Fisheries and Wildlife PhD Program

Doctoral Graduation Requirements

F&W Policy on Graduate Committees and Graduate Degree Programs (Word)

F&W Graduate Affairs Committee Policy Changes Effective May 31, 2007 to present (Word)

The Ph.D. degree in Fisheries and Wildlife is designed to prepare students for academic careers in research and teaching or other advanced scientific or professional careers.

Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences degrees emphasize resource management at organismal, population, or ecosystem scales. An emphasis on resource management helps distinguish our program from basic biology; therefore, course work in fisheries or wildlife management, environmental science, resource policy, or other applied ecology fields is advantageous.

Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline from an accredited institution
  • GPA: 3.2 on a scale of 4.0
  • Minimum TOEFL scores: 550 (paper-based test), 79 (Internet-based test)
  • Experience in research or management of natural resources. Practical skills are strongly considered.

*Students whose GPAs do not meet the requirements will be evaluated individually. Applicants will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

A background of 25 to 30 hours in biological sciences courses is desirable. Minor deficiencies may be remedied during the graduate program; major deficiencies may require preparatory coursework prior to consideration for admission.

Degree Requirements

  • A minimum of 72 hrs beyond the Baccalaureate degree for the Ph.D.
  • A maximum of 30 hours of post baccalaureate graduate credit from an accredited university can be transferred toward the Ph.D. degree program, subject to committee approval..
  • The program must include a minimum of 15 hours of 8000 level course work, exclusive of problems, readings and research.
  • The PhD degree is conferred only upon those students who, after extensive study, have demonstrated a high level of achievement in their particular specialization in Fisheries and Wildlife and have completed significant independent research in their field.

An applicant contemplating graduate work in fisheries, limnology, conservation biology, or wildlife should have a strong background in biological and physical sciences, including biology, botany, zoology, ecology, physiology, and genetics. In addition, such taxonomic courses as plant taxonomy, invertebrate zoology, ichthyology, ornithology, and mammalogy are highly desirable, as is a background in chemistry, mathematics, statistics, and physics.

Doctoral Committee

A student pursuing a PhD is expected to pass qualifying, comprehensive, and final examinations administered by the student’s doctoral committee. The committee shall be composed of a minimum of 4 members of the MU graduate faculty and will include at least 3 members from the student’s doctoral degree program and 1 outside member from a different MU program. At least 2 of the committee members must be MU doctoral faculty.

Qualifying Examination

The student pursuing the doctoral program is expected to pass a qualifying, examination administered by the student’s doctoral committee. The qualifying examination determines whether the student’s background is adequate to enter the Ph.D. program. It also is intended to ascertain if there are areas of weakness in which a candidate will be required to gain background through appropriate course work. Submit D1 to the Graduate School no later than the end of the student’s second semester of enrollment. Submit D2 to the Graduate School no later than the end of the student’s third semester of study.

Comprehensive Examination

Comprehensive exam must be take a minimum 6 months before dissertation defense. The objectives of the comprehensive examination are twofold:
1. to determine if a student has acquired sufficient depth and breadth of knowledge in selected areas of concentration
2. to evaluate the candidate’s capacity to apply that knowledge in solving applied or theoretical problems.

Final Examination (Dissertation Defense)

The final examination is directed primarily toward exploration of the dissertation research project. The final examination is directed primarily toward exploration of the dissertation research project. An independent scholarly dissertation approved by the student’s advisor and doctoral committee must be completed. The announcement of public seminar for the dissertation defense must be made at least two weeks in advance of the seminar. It must be well advertised and open to the public. Every candidate should review the Dissertation & Thesis Guidelines from the Graduate School and should consult the Director of Graduate Studies for academic program style requirements.

Residency Requirement

Students enrolled in the PhD program must also satisfy a residency requirement of at least 3 consecutive semesters in which the student is in residence on the MU campus and enrolled for 6 or more credit hours, unless a prior exception is approved by the director of graduate studies.

Financial Aid from the Program

Funding is available, but assistantships are highly competitive. Prospective students must complete all the necessary application requirements to be considered for funding. Contact the graduate program emphasis coordinator for more details.  Applicants should also contact the faculty they want to work with to determine the availability of possible graduate assistantship positions.