About the Ph.D. Programs

Graduate studies at the Odum School of Ecology provide students with an interdisciplinary program that allows them to develop a broad background in ecology and related disciplines while providing rigorous theoretical and methodological training in ecology. Students work with faculty to become independent thinkers, researchers and decision-makers.

The Ph.D. program provides a scholarly setting within which a course of study can be designed to fit the individual goals of students.

Three core courses are required for the Ph.D. program: ECOL 8000 (Topics in Modern Ecology), ECOL 8310 (Population Ecology), and ECOL 8322 (Ecosystem Concepts). Students may also take additional course work in organismal and community ecology.

The program is deliberately designed to be flexible to complement the student’s background and emphasize their career objectives in ecology. Major emphasis is on course work related to dissertation research, but students are expected to develop a broad background in environmental science. A wide array of relevant courses is offered by the Odum School and other departments (especially botany, entomology, forest resources, genetics, geology, microbiology, and statistics).


Facilities of the Odum School of Ecology in Athens and off-campus provide opportunities for training in a wide variety of environments. Off-campus research facilities include the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, the Coweeta Hydrologic Laboratory, the UGA Marine Institute, the Joseph W. Jones Ecological Research Center, the UGA Center for Research and Education at Wormsloe, and the San Luis Research Station in Costa Rica.


Our graduates have gone on to successful careers in academia as well as the public and private sectors. Our alumni include college and university faculty and administrators, environmental consultants, policy analysts, conservation directors, nonprofit executives, and officers in government agencies.

The Ph.D. in Ecology program was approved by the Board of Regents in 1971.

Ph.D. in Ecology

Ecology Ph.D. students are trained to become independent thinkers with the skills and depth of disciplinary understanding to lead their own research programs.

Ecology Ph.D. students work with faculty mentors to design a course of study that provides rigorous theoretical and methodological training while addressing fundamental questions in basic and/or applied ecology. Major emphasis is on dissertation research, with flexibility to pursue coursework in ecology and related disciplines.

Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation & Ecology

The Integrative Conservation (ICON) Ph.D. program provides students with multi-disciplinary theoretical and methodological training to address complex environmental challenges in the context of human society.

ICON students choose from one of four disciplinary foci, one of which is ecology.  Integrative Conservation and Ecology students gain a deep understanding of ecology alongside broad exposure to social science and other life science disciplines. They also gain practical experience in tackling real-world environmental problems alongside conservation practitioners.

Interdisciplinary Disease Ecology Across Scales (IDEAS) area of emphasis

IDEAS is a new area of emphasis within the Ecology Ph.D. program designed to address the complex challenges infectious diseases pose to human health, social stability, and economic welfare. Approved in 2015, IDEAS takes a cross-disciplinary and cross-scale approach to address the complex challenges such diseases pose to human health, social stability, and economic welfare. Odum School faculty partner with colleagues from a number of academic and professional entities within and beyond the UGA campus to provide a unique program to train students in new ways to solve infectious disease problems occurring at the interface of different scales of biological organization.

For more information, see ideas.ecology.uga.edu.