Graduate Program

Applying for graduate study at Berkeley?

Since 1999, Rosemary Gillespie and George Roderick have been on the faculty at UC Berkeley, in a large multidisciplinary department Environmental Science, Policy and Management.  At Berkeley, ecology and evolutionary biology are covered by several departments, but especially ESPM and Integrative Biology (IB).  The programs are very similar, often confused, with cross listed courses and professors serving on each others students’ committees; we work together a lot, and more than is typical for a large research university.  As a grad student, you won’t see much difference.  You should contact the professor in either department with whom you are most interested in working.  The websites for ESPM, IB, and Berkeley Natural History Museums are good places to see what potential advisors work on and where they work.  For grad school at Berkeley, one applies to the department with which your advisor is officially affiliated. In practice, your experience at Berkeley will be largely the same, regardless what department your advisor is in. Please ask any one of us if you have more questions about the departments.

Previously, at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, Rosemary and George advised students in both Zoology (now Biology) and Entomology, now Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences (PEPS) and we continue on the Graduate Faculty as Affiliates. Our students also participated in the Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EECB) graduate program. Respective programs should be contacted for application materials and for further information.

UC Berkeley’s graduate programs in ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation biology, and environmental sciences, are consistently ranked very highly, though one should always think carefully about the types of data that go into these rankings, and whether these sorts of data are indicative of the program in which you may be interested. US News ranks Berkeley the best graduate school for Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. Globally, Berkeley’s programs in Environmental Science were ranked first, both by QS in Environmental Sciences/Studies and US News in Environment/Ecology.  The National Research Council also ranked Berkeley’s graduate detree programs in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (ESPM and Integrative Biology) highly in its 2010 rankings (using data from 2007).  In this ranking, Berkeley had 48 graduate programs ranked in the top 10 nationally, the most of any university.  Berkeley had more NSF Graduate Research Fellows than any other school from 2000-2009 (approx. 10%, 938 out of a total 9,587, and ESPM had 10% of those).  

Click here for a useful article by Walter Carson from the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America about getting into graduate school in ecology and evolutionary biology.  If you do not have access to this, email George and he will email the pdf.  In our opinion, the comments in Carson’s pdf are right on the mark, especially the parts about choosing an advisor, visiting the school before applying, and talking to current students. Here is an article in Nature about choosing a mentor. Here is a PDF from Berkeley’s Academic Senate’s Graduate Council about best practices for faculty mentors, and what you should expect from them.

Students and postdocs in our lab have gone on to a variety of careers nationally and internationally in academia, state and federal agencies, NGO’s and foundations, and the private sector.  See our Evolab Alumni page for links to current and former students and postdocs.

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