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M.S. in Ecology 3+2

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Master of Science

Whether you want to become an executive in a biological and engineering firm, lead scientist at a research center, analyst at a federal agency, or a professor in academia, you’ll need a graduate degree in Ecology.

Program Overview

Help develop innovative solutions to environmental problems.

At Western, we offer the supportive environment you’ll need to become a scientist with the ability to perform research, solve problems and collaborate with affected communities. You’ll also be expected to incorporate citizen science into effective research and produce accessible and accurate results for utilization by both policymakers and the public. You’ll earn your Master of Science in Ecology and bachelor’s degree in one of two undergraduate programs in just five years through our accelerated Master of Science in Ecology 3+2 program. You can choose an undergraduate program in Biology or Environment & Sustainability and pair it with a Master of Science in Ecology emphasizing in Ecology & Conservation or Fisheries & Wildlife Management.

The Gunnison Valley offers a wide-range of research opportunities in Aquatic Ecology, Fisheries Biology, Forest and Fire Ecology, Invasive Species Ecology and more. Whether you want to explore the migratory behaviors of an endangered species or advise policymakers on environmental issues, Western provides the rigorous coursework, laboratory research and extensive fieldwork to prepare you for a career in ecology.

Choose your path

Choose an undergraduate program in Biology or Environment & Sustainability and pair it with a Master of Science in Ecology emphasizing in Ecology & Conservation or Fisheries & Wildlife Management.

Program Requirements

At Western, course rotations are crafted to encompass a variety of subject fields for a comprehensive education and versatile degree. For required courses and degree plans, visit the official University Catalog. Below is a general overview of courses at Western Colorado University related to this area of study.

Program Requirements

A minimum of 78 credits is required for the B.A. components of the emphasis. In the fifth year, an additional 21 credits of Ecology MS coursework results in the MS in Ecology degree. For all 3+2 Ecology students, at least 12 credits of biology upper-level and/or graduate electives (BIOL 320-489; 620-689) are required. 

ENVS 100Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2)3
ENVS 200Writing the Environment3
ENVS 250Environmental Justice3
ENVS 301Science of Sustainability and Resilience3
ENVS 350U.S. and Western Environmental Politics3
ENVS 390Environmental Monitoring4
ENVS 400Applied Sustainability3
ENVS 410Environmental Ethics3
ENVS 499Internship in Environmental Studies1-6
Required supporting courses
BIOL 150Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1)4
BIOL 151Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory)4
BIOL 301General Ecology3
CHEM 111General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)3
CHEM 112General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)1
CHEM 113General Chemistry II3
CHEM 114General Chemistry Laboratory II1
ECON 215Environmental Economics3
MATH 213Probability and Statistics3
PHYS 125Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2)3
One of the following:
ENVS 360Global Environmental Policy3
ENVS 370Water Policy and Politics3
GEOG 340Introduction to Geographic Information Systems3
One of the following:
HWTR 200This Is The Headwaters1
HWTR 398Headwaters Conference1
Select one of the following:3
ANTH 230
Cultural Anthropology (with laboratory)
ANTH 320
Cultural Ecology
ENG 151
Borderlands: Representing Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality
POLS 250
Politics of the Environment
POLS 340
Politics of Social Movements
POLS 350
Human Rights
POLS 355
The Global South
POLS 370
Political Economy
PSY 308
Environmental Psychology
PSY 410
Multicultural Psychology
PSY 457
Social Psychology
SOC 150
Environmental Sociology
SOC 168
Social Problems
SOC 340
Social Movements
SOC 380
Social Inequalities
Core Ecology MS Courses, to be taken in Year 4 of 3+2 (Year 1 of MS):
BIOL 606Ecological Research Methods3
BIOL 613Advanced Ecological Analysis3
BIOL 690Ecology MS Proposal Development3
One or more of the following to be taken in Fall 4 of 3+2 (Fall 1 of MS):
Biology elective (620 or above, excluding 690, 695, 696)3-4
ENVS 608Environmental Politics and Policy3
ENVS 611Integrative Skills for Environmental Management3
ENVS 623Studies in Environmental Management1-6
ENVS 625Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management3
One or more of the following to be taken in Spring 4 of 3+2 (Spring 1 of MS):
Biology elective (620 or above, excluding 690, 695, 696)3-4
ENVS 615From Climate Science to Action3
ENVS 618Public Lands Management3
ENVS 623Studies in Environmental Management1-6
ENVS 625Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management3
Total Credits103-120

Upon successful completion of the prescribed courses listed above, University defined General Education, and elective requirements totaling 120 credits (with 40 at the 300-level or higher), students are eligible for their B.A. conferral. Students electing to complete the M.S. in Ecology must follow the balance of their declared emphasis curriculum. 

Upon the acceptance of MS proposals (BIOL 690), MS candidates must be continuously enrolled for at least 1 credit of BIOL 695 or 696 until successful thesis defense. 

For a full description of the required Graduate coursework, please see the appropriate MS program in the Western Graduate Catalog

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
ENG 102 Academic Writing (GT-CO1) 3
ENVS 100 Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2) 3
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
Elective Elective or minor course 6
 Credits17
Spring
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
ENVS 200 Writing the Environment 3
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
PHYS 125 Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2) 3
Elective Elective or minor course 3
 Credits17
Year Two
Fall
CHEM 111
CHEM 112
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)
4
ENVS 250 Environmental Justice 3
ENVS 301 Science of Sustainability and Resilience 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
HWTR 200
or HWTR 398
This Is The Headwaters
or Headwaters Conference
1
 Credits14
Spring
BIOL 301 General Ecology 3
CHEM 113
CHEM 114
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
ECON 215 Environmental Economics 3
ENVS 350 U.S. and Western Environmental Politics 3
MATH 213 Probability and Statistics 3
 Credits16
Summer
ENVS 499 Internship in Environmental Studies 3
 Credits3
Year Three
Fall
Elective Elective 3
ENVS 390 Environmental Monitoring 4
ENVS 410 Environmental Ethics 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
GEOG 340
or ENVS 370
Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
or Water Policy and Politics
3
 Credits16
Spring
Elective Electives 9
Electivechosen from selection of classes on cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sex, sexuality, and/or class contexts 3
ENVS 360 Global Environmental Policy 3
 Credits15
Summer
Submit 3+2 application materials by July 1 (66 credit mark completed)
 Credits0
Year Four
Fall
BIOL 606 Ecological Research Methods 3
Two of:
BIOL 620-689 3-4
Or
ENVS 608
or ENVS 611
or ENVS 623
or ENVS 625
Environmental Politics and Policy
or Integrative Skills for Environmental Management
or Studies in Environmental Management
or Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3-6
 Credits12-16
Spring
BIOL 613 Advanced Ecological Analysis 3
At least one of:
BIOL 620-689 3-4
Or
ENVS 615
or ENVS 618
or ENVS 623
or ENVS 625
From Climate Science to Action
or Public Lands Management
or Studies in Environmental Management
or Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
3
BIOL 690 Ecology MS Proposal Development 3
ENVS 400 Applied Sustainability 3
 Credits15-16
Summer
BIOL 695
or BIOL 696
Ecology/ Conservation Thesis Research
or Fisheries/ Wildlife Thesis Research
3
 Credits3
Year Five
Fall
9 credits of the following
BIOL 695
or BIOL 696
Ecology/ Conservation Thesis Research
or Fisheries/ Wildlife Thesis Research
1-6
And
BIOL 620-689 3-4
Or
ENVS 623
or ENVS 625
Studies in Environmental Management
or Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
3
 Credits7-13
Spring
9 credits of the following:
BIOL 695
or BIOL 696
Ecology/ Conservation Thesis Research
or Fisheries/ Wildlife Thesis Research
1-6
And
BIOL 620-689 3-4
Or
ENVS 623
or ENVS 625
Studies in Environmental Management
or Studies in Integrative and Public Land Management
3
 Credits7-13
Summer
BIOL 695
or BIOL 696
Ecology/ Conservation Thesis Research
or Fisheries/ Wildlife Thesis Research
3
 Credits3
 Total Credits145-162

Careers

Career preparation starts your first year at Western and is the primary focus of every degree.

Visit Career Services in Library 120 or online to discover your interests, define your goals, and land the career of your dreams.

The data below is automatically collected by Burning Glass Technologies, a firm that sources job market data and provides analytics. The statistics illustrate general trends in U.S. careers, but do not precisely represent every job and salary.

Scholarships

Alumni Association Future Alumni Scholarship

The Alumni Association Scholarship is a one-time scholarship of $1,000 and is applicable for the student’s junior or senior year at Western.

Any child or grandchild of an alumni is eligible to receive the Future Alumni Scholarship.

  • This is a one-time non-renewable scholarship of $1,000.
  • Only one Future Alumni Scholarship will be awarded per academic year.
  • GPA must be 3.2 or above (college).

Due date has been extended to April 1 for 2022. An Alumni selection committee, appointed by the Alumni Advisory Council, will review applicants and select awardee by June 1.

Apply

Alumni Legacy Scholarship

The Alumni Legacy Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western (incoming freshman or new transfer students are eligible).

Do you have a son or daughter looking at college? Have they considered attending Western? As an alumni, your son, daughter and/or grandchildren are eligible for certain benefits distributed through this scholarship, as follows:

  • This is a one-time scholarship of $1,000.
  • Nominee must be an incoming freshman or new transfer.
  • The cost of orientation is reduced by half (a $45 value).
  • The admission application fee is waived (a $30 value).
  • GPA must be 2.5 or above (high school or college of transfer).

The applicant must fill out the application form found below. Application forms are accepted year-round. If the applicant meets the GPA guidelines, the scholarship will be awarded.

Apply

Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

The Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship is a one-time non-renewable scholarship and is only applicable for the student’s first year at Western. This scholarship is not available to midyear transfers or students beginning in the spring semester.

Are you an alumni or employee of Western and know a prospective (or incoming) student who would be a great fit at Western? A recommendation from alumni and employees can support any new student and provide them a $500 scholarship their first year. (Western employees may not recommend a spouse or dependent receiving tuition benefits).

  • Any Western alumni/employee may nominate only one student per academic year to receive the $500 scholarship (distributed $250 per semester).
  • The scholarship is good for the first year only and is non-renewable.
  • The recommended student must be a full-time undergraduate student, attending Western for the first time.

The applicant must fill out the application form found here. The nominating alumni/employee must fill out the application form and submit the required documents by June 1. The recommended student must meet university admissions acceptance standards and complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential Promise, visit our scholarships page.

Description

The Western Presidential Honors Scholarships, established by the Jack and Marilyn MacAllister Foundation shall be an elite class of scholarships awarded to Western’s highest achieving and most deserving students, celebrating the ideals of academic excellence and service to the campus and community. Recipients of the Scholarships will be members of the Western Colorado University Honors Program.

There are eight Presidential Honors Scholarships of $2500 each. Each year two new Presidential Honors Scholarships will be awarded to two incoming freshmen.

Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student’s GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at western.edu/cost to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit our scholarships page.

Get Involved

Take your education beyond the classroom.

While you can work anywhere in the world to conduct research, you can also find great local opportunities to work with faculty on projects such as:

  • Aquatic Ecology: Monitoring and assessing aquatic ecosystems in the West.
  • Fisheries Biology: Evaluating and managing aquatic ecosystem health and human activities to maintain sustainable fish populations for commercial, recreational and conservation purposes.
  • Forest and Fire Ecology: Investigating the role of wildfire and climate on forest ecology and management in the West.
  • Invasive Species Ecology: Working with land managers to identify and implement methods for invasive species control and restoration of native communities.
  • Population and Conservation Ecology: Investigating population dynamics of rare plants.
  • Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology: Quantifying changes in carbon and nutrients under different disturbance regimes and land management strategies in the Arctic and western Colorado.
  • Wildlife Ecology: Studying habitat relationships and land management consequences to wildlife populations and communities.

One-of-a-kind research opportunities

MS in Ecology student Courtney King gazes through a scope at bighorn sheep during her wildlife techniques class.

News & Research

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New Name for Environment & Sustainability School

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Graduate Studies Program Honors Two Members for Inclusive Excellence

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Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk & Long-Term Ecological Change

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Western Colorado University announces participation in ‘Bridge to Bachelor’s’ program with Colorado Community College System

Western Colorado University announces participation in ‘Bridge to Bachelor’s’ program with Colorado Community College System

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Western appoints new adjunct faculty members in graduate Ecology program

Western appoints new adjunct faculty members in graduate Ecology program

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Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

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New partnership helps Red Rocks Community College students earn accelerated master’s degrees

New partnership helps Red Rocks Community College students earn accelerated master’s degrees

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Western Professor and Students Publish Study on Fire Ecology

Western Professor and Students Publish Study on Fire Ecology

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Western launches Master of Science in Ecology

Western launches Master of Science in Ecology

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Additional Resources

How It Works – M.S. in Ecology 3+2

Students apply to Western as traditional undergraduates and choose the Ecology 3+2 emphasis within the Biology or Environment & Sustainability majors. The …

Learn More

Tuition & Aid

M.S. in Ecology 3+2 students have access to financial aid for four years, during which they also have access to program-specific aid. For the first three …

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Center for Mountain Transitions

Empowering students to advance just and sustainable mountain communities, from the Rockies to the world.

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Center for Public Lands

The Center is a hub for cross-boundary land management work and study.

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Center for Cold-Climate Food Security

The School of ENVS seeks funding for the Center for Cold-Climate Food Security to amplify experiential educational opportunities around high-alpine and cold-climate food production, while addressing hunger in the Gunnison Valley.

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ENVS Network

The ENVS Network documents people, organizations, and projects involved with the School of ENVS. Each year, Master in Environment Management students complete a 600 hour project, connecting people and organizations worldwide.

Learn More

Interim Dean

Melanie Armstrong, Ph.D.

Interim Dean of Clark Family School of Environment & Sustainability, Associate Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Center for Public Lands Director

Administrative Assistant, BASS/ENVS

Patricia McCarthy

BASS and Clark School Administrative Assistant

Contact Information

970.943.2248

ses@western.edu

Campus Location

1 Western Way
Gunnison, CO 81230

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