Graduate Program Application Guide

Application information

This page is for individuals applying to the MS (research track) and PhD programs in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.  For information about applying to the non-thesis BS-MS program in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology go here instead. Informational videos about the application process and different aspects of our graduate programs can be found here.

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact prospective advisors as early as possible, and certainly before applying, to determine whether they are accepting new students. All members of the graduate faculty in EEB may sponsor students in any of our degree programs. Click here to meet the graduate faculty and learn more about their research programs.

The application process is completed online through the Graduate School’s online application system. Note that, as part of UConn’s commitment to promoting a diverse graduate community, application fee waivers are available for prospective students who meet a number of criteria, for details see this page here. The department also has limited funding to cover the cost of application fees – if you do not meet the Graduate School’s criteria, but face significant financial constraints, talk to your prospective advisor or the head of the Graduate Admissions and Awards Committee (currently Louise Lewis).

Applications are reviewed once a year, beginning December 15th; submission prior to this date is strongly encouraged. Applications are evaluated by the departmental Graduate Admissions and Awards Committee, in consultation with prospective advisers. Letters offering admission to the program are sent out on a rolling basis throughout the spring. Accepted students are requested to notify the department of their decision to accept or decline the offer of admission and financial support as early as possible, but no later than April 15.

This FAQ page addresses common questions about applying to the program.

You will be guided through the application process by the online system used by the University; the application requests the following materials:

  1. Formal graduate school application pages and application fee. Be sure to check the box indicating that you are applying for financial support. Applicants are strongly encouraged to indicate interest in being considered for any internal fellowships for which they are eligible. PhD applicants may be considered for Jorgensen and Harriott fellowships; MS applicants for Crandall fellowships. A complete description of these programs is available here. All applicants should also indicate interest in Graduate Assistantships.
  2. Transcripts. Unofficial versions can be submitted online; if admitted, you will be required to submit official copies to the Graduate School. It is not necessary to submit official copies at this stage.
  3. Personal essay. Rather than a traditional essay, you will be asked to respond to the following prompts. Provide what information you can for each and note that the Admissions Committee recognizes that not everyone will have detailed answers to every question. Aim to be concise in your responses, and write “not applicable” when appropriate. Suggested word counts are guidelines, but the application system will not accept unlimited responses.
    • Describe your reasons for going to graduate school and your long-term career goals. (approximately 100 words)
    • Describe your research interests, the scientific questions that you hope to address as a graduate student, and your motivations for choosing this topic. If you have ideas about specific hypotheses you would like to test, study systems you think might be suitable, or approaches you would take, please provide that information as well. The Admissions Committee recognizes both that not everyone will know these details when they apply, and that research directions often change once a student enters graduate school. (approximately 400 words)
    • Tell us which prospective advisor(s) you have contacted or who you think might be suitable, and why you think they would be a good mentor given your research interests and career goals. A list of faculty members who can serve as primary advisors for EEB graduate students can be found here: Although contact with potential advisors is not required before applying, it is very strongly encouraged. (approximately 100 words)
    • Describe any prior research experience, including the research teams you worked with, the topics studied, your role in the research, the skills you gained, any math or computing skills learned, and any papers or other products that you were directly involved in creating. It is not necessary to repeat everything that is in your CV (see below); use this section to highlight the points that you think are most relevant to your planned graduate research. (approximately 400 words)
    • Describe any other relevant work or teaching experience that you believe has helped prepare you for graduate work. This could include non-academic work experiences, for example those that demonstrate commitment, a strong work ethic, ability to work in a team, ability to work independently, etc. Also use this section to describe non-research skills that might be relevant to your planned graduate work. (approximately 150 words)
    • Describe one obstacle you have faced in research, work, or life and how you either overcame it, or used the experience to inform your future outlook or actions. (approximately 150 words)
    • Describe any activities you have engaged in, or would develop, that demonstrate a commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion in science and which would enrich the UConn EEB department. (approximately 150 words)
    • Please tell us anything else you would like the Admissions Committee to know. (approximately 200 words)
  4. Curriculum Vitae. The format of your CV is up to you, and you should not worry about a strict one-page length limit, often advocated for resumes. For application to our graduate program, the most important things are that you include the following information, and that each item is easy to find in the document:
    • Your educational background, including colleges and universities attended; grade point average (GPA) for each, along with the scale if not out of 4.0 (or equivalent information if an international student); and a list of classes that are especially relevant to your graduate school plans.
    • A list of paid and unpaid jobs you have held, separated into those that are research related and those that are not. Any other research experiences should also be clearly identified.
    • A list of any formal presentations (talks and posters) you have given (do not include class presentations, but do include both intra- and extra-mural research presentations).
    • A list of any publications you have written, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, research-related reports, etc. If you were not first author, briefly describe your contribution.
    • A list of any awards, scholarships, fellowships, or research grants you have received, including the title of each, who you received it from, and (if applicable) the amount of funding.
    • Information about other skills and activities in which you are involved, especially those that might be related to your planned research. For example, if you plan to do field research, information like wilderness training, first aid certification, boating skills, etc. might be relevant. If you hope to work overseas, language skills might be important. Mathematical and computing skills, including coding experience, should also be listed here.
  5. Three academic letters of recommendation. You will be asked to enter contact information into the online system; recommenders will then be notified by email about how to submit their letters directly to the university. Ideally, letters should come from individuals with whom you have worked in a research (field or lab), job, or coursework setting. The individuals who furnish your letters of reference should provide candid evaluations of your aptitude for research, training, motivation, scholarly promise, teaching talent, and ability to express yourself orally and in writing. Detailed comments are much more useful to the Admissions Committee than broad generalizations. Professors or other academic supervisors who know you are generally the best choice, because they have experience writing letters for graduate school positions and usually have the best idea of what type of information Admissions Committees are looking for.
  6. TOEFL or IELTS scores may be required by international applicants for whom English is not their primary language. The Graduate School provides additional guidance for international applicants here.
  7. GRE scores are not required, and will not be considered by the Admissions Committee.

    EEB Contact Information

    If you have additional questions about the application process, please contact Harrison Goodale, the EEB admissions coordinator:

    Harrison Goodale
    Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
    75 No. Eagleville Road, Unit 3043
    Storrs, Connecticut 06269-3042
    Tel. (860) 486-4319
    Fax: (860) 486-6364