Earning a Ph.D. in zoology can qualify you for a number of career options, including teaching at a university, conducting research in the field, or working in a research lab. Not only will most field research jobs require a Ph.D., but getting the degree can also make you more competitive for the research jobs that don't require it. However, getting a Ph.D. in field research zoology will require dedication and hard work.
Complete Required Coursework
Each Ph.D. program in zoology includes a certain amount of required coursework. Credit hours will vary by program, but most schools require two to three years of coursework. These advanced courses may include biology, taxonomy, conservancy, infectious diseases, animal behavior, ecology and more. Certain courses will be required, while a set amount of credit hours will be available for electives, allowing students to customize their course of study to some degree.
Write an Original Dissertation
The bulk of the work students will do in a Ph.D. program is completing a dissertation with original research. A dissertation is typically a book-length manuscript, and it can take anywhere from two to six years to complete after the coursework is finished. The time frame depends on the research topic chosen and the individual working pace of each student. Those who have completed a master's degree or who have a strong idea of their research interests when they begin the program are likely to finish their dissertations more quickly.
Pass Written and Oral Exams
Students must pass both written and oral exams to demonstrate mastery of subject matter and research methodology in order to complete a Ph.D. program. Written exams are typically given at the completion of coursework, though some programs may require written exams at the end of each year of coursework. Oral exams usually involve a defense of the dissertation, which includes answering questions about the research, the methods used, and any weaknesses that may be found with it.
Complete Other Requirements
Some Ph.D. programs in zoology may have additional requirements, such as student teaching, proficiency in a foreign language, residency, and a minimum grade point average. A Ph.D. candidate typically fulfills these requirements throughout the course of the program. Programs that require student teaching also provide a stipend for the teaching position as well as tuition and fees in many cases.
- University of Hawaii Manoa: Zoology
- N.C. State University: Requirements for the PhD in Zoology
- Michigan State University: Department of Zoology: Requirements for the Doctoral Degree
- Oregon State University: Zoology Graduate Program
- University of Oxford: Zoology
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Zoologists and Wildlife Biologists
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