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Systems Ecology Degree Requirements

Please read the Systems Ecology Intercollegiate Graduate Program Guidelines administered in the Division of Biological Sciences (DBS)

Masters Students:


Master's students must complete a committee-approved program-of-study composed of at least 30 semester credits of graduate-level coursework and successfully write and defend a thesis. As many as 10 credits may be thesis (BIOL 599), and at least 10 credits of the non-thesis coursework must be at the 500 level or above. Master's students must complete their program-of-study within five years.

Every Systems Ecology MS student must also complete a condensed core program in systems ecology. Additional courses will be selected in consultation with the graduate committee to support the research program and student's career goals. The condensed core program will consist of the following elements:

  • Fundamentals of Ecosystem Ecology (new 500-level graduate course including physical, biological, and social perspectives [see course description below])
  • Integrated Systems Ecology (new 500-level graduate course [see course description below])
  • Annual participation in the Systems Ecology Seminar Series
  • A Systems Ecology oriented thesis

In addition to the core program, each Systems Ecology MS student will select, under the supervision and advice of their graduate committee, relevant course work from a broad suite of graduate courses. Examples of relevant courses offered by the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Forestry and Conservation include, but are not limited to; Landscape Ecology, Terrestrial Ecosystem Science, Fluvial Geomorphology, Advanced Hydrogeology, Advanced Hydrology, Political Ecology, Advanced Problems in Environmental Policy, Community Ecology, Advanced Plant Ecology, Experimental Microbial Ecology, Forest Ecosystem Analysis, Tropical Ecosystems and Management, Wildlife Landscape Ecology, Advanced Biological Limnology, and Advanced Physical Limnology.

PhD Students:


Basic requirements are a minimum of 60 semester credits beyond a bachelor's degree. As many as 20 credits may be dissertation, (e.g., BIOL 699). The other 40 credits may include coursework, graduate seminars, or independent research (e.g., BIOL 596). Up to 30 credits can be from a master's degree as approved by the student's committee and accepted by the Graduate School. PhD students must also successfully complete comprehensive exams (written and oral) and a successful defense of a dissertation of original research. PhD Students must complete their program-of-study within seven years.

Systems Ecology PhD students must complete the PhD level core program as an integral part of their program-of-study, as well as additional courses that support their research program and career goals. The PhD level core program will consist of the following elements:

  • Fundamentals of Ecosystem Ecology (new 500-level graduate course including physical, biological, and social perspectives [see course description below])
  • Integrated Systems Ecology (new 500-level graduate course [see course description below])
  • A graduate level research methods course relevant to the student's research problem (drawn from existing courses)
  • An ecological modeling course relevant to the student's research problem (drawn from existing courses)
  • Annual participation in a Seminar Series focused on Systems Ecology and related areas
  • Comprehensive Exams (written and oral) focused on the student's Program-of-study and a of research
  • Systems Ecology oriented dissertation

In addition to this core program, PhD students will select, under the supervision of their graduate committees, relevant course work from a broad suite of graduate courses in ecology, geosciences, natural resource sciences, environmental social sciences, and other areas particularly relevant to their research problem and their career goals. Relevant courses are offered by the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Forestry and Conservation and include courses such as Landscape Ecology, Terrestrial Ecosystem Science, Fluvial Geomorphology, Advanced Hydrogeology, Advanced Hydrology, Political Ecology, Advanced Problems in Environmental Policy, Community Ecology, Advanced Plant Ecology, Experimental Microbial Ecology, Forest Ecosystem Analysis, Tropical Ecosystems and Management, and Wildlife Landscape Ecology, Advanced Biological Limnology, Advanced Physical Limnology, Environmental Planning, and Raster GIS and Image Analysis.