Aquatic Option

The aquatic concentration of the wildlife biology bachelor’s degree program at UM gives you experience working on a variety of aquatic or fisheries-related research and management projects with state and federal agencies, nongovernmental organizations and university researchers — including an amazing opportunity to connect with the Clark Fork Coalition right here in Missoula. We also offer a concentration in terrestrial wildlife biology.

Grade Point Requirement:
Students must earn at least a 2.5 cumulative grade point average in all courses taken at the University of Montana to graduate with a B.S. in Wildlife Biology.

Occasionally due to a mix of extenuating circumstances and career interests, students can petition to substitute a different class for a required class. Courses substitutions should be similar in level (e.g., 300-level) and credit load. If you would like to petition for a course substitution, you need to fill out a course substitution form, discuss the change with your faculty mentor for approval, and submit it to the undergraduate student advisor for review by the Wildlife Biology Program Undergraduate Committee.

Honors Emphasis

The Honor's Option provides students with basics of biological sciences in the first two years and allows students to develop their own curriculum during their junior and senior years to better meet their desired needs. In addition, Honor's Option students can work one-on-one with a faculty member to complete a senior thesis project. The Honor's Option requires 30 credits at UM and a 3.5 GPA.

The honors curriculum is designed particularly for students with strong academic records who intend to do graduate work. Entrance into this emphasis is open only to students who, at the beginning of the junior year of the wildlife biology program, have a grade point average of 3.5 or above and who petition the faculty for entrance. Honors students must complete either WILD 370, 470 and 494 (terrestrial option) or BIOO 340, BIOE 428 and WILD 494 (aquatic option).

Honors students are encouraged to enroll also in WILD 499 Senior Thesis. The balance of the coursework for the junior and senior years will be developed in consultation with the honors student's faculty advisor and committee appointed by the director of the wildlife biology program.

All students in the honors emphasis are required to meet with their faculty advisors prior to autumn semester registration of their junior and senior years to work out their course schedule.

Apply for WBIO Honors Program | Course Revision Appplication

High Honors

UM confers High Honors to select graduating seniors. To get High Honors, Wildlife Biology students must have a 3.7 GPA and complete either a senior thesis or an honors oral exam. Download a copy of requirements for this high honors option.


Schedule an appointment with your academic advisor through Navigate.  Watch the helpful video where you can see how the system works.  Then, click on the Navigate for Students button at the bottom of the page.  If the office hours listed won’t work for you, please email your advisor directly to see what other days/time might work.

WBIO (last names A-R):  Chenoa Harrington
WBIO (last names S-Z):  Shonna Trowbridge

We can help you change a major, add or delete a minor, contact your faculty advisor, find scholarship information, and use Cyberbear to plan your class schedule and register. 

Experiential learning in the wildlife biology degree

Make the world your classroom at the University of Montana. Our field-based learning opportunities in the heart of the Rocky Mountain West help make UM one of the best schools for wildlife biology in the nation.

Field courses and internships for aquatic wildlife biology majors

As an aquatic wildlife biology major, you’ll have the option to work with the Clark Fork Coalition — an organization focused on restoration and enhancement of the Clark Fork River and connecting the three major rivers in Missoula with the community.

You’ll have opportunities to connect with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Trout Unlimited to advance river restoration and native fish conservation throughout western Montana. Many of our students also take summer field courses and internships at UM’s Flathead Lake Biological Station.

All wildlife biology majors are required to complete an internship and at least two credits of hands-on experience. Your faculty mentor will work with you to find opportunities that meet your needs. Find more resources to help with internships and jobs.  

Study wildlife biology abroad

Immerse yourself in new cultures while addressing environmental and conservation issues around the globe. Majors in wildlife biology at UM qualify for Franke Sustainability Fellowships, which fund international research and education focused on sustainability. Learn more about study abroad opportunities at the University of Montana.

Wildlife biology facilities and labs

UM is home to specialized conservation genetics labs such as the National Genomics Center for Fish and Wildlife Conservation. We have 25,000 acres of land managed for student and faculty research and learning, including Lubrecht Experimental Forest. Our majors in wildlife biology also use remote field cameras, GPS and satellite collars, and radio telemetry equipment, as well as computing systems that enable advanced spatial and statistical analyses.

What can you do with a wildlife biology degree?

Earn your degree in wildlife biology at the University of Montana and prepare to take a leading role in the study, management and conservation of fish and wildlife. Our graduates are sought after by employers around the world and enjoy high job placement rates.

This is a degree that you can use to make a difference, and our alumni have gone on to influential roles in science and policy, such as overseeing large-scale species conservation efforts, or directing the conservation efforts of governmental agencies and NGOs.

Wildlife biology jobs

This program prepares you for a variety of wildlife and aquatic biology jobs including:

  • Fisheries and/or wildlife biologist
  • Fish and wildlife conservation officer
  • Fisheries/aquatic program managers
  • Fisheries researcher
  • Fisheries and/or wildlife technician
  • Fish hatchery technician or manager

Wildlife biology salary

Zoologists and wildlife biologists earn an average of $63,270 per year nationally, based on recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average annual income for this occupation in Montana is $66,870. According to the Economic Research Institute, the average aquatic biology salary in the United States is $77,496.