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 degree in Wildlife Ecology. The department takes pride in its program's outstanding research reputation and the success of graduates working throughout the world. The Wildlife Ecology program was founded by Aldo Leopold in 1939, and the program has maintained his vision and legacy of excellence in our current research and graduate training activities.

Master's and doctoral work in wildlife ecology typically focus on areas of wildlife ecology that reflect the expertise of the faculty, including but not limited to: behavioral ecology, physiological ecology, population dynamics, wildlife disease, community ecology, landscape ecology, wildlife management, wildlife-habitat linkages, molecular ecology, human dimensions, species distribution modeling, climate change, endangered species recovery, conservation biology, toxicology, and wildlife damage management.

The department is home to the U.S. Geological Survey, Wisconsin Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit. In this program, research in support of state and federal wildlife conservation programs are given priority.

In recent years, annual research support for the department's programs has averaged between three to four million dollars drawn from an array of federal, state, and conservation organizations and private donors. Competition for admission is very strong and not every admissible student can or will be offered financial support. Graduate assistantships and/or fellowships may be available for a limited number of well-qualified students. Before submitting an application for admission, interested students should contact individual faculty to determine whether an assistantship or other financial aid might be available. Once admitted, students work closely with major professors and an advisory committee to develop a research program.

Fall Deadline August 1
Spring Deadline December 1
Summer Deadline December 1 for domestic applicants; February 1 for international applicants
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 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 16 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 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 Wildlife Ecology M.S. students must complete a public entrance seminar, coursework certification meeting and paperwork, a public exit seminar, and a defense of a thesis.
Language Requirements Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

Required COURSES

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

Students must complete a total of 30 credits including two graduate-level seminars, a course in statistics, and a technical skills course. Additionally, students must complete the prerequisite courses, but it is expected that a majority of these are completed during a student's undergraduate work. Courses used to satisfy the requirements will be selected in consultation with the advisor and approved by the Graduate Programs committee. An advisor may require additional coursework.

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

With M.S. committee approval and Academic Affairs Committee approval, students are allowed to count no more than 14 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

Students may count up to 7 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above upon approval of the M.S. committee and the Academic Affairs Committee. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison University Special

With M.S. or Ph.D. committee approval and Academic Affairs Committee approval and payment of the difference in tuition (between Special and graduate tuition), students are allowed to count no more than 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s 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. 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.

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. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

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


15 credits

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five 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.


Additional information for students in the Department of Forest and Wildlife Ecology can be found on the Graduate Programs page for the department.

Graduate School Resources

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

  1. Articulates, critiques, and elaborates the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry and practice in the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management.
  2. Identifies sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management.
  3. Demonstrates understanding of the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management in a historical, social, and global context.
  4. Evaluates and synthesizes information pertaining to questions or challenges in the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management.
  5. Communicates clearly in ways appropriate to the field of wildlife ecology and natural resource management.
  6. Selects and utilizes the most appropriate methodologies and practices.


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