PSM in Fisheries & Wildlife Administration


The Professional Science Master's in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (PSMFWA) is offered to working professionals with at least five years of experience who want to accelerate their fisheries and wildlife related careers. This program is offered both online through Ecampus and through Corvallis campus.

Learner Outcomes for PSMFWA Students: The PSMFWA degree is an integrated curriculum designed to provide advanced, professional training in four areas: (1) core knowledge in fish or wildlife biology, ecology and management; (2) natural resources policy; (3) human dimensions of natural resources management; and (4) professional skills and abilities. In addition, each student will participate in an intensive internship experience engaging students in real world work situations involving technical problems, teamwork, communication skills, and decisionā€making. For more details, please review the specific learning outcomes for the each of the major components of the PSMFWA degree.

Why Should I Get a PSM?

Fisheries and wildlife resource conservation is a challenging profession involving biological, ecological, management, policy, and social systems. Although many professionals obtain entry-level positions with B.S. degrees, mid- and upper-level positions typically require additional training in biology, quantitative methods, and business and communication skills. The PSM in Fisheries & Wildlife Administration prepares you to become a thoughtful, innovative leader in the science and management of fisheries and wildlife.

The PSMFWA degree is an integrated curriculum designed to provide advanced, professional training in four areas:

  1. Core knowledge in fish or wildlife biology, ecology and management;
  2. Professional skills and abilities;
  3. Human dimensions of natural resources management;
  4. Natural resources policy. 

In addition, you will participate in an intensive internship experience engaging students in real world work situations involving technical problems, teamwork, communication skills, and decision-making. 

Read more about the specific learner outcomes of the Professional Science Master's in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration.

PSM Curriculum

The 45-credit PSMFWA curriculum is organized into four main sections:

  • Biophysical sciences core (20 credits)
  • Social sciences core (12 credits)
  • Business communication and management skills core (6 credits)
  • Internship (6 credits)

Professional Science Masters in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration Requirements

Professional Internship Requirements

Current students should use the FW Course Offerings document to help plan their future term schedules. Courses offered during OSU's summer Natural Resources Leadership Academy are also accepted toward PSMFWA degree requirements. Other OSU courses related to your program of study may be accepted with approval of the Program Director - please contact Lisa Pierson to request a course substitution.

Current PSM Students

A full time course load for a graduate student ranges from 9 to 16 credits per term. A minimum of 9 credits per term is required of most international students to satisfy visa requirements. Half time enrollment for Financial Aid eligibility is usually 5 credits minimum. A minimum enrollment of 3 credits per term is required under OSU's Continuous Enrollment Policy and to complete your final exam. This rule does not apply to summer term. If you plan to not enroll during any term (other than Summer term), you must file a Leave of Absence request no later than 15 working days prior to the start of the term, so there is time to obtain signatures and file with the Graduate School. Leave of Absence request must be filed for EVERY term in which you are not enrolled.  

Please note that you also must to be currently enrolled for a minimum of 3 credits in your last term, when you plan to defend and complete your degree. You will be expected to present results from your internship experience as a seminar open to all graduate students and department faculty (remote connection is fine), which will be followed by a closed defense examination with your committee.

Make sure that you share your final internship report with your major professor (first drafts) and graduate committee members (final draft) at least a few weeks in advance of your final examination to allow time for feedback and revisions. We also advise you to share a draft of your presentation with your advisor to ensure good preparation for the defense seminar. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How much background in biological science do I need for PSMFWA?

A little over half of the credits required for this degree are in biophysical sciences, including the internship credits; the rest are in social sciences and business/communication skills. Most of the biophysical science courses require at least a basic background in biology and ecology. We encourage you to review the course list and check the course catalog for syllabi and recommended pre-requisites (most pre-requisites are advisory only at the graduate level). If you have little or no background in biology, you may want to take a couple of undergraduate courses as a non-degree seeking student before applying to PSMFWA. Syllabi for most online courses are linked on the Ecampus Course Catalog.

We strongly recommend placement in a Graduate Certificate before applying to PSMFWA. Taking a few courses at the graduate level, getting used to online coursework, and finding the right balance of school, work and family is important for your success in the degree program. Your Certificate credits (up to 15) can transfer to PSMFWA or another graduate degree.

When are the deadlines to apply to the PSMFWA program?

Applicants are accepted to the Professional Science Master's in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (PSMFWA) program in spring and fall term each year. The application deadline for spring term is Dec. 31 and for fall term is June 1.

Can I complete the PSMFWA program entirely online?

All required coursework for the PSMFWA is available through OSU’s online Ecampus program.  However, students are encouraged (but not required) to attend the one week PSM Program orientation held during the 3rd week of September of their cohort year.  Students may also take credits in-residence at OSU or at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon.

Is an employer letter of support a requirement for application?

We encourage students applying to the PSMFWA program to obtain a letter of support from their current employer.  This provides us with insight into the resources you may be able to access while pursuing your degree – these may include time off, internship support, tuition assistance, or other means of augmenting your ability to succeed as a student. While the employer letter of support is not required to apply to the PSMFWA, it will be taken into consideration in evaluating your application and may improve your potential for admission.

Are GRE scores required to apply to the PSMFWA program?

Yes, GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores are required to apply. Our Department prefers GRE scores be in the 50th percentile or higher. However, applications are evaluated for overall merit, and students who do not meet the standards of one criterion may be admitted based on superior performance in another. GRE scores should be less than 5 years old; the institution code for OSU is 4586.

What level of professional experience is required for acceptance to the PSMFWA?

All applicants must have at least 5 or more years of experience working in a natural resource field to be considered. A current CV is required in the application materials. Professional experience must demonstrate the application of current biological knowledge to problems and programs dealing directly with the fish or wildlife resources (administration, education, research, or management) as a significant portion of job responsibilities.

Professional experience provides demonstrated expertise in making decisions in the application of ecology to stewardship and management of fish and wildlife resources and the environment. Technician-level work, such as data collection, surveys, and habitat manipulation conducted under existing protocol or under the specific direction of another, may not be considered professional-level experience.

Do I need a faculty advisor before I can be accepted to the program?

Yes. The Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Admissions Review Committee evaluates applications based on academic and professional merit. Candidates whose qualifications meet the requirements of the review committee will pass the preliminary acceptance phase.  Final acceptance is contingent upon the student being accepted by a program advisor.  For more information on connecting with an advisor, please reference our guide for Connecting with an Advisor. Faculty advisors should reference our Prospective Advisor Guide for an outline of expectations.

If students in the PSMFWA program are currently employed within the field, are they still expected to complete an internship program? Or can current employment count toward the internship requirement?

Internship is a required component of Professional Science Masters degrees. We are flexible about working with students to develop a useful project that fits their work schedule and needs. While previous work and “typical” daily activity at your current job cannot count toward internship, a “special project” within your agency, a joint project with another agency,  or a temporary change of duties or location could serve as your internship.  Internship credits can be spread over several terms - you do not have to complete your internship requirement in a single term.

What will be my tuition rate? What if I take a mixture of Ecampus and Corvallis Campus courses?

Ecampus (same price for Oregon residents, out-of-state residents, and international residents)
Corvallis Campus
Summer Session (all tuition is in-state)

See the Tuition Comparison Chart to compare Ecampus and Corvallis Campus rates. Students taking a mixture of courses pay separate tuition and fees for each campus and those are added together. This can end up being quite expensive so students should talk to an advisor if they are unsure what to do.  

What does the notation, "Does not meet Graduate School's stand-alone requirement" on a course listing mean?

The notation that a course “does not meet the Graduate School’s standalone requirement” means that the course it taught as a “slash” course, with both undergraduate (400-level) and graduate (500-level) students in the same class.  The Graduate School limits Certificate, PSM, Masters and PhD students to no more than 50% “slash” courses in their program of study. 

Contact Us

For more details about the PSMFWA program and instructions on how to apply, please visit our Ecampus page.

If you have other questions about the Professional Science Masters in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration, contact the Graduate Program Coordinater