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A Top Graduate Program in Population Biology, Ecology and Evolution

The Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (GDBBS) at Emory University offers a Ph.D. program in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution (PBEE). The "Chronicle of Higher Education" ranks Emory University as number 1 in the nation for scholarly productivity in the fields of evolutionary biology and ecology.

The interdisciplinary PBEE program pulls faculty members from Emory College of Arts and Sciences (Departments of Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, and Environmental Studies), the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, the Emory Rollins School of Public Health (Departments of Bioinformatics and Biostatistics, Global Health), the Emory University School of Medicine (Department of Human Genetics and Medicine), the Emory National Vaccine Center, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Faculty members and students investigate a broad range of issues in population biology, ecology, and evolution, all by using quantitative methods and models.

The program provides graduate students with competitive financial support.

Training and Expertise in Population Biology, Ecology, and Evolution

The field of population biology crosses many levels of organization, from molecular to complex ecological systems, and as a result, PBEE research must employ a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the organization, dynamics, and evolution of natural populations. Hence, graduate students take courses not only in core subjects, such as ecology, molecular evolution, biostatical models, and applied linear models, but also in a host of electives that connect to their areas of expertise.

Graduate students conduct research in one of six areas of inquiry: bioinformatics and biostatistics; the biology of species interactions; disease ecology; ecological and evolutionary modeling; genetics of complex traits; and population and comparative genomics.

Outstanding Faculty and Research Opportunities

The program's faculty members are at the forefront of research in population biology, ecology, and evolution. Biologist Jaap de Roode has been named one of the "Brilliant 10" top scientists under 40 by the editors of Popular Science magazine, and Bruce Levin has been named to the National Academy of Sciences.

Doctoral Program Coursework and Research

Doctoral students in PBEE typically take between five and six years to complete their degrees. Students complete three laboratory rotations during their first year to help them identify thesis advisors and research topics. All students are also required to take a two-day teacher training course after their first year, and are required to gain teaching experience.

Students begin dissertation research and take written qualifying exams for the doctoral program in PBEE during their second year. After completing their dissertation research, students defend their theses both orally and in writing.

Excellent Research Centers and Facilities

Graduate students in the microbiology and molecular genetics program have the unique training opportunities through the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Emory Vaccine Center. Emory is unique in giving students the option to do dissertation work at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Competitive Financial Support

Students in the Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Emory receive tuition scholarships, health insurance, and stipends. They enjoy the low cost of living in suburban Atlanta, Georgia.

The stipend for the 2017-18 academic year was $30,000. In addition, several competitive fellowships are offered to outstanding applicants each year. These fellowships provide students with supplements to their stipends that range from $2,500 to $5,000 per year for five years, depending on the award.

Living in Atlanta

Emory University is located in a beautiful, wooded area of northeast Atlanta, Georgia, just four miles from downtown. The area serves as a hub of medical research, encompassing both the CDC and the American Cancer Society.

Midtown Atlanta is home to museums, galleries, and cultural activities that students enjoy. Atlanta's temperate climate affords students many opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking, rafting, and camping.

Degrees & Awards

Degrees Offered

Degree Concentration Sub-concentration
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degrees Awarded

Master's Degrees 3
Doctoral Degrees 2

Earning Your Degree

Part-time study available? No
Evening/weekend programs available? No
Distance learning programs available? No
Terminal master's degree available? Yes

Degree Requirements

Doctoral Degrees Entrance Exam GRE General Test
Comp Exam Required
Thesis Required


Acceptance Rate



Application Fee - Domestic
applications accepted?

Application Deadlines

Type Domestic International Priority date
Fall deadline December 1st December 1st No

Entrance Requirements

Doctoral Degree Exam GRE General Test
Doctoral Degree Requirements Minimum GPA of 3.0 in science course work (recommended)
International Students Exam Details
TOEFL: Required

Tuition & Fees

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Financial Support

Types of financial support available Fellowships
Health Care Benefits
Institutionally-sponsored Loans
Scholarship and/or loans

Student Body

Total Graduate Students
Not Reported
International Breakout (representing other countries)
Out-of-state students


Hispanic/Latino 9.09%
Black or African American 3.03%
White or Caucasian 54%
American Indian or Alaska Native Not Reported
Asian 3.03%
Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander Not Reported
Two or more races 6.06%
Unknown 9.09%


Male (36%)
Female (63%)


Total faculty
Full-time (40)
Part-time (0)
Male (36)
Female (4)


Focus of faculty research: Evolution of microbes, infectious disease, the immune system, genetic disease in humans, evolution of behavior
Externally sponsored research expenditures last year: 0

Location & Contact

Address 201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA  30322-1100
United States
Contact Dr. Michael Zwick
Email: mzwick@emory.edu
Phone: 404-727-9924
Fax: 404-727-3949