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.
At admission, students are assigned supervisors in their area of interest. It is important that the area of interest be specified on the application. 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.