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 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 Students must earn a B or above in all courses counting toward degree requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students are required to take a comprehensive preliminary exam by the end of their fifth semester of study in the Ph.D. program. A final oral exam of the doctoral dissertation is required. Deposit of the doctoral dissertation in the Graduate School is required.
Language Requirements No language requirements.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

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 to count credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral 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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral 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 ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


A semester GPA below 3.000 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.000 is not attained during the subsequent semester of enrollment the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.


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


15 credits

Time Constraints

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.

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 challenges, frontiers, and limits with respect to theory, knowledge or practice within relevant areas of freshwater and marine sciences.
  2. Formulate ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the students' relevant research field(s).
  3. Conduct research that makes a substantive contribution.
  4. Demonstrate breadth within freshwater and marine sciences.
  5. Communicate complex or ambiguous ideas in a clear and understandable manner.
  6. Consider the implications of the discipline to broader societal concerns.
  7. Foster ethical conduct and professional guidelines.


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), Hanson (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), Maroon (Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences), 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)