Skip to main content

Ecology, Behavior and Evolution (EBE) Applicant Questions

What is the BioSci Ph.D. Program (EBE)?

The BioSci Ph.D. Program is separated into the BioSci Ph.D. Program (EBE) (BioSci-EBE) and the BioSci Ph.D. Program (General) (BioSci-General). BioSci-EBE is for students specifically interested in Ecology, Behavior, Environmental Science and/or Evolution, and who want to work in a lab in the EBE section.

I'm interested in those topics. Do I need to apply to the BioSci Ph.D. Program (EBE) or can I apply to the BioSci Ph.D. Program (General)?

You do not have to apply to BioSci-EBE to study these topics. Many students in BioSci-General end up joining EBE labs, and others end up working on ecological, behavioral, environmental science and/or evolutionary topics in non-EBE labs.

If I apply to the BioSci Ph.D. Program (General) and then join an EBE lab, am I then in the BioSci Ph.D. Program (EBE)?

No, you would still be a student in BioSci-General with BioSci-General requirements. If you want to be in BioSci-EBE, on your application you should:

  1. Select Ecology, Behavior, Environmental Science or Evolution as your Primary Area of Research Interest.
  2. Select an EBE faculty member as your Faculty Member 1.
  3. At the top of your Statement of Purpose (SOP) write, "This application is for BioSci-EBE."

What difference would it make for me if I apply to BioSci-EBE versus BioSci-General?

There are several key differences in the admissions process and in the programs themselves:

  1. All students entering BioSci-EBE are admitted to specific labs within the EBE section, whereas students entering BioSci-General choose their Ph.D. lab after 4+ rotations.
  2. BioSci-EBE students are supported through a different funding mechanism, which means that their stipends may be different and they may have to serve as Instructional Assistants (IA) to cover their tuition and stipend (see below).
  3. The requirements (courses, exams, etc.) are different between BioSci-EBE and BioSci-General. An overview of EBE and an overview of General highlight other key differences.

If I decide to apply to BioSci-EBE, who decides which EBE lab I would join?

In the application, you should identify one or more EBE faculty members with whom you are interested in working. To be admitted, it is necessary (but not sufficient) that at least one of them is interested in you joining their lab.

So if I am interested in BioSci-EBE, should I contact the faculty members with whom I potentially want to work?

Yes. It is crucial for BioSci-EBE applicants to contact their prospective advisor or advisors before or during the application process. You both need to be comfortable with entering into a relationship that will last for many years in graduate school and may continue for the rest of your life.

If I enter through BioSci-EBE, can I join a non-EBE lab?

This would only be possible if the non-EBE faculty member agreed to fully fund your stipend and tuition without the support of the School of Biological Sciences. This has not happened yet.

If I enter through BioSci-EBE to work in one lab, can I later switch to another EBE lab?

In principle, yes. However, switching labs even within EBE is discouraged. There are two main reasons for this:

  1. If you are admitted to a particular lab, that lab likely has funding especially for you. Switching labs complicates planning of research activities and future funding acquisition.
  2. BioSci-EBE admits fewer students per year than the number of EBE labs. Since not all EBE labs get a new student every year, switching labs introduces extra imbalance and makes the admission process more difficult.

If I am a BioSci-EBE student, do I need to teach every quarter to get paid?

No, your advisor can buy you out of teaching if they have the funding. BioSci-EBE students have been very successful at getting external fellowships (like the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship) that cover their tuition and stipend. For BioSci-EBE students, the Instructional Assistant (IA) option is a safety net.

Can I still participate in some of the other curricular tracks as a BioSci-EBE student?

Yes, several BioSci-EBE students also participate in curricular tracks like Quantitative Biology (qBio) and Microbiology.

Are there different requirements during graduate school for BioSci-EBE students?

Yes, please see curricular requirements and program timeline for EBE.

Do I need to do rotations if I enter BioSci-EBE?

Yes, you still need to do rotations, but only in at least two labs, whereas students in BioSci-General need to complete at least four rotations. The purpose of rotations is also different. For BioSci-EBE students, the purpose is solely to gain skills rather than to also decide on a lab.

How do I apply specifically to BioSci-EBE?

If you want to apply specifically to BioSci-EBE, on your application please do the following:

  1. Select Ecology, Behavior, Environmental Science or Evolution as your Primary Area of Research Interest.
  2. Select an EBE faculty member as your Faculty Member 1.
  3. At the top of your SOP, write, "This application is for BioSci-EBE."

I don't think I want to apply to BioSci-EBE, but I am interested in EBE topics and EBE labs. Is this ok? How do I indicate this on my application? What do I do?

This is ok, please write, "I am interested in BioSci-General, not BioSci-EBE," at the top of your Statement of Purpose (SOP). But, you can still select EBE research areas, and any faculty who excite you, EBE or non-EBE, for the faculty member(s) of interest question(s), on your application, and you should describe your interests in this/these area(s) and faculty in your SOP.

Can I apply to both BioSci-General and BioSci-EBE?

No, you cannot apply to both BioSci-General and BioSci-EBE. Please see questions 13 and 14 above, respectively, for how to specify which you are applying to in your application.

Which is harder to get into: BioSci-General or BioSci-EBE?

Both BioSci-General and BioSci-EBE are highly competitive.

Why is BioSci-EBE different than BioSci-General?

The primary difference between BioSci-General and BioSci-EBE is in the availability and typical sources of funding for labs in Ecology, Behavior, Environmental Science and Evolution compared to labs in other areas of biology.