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Degree and Course Information

The Penn State graduate program in Entomology offers both a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degree. These research degrees encourage students to conceive and implement novel research within the insect sciences. Our research, whether basic or translational, is relevant to human and animal health, environmental health, and/or food security.
Insect Natural History Class, 2010

Insect Natural History Class, 2010

Both the Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees require satisfactory completion of the core courses, completion of a teaching assistant experience, and completion of training on Scholastic and Research Integrity. All students are expected to have had a least one statistics course as recommended by their committee. Both graduate degrees require a thesis which represents an original research contribution to the field.

Core Courses:
ENT 432 Insect Biodiversity and Evolution (4 credits)
ENT 410 Insect Structure and Function (3 credits)
ENT 522 Critical Thinking and Professional Development (4 Credits)
ENT 530 Advanced Topics Seminar series (2 Credits for M.S., 4 Credits for Ph.D.)

Teaching Assistant Experiences:
M.S. minimum of one course; Ph.D. minimum of two.

Research Integrity:
SARI - Scholastic and Research Integrity

  1. During the first year of enrollment, graduate students will be required to complete an online RCR training program provided by the Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI). The Office for Research Protections (ORP) will provide the link to this training via the SARI Resource Portal on the ORP website (www.research.psu.edu/orp).
  2. Graduate students will also be required to engage in an additional 5 hours of discussion-based RCR education prior to degree completion. These discussions will encompass both universal and discipline-specific material. (ENT 522 Critical Thinking and Professional Development - Offered Spring Semesters will fulfill the requirement.)


Ph.D. Degree Requirements:
In addition to the requirements for core courses, teaching experiences, thesis, and Scholastic and Research Integrity training. The Ph.D. requires the following exams:

  • Qualifying examination (formerly known as candidacy): a written and oral examination generally taken by the third semester that tests fundamental concepts in Entomology. After the qualifying examination is passed, the student along with their advisor and doctoral thesis committee develop a research plan. The committee is selected by the student and their advisor and consists of a minimum of four graduate faculty members, including at least one member outside the Entomology department.
  • Comprehensive examination: an oral examination taken in the second or third year that evaluates the candidate's proposed research and basic knowledge in their chosen subject area. A thesis proposal should be submitted to the doctoral committee two weeks before the examination
  • Final thesis defense includes an oral presentation of the thesis research and an oral examination on that research. The Ph.D. thesis must represent a significant original contribution to the discipline. Students are expected to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals.

M.S. Degree Requirements:
In addition to the requirements for core courses, teaching experiences, thesis, and Scholastic and Research Integrity training, the M.S degree requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits (400 and 500 level), with at least 20 credits earned in residence. At least 18 credits in the 500 and 600 series must be included in the program. A minimum of 12 credits in coursework (400 and 500) must be completed in the major program. In addition to the core courses, master’s degree requirements include a minimum of 3 credits of Statistics (i.e., STAT 501, 502, 541, or similar). Each student must present the results of thesis research at a departmental seminar, and the student may register for 1 credit of ENT 590 (Colloquium) that semester.

In addition to the requirements for core courses, teaching experiences, thesis, and Scholastic and Research Integrity training. The M.S. requires the following exam:

  • Final thesis defense: A final oral examination covering the general field of entomology, with emphasis on the student’s thesis research is required by the department. This is to be administered by the student’s committee.

A general course listing, core courses, and course affiliations

Course registration requirements and procedures

Instructions, time lines, and policies for adding and dropping classes