Jul 18, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
2023/2024 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Ecology, Ph.D.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Campus Location

(Major Code: 04201) (SIMS Code: 771418)


The cooperating faculties of the Department of Biology, San Diego State University and the Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California, Davis offer a joint program in ecology leading to the Ph.D. The research interests of the participating faculty members cover a wide range of problems and represent the interdisciplinary nature of modern biology.

At SDSU, the research projects are underway concerning:

Coastal and marine ecology: Study of estuarine wetland functions, food webs, effects of natural and human disturbance, and interaction of native and exotic species. Population dynamics of invertebrates and fishes. Community ecology of coral reefs, kelp forests, eelgrass beds, rocky shores, and sandy beaches.

Ecosystem ecology and global change: Effects of global change (elevated CO2 and climate change) on the structure and functioning of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, including local chaparral, deserts, the Alaskan Arctic and international locations in Baja California including deserts, mangroves, lagoon ecosystems, tropical peatlands of Indonesia, the Mediterranean Basin, and the South Pacific (coastal ecosystems).

Conservation ecology: Application of ecological principles to conserve species, manage populations and genetic diversity, manage fire, and restore disturbed habitats.

A complete list of SDSU faculty and their research interests can be obtained from the graduate adviser of the program.


Undergraduate Preparation for Admission. Applicants for admission to the doctoral program must present evidence of adequate preparation and capacity for advanced work in ecology. Preparation should include a strong background in biology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. Acceptance of a student into the joint program by each institution depends on meeting the standards of admission of the respective institutions and by available facilities for research and instruction.

Residency Requirements. After formal admission to the joint doctoral program, the student must spend at least one academic year in full-time residence on each of the two campuses. The definition of residence must be in accord with the regulations of the University of California, Davis, and San Diego State University.

Advising Committee. The doctoral graduate advisers of the two institutions will establish an advising committee for the student. This committee will consist of three faculty members chosen jointly from the two cooperating institutions. In consultation with the student, the committee will develop the student’s course of study and will establish the student’s joint qualifying examination topics. At least one member of the advising committee must be from SDSU and one from UCD.

Course Requirements. Upon arrival at SDSU the advising committee works with the student to develop a course of study, which involves coursework at both SDSU and UCD and core requirements at SDSU (BIOL 645  and BIOL 745 ), UCD (three quarters of Ecology 296, two to three Ecology 290) seminars. Prior to taking the qualifying examination, students complete the course of study, including the three quarters at UCD, and develop a firm understanding of ecological principles and research methods. The student is expected to complete the qualifying examination and advance to candidacy within six semesters.

Qualifying Examinations

Qualifying Committee. A five-member committee, composed of appropriate numbers of faculty members from each of the cooperating institutions, will be recommended by the advising committee for each student and approved by the Graduate Deans from each institution. The student’s dissertation adviser cannot be a member of the qualifying committee.

The qualifying committee will conduct an oral comprehensive qualifying examination, which will evaluate the student’s understanding of modern ecological principles. The examination will focus on principles of ecology, research methods, and three areas related to the major research interest of the student. The purpose of this examination is to permit the student to demonstrate competence not only in the major research field but also in related areas of ecology.

Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, the student must make application to the Graduate Division at UCD for advancement to candidacy. Upon payment of the candidacy fee to UCD, and after approval by the graduate deans on both campuses, the Graduate Division at UCD will notify the student of advancement to candidacy.

Joint Dissertation Committee. After a student is admitted to candidacy, a dissertation committee consisting of at least three faculty members is nominated by the graduate advisers and appointed jointly by the graduate deans at SDSU and UCD. The student’s dissertation research adviser will be the chair of this committee. At least one member of this committee must be from SDSU and one member from UCD.

Dissertation. Following successful completion of the qualifying examination, the major remaining requirements for the Ph.D. degree will be publication of papers as agreed by the dissertation committee, satisfactory completion of a dissertation consisting of original and significant research carried out under the guidance of a faculty member, and presentation of an exit seminar at SDSU. Requirements currently in force at UCD and SDSU must be met for completing and filing the dissertation.

Award of the Degree. The Doctor of Philosophy degree in ecology will be awarded jointly by the Trustees of The California State University and the Regents of the University of California in the names of both institutions.

Financial Support. The Department of Biology at SDSU endeavors to provide adequate support for all students in good standing so that full time can be devoted to research, training, and study. Support includes tuition, a stipend, and funds for research supplies. All students are required to obtain teaching experience, which is normally accomplished by appointment as a graduate teaching associate.


Graduate Advisers:

San Diego State University: W. Oechel
University of California, Davis: E. Grosholz

SDSU Faculty: Anderson, Barber, Bohonak, Clark, Dinsdale, Edwards, Hentschel, Hovel, Lai, Lewison, Lipson, Long, Miller, Oechel, Reeder, Xu, Zona

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Campus Location