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Colleges for Aspiring Fish and Game Wardens: How to Choose

Universities across the U.S. offer associate and bachelor's degree programs designed for aspiring fish and game wardens. These academies and universities prepare students for careers in this field by offering courses and training in biology, ecology, natural resource management and law enforcement.

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Many states provide training for their fish and game wardens in the form of an academy, and each state has slightly different requirements for admission. Some states, like Montana, require a bachelor's degree in a closely related field in order to be accepted into the academy, such as fish and wildlife, criminal justice or park management; other states require just two years of college education, and some don't specify a field.

Schools With Fish and Game Warden Programs

These institutions offer fish and game warden programs, such as fisheries or wildlife management, or related degrees.

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Undergraduate Tuition (2015-2016)*
Oregon State University Bend, OR 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral, Graduate Certificate In-state $10,107; Out-of-state $28,767
SUNY College of Agriculture and Technology Cobleskill, NY 4-year, Public Associate's, Bachelor's In-state $7,719; Out-of-state $17,569
Montana State University Bozeman, MT 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $6,849; Out-of-state $22,081
Michigan State University East Lansing, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $13,560; Out-of-state $36,360
Texas A&M University College Station, TX 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $10,176; Out-of-state $28,768
Humboldt State University Arcata, CA 4-year, Public Bachelor's In-state $7,195; Out-of-state $13,364
South Dakota State University Brookings, SD 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $8,172; Out-of-state $11,053
University of Florida Gainesville, FL 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $6,381; Out-of-state $28,659
University of Georgia Athens, GA 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $11,622; Out-of-state $29,832
University of Idaho Moscow, ID 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral In-state $7,020; Out-of-state $21,024

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

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College Selection Criteria

There are several factors for aspiring fish and game wardens to consider when choosing an undergraduate program.

  • Students should find out the requirements of their state and find programs that offer education in the appropriate area; some states do prefer applicants with some college education in conservation biology, police science, ecology or a related field.
  • Since most training programs admit students from various educational backgrounds, students can choose, to some extent, which area they'd like to study in their undergraduate program.
  • Since degree programs can be found in onsite, online, or hybrid formats, aspiring fish and game wardens can select the type of program that best suits their life.
  • Fish and game wardens can study topics as diverse as environmental science, criminal, justice, agriculture and forestry; however, the most accessible and relevant programs often focus on biology or conservation law enforcement.

Associate's Degree in Biology

Although an associate's degree program in biology won't offer courses in law enforcement, it will provide graduates with fieldwork and a strong foundation in the sciences. Most programs are transferable to a 4-year college or university.

Associate's Degree in Conservation Law

Many 2-year programs focus on both natural resource conservation and criminal justice. Students generally take courses the first year, with fieldwork and internships completed during the second year.

Bachelor's Degree in Biology, Ecology or Natural Resource Conservation

A bachelor's program in a biological science often has courses or concentrations in fisheries and wildlife, conservation ecology or natural resource policies. Students investigate multiple areas of animal and plant biology, including mammalogy, invertebrate biology, aquatic life and forest ecology.

Bachelor's Degree in Conservation Law Enforcement

This degree program is specifically designed for those who want to become natural resource conservation officials. Courses often combine natural science and law enforcement topics. Students investigate environmental communication and conflict management or federal and state environmental policy. Classes in criminological theory, courtroom procedures and philosophy of law are usually required or offered as electives.

There are many program options for those interested in pursuing a career as a fish and game warden, including wildlife and fish management, environmental science, conservation and biology. It's possible to pursue studies towards an undergraduate degree, or complete a master's or doctoral degree in relevant fields to prepare to pursue a career as a fish and game warden.

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