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Top Wildlife Biology Graduate Programs

Review some important considerations for choosing a school with a strong graduate program in wildlife biology. Read about three schools with programs in this field, and check their national rankings. Find out what kinds of wildlife biology graduate degrees each school offers.

What Should I Look for in a Top Wildlife Biology Graduate Program?

Since wildlife biology studies depend on field work, you should first identify the animals you'd like to study. Then, consider schools with locations near that animal's natural habitat. A faculty's scholarly output in peer-reviewed publications and the ratio of faculty to graduate students may give you an idea of the quality of education you would receive. Also, find out if laboratory and library facilities are available that address your specific interests.

Top schools tend to attract outside funding for their students, either in grants or scholarships and fellowships. Look for collaborations with agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Park Service and its state counterparts; these can be indicators of good internship opportunities.

What are Three Top Graduate Programs in Wildlife Biology?

Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO

Colorado State University is home to the Warner College of Natural Resources. Warner hosts a highly selective Department of Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology (FWCB) with programs that prepare students for careers in conservation, research and technology, fish and wildlife management, toxicology and wildlife rehabilitation.

Graduate students have access to special cross-disciplinary units and the unique Rocky Mountain environment. Facilities include an analytical chemistry lab, conservation genetics lab, fish ponds and culture facilities, fish physiological ecology lab, fisheries lab, ranch and mountain campus facilities, microbiological laboratories, animal science nutrition laboratory and the Quinney Library.

In 2009, three FNCW professors were honored with the Wildlife Society's Book of the Year Award in the outstanding edited book category. Graduate degrees offered include the following:

  • Master of Science in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology
  • PhD in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR

The Department of Fisheries and Wildlife at Oregon State University celebrated its 80th anniversary in 2015. The department has numerous graduate students. The wildlife research program features a variety of distinct areas of concentration. The ecology of avian and mammalian predators is a particular popular concentration. Community studies, wildlife-forestry interactions, nutrition, and population dynamics are other concentration examples. Students have access to research centers focused on several ecosystems. The fisheries research program has multiple concentrations ranging from aquaculture to the physiology and ecology of marine and freshwater fishes. Fishery students have access to the Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Oregon Hatchery Research Center. Graduate degrees offered by Oregon State University include the following:

  • Graduate Certificate in Wildlife Management
  • Graduate Certificate in Fisheries Management
  • Master of Science in Wildlife Science
  • Master of Science in Fisheries Science
  • Professional Science Master in Wildlife Administration
  • Professional Science Master in Fisheries Administration
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Wildlife Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Fisheries Science

Texas A&M University in College Station, TX

Texas A&M is a public, multi-campus university. Its campus at College Station was ranked as of one the 62 best graduate programs in the biological sciences by U.S. News & World Report in 2019. U.S. News also ranks the school as the 66th best national university overall. As a member of the Association of American Universities, it is considered one of the best research schools. U.S. News also ranked it #44 in their list of Best Value Colleges.

The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Science, housed within the College of Agriculture and Life Science, provides students with access to 4 major research facilities, including a National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for Biosystematics and Biodiversity, and more than 40 laboratories. These include facilities located in marine and tropical environments. Current research includes the fields of conservation education, wildlife and fisheries ecology and management, aquaculture and resource management. Graduate degrees awarded include the following:

  • Master of Wildlife Science
  • Master of Natural Resource Development
  • Master of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Science
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences

10 More Schools with Wildlife Biology Graduate Programs

College/UniversityInstitution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Utah State University4-year, PublicLogan, UT$7,000
Washington State University4-year, PublicPullman, WA$13,000
Montana State University4-year, PublicBozeman, MT$6,500
University of Alaska4-year, PublicFairbanks, AK$12,000
University of Florida 4-year, PublicGainesville, FL$13,000
University of Washington - Seattle 4-year, PublicSeattle, WA$16,500
Frostburg State University4-year, PublicFrostburg, MD$10,500
Louisiana State University4-year, PublicBaton Rouge, LA$13,000
Brigham Young University 4-year, PrivateProvo, UT$7,000
Iowa State Univeristy4-year, PublicAmes, IA$10,500

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education