Animal Biology
Head of the Department: Andrew Suarez
515 Morrill Hall
505 South Goodwin Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
(217) 333-7801

Major: Biology
Degrees Offered: M.S., Ph.D.
Graduate Concentration: Ecology, Ethology & Evolution (in all degrees)

Medical Scholars Program: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Biology-Ecology, Ethology & Evolution and Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) through the Medical Scholars Program

Graduate Degree Programs

The Department of Animal Biology administers graduate degree programs as concentrations in biology. Areas of training include the broadly defined disciplines of Animal Behavior, Biomechanics, Comparative Anatomy, Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Genetics/Genomics and Physiology.


Acceptance for graduate study in animal biology is based on the applicant's research potential and academic achievement. An undergraduate degree in the life sciences is the usual preparation, but students majoring in mathematics, computer science, or the physical and social sciences are also considered. Courses required for admission are inorganic and organic chemistry, a year of physics, and mathematics through calculus. Students lacking one or more of these courses may be admitted with the provision that such deficiencies be completed in addition to the normal graduate course load. A grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) for the last two years of undergraduate work in a four-year undergraduate degree program or the last three years of a five-year undergraduate program and for any graduate study is mandatory. Considerable emphasis is placed on a student's interest and ability in research as demonstrated by previous work and letters of recommendation. Applications are considered for fall admission only. The deadline for application materials is December 15. A minimum paper-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 570 (230 on the computer-based version, 88 on the internet-based version) is preferred for international applicants.

Medical Scholars Program

The Medical Scholars Program permits highly qualified students to integrate the study of medicine with study for a graduate degree in a second discipline, including Biology-Ecology, Ethology & Evolution. Students may apply to the Medical Scholars Program prior to beginning graduate school or while in the graduate program. Applicants to the Medical Scholars Program must meet the admissions standards for and be accepted into both the doctoral graduate program and the College of Medicine.  Students in the dual degree program must meet the specific requirements for both the medical and graduate degrees. On average, students take eight years to complete both degrees.  Further information on this program is available by contacting the Medical Scholars Program, 125 Medical Sciences Building, (217) 333-8146 or at

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available in the form of fellowships and teaching and research assistantships for qualified students.

Biology: Ecology, Ethology and Evolution Concentration, M.S.

Thesis Option

BIOL 599Thesis Research (0 min applied toward degree)0
Total Hours32

Other Requirements1

A concentration is required
Masters Thesis Deposit Required Yes
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall: 12
Minimum GPA: 3.0

Non-Thesis Option

Total Hours32

Other Requirements1

A concentration is required
Minimum 500-level Hours Required Overall: 12
Minimum GPA: 3.0

Biology: Concentration in Ecology, Ethology & Evolution, PhD

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree must demonstrate excellence by examination and, in consultation with an adviser and doctoral committee, plan and carry out original thesis research with distinction. A preliminary examination evaluating the ability of students to integrate subject matter related to their fields is given during the third year. Additional requirements may be prescribed by the adviser and doctoral committee. A final examination, in which the student defends the thesis, and a presentation of the thesis at the departmental seminar complete the program.

Courses in statistics are required
BIOL 599Thesis Research (0 min applied toward degree)0 to 16
Total Hours64

Other Requirements1

A concentration is required.
Experience in Teaching is required as part of the academic work of all PH.D. candidates in this program
Masters Degree Required for Admission to PhD? No, but Masters level requirements must be met (additional 32 hours)
Qualifying Exam Required: No
Preliminary Exam Required: Yes
Final Exam/Dissertation Defense Required: Yes
Dissertation Deposit Required: Yes
Minimum GPA: 3.0