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Graduate Field of Entomology

World-wide impact on entomological research

The Graduate Field of Entomology at Cornell includes faculty conducting research in all aspects of insect biology, including systematics, phylogenetics, evolution, ecology, behavior, conservation, climate change, citizen science, invasive species, genetics, genomics, physiology, biological control, medical entomology, and pesticide toxicology.

Master of Science (M.S.)

The Graduate School at Cornell is organized into “Training Fields,” that span college and department administrative units. Fields draw their graduate faculty from multiple disciplines and departments, so students have access to a diversity of scholarship in their respective areas of study.

Every candidate for the M.S. degree in Entomology is expected to submit a thesis at the end of their degree program. The details of thesis content and construction vary among students. An M.S. degree can be conferred once your thesis has been judged to be "complete" by your Major Advisor and Special Committee

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

The Graduate School at Cornell is organized into "Training Fields," that span college and department administrative units. Fields draw  their graduate faculty from multiple disciplines and departments, so students have access to a diversity of scholarship in their respective areas of study. 

Every candidate for the Ph.D. degree in Entomology is expected to submit a thesis at the end of their degree program.  The details of thesis content and construction vary among students.  A Ph.D. degree can be conferred once your thesis has been judged to be “complete” by your Major Advisor and Special Committee. 

Ph.D. students in Entomology are required to take what we call the "A exam", ideally in the second year of your degree program.  The Exam is administered by the Special Committee, and will vary depending on the composition of your committee.  The format of the exam is generally oral, and will include a written component.  Topics to be covered may include anything relevant to your proposed research and degree program.  Your Advisor and Committee Members will guide you in preparation for your A exam.

Program Details

Graduate students in the Field of Entomology have a great deal of freedom in the choice of their classes. We offer courses in a broad array of topics, including introductory courses on insect biology, as well as advanced courses in systematics, ecology, physiology, toxicology, medical entomology, pathology, insect conservation, insect behavior, and applied entomology. For a complete list of our courses, see the Cornell Courses of Study website.

Only one course is required for graduate students in the Field of Entomology:

  • ENTOM 7670 - Professional development in Entomology [2 credits]: This is a graduate level seminar required of, and limited to, first semester graduate students in the Field of Entomology. The content focuses on professional development skills, including critical reading of scientific literature, oral and written presentation, and grant writing.

Note: If you have not had an introductory entomology class at another institution, you will be required to take ENTOM 2120 your first semester:

  • ENTOM 2120 - Insect Biology [4 credits]: Introduces the science of entomology, focusing on the systematics, anatomy, physiology, basic and applied ecology, and natural history of insects. Early fall laboratories include field trips to collect and study insects in the natural environment. A personal collection emphasizing ecological, behavioral, and taxonomic categories is a requirement of the laboratory.

The rest of your coursework will be determined by you, your thesis advisor, and, eventually, your committee. Coursework is largely driven by what skills students need to conduct their research.

Expected Proficiencies for Entomology Students

Students in entomology are expected to develop and demonstrate creativity in research, teaching, and/or extension. We consider indicators of success when students:

  • demonstrate intellectual engagement and become an established member of the research/teaching/extension community through participation in departmental seminars, journal clubs, scientific meetings, lab group meetings.

  • develop the ability to assimilate information and knowledge from multiple sources to form hypotheses and questions by becoming familiar with the relevant literature and be able to discuss their research with peers and faculty.

  • develop critical thinking skills, including the ability to identify and evaluate assumptions in an argument, analyze arguments, and formulate coherent opinions and place their own research into context.

  • demonstrate the ability to write scientifically including research proposals, peer-reviewed papers and/or extension or outreach articles.

  • conduct research by mastering appropriate research methodologies, analyzing and interpreting their own research findings.

Students in entomology are expected to communicate research findings orally and in writing. We expect students to:

  • develop oral communication skills, including the ability to present research and/or extension and/or outreach material in a way that is compelling and audience- appropriate. Beginning in the second year, students are expected to give a presentation in either JUGATAE or the January symposium at least every other year. In addition we expect all students to give annual talks (after their first year) in various settings such as journal clubs, regional, national or international meetings.

  • develop written communication skills. We recommend students get involved in the writing of proposals, scientific publications in the primary literature and extension/outreach publication for the general public. Written communication may be both traditional and web-based.

Please contact us with any questions you might have about graduate education in entomology at Cornell.

Graduate Field Administrative Assistant
Stephanie Westmiller
st342 [at] (st342[at]cornell[dot]edu)

Director of Graduate Studies
Jennifer Thaler, Ph.D.
jst37 [at] (jst37[at]cornell[dot]edu)


Our department houses some of the world's preeminent resources for the study of entomology including one of the world's largest insect collections, working farms of all sizes, a major honey bee colony and state-of-the-art laboratories.

Cornell University Insect Collection

The Cornell University Insect Collection serves as a repository of insect biodiversity which contributes to a global understanding of entomology. With over 7 million specimens, the collection's research relies on technological advances such as molecular sequencing and digital imaging to support projects focusing on invasive species, bee phylogenetics, Hawaiian insects and environmental response to new types.

Dyce Laboratory

The Dyce Laboratory for honey bee research is located on a beautiful 20 acre parcel of land three miles from Cornell's campus. The Dyce Laboratory houses research programs on honey bee biology, bumble bee health, and the impacts of pesticides and pathogens on pollinators. Our extension and outreach associates also host beekeeping and pollinator health workshops.

Cornell AgriTech

A number of entomology faculty are housed at Cornell AgriTech in Geneva, NY. Our renowned scientists conduct ground-breaking, interdisciplinary research and discovery in our laboratories and 900 acres of fields, orchards and vineyards. The work of our faculty, staff and students covers the continuum of food and plant research from farm to fork, from plant pests to biofuels, and from food security to climate change. 

The Entomology Library

The Comstock Memorial Library of Entomology represents a world-class collection in general and applied entomology, parasitology, medical entomology, ecology, zoological nomenclature and allied orders of arthropods. The library has an extensive number of reprints, a collection of the departmental theses and rare books. The collection can now be found at Cornell's Albert R. Mann Library.

More Facilities

Sarkaria Arthropod Research Laboratory is a quarantine facility, which securely contains non‑native insects (arthropods) for experimentation on their biology and control.

Chemical Ecology Core Facility facilitates chemical analysis by researchers across campus.

Cornell Biotechnology Resource Center provides cutting-edge resources for research, including imaging facilities, bioinformatics resources, proteomic and genomic analysis.

A woman holding a box of preserved insects
People in beekeeping gear inspect frames from a hive.
Two people inspecting plants in lab setting.
Students work in Mann Library
Two students sample arthropods in a strawberry low tunnel field.

Areas of Specialization

A microscopic image of tiny arthropods on a strawberry leaf.

Ecology, Evolution, Systematics, and Behavior

How insects navigate and adapt to their environments, interact with other organisms they contact, and evolve over time. Insects are arguably the most successful group on planet Earth, residing year-around on all seven continents and comprising over half of all scientifically described species.

Managed Systems Entomology

Applied control of insect pests in agricultural, urban, conservation, and public health contexts. Insects constitute a tremendous model system for studying diverse biological fields, but their direct impact on us in everyday life remains one of the primary reasons for studying them.

Physiology, Molecular Biology, Genetics, and Genomics

How insects function underneath the cuticle. Research in sub‑organismal insect biology at Cornell integrates a range of analysis from genomics and RNA editing to behavioral physiology and nutrition.

Student Spotlights

SAGES officers pose after apple picking

Creating graduate student community at Cornell AgriTech.

A man performs research in a lab.

Supporting crop sustainability through Bt resistance research.