University Program in Ecology (UPE)

Duke hosts strong research programs in ecology, with highly productive faculty from a number of departments working at all levels of biological organization- from the organism to the ecosystem. Areas of special strength include global change ecology, evolutionary ecology, and forest and marine ecology. In the disciplinary category "ecology, evolution and behavior" Duke was rated in 1993 as one of the top three programs in the nation by the National Research Council.

The University Program in Ecology was formed in 2000 to provide a common home for students who are pursuing doctoral studies of ecology in various departments across the University, including many students in the Nicholas School.

Students are admitted for doctoral work in the University Program in Ecology in one of two ways:

  1. direct admission to the program, through the Graduate School;
  2. admission to the doctoral program of one of the departments participating in the program.

    Departments participating in the Ecology Program guarantee that any student admitted via the first track is automatically admitted for PhD study in the home department of the student's major professor. Students in the latter track earn their degrees in the department sponsoring their admission and receive a Certificate of Graduate Study in Ecology from the University Program in Ecology.

The University Program in Ecology admits students with the promise of two years of financial support from the Program, following which support is garnered from the Department of the student's selected major advisor. Students are normally supported for up to five years of doctoral study if they maintain satisfactory progress towards their degree.

Students seeking admission to the University Program in Ecology should first identify one or more potential faculty advisors. After corresponding with potential advisors and being encouraged to apply, students should file an application with the Graduate School, specifying consideration by the UPE. Students can also apply to one of the participating departments, which includes those in the Nicholas School, to pursue a Certificate in Ecology (and a Ph.D. in the department's graduate program). Direct inquiries to Meg Stephens, UPE DGSA. Further information on the University Program in Ecology can be found on the program website.