Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, PhD

Program Category: PhD Programs
Chair: Shahid Naeem
Director of Graduate Studies: Dustin R. Rubenstein
Website: Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology
Email Address: [email protected]
Degree Programs: Full-Time: MA/MPhil/PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

The Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) at Columbia University was established in 2001. In creating E3B, the university recognized that the fields of ecology, evolutionary biology, and environmental biology constitute a distinct subdivision of the biological sciences with its own set of intellectual foci, theoretical foundations, scales of analysis, and methodologies.

E3B’s mission is to educate a new generation of scientists and practitioners in the theory and methods of ecology, evolution, and environmental biology. Our educational programs emphasize a multidisciplinary perspective to understand life on Earth from the level of organisms to global processes that sustain humanity and all life.

To achieve this multi-disciplinary perspective, the department maintains close ties to over 40 faculty members beyond its central core. Thus many faculty members who teach, advise, and train students in research are based in other departments on the Columbia campus, or at the partner institutions (including the American Museum of Natural History, the New York Botanical Garden, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and the EcoHealth Alliance). Through this collaboration, the department is able to tap into a broad array of scientific and intellectual resources in the greater New York City area.

Fellowships are awarded for those admitted to the PhD program in recognition of academic achievement and in expectation of scholarly success. Teaching and research experience are considered an important aspect of the training of graduate students. Thus, graduate fellowships include some teaching and research apprenticeship.

Special Admissions Requirements

In addition to the requirements listed below, all students must submit one transcript showing courses and grades per school attended, a statement of academic purpose, a personal statement, and three letters of evaluation from academic sources.

All international students whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate degree is from an institution in a country whose official language is not English must submit scores of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or IELTS.

For more information, refer to our Admissions Information and Frequently Asked Questions pages.

*GSAS will accept up to four recommendations, regardless of the number required by your program of interest. However, to be eligible for admission at GSAS, at least TWO letters must be submitted by academic recommenders.


For the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology PhD program, an undergraduate major in one of the natural sciences is required. It is also desirable that students have had course work in calculus, physics, chemistry, statistics, genetics, ecology, evolution, and other areas of organismal biology. Prior research experience in a relevant area is strongly recommended. Students are admitted to begin only in the fall semester. Applicants must also contact a full-time or adjunct faculty member with whom the applicant is interested in working and who may act as the applicant's dissertation sponsor.

Columbia has offered a PhD specialization in Evolutionary Primatology for over two decades as part of the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology (NYCEP). NYCEP, a consortium of the City University of New York, Columbia University, New York University, the American Museum of Natural History, and the Wildlife Conservation Society, provides a multi-institutional venue for doctoral-level training, which emphasizes all aspects of the behavioral, morphological, and evolutionary biology of primates. Course offerings in this program are coordinated across the NYCEP institutions.