Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food & Environment

Entomology - Graduate


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thesis option master's degree


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non-thesis master's degree


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Entomology is the study of insects and how they interact with their environment, other species and humans.  Professional entomologists contribute to the betterment of humankind by helping to understand and mitigate the spread of insect-borne diseases such as malaria and zika virus, by helping to find ways to protect food and fiber crops, livestock, forests, structures, and other systems from ravages of insect pests, and by helping to protect and sustain populations of beneficial insects that are critical to agriculture, food security, and societal well-being. Insects also serve as important models for basic studies in biological diversity, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, physiology, medicine, and other fields of science.   Entomologists are employed at Universities and museums,  non-profit organizations, as Extension educators, and in federal government agencies (EPA, USDA, APHIS); state departments of agriculture and public health, state agricultural research stations, agrichemical companies, agricultural consulting firms; timber and seed production companies, international development agencies, criminology and forensics, and the military.  

The University of Kentucky’s Department of Entomology, celebrating its 125th continuous year of education, research and service, is one of the oldest and most productive intact units of its kind in the nation. The Department has a rich legacy of vibrant scholarship and innovative education and outreach, coupled with strong commitment to graduate education.  It is designated a nationally Top 10 Entomology Program by the Chronicle of Higher Education Faculty Scholar Activity Index, and boasts four faculty members who have served as President or been elected as Fellows of the Entomological Society of America. The UK Entomology graduate program consistently ranks among the top graduate programs at the University of Kentucky, as measured by total number of graduate student presentations and publications. 

Our mission is to improve the quality of human life and protect our environment through a better understanding of insects and related arthropods. Within the department, we strive for a creative synergy between fundamental and applied entomological research, developing long-term solutions to entomological problems, while providing answers that address immediate short-term problems. We have a strong integration of research, extension, and graduate education.  The department’s response to critical entomological problems; e.g., the world-wide outbreak of bed bugs, pollinator decline, emerald ash borer, and Zika virus demonstrate how we respond to critical needs within the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the nation, and the world.  

We conduct fundamental and applied research on insects; deliver information through education and outreach activities; educate graduate and undergraduate students; develop and provide resources to professionals involved in managing insect populations that affect plant, animal and human health; implement integrative and effective systems for pest/vector management; and enhance science education and public appreciation of human-insect interactions.  We strive for continuous improvement in our programs and success of our students.  Recent graduates are employed as university or college faculty, as research scientists with federal and state agencies (e.g., USDA, US Forest Service) or Industry, as extension educators, as entomologists in the military, public health agencies, or pest control firms, and as agricultural consultants, pest control specialists, and small business owners.    

The personal and professional development of our faculty and staff; diversity among our students, faculty and staff; and being a collaborative part of the CAFE and the UK are among our core values.

Entomology Master's (MS) or Doctoral (PhD) Degree - Application Requirements

  • CV
    • Your CV must include the following details: work, research and/or independent study experience, honors, scholarships, society memberships and leadership activities. Also list your publications or scientific papers presented.
  • A 2-paged personal statement explaining:
    1. your reason for applying to an Entomology graduate program and to our graduate program in particular
    2. your proposed area(s) of specialization, including why you chose it
    3. which of our faculty members most interest you as prospective mentors, and why. Note that this statement may be used to nominate you for university fellowships if you are admitted to our graduate program. Please list the members of our faculty that you have contacted regarding research mentoring in their laboratory during your graduate studies.
  • Three letters of recommendation

Applicants must meet the Graduate School admission requirements.

The GRE is not required for admission to this program.

Our Students' Work...

To better understand the interests and areas of study available within the Entomology Department, browse these recent researches from our graduates:   

Bee Assemblages Data
Daniel A. Potter and Bernadette M. Mach. 2021

Altering Planting Data to Manage Melanphis sacchari (Hemiptera Aphididae) Populations in Sweet Sorghum
Nathan Mercer. 2020

Parasitoid Host Acceptance and Sustainability for Sugarcane Aphid
Nathan Mercer. 2020 









Our Research Areas

Choosing from the many specializations of our professors, students will find a variety of hands-on experiences to suit their interests. Faculty and researchers in the Entomology Department manage laboratories focused on: 

Students interested in learning more about these research operations are encouraged to email the associated contact listed above.

Highlighted Courses

  • ENT 461G Introduction to Population Genetics: This survey course examines the population dynamics and equilibria of genes in nuclei, chloroplasts, and mitochondria. Emphasis will be on biological relevance (in plants, animals, and micro-organisms), but some theoretical derivations will also be introduced.

  • ENT 502 Forest Entomology: Lectures primarily address principles and concepts. Laboratories use a hands-on approach to demonstrate insect collecting and identification techniques, ecological concepts, and management approaches, and use of reference materials. 

  • ENT 568 Insect Behavior: The principles of animal behavior will be stressed using insects as examples. Physiology, mechanisms, behavioral ecology, and evolution of insect behavior will be covered.

  • ​​​ENT 667 Invasive Species Biology: This course will examine circumstances that allow introduced species to become invasive, how invasive species threaten our resources and approaches to minimizing the incidence and impact of invasions.