Urban Ecology PhD Programs

Urban ecology is the study of humans and other organisms in cities and urbanized ecosystems. When studied on the doctoral level, it may offer students career opportunities in biology, conversation, environmental science, and urban planning. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Program Entrance Requirements for PhD in Urban Ecology

Prospective students usually have academic backgrounds in life and environmental science. They typically must also have at least a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, official transcripts, a CV or resume, reference letters attesting to their research capabilities, GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS scores, a personal statement, and an explanation of their scholarly interests. They may need to identify faculty members who will advise or work with them in their application. If seeking a teaching assistantship, students will also need to document relevant work experience.

Ph.D. in Urban Ecology Overview

The average urban ecology Ph.D. program takes about 5-7 years to complete and centers around research. While some colleges offer urban ecology as a standalone environmental studies course, those that offer it as a doctoral field of study (often through biology or environmental science colleges) require students to take intensive courses before conducting field research for the duration of the program. Urban ecology is a branching field, and its courses encompass biology, environmental sciences, and much more.

Ecology Courses

Urban ecology has its basis in ecology, a branch of biology dealing with how organisms relate to each other and their environment. In urban ecology, the study focuses on such interactions within cities and other developed environments. The goal of these courses is to examine the human impact in the metropolitan ecosystem, with the hope that coexistence can occur without conflict. Students might study wildlife, flora, and microorganisms.

Environmental Studies Courses

The environment is at the heart of all biology and ecology studies. Students in urban ecology programs will study environmental philosophy and ethics, pollution, water management, and natural resource economics. All of these subjects help students understand the environment as a concept and a system, and teach them to devise real solutions for critical problems where humans and nature intersect.

Development Courses

Another major point of interest in urban ecology concerns the development of natural lands, including environmental planning. These processes must be carried out with concern for the environment and sensitivity to sociopolitical factors in the interest of sustainability. Students who are interested in civil engineering and urban planning will benefit from these courses, which teach responsible land and resource use for the building of infrastructure and policies related to development.

Sustainability Courses

Sustainability concerns maintaining a favorable state indefinitely, and it overarches all disciplines in urban ecology study. Students must learn sustainability concepts and practices which will inform their decision-making in their research and careers. Courses may include sustainable business strategies, sustainable land, and resource use, and sustainability courses related to specific areas of interest, such as sustainable development.

Policy Courses

Policy courses enable students to analyze how the government and other entities affect certain issues. Social policy concerns human welfare, while environmental policy concerns the environment. Students studying urban ecology will learn about regulations, laws, organizations, and other policy mechanisms that operate within society and affect how we deal with social and ecological problems.

Potential Careers for Urban Ecology Doctorate Students

Natural Sciences Manager

Natural science managers oversee scientists, which may include biologists and ecologists, and they usually work as scientists before entering this position. With an urban ecology Ph.D., they would be able to guide research that informs environmental policymaking, urban planning, conservation efforts, and more.

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers instruct students at public and private colleges, universities, and professional schools. A Ph.D. in urban ecology qualifies the student to conduct independent research and teach subjects like biology, ecology, and environmental studies at the university level, which provides them with opportunities to contribute to scholarly research and support students conducting their own. In addition to their advanced degree, students may need some work experience in their field for this position.

Environmental Scientist

The environmental scientist protects the environment and human health, working in offices, labs, and the field. The interdisciplinary coursework of an urban ecology Ph.D. provides students with plenty of opportunities to specialize in a particular field, such as ecology. This job is expected to be in high demand as concerns for the environment continue to grow.

Wildlife Biologist

Wildlife biologists study animals and how they interact with their ecosystems. Nowhere is the wild animal more visible and visibly threatened than in urban areas, and the wildlife biologist with an urban ecology Ph.D. may focus on animal populations affected by human development, habitat loss, or species that have adapted to city life. Though wildlife biologists are direly needed, their funding mostly comes from government agencies, which limits demand.

Conservation Scientist and Forester

A Ph.D. underscoring urban ecology and environmental studies may prepare students for a career in stewardship - responsible use and care of the land and its resources. In positions like conservation scientist and forester, they would maintain forests, parks, and other areas and work for governments and organizations. Due to concerns about hazards like wildfire and growing demand for natural resources, the need for conservation scientists is expected to increase.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2016-26)*
Natural Sciences Manager $123,860 6%
Postsecondary Teacher $78,470 11%
Environmental Scientist $71,130 8%
Wildlife Biologist $63,420 5%
Conservation Scientist and Forester $61,340 3%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A Ph.D. in urban ecology provides students with a background in biology, ecology, environmental studies, and sustainability, with the opportunity to conduct field research and study how humans interact with other organisms in urbanized areas. With their doctoral degree, they may find employment as university instructors, urban planners, or scientists that work to solve issues of human, animal, and environmental welfare.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Stony Brook University

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Stony Brook
  • Old Dominion University

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Norfolk
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Campus Locations:

    • North Carolina: Chapel Hill
  • University of Chicago

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Chicago
  • University at Buffalo

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: Buffalo
  • Princeton University

    Campus Locations:

    • New Jersey: Princeton
  • Kent State University at Kent

    Campus Locations:

    • Ohio: Kent
  • Columbia University in the City of New York

    Campus Locations:

    • New York: New York
  • Stanford University

    Campus Locations:

    • California: Stanford
  • Harvard University

    Campus Locations:

    • Massachusetts: Cambridge