Evolutionary Biology, PhD

Evolution is a fundamental scientific concept — essential to all aspects of modern biological, environmental and health-related research. It cuts across the field of biology in ways that few other topics do. It forms the theoretical foundations of sub-fields such as population genetics, systematics, and ecosystem ecology. 

In this interdisciplinary program, we provide forward-thinking instruction in the historical, conceptual, empirical and quantitative aspects of biological evolution.

You’ll gain crucial training in population genetics while interacting with faculty and research projects that span the entire tree of life. These projects include viral, bacterial and pathogen evolution; plant biology; cancer; and human evolution. This learning experience covers all areas where evolutionary biology can be applied.

Also, you’ll learn about recent advances in systematics — the branch of biology centered on understanding the diversification and relationship of living things. We’re training the next generation of scientists to use this knowledge to meet critical challenges to the biosphere and human health.

Our partners include:

With a flexible curriculum, you’ll develop critical-thinking skills and approach your research through an evolutionary lens. You’ll gain a deep understanding of the complexities of evolutionary biology and emerge from this program with an unparalleled edge in the job market.

Our graduates work as research or tenure-track faculty in higher education, as professionals with wildlife organizations, and as researchers for companies that provide genetic health profiles.

44 faculty mentors
5 years to defense
27 students

Degree Overview

This doctoral program requires a total of 84 credit hours, along with a written prospectus and its defense, and a dissertation. The written prospectus and its defense also serve as the written and oral comprehensive exams. You'll be required to take three core courses, as well as a variety of electives.

Contact: Program chairs Anne Stone and Jesse Taylor.

How to apply

The evolutionary biology PhD program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August. We encourage you to read Tips for Applying.

Follow the Apply Now link.
You will be asked to:

  • review university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  • complete graduate admission application
  • send official transcripts and language tests (international students only)
  • complete academic record form
  • submit a non-refundable application fee 

Application Deadline
Applications are accepted Sept. 1 - Dec. 15. There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed.

In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid- to late-February. We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15. 

Desired qualifications include:

  • research experience 
  • undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • international students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

We guarantee 5 years of academic-year funding as a teaching or research assistant. This includes stipend, insurance and tuition support to cover the required 84 hours for the degree.

ASU's Evolutionary Biology doctoral program is formed by knowledgeable and enthusiastic individuals. It was a great place to learn and create collaborations! Moreover, the EVO program has developed a highly comprehensive and competitive curriculum.

—Andreina Castillo, PhD, EVO program


The Evolutionary Biology PhD program requires the completion of 84 credit hours. Students must also complete a a written prospectus and its defense, as these will serve as the written and oral comprehensive exams. In addition, you will be required to research, write, and defend a dissertation.


 Credit Hours

Core course


Elective courses






Total hours required


Courses and electives

Our students will focus on three core courses that cover the principles of evolution, research areas of evolution, and either biometry or an approved alternate quantitative analysis course.

Remaining credit hours are earned through a combination of elective courses in related fields, for example ecology, genomics, population genetics, sociobiology, ecosystem studies and genomic analysis. Assembled by you, in conjunction with your supervisory committee, this body of coursework will serve as your individual Plan of Study.

You may transfer 30 hours from a previous master's degree if applicable.

  • EVO 601 Principles of Evolution
  • EVO 610 Evolution Seminar
  • BIO 614 Biometry
  • BIO 421/521 Landscape Ecology
  • BIO 423 Population and Community Ecology
  • BIO 436 Sociobiology and Behavioral Ecology
  • BIO 461 Comparative Animal Physiology
  • BIO 462 Endocrine Physiology
  • BIO 522 Populations: Evolutionary Ecology
  • BIO 530 Scientific Teaching
  • BIO 540 Functional Genomics
  • BIO 543 Molecular genetics and genomics
  • BIO 545 Population Genetics
  • BIO 549 Phylogenetic Biology and Analysis
  • BIO 570 Fundamentals of CAS (Complex Adaptive Systems) Science
  • BIO 578 Environmental Leadership and Communication
  • BIO 591 Ecosystem Services Lab
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project Editing Seminar
  • BIO 591 Embryo Project Illustration
  • BIO 598 NSF grfp writing course
  • BIO 615/HPS 615 Biology and Society Lab
  • ELS 790 Reading and Conference (3)
  • ELS 791 Seminar
  • ELS 792 Research
  • EVO 598 Computing for Research
  • EVO 598 Genomic Analysis
  • EVO 598 Principles of Programming for Biologists
  • EVO 598 Software Carpentry
  • HPS 520 Masters of Nonfiction
  • HPS 591 Literary Nonfiction

EVO 792 (12+)


EVO 799 Dissertation (12)

  • BIO 530 Scientific Teaching