PhD Programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies

The ATREE doctoral programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies is designed to impart training to research scholars, to develop and use integrated approaches in sustainable development and biodiversity conservation. The programme promotes interdisciplinary research and frameworks to integrate tools and approaches from the disciplines of ecology, economics, sociology, and climate science.

ATREE is a recognised centre of the doctoral programme of Manipal Academy for Higher Education (MAHE)—the institution that awards the PhD degree. 

In accordance with the requirements of ATREE and MAHE, students seeking admission should have:

  • a background in natural or social sciences
  • exhibit academic excellence

Typically ATREE accepts new PhD students in odd-numbered years and provides research contingencies and stipend support. In addition students who have (i) qualified for a Junior Research Fellowship under the UGC or the CSIR schemes or (ii) are working on a research project at ATREE can enroll in the doctoral programme. Students are encouraged to check the ‘Research’ tab of the ATREE Jobs webpage to check for project-funded PhD opportunities at ATREE.  

Students admitted to the programme will work under the personal mentorship of an ATREE faculty member and will also be guided by a doctoral committee of 3-5 members. The committee will consist of ATREE faculty members and external scientists and will include representation of expertise from different disciplines

Doctoral training begins with rigorous coursework that is expected to take a year to complete. This will include a set of mandatory courses and a choice of electives. We have designed foundation courses in the natural and social sciences to introduce students to main concepts in both these disciplines, since students will have a background in one of these. 

  • Foundations in Natural Sciences - Ecology
  • Foundations in Natural Sciences - Environmental Science 
  • Foundations in Social Sciences - Economics
  • Foundations in Social  Sciences - Sociology

The foundational coursework in the natural sciences covers ecological concepts, ecosystem processes and species interactions, environmental processes and challenges, sustainability science and biodiversity conservation. The foundational coursework in the social sciences covers the basic principles of economics and sociology and focuses on classical and contemporary economic and sociological theory, and expanding into ecological economics and environmental sociology. 

The foundational coursework is supplemented by a novel course that introduces and encourages students to inculcate an integrated, interdisciplinary approach to address the persistent challenges of biodiversity decline, climate change, land degradation and natural resource governance. Beginning with a multidisciplinary approach, this novel course moves on to discussing integrated approaches that draws upon theoretical ideas and comparative analyses of case studies from across the world. Mandatory coursework concludes with the tools of conducting research in the natural and social sciences and the ethics and practice of disseminating science, through a series of research methods courses.

  • Practising Interdisciplinary Research on the Environment
  • Research Design and Methods ‐ Social Sciences
  • Research Design and Methods ‐ Natural Sciences
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Scientific Writing
  • Research and Publication Ethics
Somajita Paul's picture

Somajita Paul

Batch: 2008
Date of award: 11 Feb 2016
Current Affiliation:
School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University
Urbashi Pradhan's picture

Urbashi Pradhan

Batch: 2009
Date of award: 20 Mar 2019
Current Affiliation:
Vidyadhar Atkore's picture

Vidyadhar Atkore

Batch: 2009
Date of award: 30 Nov 2017
Current Affiliation:
Senior coordinator (Aquatic ecologist), WWF-India
Vikram Aditya's picture

Vikram Aditya

Batch: 2011
Date of award: 10 May 2019
Current Affiliation:
Post Doctoral research Associate, ATREE
Vivek R.'s picture

Vivek R.

Batch: 2007
Date of award: 10 Jan 2014
Current Affiliation:
Consultant, NCBS


ATREE invites applications for admission to the 2021 intake of its doctoral research programme in Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies. The programme is recognized by the Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE) and is one of the few programmes in India that provides students training in the natural sciences, social sciences and interdisciplinary practice to conduct research on biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.

ATREE’s research covers the broad themes of biodiversity conservation, environment, and development. Thematic areas include conservation biology and planning; forest governance and livelihoods; ecosystem services and well-being; hydrology and water resources; energy and climate change mitigation; food security; and development and environmental change. Students will be required to identify a potential supervisor at the time of admission and should visit the webpages of the faculty (listed below) who are accepting students this year to learn more about their research.

Only students holding a valid CSIR-JRF, UGC-JRF or applying for the DST-INSPIRE Fellowship, with prior training in any branch of the social, natural, or engineering sciences are eligible for admission to the PhD programme. Selected students will undergo coursework for three semesters, after which they will conduct independent research under the guidance of an advisory committee, chaired by the faculty advisor. ATREE fosters diversity and gender equity at the workplace; women and persons from underprivileged groups are especially encouraged to apply. ATREE’s affirmative action policy will be followed during the PhD selection process.

Admission and Eligibility

  1. The candidate must have a Master’s degree in any social science, natural science or engineering discipline and have secured a minimum of 55% marks or equivalent.
  2. The candidate must have a valid CSIR-JRF or UGC‐JRF or DST-INSPIRE Fellowship.

Application Process

 Candidates seeking admission for the PhD programme at ATREE should submit the following documents:

  • Updated CV
  • A completed application form
  • Copies of CSIR-JRF or UGC-JRF award letters, degree certificate, or provisional degree certificate, and Master’s course mark sheets.
  • A written statement of purpose in the applicant’s own words, which highlights his or her research and career goals (maximum 1000 words).
  • Confidential reference letters from two referees, sent directly by the referees to the address below by email or post.

Applicants should submit completed applications and all supporting documents by email to or post to the address listed below by June 15th, 2021. Candidates submitting their applications by email should indicate ‘Application for PhD programme’ in the subject line of the email; those submitting their applications by post should superscribe the envelope. Incomplete applications will be rejected.

Shortlisted applicants will have to appear for an interview at ATREE, Bangalore. The academic year will begin in mid-August 2021.

Contact information:

Academy for Conservation Science and Sustainability Studies,
Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE),
Royal Enclave, Srirampura, Jakkur, Bangalore 560 064
Email:   Phone: +91-80-23635555 Extn: 121