Programs of Study

Overview

Research

Mentored independent research is at the core of both the MS and PhD degrees in Organismal Biology, Ecology, & Evolution. OBEE does not have a rotation system, so incoming students generally join their advisor's lab and begin developing research plans in their first semester.  However, it is not uncommon for students to be co-advised on thesis/dissertation projects that bridge labs and even disciplines.

Coursework

OBEE graduate students tailor individual programs of study that support their research and professional development goals, so required coursework is limited. To develop depth in the focal area and breadth beyond, all incoming MS students take at least one of our three core courses and PHD students generally take all three. To foster communication skills, students are required to participate in our two seminar series as both presenters (Noon Seminar Series) and engaged audience members (Ecology & Evolution Series). In their first semester, both MS and PhD students must take a discussion course associated with the E & E Seminar Series (BIOB594, offered every semester), which also includes extra content oriented toward incoming students in the Fall offerings. Otherwise, the content of graduate coursework reflects an individual student's interests and needs, as agreed upon with their advisor and committee.

Beyond the two Core Courses BIOB505 (Core 1) and BIOB506 (Core 2), OBEE graduate students have many course options for gaining skills and knowledge, and to fulfill Graduate School credit requirements. Numerous seminar-style courses (e.g., Advanced Evolutionary Genetics and Genomics, Advanced Plant Ecology, Conducting Strong Inference Science) meet regularly to discuss topics of shared interest. For those seeking to bolster knowledge in a specific field, most topical 400-level courses (e.g., Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, Comparative Animal Physiology, Freshwater Ecology) in OBEE and related programs may be taken for graduate credit with supplement.  Useful courses focused on modeling and data analysis (e.g., Using R for Biostatistics, Programming for Genomics, Integrated Population Modeling) are offered through Biology, as well as Wildlife, Forestry and Math. Most students also take research or thesis/dissertation credit each semester.

Examinations

PhD students advance to candidacy after successfully defending a dissertation proposal (generally by end of the 2nd year) and passing comprehensive exams (written and oral, generally taken by Fall of the 3rd Year). MS students advance to candidacy after successfully defending a thesis proposal (generally by end of 1st year).

MS Program of Study

  • 1 OBEE Core Course
  • 30 credits of committee-approved coursework; up to 10 may be thesis (BIOB 599); 10 non-599 credits must be at 500 level; see Grad Regs for additional limits on credits for courses with repeatable numbers (e.g., BIOB 595)
  • Research seminar in 2nd year
  • Research thesis, successfully proposed and then defended

*Each year, in addition to other forms, the annual review form must be submitted by April 1 for review by the OBEE Graduate Student Evaluation Committee.

MS Deadlines

Year  Date Activity OBEE Forms
1 November 1 Choose advisor, select committee, agree on coursework plan coursework form
April 1 Defend thesis research proposal (written submission of proposal with budget/timeline + oral defense) committee meeting form
2 anytime in 2nd year OBEE noon seminar (a 2nd year seminar is required even if the defense is delayed until 3rd year) annual review form
6 months prior to defense

Advance to MS candidacy

1 month prior to defense Submit thesis to committee for approval for oral defense
7 days prior to defense Approved thesis made available to OBE faculty
3 days prior to defense Approved thesis submitted to Graduate Dean (must be 18 days prior to end of semester)

*For additional details, please see the OBEE Graduate Program Regulations (OBEE Regs). For guidance on UM paperwork for graduation etc., please see Zooey Raasch (DBS Grad Programs Coordinator) in HS 104.

PhD Program of Study

  • All 3 OBEE Core Courses (or committee approval to skip)
  • 60 credits of committee-approved coursework; up to 20 may be dissertation (BIOB 699); see Grad Regs for specific limits on credits for courses with repeatable numbers (e.g., BIOB 595)
  • Research seminar each year after 1st
  • Dissertation Proposal (generally by end of 2nd year)
  • Comprehensive Exam (written and oral, generally by Fall of 3rd year)
  • Dissertation

*Each year, the Annual Review form (signed by advisor) must be submitted by April 1 for review by the OBE Graduate Student Evaluation Committee. The Committee Report form is filed after each committee meeting.

PhD Deadlines

Year  Date Activity OBEE Forms
1 November 1 Choose advisor and select provisional committee 
April 1 Committee approval of coursework plan and dissertation pre-proposal coursework form
2 anytime in 2nd year OBEE noon seminar (this is not a proposal defense per se, but is required)  
April 1 Defend dissertation proprosal (written proposal, oral defense - committee only) committee meeting form
3 December 1 Comprehensive Exam, advance to candidacy (must be > 6 months prior to defense) annual review form
anytime in 3rd year

OBEE noon seminar

4 anytime in 4th year OBEE noon seminar
5 anytime in 5th year OBEE noon seminar (PhD defense counts, but the seminar is required even if defense is delayed)
1 month prior to defense Advisor-approved thesis made available to committee
7 days prior to defense Committee-approved thesis made available to OBEE faculty
7 days prior to defense Approved thesis submitted to Graduate Dean (must be 4 weeks prior to end of semester)

*For additional details, please see the OBEE Graduate Program Regulations (OBEE Regs). For guidance on UM paperwork for graduation etc., please see Zooey Raasch (DBS Grad Programs Coordinator) in HS 104.