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Ecological Engineering PhD Programs

A PhD in Ecological Engineering helps students learn to apply engineering principles to ecological processes and concepts in order to improve ecosystems. See common courses for this degree program and learn how to apply.

How to Earn a PhD in Ecological Engineering

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Ecological Engineering degree programs may come with titles like environmental and ecological engineering, biological and ecological engineering, or offer ecological engineering as an area of study in a degree like environmental resources engineering. These doctoral programs usually require a minimum of 3 years beyond a bachelor's degree and some schools may expect students to complete their coursework and dissertation requirements in a maximum of 6 years. Coursework for these programs is geared towards training students in the engineering and life science principles and methodologies used to sustain biological resources and may include some of the topics discussed in more detail below.

Hydrology

Students in ecological engineering graduate programs generally take 1 or more courses that cover topics in hydrology and are lecture-based. Some of these courses may cover foundational concepts of physical hydrology, such as atmospheric processes and groundwater systems, while other courses focus on more specific areas in hydrology, such as stochastic hydrology or hydrology and climate change. Courses in stochastic hydrology are usually math-centered and explore the randomness in hydrological processes, while courses that explore hydrology in climate change may draw from current literature and train students in how to predict hydrological effects of climate change. Many of these hydrology courses have prerequisites, such as courses in calculus, basic hydrology, or even programming.

Hydrology/River Engineering

Students typically take a course that looks at the engineering involved with hydrology and/or river systems. These are lecture-based courses that may have prerequisite requirements in areas like fluid mechanics. These courses are designed to help students learn how to apply engineering principles to hydrologic processes to affect factors like channel modification, flow controls, and groundwater systems. Some of these courses may include research projects and/or modeling exercises.

Wastewater Treatment

Many ecological engineering programs include a course that discusses the design and engineering concepts for wastewater treatment systems. These courses may cover topics from the preliminary treatment of wastewater to the major, primary treatment concepts of wastewater, such as nitrogen and phosphorus removal. Some of these courses may include field trips and/or laboratory sections for hands-on learning, and students may be required to complete various projects. Some of these courses may also have prerequisites in areas like hydraulics, chemistry, and/or microbiology.

Modeling

Although these courses vary by subject, most PhD in Ecological Engineering programs include a course that explores concepts in modeling. Some of these courses may focus on geographic information systems (GIS) modeling for spatial modeling or biosystems modeling that incorporates the mathematical models of ecological and biological systems. Courses in GIS modeling also help train students in GIS software, languages, and techniques. These courses are usually lecture-based, but give students hands-on practice with GIS and/or mathematical techniques.

Engineering Design

PhD students are likely to take 1 or more courses that explore topics in engineering design. Some of these courses may take on a broader approach to engineering planning and design and use projects to allow students to practice their project management skills and how to apply engineering design and analysis skills to real-world problems. Other courses may explore the analysis of data and how to incorporate that into engineering design. These courses may examine large-scale topics, like human land use and climate change.

Admittance Requirements for PhD in Ecological Engineering Programs

Applicants for a PhD in Ecological Engineering must have at least a bachelor's degree, typically in an area related to biological or ecological engineering, but some schools may prefer candidates that have a master's degree. Many of these degree programs require applicants to have a minimum of a 3.0 GPA and some programs may require students to submit GRE test scores, although there is not usually a minimum test score requirement. These degree programs do not commonly have prerequisite requirements, but some programs may expect applicants to have an appropriate background in areas like math and science. Applicants to PhD in Ecological Engineering programs generally need to include their transcripts, test scores, letters of recommendation, personal statement, resume, and/or lists of any publications and/or research experience. Admittance to these programs is usually competitive and decisions may be based on an applicant's academic record and/or how their research interests match with faculty research interests.

PhD in Ecological Engineering degree programs may take 3 to 6 years to complete, require a dissertation, and include a wide range of hands-on learning experiences in topics of engineering, biology, and ecology. Applicants to these degree programs need at least a bachelor's degree and a strong background in math and science.