Prospective students

EEB offers a world-renowned educational experience in the heart of a thriving metropolitan area. Learn more about the program by exploring this website.

About the program

A typical EEB graduate student cohort consists of 10-15 students. At any given time, there are approximately 60 students in the program.

Most Ph.D. students earn their degree in five years by completing:
  • Completion of foundational and specialized coursework
  • Original research
  • At least two teaching assistantships


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Degree options

  • The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree is the cornerstone of the EEB program. See curriculum for more information.
  • Students may combine a Ph.D. degree with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) through the J.D./Ph.D. joint degree program.
    • Students admitted to both EEB and the Law School (separate applications) may combine a law degree with one of a broad range of graduate and professional degrees in health and the life sciences. This unique program cannot be found anywhere else in the country.
  • Students may complement their degree with a Graduate Minor through EEB or many other departments across the University. Examples of available minors include: Microbial Ecology, Computational Biology and Informatics, and Quaternary Paleoecology.


Please visit ClassInfo for available courses and degree requirements for the complete curriculum.

The EEB curriculum embraces a modern paradigm shift in education. Amidst the highly collaborative environment at the U of M, students can help define the frontiers of emerging scientific fields. Rather than simply following a predetermined track, students are empowered to design a program of study and research to develop skills and experiences essential to their career goals.

Students embark on the first year of the program with an innovative two-semester class. With ~12 students to 3 faculty members, “Foundations” features student-led discussions, instructor-motivated interactions, mock poster sessions, and many opportunities to develop and expressing ideas. Through the end of year two, students continue to complete coursework—including an intensive sequence of grant writing courses—and to develop original research ideas and plans.

From prairies and forests, to agricultural landscapes, to wetlands, bogs, and lakes, Minnesota’s rich ecological diversity serves are as an ideal laboratory for research. Furthermore, EEB students often explore their interests internationally—ranging from the tropical rainforests of Costa Rica to the African Serengeti to the Arctic tundra, and beyond.

All throughout, EEB fosters a deep grasp of the fundamentals set in the context of an interdisciplinary training program. Students grapple not only with scientific ideas, but also with history, philosophy, economics, and more. Graduates emerge with a well-rounded skill set tailored towards their desired career. Students receive excellent preparation for pursuit of academic careers and careers in industry, US Geological Survey, EPA, and Non-Governmental Organizations, such as the Nature Conservancy. Information on the career pathways of our former graduate students is detailed in a short summary available here


Departmental Seminar Series

In order to help students and faculty keep pace with the rapid accumulation of new knowledge and techniques in modern biological research, Departmental Seminars are held every week during the academic year. Students often help to host speakers, and all students are encouraged to meet with visiting scientists.

Graduate Seminars

EEB graduate students and faculty present formal or informal seminars, lightning talks, and more on Friday afternoons. All faculty and students are encouraged to attend each week’s seminar, which are intended to  spark wide-ranging conversations related to current research, professional issues, and career development.


Over 70 graduate faculty members hold appointments in a variety of departments within the:
  • College of Biological Sciences (CBS)
  • College of Food, Agriculture, and Nature Sciences (CFANS)
  • College of Science and Engineering (CSE)
  • College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM)
  • Medical School
Faculty research interests include:
  • Theoretical ecology
  • Population, community & ecosystem ecology
  • Behavior & ethology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Molecular evolution
  • Population genetics
  • Systematics
  • Global ecology
  • Limnology and aquatic ecology
  • Paleoecology
  • Plant ecology
  • Vertebrate & invertebrate zoology

Financial support

PhD students in good academic standing are  financially supported for at least five years:

All first-year students who are not supported by a fellowship receive either a Research or a Teaching Assistantship of approximately $19,400 and a summer salary for approximately $6,500 for a total yearly salary of  $25,900 as of Fall 2020. For the remaining years, students receive support from these sources:

  • Research Assistantships from faculty advisors                             
  • Teaching assistantships
  • Training grants
  • Fellowships