Through the Graduate School, The Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy offers an interdisciplinary course of study leading to a Ph.D.  Details regarding areas of specialization can be found at the Abess Center website at http://www.cesp.miami.edu/. In most cases, doctoral students are supported by research assistantships which include tuition remission and a monthly stipend. All students are also required to serve satisfactorily for one term as teaching assistants in the Abess Center undergraduate program.


Students admitted to the program must have earned a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree and should display a strong interest in the interdisciplinary study of ecosystem science and policy.

Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Completion of the Ph.D. will take approximately five years. All students are also required to:

• Complete a minimum of 60 credits, of which at least 26 must be for coursework taken while in residence at the University of Miami. (Students entering the program with a Master’s degree in a related field may be given credit for up to 24 course credits.)

• Complete 12 credits worth of coursework in the following core courses:
ECS 501 – Interdisciplinary Environmental Theory
ECS 503 – Interdisciplinary Environmental Methods
ECS 505 – Interdisciplinary Environmental Law and Policy
ECS 507 – Interdisciplinary Environmental Decision Analysis

• Submit, by the end of their second semester, a proposed group of additional courses, totaling at least 18 hours, related to their research interest and intended dissertation research area. This group of courses requires approval of both the student’s advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies.

• Accrue at least 13 credits worth of dissertation research.

• Pass written and oral comprehensive examinations following the conclusion of the core series of courses, usually at the end of the first year.  A majority of the examination committee must be members of the Graduate Faculty of the University.  In the event of failing to pass an examination, students are required to retake and pass the examination within one calendar year.  By the end of the second year, students must present and defend a research proposal. Following successful completion of the comprehensive examination and research proposal defense, the student may apply to candidacy for the degree. Any student who fails to be admitted to candidacy for the degree within this two-year period can be dismissed from the program.

• Convene a 4-member dissertation committee by the end of the first year.

• Write and defend a dissertation research proposal by the end of the second year. Students may proceed with the dissertation after the dissertation committee has been appointed and the Director of Graduate Studies and the Graduate School have accepted the dissertation proposal.  The dissertation must be an investigation of a substantial scholarly topic and bridge both scientific and policy aspects of the topic area.

• Successfully complete an oral defense of the dissertation.