PhD in Fisheries Science or Wildlife Science


Graduate students of the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife value scholarship in all its forms - discovery, integration, application, and teaching. We value understanding for its own sake, for the betterment of people, and for the conservation of the natural world.

Learner Outcomes for PhD Students

Students will produce a professionally written dissertation that meets peer-review publication standards. Students will be able to prepare and deliver a professional quality oral presentation. Students will be able to effectively communicate in discussions with peers and general public. Students will demonstrate ability to solve problems, evaluate evidence and recognize bias; ability to adjust conclusions/approaches in face of new data or interpretation tools. Students will demonstrate in-depth knowledge of area of expertise and general breadth in the field. Students will demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues in fisheries and wildlife sciences.

PhD in Fisheries Science

The Fisheries Science graduate program focuses on quantitative analyses of marine and freshwater fish populations, water quality, fish systematics, fish and invertebrate physiology, stream ecology, modeling of aquatic ecosystems, land use interactions, endangered species, and aquaculture.

Areas of Concentration in Fisheries

Aquaculture, conservation biology, fish genetics, ichthyology, limnology, parasites and diseases, physiology and ecology of marine and freshwater fishes, stream ecology, toxicology, water pollution biology.

Marine Research

Students can choose to spend one term at the Hatfield Marine Science Center, an extended campus facility located in Newport, where we have courses emphasizing the marine environment.

The Oregon Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit has active research programs funded in part by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. The Agricultural Experiment Station, the Sea Grant program, Forest Science Laboratory and other organizations fund major research projects.

The department maintains extensive collections of vertebrate species, which are curated by Brian Sidlauskas (fish), Clinton Epps (mammals), and Bruce Dugger (birds). The Oregon State Ichthyology Collection is also available to view online. 

PhD in Wildlife Science

The Wildlife Science graduate program in the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife emphasizes wildlife research concerning interaction of wildlife with land uses, migratory bird biology, forestry-wildlife relationships, endangered species management, and population dynamics. Read more about faculty research in Fisheries and Wildlife.

Areas of Concentration in Wildlife

Animal-habitat relationships; behavior; conservation biology; community studies; ecology of birds, small and large mammals including cetaceans and pinnipeds, and herptiles; ecology of avian and mammalian predators; ecology of waterfowl and upland gamebirds; effects of parasites, diseases, and environmental contaminants; nutrition; population; population dynamics; reproductive biology; toxicology of pesticides; wildlife ecology; wildlife-forestry interactions.  

The department maintains extensive collections of vertebrate species, which are curated by Brian Sidlauskas (fish), Clinton Epps (mammals), and Bruce Dugger (birds).

Frequently Asked Questions

Are GREs required? How long are the results good for?

Yes, GREs for the general test are required. The scores are good for five years. The subject exam is not required. The guideline for admission to our graduate program is upper 50th percentile on each section of the GRE, although conditional admission may be granted for scores outside this range.  GRE subject tests are not required, but will be used in evaluation of the applicant if submitted.

Faculty advisors who wish to admit students who do not meet the department’s minimum standards for admission should provide a statement that 1) addresses the shortfall(s), 2) indicates why the student is likely to be successful without meeting the guidelines and 3) states the faculty member’s willingness to accept the student.

What is the required TOEFL score?

The Test Of English as a Foreign Language score required is 550 on the paper-based test or 213 on the computer-based test or 80 on the internet (iBT) with a minimum score of 18 on each section. A minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS may be used as an alternative to the TOEFL test.

When are the application deadlines for each quarter?

Our department's determining factor for admission is not the date of application but your acceptance by a faculty advisor. Read more information in the Before Applying section. 

Do I need a faculty sponsor to be accepted into the program?

Yes, in most cases only students who have contacted graduate faculty members and have an agreement to be hired by them are accepted. When contacting faculty members by email it's often a good idea to attach (or include information on) your transcripts, GRE scores, a resume, and a statement of objectives. If your application package has been submitted then make sure to let them know.

How many credits are required to complete the degree? Are specific courses required?

Doctoral degrees in Fisheries Science or Wildlife Science require a minimum of 108 credits.  A minimum of 36 thesis credits must be completed after admission to your PhD program.  Our department does not require specific courses for your graduate program. Your coursework should be planned in consultation with your faculty advisor and graduate committee. Your program of study should be filed by the end of your first year of enrollment in your degree program.

What are the departmental guidelines for screening graduate applications?

  • Minimum GPA of 3.0
  • GRE scores in the upper 50th percentile in each category
  • A four-year baccalaureate degree in a biological field from a regionally accredited college or university, and a combined GPA of 3.00 on the last 90 quarter (60 semester) credit hours of graded undergraduate work toward the first baccalaureate degree plus all work completed thereafter,
    OR a four-year baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university, and a 45 quarter credit-hour graduate degree from a regionally accredited university.
  • If the student has completed his or her baccalaureate degree in a country that is a signatory of the Bologna Declaration, then a baccalaureate degree of at least three years duration with a B average (equivalent 3.00 on a U.S. 4.00 grading scale) in the last two years, plus all subsequent graded course work OR a baccalaureate degree of at least three years duration with a two-year (equivalent to 45-quarter credits) graduate degree.
  • Additional minimum entrance requirements for international students are listed under Admission Requirements for International Graduate Students.
  • An M.S. degree is required to apply for the Ph.D. program*

*The faculty believes that the training in research and writing skills associated with an MS thesis improve the likelihood of success at the PhD level. Therefore, we typically require that students wishing to pursue a PhD first complete a Master's program that included a thesis. However, we recognize that some exceptional students with extensive experience may be qualified to enroll in our PhD program without first earning a Master's degree. Such students should work with their potential advisor to draft a petition (no more than 2 pages) summarizing qualifications. Examples of relevant experiences that should be described, or included with, the petition include detailed accounts of the student's role in previous research activities, peer-reviewed publications, lists of relevant awards (e.g., NSF or other comparable graduate fellowships), or demonstration of other scholarship activities equivalent to those associated with an advanced degree (e.g., undergraduate honor's thesis and other comparable experiences equivalent to a master's thesis of our department). The petition, along with a curriculum vita, should be sent in electronic form to the Graduate Committee. The Graduate Committee will evaluate the materials and notify the department head, advisor and student whether enrollment in our PhD program prior to completion of a Master's degree is recommended.

Can students who don't meet the departmental guidelines still be accepted?

Yes, students can be admitted provisionally by the department with support from their faculty sponsor and approval of the graduate committee. Under special circumstances, students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirements may be considered for admission. Students with a GPA of 2.75 to 2.99 may be granted Conditional Admission by the department.  Conditional students must maintain a 3.00 cumulative grade point average on all work taken as a graduate student and a grade of B (3.0) or better in each course in the first 18 hours of graded graduate credits.  A student admitted conditionally may not schedule or hold preliminary oral exams or final oral exams until they have been reclassified as regular graduate students.  Reclassification is granted when the GPA conditions have been met.

Applicants with a GPA under 2.75 may be admitted on appeal to the Graduate Admissions Committee.  The department will determine if they wish to support these applicants before the Graduate Admissions Committee. The Graduate Admissions Committee may consider the following additional criteria when reviewing applications from students who do not meet the minimum GPA requirement:

• GRE or GMAT scores,
• the student's undergraduate institution,
• specific courses completed at the undergraduate and graduate level, and
• letters of recommendation from major professors or current employers

What can students do to be more competitive?

Students who do not have a biological background or have a low GPA should consider taking courses as a post baccalaureate student. Courses to focus on would be statistics, ecology, general biology, chemistry, and math. A second bachelors degree isn't always needed but could be a good option if you don't have any experience in this field. If your GRE scores are low in two or more areas you should probably study and retake them. You should also consult with faculty you want to work with and see what they recommend.

How do I change the term for my graduate school application?

If you have already applied for admission but have not registered for any classes, you may use the Change of Term form to submit a change of term. One term change within the academic year is allowed. (Example: An application originally submitted for fall 2010 can be changed to winter 2011 or spring 2011. Summer begins the new academic year.) Requesting more than one term change or term changes to new academic years requires a new application and fee.

Current Students

Annual Graduate Student Assessment  

All graduate students admitted prior to the 2016-17 academic year (i.e. prior to summer term 2016) must complete an annual evaluation of progress.  (The only exceptions are for students whose defense is scheduled by the end of spring term 2017.)

Please complete the Graduate Student Assessment Form and email all materials together in a single file (.pdf) to  by February 28th 2017

Submission of your annual evaluation is required to qualify for consideration for the many scholarships and awards that our department offers. The departmental scholarship review committee is scheduled to meet in early March, and only those students who have filed their annual evaluation can enter the lists.

This is also an opportunity to review your progress with your committee and plan out your timeline for degree completion.

Contact Us

If you have questions about any of the graduate programs please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator.