Frequently Asked Questions about Graduate Degrees in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology


What are the strengths of the faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Kansas?

Faculty in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology comprise some of the top scholars in the world in the disciplines of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Our work can be categorized into Biodiversity and Macroevolution, Ecology and Global Change Biology, and Evolutionary Mechanisms, but collaborations across these disciplines are the norm in our department. Research opportunities are enhanced by joint appointments of many faculty with the Biodiversity Institute and Kansas Biological Survey.

Is there a commitment from faculty throughout the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology to prepare graduate students for the competitive world of scientific research?

Yes. Our department and faculty provide students with the resources, training, and mentoring that allow them to address cutting-edge scientific questions. The faculty places a high priority on preparing graduate students to become some of the world’s best scientists.

What degrees are offered?

Students may obtain either a Ph.D. or M.A. in Botany, Entomology, or Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Admission requirements and details of the application process are described on our website.

How long will it take to complete my degree?

On average, obtaining a Ph.D. requires 5-6 years. Obtaining a M.A. takes an average of 2.5 years.

Can I have more than one research adviser?

Yes. Graduate students may be co-advised by up to two faculty advisers.

How many courses will I be required to take?

Most coursework requirements are identified by a student’s advisory committee. This provides the flexibility to tailor graduate curricula to meet the unique needs of each student. Students are expected to take graduate-level courses in ecology, evolution, and systematics. Additional information can be found in the EEB Graduate Handbook.


How will I be supported?

Graduate students in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at KU receive a financial support package. Doctoral students receive a 10-semester support package, and master’s students receive a 4-semester support package. This package is typically comprised of graduate research assistantships (GRAs) obtained by the faculty mentor’s extramural funding, graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs), and/or fellowships or grants obtained by the student through competitive processes. Non-native English speakers must pass a language test before being granted a GTA.

Will I receive summer support?

Graduate students are typically funded during the summer months by GRA support from their faculty mentor, GTAs, or student fellowships or grants.

What is a typical stipend for a graduate student?

Salaries for graduate assistantships, including GTAs and GRAs, vary depending on the level of previous experience. Salaries for 9-month appointments during the academic year average $18,000. Summer assistantships are generally 8-week appointments that average a total salary of $4,000. Students funded by these assistantships typically qualify for complete tuition sponsorship and partial fee sponsorship.

Will I have to pay tuition from my stipend?

Students receiving graduate assistantships are typically provided with full tuition sponsorship in addition to a salary. Some students on fellowship qualify for tuition assistance from KU's Office of Research and Graduate Studies.

Is health insurance available, and what does it cost?

The university offers a student health insurance plan underwritten by United Healthcare–Student Resources. Students with graduate assistantships (GTAs and GRAs) are eligible for a 75% university contribution toward premiums. Coverage for the 2013-14 academic year, including fall, spring, and summer terms, was $325 for graduate assistants. More information on this plan is available from KU’s Human Resource & Equal Opportunity office.

Life in Lawrence, KS

South Park in Downtown Lawrence


What is it like living in Lawrence?

Lawrence is a medium-sized city filled with beautiful scenery, incredible art and entertainment venues, outstanding restaurants, and historical attractions. The tree-lined main street just a few blocks from campus offers an abundance of small specialty shops, many of which cater to the diverse needs of KU students, faculty, and staff. Lawrence was recently ranked ninth by the American Institute for Economic Research on their list of best college towns (full story here). Visit Lawrence online at www.lawrence.com. For more information on things to do and see in Lawrence, visit the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce.

What is the best way to get to and from Lawrence?

Air service to and from Lawrence is best provided by the Kansas City International Airport, a 50 minute drive from Lawrence.

Is Lawrence an expensive place to live?

Compared to other communities, the cost of living in Lawrence is quite low.

Below are typical renting rates:

1 bedroom apartment – $585/month
2 bedroom apartment – $685/month
House (3-4 bedrooms) – $1200/month
Dorm room (on campus) – $3500/year

Visit Lawrence's online apartment directory at http://apartments.lawrence.com.

Below are typical utility rates:

Water – $40/month
Gas (Black Hills Energy) – $50/month
Electric (Westar Energy) – $40-100/month (depending on the season)
Cable (Knology) – $60-120/month
Internet (Knology) – $20-50/month

Will I fit in with other graduate students in the Department?

The KU-EEB student body is comprised of approximately 70 students and represents a diverse set of backgrounds. About a third of the KU-EEB student population are international students representing countries from Europe, Asia, and Latin America, as well as Australia and Canada. Domestic students attend from all over the U.S. While some students enter the program immediately following the completion on an undergraduate degree, others have previously completed a master’s degree. Some students come from non-traditional backgrounds and are completing graduate study after time in the workforce. Doctoral students constitute nearly 85% of the student body.

Will I have an opportunity to visit KU-EEB before I make a decision?

Top-ranked applicants to the program are offered travel funds to visit KU before making their decision to attend.

I have children. What is the school system like in Lawrence?

The Lawrence school district is highly regarded as being one of the best in the country. Excellent on-campus childcare centers (Hilltop Child Development Center and the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center) give priority admission to the children of KU students and provide sliding-scale fee levels.

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