Ecology & Evolution

What is Ecology and Evolution?

The Ecology and Evolution major introduces students to the processes that result in the diversity and dynamics of ecological communities, and the evolutionary principles that unify the biological sciences.

Ecology and evolutionary biology are highly integrative disciplines that draw together essentially all of the topics in modern biology under a single framework of principles and theory. Ecologists and evolutionary biologists explain past and present patterns of abundance, distribution, and diversity of organisms. In order to do so, ecologists and evolutionary biologists must be familiar with current knowledge across a broad range of specialized fields, from molecular and population genetics to the mechanisms and history of plate tectonics.

Ecology and Evolution at UCSB

UCSB is ideally located for field studies in ecology and evolutionary biology. The campus is on the coast within easy reach of marsh, shoreline, deep-water and island habitats. It is bordered inland by the two million acre Los Padres National Forest, which offers an extensive array of protected terrestrial environments. The department has extensive sea-water laboratory facilities and greenhouses, active vertebrate museum and herbarium programs, and outdoor laboratories that include facilities in the Sierra Nevada and on Santa Cruz Island. The department's 26-member faculty offers over 50 upper-division (junior and senior level) courses. These include laboratory and field studies, lectures and seminars, and independent studies and group projects. These faculty members conduct extensive research projects in which undergraduate and graduate participation is welcomed and encouraged.

UCSB’s Ecology and Evolution major is one of the strongest and most diverse programs in the country. All students interested in any area of the biological sciences, including ecology and evolution, will enter UCSB as a pre-biological sciences major. Pre-biology majors share a common core curriculum, typically completed during the freshman and sophomore years, consisting of introductory biology with laboratory, general chemistry with laboratory, mathematics (calculus and statistics), physics with laboratory, and for many of the majors, an additional two to three terms of organic chemistry with laboratory. Note: the Ecology and Evolution major does not require organic chemistry. After completion of key preparatory coursework, students may petition to declare the full major.

General Major Information

How Can I Tell If I Would Like Ecology and Evolution?

EEMB majors should enjoy learning about the biology, physiology, evolution, ecology, or behavior of organisms and the ecosystems in which they live. They should also possess a sense of curiosity about the natural world and the ability to think analytically, apply information, and solve problems. Most EEMB majors are interested in field or lab research.

What Are Potential Topics Within This Major?

Although the following list can provide students with topics that may be covered in this major, look at the UCSB catalog and consult with the Undergraduate Department Advisor for more detailed information about requirements and course offerings.

Evolutionary Ecology
Aquatic Communities
Invertebrate and Vertebrate Zoology

To learn more about whether you might enjoy this major, check with a peer in the Career Resource Room for details on:

- Focus 2 to explore college majors and careers.

- The Strong Interest Inventory®, an assessment that compares your interests against six broad categories of work. This assessment helps match your interests and suggests potential careers to explore.

What Can I Do To Make My Major More Marketable?

  • Pursue relevant work, internship, volunteer, and/or research experience.
  • Choose a complementary minor.
  • Specialize in an area; take courses in related fields.
  • Develop your computer skills.
  • Learn a foreign language.
  • Study abroad.
  • Join professional associations.
  • Get involved in student clubs.
  • Participate in community organizations.
  • Seek out leadership positions.
  • Research specific prerequisites for different positions.
  • Network with others in fields that interest you.


General Career Information

What Are Some Possible Career Options?

Note: On its own, your major does not dictate what your job will be. The following list provides only a handful of possibilities. Ecology and Evolution majors may pursue career options in hundreds of fields. Depending on experience, specialized coursework, and possible graduate study, options include:

Animal/Marine Biologist
Aquarium, Zoo, or Museum Curator or Director
Environmental Scientist
Forest Ranger
Health Professions Provider (Genetic Counselor,
Pharmacist, Physician, Public Health Administrator)
Lab Technician
Professor or Teacher
Technical Writer or Illustrator
Wildlife Biologist
To learn more about these and other occupations, please visit:
O*Net Online
Occupational Outlook Handbook
Come visit the Career Resource Room to see our vast collection of career books and resources.
See what other UCSB alumni are doing with their major on LinkedIn



Graduate and Professional Schools

Click “Graduate School” for information on how to choose a grad school, how to pay for grad school, how to survive and flourish in grad school.
This is a comprehensive website that provides information about where graduate programs are offered throughout the nation.

This is a database to help find where graduate programs are offered throughout the U.S.

Come to the Career Resources Room to view the CHOICES lab version of graduate schools.

Experience Search Strategies

Ecology and Conservation Jobs.

New Scientist Jobs
All types of biology jobs categorized by field, location, government/private, etc.
Lists biotech jobs, biology teaching jobs and bioscience jobs

UCSB Career Services “Job Links” section
Check out job links in the following categories: Local/CA, National, International, Industry Specific, UCSB Careers by Majors and Diversity.

When you join LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do.

Professional Associations

The American Institute of Biological Sciences
The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association dedicated to advancing biological research and education for the welfare of society.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Federal agency with conservation information and job opportunities.

Ecological Society of America
The Ecological Society of America (ESA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization of scientists founded in 1915 that promote ecological science, provide resources and enhance communication between ecological community and policy-makers.

Scholarly Societies Project
The penultimate site for professional biology associations, national and international.

UCSB Resources