Students enrolled in the Ph.D. program must complete a comprehensive examination and a thesis.
Doctoral students are registered in CABE 6992 (Doctoral Seminar) but typically are not required to take any formal courses. The comprehensive examination is normally taken just after the first year and includes an integrative review paper on a subject in Behavioural Ecology outside the thesis topic. This paper, which is designed for publication in a primary scientific journal, forms the basis of a seminar which the student presents publicly. An oral examination is conducted by the comprehensive examination committee who ask questions about the paper, the topic and their relation to broader areas of animal behaviour, behavioural ecology, biology, ecology and psychology.
Those students interested in applying to this program are encouraged to contact potential supervisors at the time of (or before) application. It is also important that the area of interest be specified on the application, and if the applicant has been communicating with a particular faculty member, that faculty member's name should be included in the statement of interest. Early in the program the student and supervisor select a committee to assist in the planning and execution of the research. This committee must accept the student's proposal before research is begun and must also certify that the completed thesis is ready for examination. Students are funded in the Ph.D. program for 48 months.
Ph.D. theses are examined at a formal public Oral Defense by one external and two internal examiners.