credit. The thesis topic is presented to the thesis committee as a written research proposal. The MA I final examination consists of the thesis defense; it should be scheduled within two years for full-time students.

M.A. II Program

A non-thesis master’s degree program is offered for students who are interested in obtaining a greater knowledge of ecology and evolutionary biology but who are not interested in degree work beyond the MA. This program is suitable for secondary school teachers and others whose career choices do not require a research thesis. Financial support is not guaranteed for MA II students. Thirty credit hours of course work are required for the degree, at least 24 of which must be at the 5000 level or above, including 4 hours of independent research leading to a paper to be presented to the faculty advisor. A final oral exam may be required by the student’s MAII faculty advisory committee.