Ecology, Master of Science

Master of Science in Ecology with emphasis in Ecology and Conservation

The Ecology and Conservation emphasis prepares students for careers and advanced research in Ecology. This track broadly covers the fields of ecology and conservation, but is expected to facilitate student specialization in a range of topics, including, but not limited to: molecular ecology, population ecology, community ecology, landscape ecology, biogeochemistry, ecosystem ecology, restoration, conservation, modelling. Students may also work on any number of organisms or ecological processes (for example, invertebrates, plants, wildlife, fire, climate). The Ecology and Conservation emphasis will provide content and theoretical understanding of ecology and hands-on experience developing and conducting ecological research in a way that is unique to Western’s liberal arts traditions. The program takes full advantage of the biogeographic setting of Colorado’s western slope and beyond, and includes both the development of new scientific insight as well as the application of ecological knowledge towards broader social-ecological impacts. The Ecology and Conservation Emphasis is a 33-credit track that includes topical coursework in biology, research methods, and MS proposal development and thesis research. MS students in Ecology and Conservation must complete an MS Thesis. Upon the acceptance of MS proposals (BIOL 690), Ecology and Conservation students must be continuously enrolled for at least 1 credit of BIOL 695 until successful thesis defense.

Master of Science in Ecology with emphasis in Fisheries and Wildlife Management

The Fisheries and Wildlife Management emphasis prepares students for careers in the fields of fisheries, wildlife and their management. This emphasis focuses on the study of fisheries, wildlife and selected current topics in their management.

The Fisheries and Wildlife Management Emphasis will provide graduate-level content and theoretical, ecological understanding of fisheries and wildlife management with experience developing and conducting ecological research in a way that is unique to Western’s liberal arts traditions. The program takes full advantage of the biogeographic setting of Colorado’s western slope and beyond, and includes both the development of new scientific insight as well as the application of scientifically based knowledge towards broader social-economic-ecological-ethical impacts of fisheries and wildlife management. The Fisheries and Wildlife Management Emphasis is a 33-credit track that includes topical coursework in biology, management, research methods, and MS proposal development and thesis research. MS students in Fisheries and Wildlife Management must complete an MS Thesis. Upon the acceptance of MS proposals (BIOL 690), Fisheries and Wildlife Management students must be continuously enrolled for at least 1 credit of BIOL 696 until successful thesis defense.

Program Goals

  • Improving student understanding of biology, particularly concepts in ecology, evolution, conservation, wildlife, and/or fisheries.
  • Developing students’ capacities for basic and applied research in ecology, including acquiring information, developing methods, conducting sampling and data analysis, demonstrating scientific communication, and advancing broader impacts.
  • Advancing the role of science in society, through training ecologists prepared to elevate the ability of agencies, organizations, and communities to address ecological problems.
  • Enhancing opportunities for careers and advanced research in ecology.

Admissions Criteria

  • Admissions packages will include: academic transcripts; a resume outlining related research, leadership, and volunteer experience; a statement of purpose describing the student’s intellectual and professional interests in ecology; and three letters of recommendation from professors or supervisors in related fields.
  • Applicants are expected to have been in contact with a faculty advisor prior to submission of application.

Program Prerequisites:

  • BA or BS degree in biology or related field with college courses in Statistics and upper-level Ecology with minimum grade of B, completed prior to the student’s first fall in the program.

Program goals include:

  • Improving student understanding of biology, particularly concepts in ecology, evolution, conservation, wildlife, and/or fisheries.
  • Developing students’ capacities for basic and applied research in ecology, including acquiring information, developing methods, conducting sampling and data analysis, demonstrating scientific communication, and advancing broader impacts.
  • Advancing the role of science in society, through training ecologists prepared to elevate the ability of agencies, organizations, and communities to address ecological problems.
  • Enhancing opportunities for careers and advanced research in ecology.

All Master of Science in Ecology emphases require the Core Ecology MS Courses.

Core Ecology MS Courses
BIOL 606Ecological Research Methods3
BIOL 613Advanced Ecological Analysis3
BIOL 690Ecology MS Proposal Development3
BIOL 695Ecology/ Conservation Thesis Research3-9
or BIOL 696 Fisheries/ Wildlife Thesis Research
Total Credits12-18

Ecology and Conservation Emphasis (beyond required Core courses)

15-21 credits of the following electives to be chosen in consultation with thesis committee:15-21
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Invertebrate Zoology with laboratory
Field Entomology
Wildlife Ecology and Management
Wildlife Techniques Workshop
Conservation Biology
Botany
Rocky Mountain Flora
Evolution
Biology of Fishes
Ichthyology Laboratory
Fisheries Management
Aquatic Ecology with lab
Forest Ecology
Independent Study
Special Topics in Ecology
Environmental Politics and Policy
Integrative Skills for Environmental Management
From Climate Science to Action
Public Lands Management
Studies in Environmental Management
Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
Total Credits15-21

Conferral of the MS degree requires a total of 33 credits of 600-level coursework, each with a grade of a B- or above, and the completion and acceptance of an MS thesis.

Fisheries and Wildlife Management Emphasis (beyond required Core courses)

15-21 credits of the following electives to be chosen in consultation with thesis committee:15-21
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Invertebrate Zoology with laboratory
Field Entomology
Wildlife Ecology and Management
Wildlife Techniques Workshop
Conservation Biology
Botany
Rocky Mountain Flora
Evolution
Biology of Fishes
Aquatic Ecology with lab
Ichthyology Laboratory
Fisheries Management
Forest Ecology
Independent Study
Special Topics in Ecology
Environmental Politics and Policy
Integrative Skills for Environmental Management
From Climate Science to Action
Public Lands Management
Studies in Environmental Management
Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
Total Credits15-21

Conferral of the MS degree requires a total of 33 credits of 600-level coursework, each with a grade of a B- or above, and the completion and acceptance of an MS thesis.