Frequently Asked Questions
What is IDEAS and how is it different from traditional graduate programs in the biological sciences?
IDEAS is an inter-disciplinary track available to doctoral students at the University of Georgia. IDEAS students focus on solving problems in infectious disease biology that manifest at multiple scales of biological organization. For instance, a complete understanding of Ebola virus epidemics involves understanding molecular biology (the mechanisms whereby the virus evades the immune systems), physiology (immune response), sociology (the demographic and social conditions under which epidemics can occur), zoology (where does the Ebola virus persist when it is not affecting human populations?), and large-scale environmental and social change (why is Ebola virus increasingly spilling over into humans?). Our program believes that students trained in the fundamentals of disease biology, data science, and science communication will be best prepared to meet these challenges and those of other emerging and endemic infectious diseases.
Could you characterize the ideal academic and research background that IDEAS is seeking from prospective students?
IDEAS is seeking intellectually curious students that want to do novel research in infectious disease biology. Students should have a broad background in science and mathematics, enthusiasm for intellectually challenging topics, and personal drive to make a difference
How does admissions work?
There are two tracks for admissions; DIRECT Track (applicant seeks to enroll in the Odum School of Ecology through the UGA Graduate School portal) and INTERNAL Track (applicant is already enrolled in a relevant PhD program at the University of Georgia). Please be mindful of the additional requirements for consideration into our IDEAS program. For further details, see here.
How do I go about approaching a prospective faculty member about my interest in working with him or her?
After you have identified a possible faculty member, send them an introductory email. It should include the following information:
Is there a minimum GRE score that I should be mindful of?
No. Each applicant is considered individually.
Can I submit additional documents, such as additional letters of recommendation or a recent publication?
No. The IDEAS Admissions Committee asks that applicants only submit what is stipulated.
Why is the IDEAS Direct Track application deadline so much earlier than the UGA Graduate School deadline?
Since our DIRECT Track recruitment event occurs in early January of every year, the IDEAS Admissions Committee requires ample time in December to review each applicant. If nominated, you will be contacted in late December by IDEAS with an invitation to attend our annual Graduate Student Symposium. At this event, applicants receive an in-depth overview of our program and interview with faculty for final program determination.
Who can serve as faculty mentors and how should I go about selecting them?
Any of the faculty listed on our IDEAS trainers page are potential mentors. Contacting those individuals prior to the submission of your application is strongly encouraged for the DIRECT track and required for INTERNAL track applications (to secure a letter from potential co-mentors).
What prior degrees must I have to apply?
You should have at least a bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) in a relevant major, such as biology, geography, ecology or mathematics. Students with quantitative background (e.g., computer science, math, or statistics) who wish to cross-train are encouraged to apply and invited to inquire about preparatory coursework that might be suggested.
How are students financially supported?
IDEAS trainees receive two years of NSF funding. Trainees admitted through the Direct Track have three additional years of funding through teaching or research assistantships in the Ecology department.
Can a non-US citizen participate in this program?
Yes. However, we must disclose that non-US citizens are not eligible for training grant funding provided through the NSF; this is in accordance with federal regulations.
What courses are required?
How does the internship component of the program work?
The internship component is quite flexible. We have internship partners lined up with positions available immediately, but are also open to new opportunities that might better serve your individual course of study.
Will my conferred degree reflect my participation in the IDEAS program?
At this time, the area of emphasis and the IDEAS graduate certificate are still in development.
What are my job prospects upon graduation? Will IDEAS assist in job placement?
We believe IDEAS students will be very well prepared for leadership roles in academia, government, and non-government organizations that work in environmental and health issues.
I am not interested in completing the entire IDEAS program, but some of the courses may be useful for my research. Can I enroll only in the IDEAS courses that are directly beneficial to me?
Yes. IDEAS courses are open to all graduate students at the University of Georgia with the permission of the instructor.
IDEAS: From Byte to Benchtop to Biosphere