May 23, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
2023/2024 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Evolutionary Biology, Ph.D.

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(Major Code: 04016) (SIMS Code: 771485)

The cooperating faculties of the Department of Biology, San Diego State University (SDSU) and the Graduate program in Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology (EEOG) at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) offer a joint program in evolutionary biology leading to the Ph.D. The research interests of the participating faculty cover a wide range of topics in evolutionary biology.


Undergraduate Preparation for Admission. Applicants for admission to the doctoral program must present evidence of adequate preparation and capacity for advanced work in evolutionary biology. Preparation should include a strong background in biology. 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, Riverside, and San Diego State University.

Advising Committee. At the start of the student’s first year in the program, the student will form a Guidance Committee. This committee will consist of four faculty members, two chosen from each institution. From SDSU, the committee must include the student’s prospective dissertation adviser and an additional, programmatically appropriate, member. From UCR, the committee members will be drawn from faculty within the EEOB graduate program. In consultation with the student, the Guidance Committee plans the student’s program through Advancement to Candidacy.

Course Requirements. The Guidance Committee works with the student to develop an individualized course of study and identify potential deficiencies. Students in the joint doctoral program will have similar requirements as students in UCR’s EEOB graduate program. Specifically, the joint doctoral students will take the Theory of Evolution (UCR Biol 216) and at least two disciplinary courses (see below; the two required disciplinary courses must cover different disciplines; at least one disciplinary course must be taken at UCR). In addition, the students will enroll in a current research topics seminar course during each UCR quarter or SDSU semester of residence. The majority of required course work should be completed prior to the Written Qualifying Examination, which is taken at the end of the second year. All required disciplinary courses (see below) must be completed before taking the Oral Qualifying Examination. An example of the required coursework and anticipated schedule for completion is presented below:

Year One at SDSU

Year Two at UCR

  • UCR BIOL 216 - The Theory of Evolution

Each Quarter of Residence

  • UCR BIOL 252 - General Colloquium in Biology (or another disciplinary colloquium)
  • UCR BIOL 265 - Advances in Population and Evolutionary Biology

At Least One of the Following Courses

  • UCR BIOL 211 - Ecology: Genes to Ecosystems
  • UCR BIOL 212 - Ecological Systems in Space and Time
  • UCR BIOL 213 - Behavioral Ecology
  • UCR BIOL 214 - Evolutionary Genetics
  • UCR BIOL 217 - Population and Community Ecology
  • UCR BIOL 219 - Theory of Systematics
  • UCR BIOL 220 - Evolutionary Physiology

Qualifying Examinations

Qualifying Committee. By the end of the second year, students are expected to have taken a written qualifying examination. The written examination is evaluated by an ad hoc committee of faculty participating in the JDPEB program. The committee will have a minimum of four faculty, at least two from SDSU EB and two from UCR EEOB. Upon passing the written examination, the student (in consultation with their SDSU and UCR co-advisers) selects an Oral Examination Committee. This committee normally consists of five faculty members: a minimum of two SDSU EB faculty and a minimum of two UCR EEOB faculty, and a UCR outside committee member. The student writes a detailed research proposal and schedules an oral examination. During the examination, the candidate must defend the research proposal and may be questioned on other topics by the Oral Examination Committee.

Joint Dissertation Committee. After passing the Written and Oral Examinations, students file for Advancement to Candidacy with the Graduate Divisions at SDSU and UCR. On the petition, students state the dissertation topic and selects the members of the Dissertation Committee, to be approved by the Graduate Division. This committee will consist of at least four faculty members, including the major adviser. At least two members must be from at least two members must be from the evolutionary biology faculty of SDSU and the EEOB faculty of UCR (with approval from the Graduate Division at UCR).

Dissertation. Following successful completion of the qualifying examination, the final requirement of the Ph. D. degree will be satisfactory completion of a dissertation consisting of original and significant research carried out under the guidance of the joint dissertation committee. Requirements currently in force at SDSU and UCR must be met for completing and filing the dissertation.

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

Financial Support. The Department of Biology at SDSU endeavors to provide adequate support for all students 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 graduate teaching associate.


Graduate Advisers:
San Diego State University: E. Waters University of California, Riverside: T. Higham
SDSU Faculty: Bohonak, Burns, Clark, Flores Renteria, Hedin, Kelley, Reeder, Rohwer, Sukumaran, Waters, Zayas Ventura, Zeller.

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