PhD programs in entomology focus on the scientific study of insects, including their role within the context of the broader field of biology. Through this program, students are prepared for a variety of careers in biological studies or related scientific fields, whether in a scholarly or scientific setting. Candidates for the PhD in entomology typically excel in positions as biological scientists and post secondary teachers. In addition to showing an extraordinary interest in this scientific discipline, prospective entomology students should be prepared to sharpen their analytical and scholarly sensibilities through this doctoral degree program.
The curriculum of the PhD program in entomology includes in-depth research into the life cycles, morphology, genetics, physiology, ecology, and taxonomy of insects, as well as their impact on the environment and economy. Most programs also incorporate analytical, critical-thinking, math, speaking, writing, interpersonal, and problem-solving skills. Programs vary; however, many students choose a more focused area of concentration, such as biocontrol, insect behavior, or even natural history, for example. The majority of the Ph.D. program consists of science-based course work, but also incorporates labs, lectures, workshops, field work, and a final dissertation.
About Online PhD Programs in Entomology
Basic curriculum for the PhD program in entomology is rooted in science and, even more specifically, biology. Currently no fully online Ph.D.s in entomology are available; however, many colleges and universities offer online courses that can be counted toward a doctoral degree. Among the top colleges to offer select online courses for the Ph.D. in entomology is North Carolina State University, which features a renowned doctorate in entomology, through an academic department wholly devoted to this scientific discipline. Sample courses of the entomology Ph.D. are listed below:
- Insects and People. This course is simply an introduction to the wide world of insects and how they interact with people. Also offered online.
- An Introduction to Honey Bees and Beekeeping. Through this class, offered also as an elective, students are introduced to honey bee biology and management, and examine the relationship between honey bees and humans from prehistoric through modern times. Also offered online.
- General Entomology. This course explores the science of entomology through the basic principles of systematics, morphology, physiology, development, behavior, ecology, and insect control. Also offered online.
- Insect and Human Disease. This course is an introduction to the possible interactions between insects, other arthropods, and humans that can end in disease. Also offered online.
- Organic Production – Principles and Practices. Through this multidisciplinary class, with priority given to upper-level students, the course work covers many aspects of organic production, through on- and off-campus classes, lectures, and field trips to farms and production sites.
- Doctoral Supervised Research. Students pursue scholarship and research under the mentorship of a member of the NCSU graduate faculty.
As a conclusion to their doctoral studies, candidates must present a dissertation. For entomology Ph.D. students, most programs require that they assemble a dissertation review committee advisory board for assistance throughout the dissertation process. They may also be asked to submit an extensive proposal and pre-approve research and development in preparing for the final presentation. The doctorate is granted after the dissertation is presented, and graduation typically also requires an exit interview and academic review to confirm all course work requirements have been satisfied.
Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Entomology
Prospective entomology Ph.D. students may wonder if it is worth their time and effort to pursue a career in this field. As many people hope to get a doctorate in an effort to improve their career options, in this case the options for careers in entomology may seem limited to this particular discipline only. If a doctorate in this field is not absolutely necessary, and the benefits are not widely known, perhaps graduate degrees in entomology get a bad rap. Often it seems the general consensus is that entomology degrees are only for science majors who have accepted the limited prospects of this niche of graduate study.
Actually, the scholarly and professional possibilities available for entomology Ph.D.s are abundant. In addition to the increased job possibilities that will be available with the doctorate, allowing students to assume top positions as scientists and teachers, students can take advantage of select online courses, cutting down their commute to and from campus, and they can even apply for scholarships and learning programs that are tailored to this subject. With increasing distance learning options, an entomology PhD that incorporates online courses is the most affordable and convenient way to pursue a doctorate in this field, which is required for the most lucrative careers in the industry.
Application & Admission Requirements
Admission into a Ph.D. program in entomology requires a master's degree in science or, in the absence of a degree, the student must show proficiency in graduate-level course work as evidenced by at least the minimum required GPA. Some programs also require students to take a competency exam, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) along with participating in an entrance interview or assessment. Additionally, some state laws even require medical records and current immunizations be submitted to the department before beginning graduate studies.
Career Options & Job Market
Some people might think the career options for entomology students are limited to positions as entomologists only. In fact, entomology doctorates provide a comprehensive skill set that may be applied in a variety of scientific and academic careers. In addition to a variety of scientific disciplines that make professional use of these skills, including biologists, agriculture and food scientists, and even medical scientists, post secondary teachers in this discipline are required to hold a Ph.D., and made an annual salary of $62,050 in May 2010, according to the BLS.
Where to Find Information
- CollegeConfidential.com This renowned website of student resources also includes the results of the Gourman Report, a rankings system for the country's top colleges and universities.
- Entomological Society of America This organization features resources about the science of entomology as well as various information for prospective students.
- North Carolina State University Department of Entomology This department website provides good information for prospective doctoral students in entomology as to available online courses, information on faculty and staff, and academics.
How to Get Funding
Prospective graduate students should always fill out the FAFSA form first. There are also a lot of financial aid options available for Ph.D. students in the form of state-funded grants and scholarships, though this is usually dependent on the amount of state funds allocated toward education programs and higher learning. Additionally, individual colleges and universities typically offer department-funded research, teaching assistantships, various fellowships, and work-study programs, depending on students' full-time status and according to program regulations.
- Federal Direct Stafford Loan. This low-interest loan lets students borrow up to $20,500 per year with only 6.8% fixed interest.
- Federal Perkins Loan. For those who study full time and can prove their need for financial aid, an average of $3,500 per academic year with only 5% interest is available through this loan.
- Campus-Based Aid. Individual schools manage their own campus-based aid, but most offer all available federally-governed financial aid programs to their students as well.
- Make a thoughtful decision. Think through your options and try to make an objective decision. If the process of obtaining the Ph.D. is worth it to you, you will easily see the benefits of the short-term hard work in the long run. Ask others who have already earned their Ph.D.s what they think.
- Get going on the application. Even the process of getting to the “starting line” and filling out the application can take some time, and chances are, you're in for more lengthy processes in the future. You'll thank yourself later if you get started early.
- Look for professional opportunities. Use this opportunity to gain work experience and take a temporary break from studying. This should allow you to clear your head and prepare to embark on this next phase of intensive doctoral study.
- Allocate your finances. Making sure you know where your money will come from and how it will be allocated for your education is a major step toward being as organized as possible. The security of this process will pay off big time later on.