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Programs of National Distinction

Creative Writing, Organismal Biology and Ecology, and Wildlife Biology were named UM Programs of National Distinction in 2013. These academic programs are broadly recognized as being amongst the best in the nation, and in the world. 

Creative Writing

Founded in 1920, UM's Creative Writing Program is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the country. Shaped by presences such as Leslie Fielder, Patricia Goedicke, Richard Hugo and William Kittredge, the program offers student writers instruction and mentorship by a committed and diverse group of faculty, visiting writers, alumni and peers.

  • Undergraduate Creative Writing Students publish an undergraduate literary magazine, The Oval
  • Listen to Kalen Mallard, MFA student, reading her work at a Second Wind performance, a reading series that pairs UM students with prominent writers in the Missoula community.

Organismal Biology and Ecology

The graduate program in Organismal Biology and Ecology (OBE) provides students training in scientific research that allow them to gain a better understanding of the ecology and evolution of organisms. Graduates of the program are well prepared to undertake further graduate research as university faculty members or applied scientists in the broad field of biology, including conservation biology and wildlife biology. The program has special strengths in population genetics, physiological ecology, aquatic ecology, animal behavior, avian ecology, and plant ecology.

  • Erin McCullough studies elaborate animal traits, such as horns, antlers and ungulates, and their effect on sexual selection in a variety of species.

Wildlife Biology

The Wildlife Biology program is the second-highest ranked wildlife program in the US; has two endowed chairs; more than 350 undergraduate students; and nearly 60 graduate students. Its faculty publish more than 60 refereed journal articles and books per year, including numerous in the top-ranked journals of the field, such as Journal of Wildlife Management, Ecology, and Conservation Ecology. The Wildlife Biology faculty also bring in more than $4,000,000 per year in research funding. Its students are also top-rated: many are in the Honors College; more than 70% are employed in the field after graduation. The work of the program has significant impact of important policy and conservation issues.

  • Doctoral student Jody Tucker leads the USDA Forest Service’s Sierra Nevada Carnivore Monitoring Team. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the connection between wildlife population genetics and wildlife conservation.