M.S. Requirements

The following requirements must be met for M.S. students in the Ecology program to obtain a degree:

Graduate Academic Course Plan

Each graduate student, in consultation with his or her research advisor and committee, must submit a graduate academic course plan to the Program Chair. The form for this plan may be obtained from the Huck Institutes' Graduate Education Office. The form should be completed and returned to the Huck Institutes' Graduate Education Office within the first three months of residency for an M.S. student.

Minimum Course Requirements

A minimum of 30 graded credits are required for graduation with a master's degree. For students doing a research thesis, at least 18 of these credits must be from 500- or 600-level courses. These courses must include at least 6 credits of ECLGY 600. For M.S. students doing a non-thesis degree, at least 18 of these credits must be from 500-level courses.

Core Courses

The Ecology program requires a handful of carefully-selected courses for its master's students.


Each student needs 2 credits (one credit per course) in ECLGY 590, the Ecology Colloquium. Along with these minimum requirements, regular participation is expected regardless of official registration.


Each student needs to take 1 advanced statistics course (400 or 500 level). Introductory statistics courses (e.g. STAT 451) are not appropriate. Some courses that previous students have found useful include:

  • Stat 502 Analysis of Variance and Design of Experiments
  • Stat 510 Timeseries Analysis
  • Stat 511 Linear Regression Models
  • Stat 512 Experimental Design
  • Stat 505 Applied Multivariate Analysis
  • ENT 597G Biostatistical Analysis
  • WFS 560 Estimation of Fish and Wildlfe Population Parameters

Other Courses

Beyond these basic courses, course requirements are determined by the student, the advisor, and the Graduate Committee.

Declaring a Committee

Unlike a Ph.D. student, a M.S. student is not required to report their committee to the Graduate School. Instead, the committee is reported to the Ecology Program on the academic course plan (see information above). The committee is chosen by the student with guidance from an advisor. The graduate student's committee is responsible for approving a student's program and promoting communication among the graduate student, the committee chair (or advisor), and the members of the committee--and more generally, for helping to ensure successful completion of a student's program. A master's committee consists of a chair (typically the advisor), and two other faculty members. A minimum of two faculty members must be members of the Ecology graduate program, and as many as three may be members of the program. The student should arrange to have the master's committee meet at least once per year, to receive guidance, finalize and approve the research proposal, assess the quality and progress of the research, and discuss programmatic issues and course requirements.

Thesis Requirements

Students are expected to assume responsibility for knowing the regulations and requirements of the Graduate School for turning in the thesis. Visit the Thesis and Dissertation Information page to find detailed information on how to complete this process. Thesis advisors and graduate committees have a responsibility for judicious timing of events to avoid prolonging the degree program. For example, in the initial months of residence, students may become preoccupied with course work. At this time, students also should be outlining their entire program and starting to think about a thesis topic. Delays may result in time added to the program or diminished performance on thesis research. The leadership efforts of thesis advisors and committee members are needed to avoid such delays. One hard-bound copy of the thesis (or paper) must be delivered to the Ecology program office where it will be placed on file after the student has received the degree. An additional hard-bound copy of the thesis (or paper) must be delivered to the student's major advisor.

Mini Symposium

The Ecology mini-symposium is an evening seminar which is held twice a year. Before your final defense, you will have to present the results of your research at one of these symposia.

The symposium is usually held after a dinner and is attended by Ecology Program students and faculty as well as some faculty from other departments and the general public. At most you will have 15 minutes to present your information (time varies depending on how many students are presenting) so you will have to limit yourself to the most outstanding results of your thesis work. Treat this as you would a presentation at a professional meeting. Whereas the Ecology Colloquium is your chance to get feedback and advice, this is your chance to show off what you've done.

Thesis Defense

Each student must pass a final oral (or paper) thesis defense before degree certification. The student schedules the defense with their committee and notifies the Ecology program at least two weeks before the defense. The M.S. student's advisor must inform the Program Chair in writing about the outcome of the final oral thesis (or paper) defense.

Seminar Requirements

Each student will be required to present a formal ecology defense seminar on his/her research before degree certification. This presentation is typically 30-50 minutes in length and often given immediately prior to the student's thesis defense. It should be advertised to members of the Ecology program. An additional presentation is provided at either the Fall or Spring Ecology Mini-Symposium. It is the student's responsibility to notify the Program Coordinator one semester prior to the semester of the student's defense so that proper arrangements can be made.

The Graduation Process

A master's candidate is not required to register for the final semester in order to graduate or in order to make minor revisions to the thesis and/or to take a final examination for the degree.

  • File intent to graduate by the deadline, which is the first two weeks of the semester.
  • Be sure that you have turned in an academic course plan and be sure the committee that signs it is your final committee. If it is not, send an update to the Ecology office.
  • Schedule a defense date with your committee. At least two weeks before the date, send an announcement to the Ecology office to circulate to the program. The student's advisor must inform the Program Chair in writing about the outcome of the final defense.
  • Plan to present your work at the Ecology Mini-Symposium (a 10-15 minute talk). Send a short description of your work to the Ecology office to include in the semester's Mini-Symposium flyer.
  • Submit an electronic copy of the thesis to the Ecology office.
  • Complete an exit survey and submit it to the Ecology office; schedule an exit interview with the Program Chair.