We are looking for students with a solid ecological background, an applied perspective, and a commitment to the sustainable use and conservation of the world's natural resources.
We offer both the M.S. and a Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife sciences. Students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in fisheries and wildlife sciences are strongly encouraged to contact a potential advisor directly to discuss shared interests and the possibility of positions in their laboratory. We intend for all graduate students to be completely funded through a combination of institutional and grant support. This requires a commitment from both the student and the advisor, and the development of a successful mentor-mentee relationship. Please visit here to learn more about the interests and work of our faculty.
Successful applicants to our program usually have grade point averages above 3.5 on a 4.0 scale (over the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate course work) and GRE scores at or above 160 in verbal and quantitative and analytical areas. Highly competitive students have discipline-related experience, particularly field experience. Students entering the Ph.D. in fisheries and wildlife sciences must have previously completed an M.S. at an accredited institute. Students that are highly successful as part of our M.S. program can petition the Graduate Affairs Committee to be moved to the doctorate degree program before completing a M.S.
Our M.S. stresses preparation for professional careers in public agencies, governmental conservation organizations, or the private sector. Our doctoral degree stresses preparation for research and leadership positions in public agencies, non-governmental conservation organizations, or for university faculty positions.
All graduate students must conduct M.S. or Ph.D. research projects, in addition to course work chosen in consultation with an advisory committee. Most student research is conducted in field locations in Virginia and adjacent states, but current projects also occur in Belize, Brazil, Indonesia, Botswana, Ghana, Madagascar, China, and other countries.
Students present the design of their research projects in a written research Working Plan that the advisory committee approves before research work begins. In almost all cases, research contracts or teaching assistantships provide funding for students, both of which require substantial work outside of degree requirements. We expect students to publish their research results in peer-reviewed literature.
M.S. students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, while Ph.D. students complete a minimum of 90 credit hours. M.S. students must complete 24 hours of course work beyond the bachelor’s degree. The number of hours of course work beyond the M.S. completed by Ph.D. students is variable and is determined in consultation with the advisory committee.
Graduates may choose to satisfy certification requirements for either the American Fisheries Society or The Wildlife Society; this may require additional course work by students entering the program from other disciplines. All students must deliver at least two seminars and write a semi-technical manuscript about their research.
Students pursuing a Ph.D. take and pass a Preliminary Examination at least six months before the Final Examination and must engage in the classroom at least one semester, regardless of funding sources.
All students are expected to participate in the professional and collegial life of the department and their professional specialty by attending seminars and professional meetings, participating in student organizations, and serving on departmental and professional committees.
The department hosts cooperative units with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and works closely with a related National Park Service unit. These cooperatives provide students with access to lands, waters, animals, facilities, and equipment throughout the nation.
The department maintains facilities in Cheatham Hall, Latham Hall, and the Integrated Life Sciences Building for laboratory analysis, small-scale aquatic experiments, small-animal holding, computer analysis, and geographic information systems. The latest computer technology is available through collaborations with high-speed computing centers maintained at the university and laboratories within the college. The Wild Animal Research Center (a.k.a., Center Woods) is home to the Research Aviary, Freshwater Mussel Propagation Facility, Black Bear Research Facility, and the Conservation Aquaculture Center, and provides storage for our boat and truck fleets.