MSc & PhD Overview

Updated Oct. 25, 2016

MSc & PhD Overview

EEB has an outstanding group of faculty pursuing exciting research in a broad range of topics that range from ecology (including population, community and landscape ecology, and conservation biology), to physiological ecology, to behaviour, to evolution (including genomics, evolutionary medicine, and speciation).  We have excellent graduate students who are actively engaged in their research and in many aspects of our community including reading/discussion groups, seminars and social events (e.g., Darwin Day celebrations, a departmental party in September to get together after the summer and to meet new members of the department, a departmental colloquium in April highlighting graduate student research, Friday beverages, and an annual dinner celebrating our graduate students).  Other activities include workshops that grad students and faculty organize on a range of topics including writing papers, giving presentations, using R and Python, and finding positions--both academic and those outside of universities.

Our department, which stretches across the St. George (downtown) campus, the UT Mississauga campus, the UT Scarborough campus, and the Royal Ontario Museum, has over 60 faculty members specializing in ecology, evolution and related fields. There are strong links between our department and the Centre for Global Change, the School of the Environment and other groups including government agencies (e.g., the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources); these links provide opportunities for students to do research and network with professionals in these groups. The University owns a nearby field station dedicated to research (the Koffler Scientific Reserve (www.ksr.utoronto.ca)).  The University of Toronto is a leading academic institution and provides many opportunities, including workshops, for our grad students.  Toronto is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, one of the most desirable in the world in which to live and study.

Our graduate students go on to successful careers.  For example, in a recent survey of our PhDs who graduated since 2008, almost all went on to a postdoc.  After doing a postdoc, 50% moved into faculty and/or museum positions; most of the rest are research scientists/analysts with governments or private companies.   More extensive surveys are currently underway; please contact us if you would like information about the career paths of our alumni.

'Nuts and Bolts' of  our MSc Program

  • A thesis is completed under the direction of the student's supervisor(s), assisted by a supervisory (advisory) committee, and defended at an oral examination.
  • MSc students must demonstrate competence in independent research and will do research with the goal of authoring or co-author a scientific publication.
  • The duration of guaranteed funding for the MSc program is a maximum of 16 months.
  • Students may register for a May 1 or September 1 (recommended) start date. 
  • Students must complete one graduate course (0.5 full-course-equivalent - i.e. a one-term half-course) chosen from the Courses of Instruction (for a more complete list of courses see page 9 in the EEB Graduate Handbook).  
  • Exceptional students, making outstanding progress and demonstrating research excellence in our MSc program may transfer to the PhD program.

'Nuts and Bolts' of  our PhD Program

  •  All PhD students are expected to complete an original independent research program that makes substantial and innovative contributions to their field of research. It is expected that PhD candidates will publish a number of primary scientific papers based on their research.
  • The average time to completion is 5.5 years (available on the SGS website)
  • The duration of guaranteed funding for the PhD program is four years (five years for those entering without an MSc degree). For durations longer than this, funding is available from the department as Doctoral Completion Awards, TA positions, and may be available from the supervisor; please discuss this with your potential supervisor(s). 
  • A thesis is completed under the direction of the student's supervisor(s), assisted by a supervisory (advisory) committee, and defended at an oral examination. 
  • Students must complete four graduate half (i.e., one term) courses (three courses for students entering with an MSc) chosen from the List of Graduate Courses (for a complete list of courses see page 9 in the EEB Graduate Handbook). Students transferring into the PhD from the MSc may use one graduate course (half-course) towards the PhD course requirement. 
  • Exceptional students, making outstanding progress and demonstrating research excellence in our Msc program may transfer to the PhD program. 
  • For more details on the requirements of the program, see the EEB Graduate Handbook