Graduate Program

Our Graduate Program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology provides training for students and fosters excellence in research and academic careers in the study of biological diversity at all levels. Because of the strength of our faculty research, and the excellence of our graduate program, we are one of the top-rated research departments in ecology and evolutionary biology in the U.S.* Our faculty members tend to take an integrative approach, each blending several approaches and disciplines. Indeed, it is fair to say that one of our greatest strengths is not a particular research area, but an attitude fostering interaction and interdisciplinary exploration. This is reflected in our extensive interactions with other units on campus.

Our department is particularly strong in the study of: (view a list of faculty)

  • genetics, molecular evolution and genomics

  • population biology

  • species interactions

  • theoretical biology

  • large-scale ecology

  • life history evolution

Principal strengths of the program include an active and well-known faculty, a superb location for field research, an outstanding seminar program that regularly brings exciting outside speakers to the Department, and the extensive interaction between students and faculty. Visiting faculty and active postdoctoral associates enrich the graduate program.

Finally, during their tenure in the EEB program, the large majority of doctoral students receive external funding for their support and/or research. Our Ph.D. graduates also have been very successful in securing postdoctoral research positions and faculty appointments.

*We are ranked #9 by 2013 & 2014 editions of US News & World Report on Best Graduate Schools and ranked #8 by NRC (2010).  For more UA rankings, see Office of the President & College of Science


Prospective Student FAQs



Where should admissions materials be submitted?
  • All admissions materials should be uploaded via the UA Graduate College's on-line admission application, including your recommendation letters, unofficial transcripts, and any supplemental materials. Official transcripts should be sent only to University of Arizona Graduate College. More on specific admissions requirements can be found here, and on the UA Grad College site.
What prerequisites are required for the EEB Ph.D. program?
  • It is recommended that applicants have a bachelor's degree or equivalent in a biology-related field. Students who have a M.S. degree in a related field are encouraged to apply. Previous research experience is highly desirable but not essential.
What is required to submit an application?
  • You will need to upload unofficial transcripts, personal statement/research statement, CV, three letters of recommendation, TOEFL scores (or other accepted English proficiency exam) for international students from non-English speaking countries, and any additional information that strengthens your application. For the English proficiency exam for international students, please see the Graduate College's website for more information.
What institution code should I use when submitting application materials, such as TOEFL scores?
  • Please use institution code 4832 when submitting all application materials. This is the code for the University of Arizona, which is used by all departments applying to the University of Arizona Graduate College.  A separate department code IS NOT necessary.

Fall 2019 Cohort Stats:

  • 6 Ph.D. students; 1 M.S. student; 1 Accelerated M.S.
  • Mean GPA: 3.41
  • 25% women, 75% men
  • 50% have M.S. degrees
Should I contact faculty with similar research interests prior to submitting an application?
  • While it is not required, applicants are strongly urged to correspond directly with faculty members whose work is of particular interest.
How do I submit my letters of recommendation?
  • As a part of the online application you will register your recommenders.  They will then be emailed instructions explaining how to upload and submit their letter of recommendation online.  While electronic submission is preferred, this email also includes information on how to submit a hard copy letter should that be necessary. (Note: You will still be able to complete and submit your application even if your letters have not yet been received).
How many letters do I need and who should they come from?
  • All applications must have a minimum of three recommendation letters.  Please do not submit more than four letters. The letters of recommendation should be written by faculty who can speak about your academic and research ability.
What is the minimum score I need on the TOEFL to be considered for admission?
  • The University of Arizona's minimum requirement for the internet-based TOEFL is 79 for the combined score. Students who have an overall score lower than 79 cannot be admitted to the Graduate College and/or any UA graduate programs. EEB has no defined cut-off for TOEFL scores other than the university minimum.  However, to be eligible for departmental teaching assistantships you must have a minimum score of 24 on the speaking portion of the TOEFL.  Your TOEFL can be sent directly to University of Arizona Graduate College, our institutional code is 4832.
Do you accept other English Proficiency Tests other than the TOEFL?
  • Yes, the Graduate College will accept the IELTS and the Pearson PTE Academic.  Please see their website for information about the minimum score required. 
What should be included in my statement of purpose?  Is there a maximum length?
  • Your statement of purpose should be approximately 1-3 pages in length and should at a minimum answer the following questions. What are your goals and objectives for pursuing this graduate degree?  What are your qualifications and indicators of success in this endeavor? 
When will I hear whether or not I am being considering for admission?
  • All application materials are due December 1 each year.  The EEB Admissions Committee begins evaluating applications immediately after this deadline and typically, the committee completes their review by mid-January. You may expect to hear something regarding the status of your application after this time.  Students who are being considered for admission will be invited to our prospective students recruitment visit (usually early February).



What are the components of the Ph.D. funding package?
  • The Department supports students making acceptable progress during the first ten semesters of the doctoral program unless other arrangements have been agreed upon at the time of acceptance. This support includes all forms of stipend support, such as teaching assistantships, research fellowships from any source, and research assistantships. Support beyond the third year is contingent upon the student's continued progress in dissertation research. Graduate Teaching Assistantships/Associateships (GTAs) provide the primary means of support for EEB Ph.D. students. GTAs teach small introductory classes, facilitate discussions in small sections connected to large lecture courses, and run laboratory sections. The typical GTA has a 50% appointment, working between 16.5 and 20 hours per week.  In addition to their stipend, Graduate Assistants also have their tuition cost waived (both in-state & out-of-state) and receive coverage of the student health insurance (for year-round student health insurance).
What is the stipend rate for fall and spring terms?
  • Graduate Assistants (both teaching and research positions) receive $9,200 per semester and Graduate Associates receive $9,500 per semester.  In addition to their stipend, Graduate Assistants/Associates also have their tuition cost waived (both in-state & out-of-state) and receive coverage of the student health insurance.  A student who passes their comprehensive exam will be promoted from Graduate Assisstant to Graduate Associate.
What is not covered by the Graduate Assistantship/Associateship benefits?
  • Graduate Assistantships/Associateships (both teaching and research positions) do not cover the mandatory fees.  It is your responsibility to to pay those fees by the first day of classes (to avoid late fees).  Information about mandatory fees can be found here.
Are international students eligible to receive Graduate Teaching Assistantships?
  • Yes, international students are eligible to receive Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs), provided that their TOEFL or IELTS scores meet the minimum requirement for teaching. The minimum scores for the teaching requirement are higher than the admissions requirement. To be eligible for a GTA, you must have a minimum score of 24 on the speaking portion of the TOEFL. For IELTS, you must have a total minimum score of 7.5 with no score lower than 7 on any section of the test. A score of 8 is the recommended level.



Does the University of Arizona offer student health insurance?  If so, how much does it cost per semester?
  • Yes, the University of Arizona offers student health insurance.  Graduate Assistants have their year-round health insurance paid for by the university as a part of their contract.  For more information, visit the Campus Health website.


More Questions?

Contact the Graduate Coordinator, Pennie Rabago at  We look forward to hearing from you soon!