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M.S. in Ecology 3+2

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

Environmental Science student

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. 

Course List
Code Title Credits
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 Statistics (GT-MA1)3
PHYS 125Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2)3
One of the following:
ENVS 360Global Environmental Policy3
ENVS 370Water Policy and Politics3
GEOG 340INTRO GEOGRAPHIC INFO 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 Class, Status, and Power
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 608ENVIRONMENTL POLITICS & 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. (ENVS) or B.S. (BIOL) 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
ENVS 100 Introduction to Environment and Sustainability (GT-SS2) 3
BIOL 150 Biological Principles (with laboratory) (GT-SC1) 4
Elective Elective or minor course 6
HWTR 100 First Year Seminar 1
ENG 102 Writing and Rhetoric I (GT-CO1) 3
 Credits17
Spring
ENVS 200 Writing the Environment 3
PHYS 125 Energy and the Environment (GT-SC2) 3
ENG 103 Writing and Rhetoric II (GT-CO2) 3
BIOL 151 Diversity and Patterns of Life (with laboratory) 4
MATH 141 Precalculus (GT-MA1) 4
 Credits17
Year Two
Fall
ENVS 301 Science of Sustainability and Resilience 3
CHEM 111
CHEM 112
General Chemistry I (GT-SC2)
and General Chemistry Laboratory I (GT-SC1)
4
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
HWTR 200
or HWTR 398
This Is The Headwaters
or Headwaters Conference
1
ENVS 250 Environmental Justice 3
 Credits14
Spring
ENVS 350 U.S. and Western Environmental Politics 3
ECON 215 Environmental Economics 3
MATH 213 Probability and Statistics (GT-MA1) 3
BIOL 301 GENERAL ECOLOGY 3
CHEM 113
CHEM 114
General Chemistry II
and General Chemistry Laboratory II
4
 Credits16
Summer
ENVS 499 Internship in Environmental Studies 3
 Credits3
Year Three
Fall
ENVS 390 Environmental Monitoring 4
GEOG 340
or ENVS 370
INTRO GEOGRAPHIC INFO SYSTEMS
or Water Policy and Politics
3
ENVS 410 Environmental Ethics 3
Gen Ed General Education Courses 3
Elective Elective 3
 Credits16
Spring
ENVS 360 Global Environmental Policy 3
Electivechosen from selection of classes on cultural, racial, ethnic, gender, sex, sexuality, and/or class contexts 3
Elective Electives 9
 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
ENVIRONMENTL POLITICS & 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
 Total Credits142-159

Careers


Top Skills

  • Business Development
  • Communication
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Policy
  • Operations Management
  • Research



Career Pathways

  • Climate Change Policy Analyst
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Environmental Economist
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Environmental Restoration Planner
  • Industrial Ecologist

Take the first steps toward your academic and personal growth.

Fostering your intellectual development is the primary focus of every academic program at Western. Our professors and Office of Career Services will help you identify your strengths, hone your skills, define your goals, and prepare for a fulfilling and enriched life after graduation. Wondering how you can apply your program of choice to your intellectual and personal journey? Check out our “What Can I Do With This Major?” tool to explore the diverse opportunities and pathways within any degree program.

Scholarships

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your scholarships!

Western’s Scholarship Application portal allows you to search for, apply to and manage your scholarship opportunities. This platform houses over 300+ departmental and privately funded scholarship opportunities available to both new and returning students. Through the scholarship portal, students may identify scholarship opportunities based on academic program, campus involvement, academic standing, specific keywords and more. Students may click below to begin learning about what scholarship opportunities are available to them.

Please check individual scholarship opportunity start dates and deadlines as there are exceptions.

Find your 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 30 for 2024. 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 first-year student 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.

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

M.S. in Ecology 3+2

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

Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission

Read More about Western Earns Accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission
Students conducting research in the field

Western Receives Research & Education Grant from Department of Energy

Read More about Western Receives Research & Education Grant from Department of Energy
Christina Bruno

Graduate Studies Program Honors Two Members for Inclusive Excellence

Read More about Graduate Studies Program Honors Two Members for Inclusive Excellence
blue heron study

Researchers Help Shape Recreation Policy with Great Blue Heron Study

Read More about Researchers Help Shape Recreation Policy with Great Blue Heron Study
experiential learning mba programs

Experiential Learning MBA Programs & Outdoor Education Grad Programs

Read More about Experiential Learning MBA Programs & Outdoor Education Grad Programs
Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk & Long-Term Ecological Change

Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk & Long-Term Ecological Change

Read More about Research Shows Increased Wildfire Risk & Long-Term Ecological Change
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

Read More about Western Colorado University announces participation in ‘Bridge to Bachelor’s’ program with Colorado Community College System
Western appoints new adjunct faculty members in graduate Ecology program

Western appoints new adjunct faculty members in graduate Ecology program

Read More about Western appoints new adjunct faculty members in graduate Ecology program
Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business

Read More about Western professor publishes book focused on sustainability in business
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

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

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 Public Lands

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

Learn More

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.

Learn More

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

Department Information

Accelerated Degree Programs

Executive Director

Marlo Frazier

Executive Director, School of Graduate Studies Operations

Graduate Program Coordinator

Deanna Banker, B.S.

Graduate Database Administrator & Analyst

Campus Location

1 Western Way
Quigley Hall 118
Gunnison, CO 81231

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