Master's and doctoral degree programs are available in wildlife biology through the fish and wildlife departments of many 4-year universities and colleges; at times, a school will offer programs through a conservation department. Some schools offer a standard curriculum for graduate students, while others offer a wide variety of concentration areas, such as ecology, nutrition, endangered species biology and aquatic toxicology.
10 Plant and Animal Science Schools in the U.S.
Here are several public and private schools that offer master's and doctoral degrees in wildlife biology or a closely related field:
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered||Tuition 2015-2016*|
|Cornell University||Ithaca, New York||4-year, Private||Master's, doctorate||$29,500|
|University of California--Davis||Davis, California||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $11,220 Out-of-state tuition $26,322|
|University of California--Berkeley||Berkeley, California||4-year, Public||Doctorate||In-state tuition $11,220 Out-of-state tuition $26,322|
|Harvard University||Cambridge, Massachusetts||4-year, Private||Doctorate||$41,832|
|University of Florida||Gainesville, Florida||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $10,770 Out-of-state tuition $27,335|
|University of California--Riverside||Riverside, California||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $11,220 Out-of-state tuition $26,322|
|Michigan State University||East Lansing, Michigan||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $16,122 Out-of-state tuition $31,674|
|University of Wisconsin--Madison||Madison, Wisconsin||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $10,728 Out-of-state tuition $24,054|
|Duke University||Durham, North Carolina||4-year, Private||Master's, doctorate, certificate||$47,590|
|University of Minnesota--Twin Cities||Minneapolis, Minnesota||4-year, Public||Master's, doctorate||In-state tuition $15,844 Out-of-state tuition $24,508|
*Source: National Center for Educational Statistics
School Selection Criteria
When selecting a program in wildlife science, students should consider the following:
- School location is an important factor when choosing a program because different schools offer different climates, environments and ecosystems for study. Students interested in marine life may choose a school near an ocean, while students with an interest in plains and forest animals may choose a school in the middle of the country near a wildlife conservation organization.
- Depending on whether they intend to pursue careers as hands-on conservationists or as research scientists, students should evaluate programs for their relative emphasis on fieldwork, coursework and original research.
- Some programs offer non-thesis options for professionals currently working in the field, such as wildlife administrators and supervisors who wish to enhance their credentials through extended academic study.
Master's Degree in Wildlife Biology
Commonly offered as an M.S. in Wildlife Biology, master's degree programs are typically offered in combination with a second area of study, such as fisheries or conservation. Internships are not generally required, but some form of real-world experience is mandatory in most cases. A thesis is almost always required, along with written or oral examinations.
Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology
A Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology is a research-based degree program that is designed to prepare students for positions as professors and research scientists. Students are required to complete a dissertation, and may also need to complete written and oral examinations. Some schools may offer specialization areas, such as the study of fisheries or a biology concentration, but specializations are typically specific to the degree program and integrated into the curriculum.
Not all programs require students to hold a master's degree in order to apply for the Ph.D. program, and in some cases, field experience and select prerequisite classes could outweigh academic study. As a general rule, experience in the field prior to graduate school application is recommended and could be advantageous to prospective graduate students.
When selecting a program in wildlife biology, students should look into specific environmental climates and research opportunities. In these programs, students will learn about animal environments and systems.