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University Bulletin
Graduate Degree Programs

Wildlife and Fisheries Science (W F S)

Program Home Page

MICHAEL G. MESSINA, Director of the School of Forest Resources and Professor of Forest Resources
121 Forest Resources Building


Degrees Conferred:

Ph.D., M.S.


The Graduate Faculty


The Program

Programs are designed to give students an understanding of the biology and management of terrestrial or aquatic wildlife species and their environments, and include training in fish and wildlife ecology, nutrition, physiology, behavior, and pathology of wildlife species; study of successional stages, land use, and management of various habitats and their impact on fish and wildlife populations; population dynamics and manipulation of animal numbers; and studies of recreational, aesthetic, and socioeconomic values of fish and wildlife. Most programs of study are strengthened by including appropriate courses offered by related departments.

Admission Requirements

Scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) are required for admission. A student may be admitted provisionally without GRE scores. Requirements listed here are in addition to general Graduate School requirements stated in the GENERAL INFORMATION section of the Graduate Bulletin.

Application materials should be submitted before February by those who want to begin in summer or fall. For admission, an applicant should have at least a 2.75 grade-point average, a 3.00 junior/senior average, and courses that are basic to the individual's field of specialization. Ordinarily these include 12 credits in communication, 12 credits in social sciences and humanities, 10 credits in quantification including calculus and statistics, 8 credits in chemistry and/or physics, 8 credits in biological sciences, and 18 credits in fish, wildlife, forestry, or related courses. Three reference reports (forms supplied on request), and a brief statement describing the applicant's academic goals, career interests, and special qualifications are required. The best-qualified applicants will be accepted up to the number of spaces available. Exceptions to admission requirements may be made for students with special backgrounds, abilities, and interests.

Admission to the Ph.D. program in Wildlife and Fisheries Science requires a master's degree in wildlife and fisheries science or a closely related field, or a bachelor's degree with a minimum grade-point average of 3.30 and demonstrated research ability.

Master's Degree Requirements

M.S.: In addition to Graduate School requirements, 6 credits of statistics and 2 credits of colloquium are required.

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Doctoral students would normally emphasize either wildlife or fisheries in their course selection. Course work shall include at least 15 graduate credits beyond those required for an M.S. in Wildlife and Fisheries Science. At least 9 of these credits must include courses at the 500 level with a Wildlife and Fisheries Science designation.

An international communications or cultural requirement is required for the Ph.D. degree. This requirement may be satisfied by demonstrating competence in one foreign language equivalent to passing two or three college-level courses. It also may be met by two courses in one or two contemporary foreign cultures. With approval of the doctoral committee, a student may petition the Graduate Faculty of the school for waiver of the international communications or culture requirement.

Students must pass the candidacy examination during their first year of residence and a comprehensive examination which is given after all course requirements have been completed. The final examination is oral; all doctoral students are required to present a public seminar on their dissertation prior to the final examination.

Watershed Stewardship Option

The Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship is intended to provide enhanced educational opportunities for students with an interest in water resources management who are enrolled in a graduate degree program within Wildlife and Fisheries Science. The objective of the Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship is to educate students to facilitate team-oriented, community-based watershed management planning directed at water resources problems encountered in Pennsylvania communities, especially nonpoint source water pollution. The Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship requires 22 credits of graduate course work: 12 credits of breadth courses, 2 credits of Watershed Stewardship Seminar courses (FOR 591A and 591B or LARCH 510.2), and 8 credits of Watershed Stewardship Practicum I and II courses (FOR 570 and FOR 571 or LARCH 540.2 and LARCH 550.2). One credit of FOR 591 would count as a colloquium course toward degree requirements, but at least 1 additional credit of FOR 590 is required. Breadth courses will consist of three graduate credits of course work from each of four subject matter areas: (1) water resources science, (2) social science, public policy and economics, (3) humanities, and (4) communications and design. In the watershed stewardship practicum courses students work in teams with community, government and business leaders to analyze and understand natural resources problems and creatively synthesize appropriate solutions in the form of a written watershed management plan.

A representative pattern of scheduling for the Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship in addition to a student's other degree requirements might be:

First Year:

Fall Semester
Breadth electives--6 credits
FOR 591A or LARCH 510.2,
Watershed Stewardship
Issues Colloquium--1 credit

Spring Semester
Breadth electives--6 credits
FOR 591B or LARCH 510.2,
Watershed Colloquium--1 credit

Second Year:

Fall Semester
FOR 570 or LARCH 540.2,
3 credits
Keystone Project

Spring Semester
FOR 571 or LARCH 550.2,
5 credits
Keystone Project

A list of acceptable breadth courses from each discipline is provided in the Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship Handbook. Students will be allowed to petition to the Center for Watershed Stewardship to substitute higher level or equivalent courses in a major field to suit their specific backgrounds and goals. Courses taken for the Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship may be used to satisfy other equivalent (400- or 500-level) degree requirements with concurrence of their adviser and graduate committee. The graduate committee for a student enrolled in the Option in Watershed Stewardship must include a faculty representative from the Center for Watershed Stewardship.

Students enrolled in M.S. or Ph.D. degree programs within Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences may apply to participate in the Graduate Option in Watershed Stewardship.

Other Relevant Information

Each entering student receives individual guidance from an adviser, and later from his or her committee, in designing a program of studies and research based on his or her own interests. The student is responsible for conforming to all requirements summarized in the "Graduate Studies Handbook" of the School of Forest Resources, and for completing the degree program within a reasonable time, i.e., two years for a master's degree and three years for a Ph.D.

Student Aid

In addition to the fellowships, traineeships, graduate assistantships, and other forms of financial aid described in the STUDENT AID section of the Graduate Bulletin, the following awards typically have been available to graduate students in this program:

Forest Resources: Jesse Rossiter Rapp Memorial Scholarship
Available to graduate students in the School of Forest Resources who are not holding assistantships as graduate students. Apply to the School of Forest Resources' Scholarships, Loans, and Awards Committee.

Roger M. Latham Memorial Award
Awarded to outstanding graduate students specializing in wildlife or fisheries after at least one semester in residence.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 599 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.


See also Forest Resources.


Last Revised by the Department: Fall Semester 2016 (Joint Degree Removed)

Blue Sheet Item #: 40-05-081

Review Date: 02/21/2012

Faculty linked: 6/5/14


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