Fall Deadline January 1
Spring Deadline October 1
Summer Deadline May 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


Applicants to the program typically have at least one year of college-level biology, chemistry, physics, and calculus. In addition, applicants should highlight their substantive experiences and career goals in freshwater and marine sciences. Prospective students make direct contact with potential faculty advisors. Admission depends upon finding a match between the skills and interests of the applicant and the needs of a suitable faculty mentor.

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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Various types of financial-assistance programs are available to qualified students in the form of research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships, and special grants. Decisions regarding financial support are based on letters of recommendation, grades, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores, and, for research assistantships, the matching of interests or experience of the applicant to the research program. For research assistantships, the applicant's interests and experience must match the needs of the funding project. Students are encouraged to seek outside funding.

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 Students must earn a B or above in all courses counting toward degree requirements.
Assessments and Examinations A formal thesis is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required COURSES

The degree has a flexible curriculum. Students are required to develop a plan of courses with their advisor. Most students take ATM OCN/​BOTANY/​CIV ENGR/​ENVIR ST/​GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  911 Limnology and Marine Science Seminar and ATM OCN/​ENVIR ST/​GEOSCI/​ZOOLOGY  750 Problems in Oceanography.

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students may be allowed to count 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

With program approval, 7 credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the degree. 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 program approval, 15 credits taken as a UW–Madison Special Student are allowed toward minimum coursework requirements. 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.

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).


All incoming students are assigned an advisor. Students are expected to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.


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.

Grievances and appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


Graduate students in the FMS Program are typically supported through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, fellowships, and special grants. Students are encouraged to seek outside funding and should talk with prospective faculty members regarding funding options.

Graduate School Resources

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

  1. Articulate, critique, or elaborate the theories, research methods, and approaches to inquiry or practice in the relevant area of freshwater and/or marine sciences.
  2. Identify sources and assembles evidence pertaining to questions or challenges in the relevant research field(s).
  3. Understand the historical or global context of freshwater and/or marine sciences.
  4. Select and/or use appropriate methodologies and practices.
  5. Evaluate or synthesize information pertaining to questions or challenges in the students' area of specialization within the freshwater and marine sciences.
  6. Communicate clearly in ways appropriate to the field of study.
  7. Recognize and applies principles of ethical conduct.


McMahon (chair, (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Anantharaman (Bacteriology), Block (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Booth (Agronomy), Cardiff (Geoscience), Desai (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences), Dugan (Integrative Biology), Ginder-Vogel (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Goldberg (Pathobiological Sciences), Gottschalk Druschke (English), Graham (Botany), Hansen (Integrative Biology), Hicks (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Hotchkiss (Botany), Hurley (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Jensen (Integrative Biology), Krysan (Horticulture), Lee (Integrative Biology), Loheide (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Pujara (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Remucal (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Stanley (Integrative Biology) Vander Zanden (Integrative Biology), Wilkinson (Integrative Biology), Wright (Civil and Environmental Engineering), Wu (Civil and Environmental Engineering)