The Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology offers graduate education and training in a number of areas leading to the master of science and/or the doctor of philosophy in forestry or wildlife ecology. The program takes pride in its outstanding research reputation and the success of graduates working throughout the world. The wildlife ecology program was founded by Aldo Leopold in 1939, and has maintained his vision and legacy of excellence in current research and graduate training activities. Leopold's career spanned two professions, forestry and wildlife conservation, so the program strives to maintain excellence in both fields.

Master's and doctoral work in forestry is offered in the following areas: forest ecology, silviculture, forest ecosystem analysis and management, landscape ecology and planning, forest stand dynamics, forest restoration ecology, tree physiology, remote sensing of forests and natural resources, natural resource policy, social forestry, forest management, ecosystem services, and economics of forests and natural resources.

Fall Deadline August 1
Spring Deadline December 1
Summer Deadline February 1
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program’s website for details.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Additional information regarding funding for Forest and Wildlife Ecology graduate students is available on the departmental website.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (26 credits out of 51 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.
Assessments and Examinations Students in the Forestry Ph.D. must complete certification paperwork to outline their coursework, pass an oral preliminary examination, and prepare, publicly present, and defend a dissertation.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Required COURSES

The Forestry M.S. prescribes no specific graduate coursework due to the diversity of research areas available, and students select appropriate graduate-level coursework in consultation with their advisor and a graduate advisory committee.

However, there are still some minimum requirements that need to be met by all Forestry Ph.D. students. Students must complete a total of 51 credits include at least one professional development seminar and one graduate-level seminar.  The rest of the credits and course work in selected in consultation with the majors advisor and committee. Student may use F&W ECOL 990 Research and Thesis credits towards these requirements.

Additional information and forms related to program-specific courses is available in the program handbook.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

For well-prepared advanced students, the program may accept prior graduate coursework from other institutions toward the minimum graduate degree credit and minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. The minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

For well-prepared advanced students, the program may decide to accept up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above completed at UW–Madison toward fulfillment of minimum degree and minor credit requirements. This work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

The program may decide to accept up to 15 UW–Madison Special student credits as fulfillment of the minimum graduate residence, graduate degree, or minor credit requirements on occasion as an exception (on a case-by-case basis).

UW–Madison coursework taken as a Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above and converted to graduate student credit. Coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.


15 credits

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.


The department does not routinely accept new graduate students into the program unless they meet all admission requirements. In the vast majority of cases, students will only be admitted when: financial support for the student is currently in the hands of a faculty member; funding is assured by the time a student begins; or a student brings independent funding and has contacted a faculty member who agrees to serve as advisor.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Articulates research problems, potentials, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of forest science.
  2. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of forest science.
  3. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  4. Advances contributions of the field of forest science to society.
  5. Creates research and scholarship that makes a substantive contribution.
  6. Communicates complex ideas in a clear and understandable manner.


Bowe, Scott
Drake, David
Karasov, William
Kruger, Eric
Mladenoff, David
Radeloff, Volker
Ribic, Christine
Rickenbach, Mark (chair)
Samuel, Michael
Stanosz, Glen
Townsend, Philip
Van Deelen, Timothy

Associate Professors

Lutz, R. Scott
Ozdogan, Mutlu
Pauli, Jonathan
Peery, M. Zach
Pidgeon, Anna
Rissman, Adena

Assistant Professors

Johnston, Craig
Zuckerberg, Benjamin

Affiliated and Adjunct Faculty

Alix-Garcia, Jennifer (Agriculture and Applied Economics)
Allison, R. Bruce (adjunct)
Balster, Nick (Soil Science)
Lindroth, Richard (Entomology)
Marin-Spiotta, Erika (Geogrgaphy)
Meine, Curt (adjunct)
Meyer, Michael (adjunct)
Raffa, Kenneth (Entomology)
Santana-Castellon, Eduardo (adjunct)

Faculty Associate

Berkelman, James