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Ph.D. Program in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Ph.D. program is designed to provide a broad education. This page will provide a brief overview of the Ph.D. program, details of admissions requirements, and FAQs. For details of the program, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.

Deadline: The Ph.D. application deadline is mid-December.


Requirements of the program

E3B’s Ph.D. program in EEB trains student through a mix of course, teaching, and research requirements. All students are mentored by an advisor and a series of graduate committees during their time at Columbia. For details of these requirements, please see the Graduate Student Handbook.


Admission Requirements

For the EEB Ph.D. program, an undergraduate degree is required, preferably with a major in one of the natural sciences. It is also desirable that students have had course work in calculus, physics, chemistry, statistics, genetics, ecology, and organismal biology. Prior research experience in your subdiscipline (e.g., field biology or genomics) is helpful.

Students are only admitted to begin in the Fall semester. The GRE is no longer required. Applicants must also contact a faculty member with whom the applicant is interested in working and who may act as the applicant’s dissertation sponsor.



For further information on how to apply, please refer to the ‘Prospective Students’ page of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. You will be able to fill out an online application by following the link to the Ph.D. programs.


Fellowship Information is included in the Grad Handbook.


Frequently Asked Questions


1.What is the application deadline?

The Ph.D. application deadline is December 15th.


  1. Can I apply for Spring Admission?

No. there is no Spring Admission for the Ph.D. program.


  1. Is there a part-time option?

No, there is no part-time option for the Ph.D. program.


  1. What are the admission requirements?

An undergraduate degree is required. The GRE is no longer required. For students from countries where English is not the primary language, the TOEFL or IELTS might be required – see the International Students page of the GSAS website for details. Those who have been accepted have diverse backgrounds and qualifications. Please see the GSAS website for additional information about admission requirements.


  1. How competitive is the admissions process?

Admission is extremely competitive. In the past few years, fewer than 1 in 20 applicants were admitted. Of vital importance is contacting a potential dissertation advisor willing to mentor you through this program.


  1. Should I visit?

Visiting Columbia is an excellent idea. It will give you a chance to meet faculty and other students to get their perspective, and to see if you would like to come to school here. Before coming to visit, contact a potential advisor who can arrange to show you around. The Director of Administration and Finance will also be able to help you contact students currently in the program and answer other questions you may have.


  1. What type of fellowships or financial aid are available?

Ph.D. students are offered fellowships which cover five years of tuition, Columbia Health Insurance and Health Fees, and a stipend. Students are also encouraged to apply for external fellowships, which increase the stipend.


  1. Is there housing?

As part of the fellowship offer, Ph.D. students are guaranteed housing as long as they apply on time.


  1. What are Residence Units?

RUs are equivalent to full-time registration for a semester. Six RUs are required for the Ph.D. A student registered for RU is charged the full-time rate of tuition. Students on fellowship have their tuition paid through their award.


  1. Can affiliate faculty be my advisor?

PhD students are sometimes advised by affiliate faculty that appear on the GSAS list of sponsors. However, student support may present extra challenges in such situations, and it is advisable to contact faculty members of interest to see whether they are able to take students in a given admission cycle.


  1. How many students are in the program?

There are typically 25-30 students in the EEB Ph.D. program.


  1. Do students have a teaching commitment?

All Ph.D. students are required to serve as teaching assistants for three semesters. This is a stipulation of the fellowship.


  1. How long does it take to finish a graduate degree?

Ours is a full-time Ph.D. program. Students take 5-6 years to complete their doctorates.

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