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Organismic and Evolutionary Biology

Program | Faculty | Courses

The Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) is an interdepartmental program that trains master’s and doctoral students in ecology, evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and organismal biology. OEB is structured to offer broad, flexible training. Participating faculty are members of the Departments of Anthropology; Biology; Geosciences; Kinesiology; Microbiology; Natural Resources Conservation; Plant, Soil, and Insect Sciences; and Psychology as well as members of the other Five Colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith).

Prerequisites of the Program
Applicants must have substantial undergraduate training in the life sciences, with an undergraduate cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0. Applicants must submit Graduate Record Examination scores for the general test to the Graduate School. Applicants must contact potential advisers early in the application process because acceptance is contingent upon securing a prospective major adviser prior to admission. Three letters of recommendation are required. Contact the OEB Office, tel. (413) 545-0928, or email: or view the program’s website,, for further information about the program.

General Requirements
General requirements for the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology follow those of the Graduate School. Formal course requirements include graduate level courses in both ecology and evolution. OEB is currently developing core courses in Ecology and Evolution to fulfill these two requirements. The Ecology course will be offered in fall 2009; the Evolution course in fall 2010. In addition to these two core courses, a broad range of more specialized ecology and evolution electives are offered. Students are also required to take OEB 697B Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (proseminar for new OEB students), OEB 697Y Graduate Student Seminar Series (OEB student seminars) as well as two semesters of OEB 891C (OEB seminars). Statistical coursework through multivariate analysis is required. The program requires no foreign language competency.

The student’s Guidance Committee determines additional coursework. Ph.D. students are required to teach for a minimum of one semester. Both the M.S. and the Ph.D. require acceptance of a thesis with original research. The Ph.D. also requires that students pass an oral preliminary examination by the end of the second year in residence and defend a doctoral dissertation. Contact the OEB Office for a detailed description of degree requirements.