Graduate study in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology is designed to lead to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
The special areas of strength in the department are evolutionary ecology; behavioral ecology; theoretical ecology; population, community, and ecosystem ecology; ecological and evolutionary genetics; molecular evolution; epidemiology of infectious diseases; and conservation biology. The interests and research of faculty range widely over these areas, so that incoming students are able to select their adviser from among several professors working in their chosen discipline. Graduate students also have excellent opportunities for combining several areas for innovative interdisciplinary work.
The graduate program is designed to develop both the breadth and depth of understanding that will enable graduates of the department to respond to future advances in the field. At the same time, students acquire the detailed knowledge and techniques needed to become effective scientists. Each student is guided in developing a comprehensive but flexible course of preparation that is designed to meet their educational needs and goals.
In consultation with the director of graduate studies, new students work with a graduate committee to develop an individual program of course work and research. During the first two years, members of the committee recommend courses and are available for consultation on planning and initiating research projects.
Though there are few course requirements, all students are required to enroll in three departmental core courses in their first year, and by the end of their second year, students should have completed a total of six core courses; these include a sequence of fundamental papers, the journal club, a course on professional issues, and the field course on tropical ecology. Other advanced topic-related courses may be taken occasionally throughout the graduate career. Students may take graduate or undergraduate courses in the department or relevant courses in any other department, and additional undergraduate courses are recommended if a student shows an academic deficiency.
Seminars, Colloquia, and Integrated Research Seminars
Students should attend colloquia related to their interests, which are offered weekly. These colloquia feature Princeton faculty, students and outside speakers. Students enjoy the benefits of an excellent series of seminars and colloquia throughout the year which form an important part of the student’s graduate education and frequently attract faculty and student audiences from several departments such as molecular biology, chemistry, geology, and psychology. These seminars, given by eminent visiting scientists, expand the student’s educational experience beyond the bounds of expertise that can be found in the local Princeton community and keep the faculty and students abreast of the latest developments in their field.
Research and Thesis Adviser
New students are encouraged to begin research projects as soon as possible. New students work with the DGS to identify a temporary research adviser and research project. In some cases, the initial project becomes the thesis topic, but many students work on several smaller projects before beginning the subject of their dissertation. Graduate students are expected to continue their research and training during the summer at Princeton, in the field, or at another laboratory. In addition, students are encouraged to attend the meetings of scientific societies.
Generally by the end of the second semester, and certainly by the end of the first academic year, each student settles on a permanent adviser who will supervise work on the thesis.
The general examination is normally taken in the spring of the second year of study. A student may take the general examination at the end of the first year if they wish, as long as the residency requirement set by the Graduate School has been met.
The general examination consists of an oral examination, about three hours in length, conducted by the student’s dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is chosen in advance by the student and the adviser and is normally composed of four or five Princeton faculty members. The committee may also include members of other departments within the University. Should the student’s area of study warrant it, faculty members from other institutions with special competence are invited to serve on the dissertation committee.
The student submits a written review of background information relevant to the thesis topic as well as a thesis proposal detailing research objectives, preliminary progress and future plans. Questions asked during the oral examination focus on the thesis topic but also cover all scientific areas relevant to the topic of the thesis.
Qualifying for the M.A.:
The Master of Arts (M.A.) degree is normally an incidental degree on the way to full Ph.D. candidacy and is earned after a student successfully passes the general examination. It may also be awarded to students who, for various reasons, leave the Ph.D. program, provided that this requirement has been met.
Each graduate student is required to teach two terms during the first four years of the program. If a student has not secured outside fellowship support, (e.g., NSF, NSERC, etc.) an additional two terms of teaching are required.
Yearly Committee Meetings
After the general examination, the dissertation committee continues to meet with the graduate student at least once a year to discuss the student's research. The student is expected to prepare a short written summary of his or her work before each of these meetings.
Dissertation and FPO:
In order to complete the Ph.D., the committee evaluates the dissertation, and once the committee approves the thesis, the candidate has two weeks to prepare and present to the department the final public oral examination for the doctoral degree.
The Ph.D. is awarded after the candidate’s doctoral dissertation has been accepted and the final public oral examination sustained.
Each university in the Unites States of America sets its own admission standards so there isn't the same criteria for all the students and the university can decide which applicants meet those standards. The fee for each application is between $35 to $100.
After the selections of the universities you want to attend, the best of all would be to contact each university for an application form and more admission information for the international students. Moreover, for a graduate or postgraduate program it's necessary to verify the admission requirements. Some programs require that you send your application directly to their department.
Admissions decisions are based on students's academic record and different test scores, such as TOEFL, the SAT or ACT (for undergraduate programs) and GRE or GMAT (for graduate programs). Admission decision is based on your academic results and motivation.
Additional Departmental Requirements:
For Ph.D. candidates, tuition and fees during a student’s regular period of enrollment are provided in full from a student’s graduate student financial support, in the form of tuition support from fellowships, assistantships, or external sources.
The annual stipend amount provided to Ph.D. candidates during their regular enrollment is intended to support a single graduate student based on estimated costs. Master’s students or students with spouses and/or dependents may require additional resources to support their living expenses