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Wildlife Biology

Program Description

The Wildlife Biology Program is interdisciplinary between the College of Forestry and Conservation, the Division of Biological Sciences and the Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit (a branch of the U.S. Geological Survey). This formal integration of basic and applied fields is unusual among academic programs that are conservation-oriented and enables our graduates to use a science-based approach to address the most complex questions related to wildlife conservation.

Wildlife biology is a "natural" for The University of Montana. Due to Montana's relatively low human population density and relatively undisturbed landscapes, Montana is perceived as one of the best places to see and study wildlife. The Wildlife Program at UM has had much national exposure and recognized expertise, from the pioneering research of John Craighead on grizzly bears, to the presidencies of four of our faculty members of The Wildlife Society (three of our faculty members have been Aldo Leopold Award winners), to the recent editorship of a group of our faculty of a national journal. Current faculty and graduate students carry on in this tradition.

Missoula has become a center of conservation interest in the inter-mountain west. Located in Missoula are the Region 1 Office of the USDA Forest Service; the Supervisor's Office for the Lolo National Forest; the Forest Service's Forestry Sciences Lab, National Fire Lab, and Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute; local offices of the USDI Bureau of Land Management; the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation; and a Regional Office of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Private conservation organizations also have found a focus in Missoula. The national headquarters for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Boone and Crockett Club, and the Outdoor Writers Association are located in Missoula, as are local offices of the National Wildlife Federation and Defenders of Wildlife. The Boone and Crockett Club endowed a professorship at UM. Numerous regional and local conservation organizations also have offices in Missoula. The environment provides an outstanding opportunity for the cultivation of ideas as well as potential funding sources for research.

Degrees Offered

M.S. Wildlife Biology

Requirements

Thesis: 30 credits, thesis defense; Non-thesis: 36 credits, professional paper and defense. This non-thesis degree program is available to established professional resource administrators, supervisors who wish to update their professional qualifications, and to students in the Peace Corps program (see College of Forestry and Conservation).

Ph.D. Fish and Wildlife Biology

Requirements

60 credits, comprehensive exam, dissertation and dissertation defense.

Admissions

1. Application Materials and Deadline

  • Fall - Priority will be given to completed application packets postmarked by January 15. Complete application packets received after this date will be considered on a space available basis. Typically, assistantships and scholarships are determined at this time (for the fall application pool by the January 15th deadline).
  • Spring - Complete application packets received for spring semesters will be reviewed periodically and considered only on a space available basis. (Historically, approximately 95% of accepted graduate students have applied by the January 15th deadline for fall semester admission)

We recognize that each applicant is unique. We are looking for good students who are highly motivated and well qualified to do graduate work.

 Instructions for applying to the Graduate School are in the Applying for Admission section on this web site.

In addition to the application materials required by the Graduate School, the Wildlife Biology Program also requires:

  • A statement of purpose (1-2 pages) of your background and goals.
  • A resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation (We prefer electronic submission through the Admission Application. If the electronic method is used there is no need to send paper copies to the department.)

2. Program Requirements for Admission

  • Grade point average > 3.0 for all college work for M.S. admission; > 3.5 during M.S. for Ph.D. admission.
  • GRE test scores are required.  We recommend verbal, quantitative and analytical for M.S. above 50th percentile (in each) and verbal, quantitative and analytical for Ph.D. above 60th percentile (in each).
  • The Wildlife Biology Program accepts GRE scores with a test date that is within the past five years OR verifiable GRE scores if the test date is over five years. 
  • Previous degree(s) in wildlife or closely related field strongly preferred.

3. International Students

  • The TOEFL is a required test.
  • GRE test scores are required.  We recommend verbal, quantitative and analytical for M.S. above 50th percentile (in each) and verbal, quantitative and analytical for Ph.D. above 60th percentile (in each).
  • The Wildlife Biology Program accepts GRE scores with a test date that is within the past five years OR verifiable GRE scores if the test date is over five years. 
  • See information in the International Admission section on this web site.Financial Assistance

For additional information about financial assistance, see the Financial Information section on this web site.

 Teaching Assistantships

The Wildlife Biology Program has a number of teaching assistantships available each year. Graduate students in these positions assist faculty with course instruction through leading labs or discussion sections, delivering lectures and grading assignments. Teaching assistants are selected according to their background in courses for which teaching assistants are needed on a semester or yearly basis. Full-time teaching assistants work approximately 20 hours per week for 15 weeks each semester of the academic year. In addition to their salaries, teaching assistants receive a tuition fee waiver.  Other fees charged by the University are not included in the TA fee waiver package. Both incoming and current graduate students are considered for teaching assistantships. Teaching assistants are required to register for 6 credits each semester: 9 credits are considered to be full time.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships are made available to graduate students by faculty members who have received grants from outside sources (for example, Forest Service, Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, National Science Foundation, other public and private organizations). The number of research assistantships offered varies by year depending on available funds. Research assistants are assigned duties by the faculty member with funding; these duties are often the student's own research project. Research assistantships have financial benefits generally similar to those of teaching assistantships. Research assistants are required to register for 6 credits each semester: 9 credits are considered to be full time.

 

Wildlife Biology


Department website

Campus Location
Forestry Building, Room 311C

Federal Express Delivery - Street Address
32 Campus Drive #0596
Missoula, MT 59812-0596

(406) 243-5292
Fax: (406) 243-4557
jeanne.franz@umontana.edu