Requirements for the Ph.D. Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) is the highest degree offered by universities.  It is conferred only for work of distinction in which the student displays decided powers of original scholarship and only in recognition of marked ability and achievement. The basic requirements are: 1) a student must exhibit unmistakable evidence of mastery of a broad major field (evidenced by passing the general exam); and 2) a student must prove ability to complete a significant program of original research by preparing a dissertation embodying creative scholarship and by passing a rigorous final examination.  The dissertation must add to the sum of existing knowledge and give evidence of considerable literary skill.

Graduate Advisory Committee - The Graduate Advisory Committee has 4 members chosen by the student, plus a representative appointed by the Graduate School (i.e., the “Dean’s Representative”) prior to the General Exam. The committee consists of at least 3 members of the LSU Graduate Faculty, including the Major Advisor, who acts as the chair. At least 2 members must be from the Entomology Department, with at least 1 of these being a full member of the Graduate Faculty. The remaining members may be from Entomology or another department, with 1 being a full member of the Graduate Faculty. If the student declares a minor, 1 committee member must be from the minor department. The committee should be established by the end of the first year of the student’s graduate career. (Appendix C)

Credit Hours and Course Work- A Doctoral program involves at least 3 years of full-time study beyond the baccalaureate degree.  It is the responsibility of the Advisory Committee to determine the total number and types of courses to be taken to suit the needs of each student; however, at least 15 hours of coursework must be graduate (7000) level.  For incoming students without a Master’s degree in Entomology, this equates to a minimum of 41 hours of coursework plus 13 hours of dissertation research.  Students with a Master’s degree in Entomology who transfer courses to satisfy required course requirements must take at least 23 additional hours of coursework plus 13 hours of dissertation research.  The doctorate must be completed within seven years from the time a student is classified as a Doctoral student (Grad 7).

Introductory Seminar, Dissertation Research Proposal and Program of Study - By the end of the first year, students are required to have presented an Introductory Seminar that details their research plan, and to have had their research proposal accepted by his or her Graduate Advisory Committee.  Guidelines for the proposal are given in Appendix B.  A list of completed courses and those proposed to meet departmental requirements (the Program of Study; Appendix C) should also be prepared and presented to the Committee for approval. Upon approval, it is the student’s responsibility to confirm with the LSU Graduate School that courses proposed for transfer credit meet LSU requirements.

Required Courses

Specific departmental course requirements include:

  • ENTM 4005 Insect Taxonomy (4)
  • ENTM 7001 General Entomology (4)
  • ENTM 7016 Insect Physiology (4)
  • ENTM 7007 Seminar in Entomology (2)
  • ENTM 7008 Special Topics (3)
  • ENTM 7010 Teaching Practicum (1)
  • Additional Courses:  (23)**
  • ENTM 9000: Dissertation Research  (13)

* ENTM 7010 may be taken multiple times for up to 3 hrs credit.

** Only upper level undergraduate (4000) or graduate (7000) level courses can be taken to satisfy this requirement.  In addition to the 3 hrs that are required, Special Topics (ENTM 7008) may be taken multiple times when topics vary for an additional 6 credit hours.  Additional courses may not include transfer credits, independent study, or ENTM 9000.

Teaching Requirements

Each Ph. D. candidate is required to assist in teaching a course for a minimum of one semester.  They are required to register for ENTM 7010: Teaching Practicum (1-3 credit hours).  Scheduling student teaching is the responsibility of the student and his/her advisor.  The teaching can be associated with any course that the student is deemed qualified to teach by his/her Major Advisor and the instructor of the course, but students must assist with teaching in either AGRI 1005 or ENTM 2001 prior to receiving credit for other courses. Credit for ENTM 7010 will be assigned using a defined rubric (see Appendix F) following an evaluation by the Graduate Advisor (or Department Head) and the instructor of the course.

General Examination

The general exam is oral, but may also contain written questions from individual committee members.  The exam is taken after most of the student’s coursework is completed, normally after 2 full years of graduate study.   Entomology requires that the general exam be taken by the end of the 3rd calendar year of classification as a Doctoral student.  Students must be registered for at least 1 hour of credit during the semester of the exam, which may be scheduled on any day that the University is open for business and committee members are available.  A request for the exam must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 3 weeks prior to the proposed date.  It is the student’s responsibility to complete this form, obtain the Major Professor’s signature, and submit the form to the Academic Assistant in the Entomology office. 

Members of the student’s committee will use a standardized rubric (Appendix E) to evaluate his/her performance in three areas:

  • understanding of fundamental principles of entomology;
  • proficiencies in oral and written communication; and
  • the Doctoral research, which includes conception of research and knowledge of relevant scientific literature, application of statistical techniques, and the originality and conduct of the research. 

Performance in each area is judged using the following scale:

  • 1= below average
  • 2= average
  • 3= good
  • 4= very good,
  • 5= superior (top 5%). 

Rankings from each committee member will be averaged, and the student must receive a passing score (i.e., > 2.0) from the majority of committee members.  There are 3 possible outcomes if the general examination is failed:

  • the exam is repeated at a date agreed upon by the committee;
  • the student is directed toward completion of a Master’s Degree if applicable;
  • the student is dropped from the program.  If a student fails and is to be re-examined, forms recording the failure are submitted to the Graduate School. 

The general exam is regarded as the culmination of a student’s coursework, and remaining time should be devoted to concentrated work on the dissertation.  At least three months must elapse between the general and final examinations.  Doctoral candidates must maintain continuous registration for a minimum of 3 hours each semester (excluding summer) from the completion of the general examination until graduation. 

The Dissertation

The dissertation must demonstrate a mastery of research techniques, ability to perform original and independent research, and skill in formulating conclusions that expand upon or modify accepted ideas.  The style of the dissertation must follow the guidelines for Preparation of Theses and Dissertations available online at  The dissertation should be delivered to members of the student’s Graduate Advisory a minimum of 2 weeks prior to the date of the final examination/dissertation defense.

Final Examination/Dissertation Defense

The final examination is an oral defense and is concerned primarily with dissertation research and related problems.  Upon completion of the dissertation and early in his/her final semester, the student will schedule the final examination.  Exams may be scheduled on any day that the University is open for business and committee members are available; however, the exam cannot be scheduled until at least one manuscript has been accepted for publication in a peer- reviewed journal.  If possible, a departmental seminar should be scheduled immediately preceding the defense.

The Graduate School must be notified of the student’s intention to complete degree requirements.  A schedule of important dates and deadlines is issued by the Graduate School each semester and should be consulted.  A Request for Doctoral Final Examination must be submitted to the Graduate School at least 3 weeks prior to the scheduled date and by current semester deadlines for degree candidates.  It is the student’s responsibility to complete and submit this form to the Academic Assistant in the Entomology office. 

To pass, there cannot be more than one dissenting vote.  Upon a majority vote, a student not passing may be re-examined.  Failure upon reexamination will result in termination of the student’s enrollment as a graduate student in entomology.  A series of forms with deadlines are required and a schedule of important dates is published each semester by the Graduate School.  The graduate student is responsible for making sure the Graduate School receives these forms on time.  See Schedule of Academic Events/Doctoral Degree (page 7) for a list of required forms. Turn in voucher specimens (see page 10) to the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum by the time the dissertation is turned in.


Application for admission is through the LSU Graduate School.

Apply Online