Wildlife Biology Graduate Programs Overview
Wildlife biologists, like zoologists, study the lives of animals and wildlife, including their habitats, behaviors, anatomies and diseases. Wildlife biology graduate programs are offered at the master's and Ph.D. levels.
Master's Degree in Wildlife Biology
Master's degree programs in wildlife biology offer students the opportunity for advanced training and research. A major component of wildlife biology graduate programs is developing an understanding of animals in their natural habitats. To foster this research, many graduate programs in wildlife biology are offered at schools with close access to rural areas; when located in urban areas, students may spend extensive time on field expeditions, conducting remote research or working in zoos or wildlife sanctuaries. Many programs include specializations in areas such as wildlife management, habitat analysis and plant ecology.
Wildlife biology master's degree programs are most commonly offered at 4-year colleges and universities. Applicants are required to possess a bachelor's degree, though many apply to a graduate program having studied another discipline at the undergraduate level. The submission of Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores is typically required.
Wildlife biology graduate programs include study of contemporary issues in the field and the science of particular animal groups. Students examine related topics through courses in the following:
- Wildlife management techniques
- Issues in wildlife conservation
- Animal health and nutrition
- General ecology
- Plant biology
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Wildlife biologists and zoologists held approximately 19,500 jobs in 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov). Employment opportunities in wildlife biology were expected to grow 13% between 2008-2018. This escalation was expected to come as a result of multiple factors, including a heightened interest in environmental preservation. Individuals seeking research positions in widely appealing specializations, such as marine biology, were expected to face fierce competition. As of May 2008, the median annual wages of wildlife biologists were $55,290.
Ph.D. in Wildlife Biology
Students in Ph.D. programs in wildlife biology focus on research and the completion of a dissertation. In preparation for careers in education or professional research, students are trained in scientific analysis, quantitative tools and problem-solving. The career focus of these programs often includes student-teaching and internship experiences.
Applicants to Ph.D. programs in wildlife biology are required to possess at least a bachelor's degree. Many programs have unique entrance requirements, such as a written statement, prior relevant coursework or documentation of field experience. The submission of GRE scores is typically required.
Students in wildlife biology Ph.D. programs complete advanced studies in many of the issues facing contemporary wildlife biologists. Common course topics include the following:
- Contemporary issues in biometrics
- Legal issues in wildlife management
- Wildlife handling
- Landscape ecology
- Statistical issues in wildlife biology
- Soil science
Popular Career Options
Graduates of wildlife biology Ph.D. programs are prepared for careers in education, research and consulting, in roles such as the following:
- Wildlife biology college or university professor
- Wildlife conservation consultant
- Environmental researcher
- Endangered species educator
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