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FAQ for Ph.D students

Ph.D. Program in Ecology and Evolution

Stanford’s Ph.D program in Biology has a rich tradition of training world class researchers.  Our students have gone on to be professors, policy advisors, environmental consultants, and more.

Admissions
Prospective doctoral students are encouraged to contact the advisor of their interest before they apply, to express their interest in working with him or her and to learn more about the group.   Applications for graduate study are due in December.  Students with interdisciplinary interests can often be accommodated by being co-advised by two faculty members, and students with such interests should contact both faculty members of interest to pursue that route. 

Course Requirements
Ph.D. students are required to take the Current Topics series in their first year, as well as an ethics seminar. In addition, incoming students are encouraged to take courses to assemble conceptual and methodological knowledge necessary for completing dissertation work.  Courses in biology, mathematics, statistics, GES, and IPER may be of use to students, depending upon their research and professional interests.  A student’s first-year advising committee may require additional coursework on an individual basis. 

Seminar Presentation
First year students are required to give a 50 minute seminar attended and evaluated by two eco-evo faculty members. For further details, see the PhD Handbook.

First Year Paper
First year students must prepare a paper which represents a step toward the development of a dissertation proposal.  Content, format and length will be determined by the student’s primary advisor; however the first year paper must be evaluated and approved by the student’s entire advising committee. For further details, see the PhD Handbook.

Teaching
Doctoral students in ecology and evolution are required to TA for three approved courses, including one of the biology core courses (Bio41, Bio42, Bio43, Bio44X, or Bio44Y).  Summer courses do not satisfy teaching requirements.

Rotations
Doctoral students in ecology and evolution must have a primary dissertation advisor to be admitted.  However, students whose research interests involve techniques or study systems with which other research groups have expertise may in some cases conduct rotations with other eco-evo faculty, provided they have the approval of their primary advisor.  Students are encouraged to contact individual faculty members to learn if they are accepting students for rotation. 

Dissertation Proposal
During the second year, each student must pass a two-part qualifying exam. The student must prepare and defend a written dissertation proposal that outlines the student’s projected dissertation research. The proposal is evaluated by a committee of three faculty members in an oral presentation.

Advancement to Candidacy
Students are expected to advance to candidacy by the end of their second year. Advancement to candidacy is contingent upon completion of required coursework, the first year seminar and paper, the dissertation proposal, and dissertation proposal defense. 

Annual Committee Meetings
After advancement to candidacy, students are required to meet with their committee once a year, before May 15th.   Fifth-year students and beyond must meet with their committee every six months.

Dissertation Defense
For information on the final oral exam and dissertation submission, students should consult the PhD Handbook.

Funding
Students will be supported from all sources (fellowships, department, faculty, etc.) for a maximum of 5.5 years given satisfactory progress toward their degree. Students in the PhD program are provided with a stipend/salary, tuition and health insurance for four academic quarters each year. All 1st and 2nd year students are required to apply for NSF fellowships and EPA fellowships if eligible. For more information on these programs, see the Department of Biology’s Funding opportunities for PhD students page.

More information for Hopkins Marine Students
Students studying marine ecology and evolution spend one year on the main campus completing coursework and teaching requirements and then transfer to Stanford’s marine station campus in Pacific Grove, California.  For more information on unique aspects of the marine program, click here.

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