Application Process

Please review each of the sections below for information on how to apply to the Forestry and Wildlife Ecology graduate programs.

Faculty Advisors

We strongly recommend that applicants contact individual faculty in the department who work in their area of interest to determine if they are accepting applications before submitting a formal application to the Graduate School or review the positions posted on the Graduate Training Opportunities page.  Most successful applicants have

  1. had contact with their prospective advisor
  2. developed a research focus
  3. prepared a student ‘statement of purpose’ in the area of interest
  4. the ability to relate their desired area of study to that of a particular faculty member

Personal contact is very important. Applicants should make this contact at least 6-12 months prior to their anticipated admission, which can be anytime during the year (not only fall semesters). Note: such contact does not ensure admission; it merely serves to initiate a dialog between a student and a potential advisor.The applicant can learn whether there will be openings when they wish to apply.

Tips for contacting prospective graduate faculty advisors

Generally, the Department does not routinely accept new graduate students into the program unless they meet all admission requirements. In the vast majority of cases students will only be admitted when:

  1. financial support for the student is currently in the hands of a faculty member, or is assured by the time a student begins, or
  2. a student brings independent funding and has contacted a faculty member who agrees to serve as advisor.

Thus, it is to the applicant’s advantage to contact potential advisors before applying because they may be able to save the application fee if no support is available or faculty are not accepting applications for the term they wish to enter the university.

Application Materials

The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department requires specific materials for the graduate application.  These materials include

  • Graduate School Application Form and Application Fee
    • All applicants must complete the Graduate School’s online application which is available on their Electronic Application website.
  • Supplementary Application
    • To assist the admissions committee in reviewing files, we require applicants to submit a supplementary application.
    • The supplementary application will appear as a part of the Graduate School’s electronic application once the applicant selects Forestry or Wildlife Ecology.
  • Resume or CV
    • Applicants must submit resume or CV electronically through the supplementary application.
  • Transcripts
    • All applicants must upload an unofficial transcript (non-encrypted) in a PDF format to their online application
      • Any school listed must have a transcript uploaded, otherwise the application will not be complete
      • If an applicant is recommended for admission they will be asked to submit an official transcript to the Graduate School; official transcripts are not to be mailed to the department
    • International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.
    • The Forest & Wildlife Ecology department requires all applicants to have a BA/BS degree from an accredited institution.
    • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor’s degree institution is required for regular admission. If an applicant has received a post-baccalaureate degree and the GPA for that degree is above a 3.0, then they may be admitted with full standing even if their undergraduate GPA does not meet the standards above. Under some circumstances, applicants with lower averages are admitted on probation but this is not common.
  • Statement of Purpose
    • This should describe the applicant’s graduate program objectives and career focus.
    • Applicants are strongly encourage to describe past research experiences in their statement.
    • The statement of purpose should be around two pages in length.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
    • These letters are preferably from people acquainted with the applicant’s academic, research and/or professional qualifications.
    • Letters must online through the Graduate School’s electronic format; references experiencing difficulty with the online system should contact the Academic Advising Manager, Allee Hochmuth.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from TOEFL, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB).
    • An admitted applicant whose TOEFL internet based (iBT) test score below 92; TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. Students must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first enrolled semester.

Note: International student financial information will only be requested by the Graduate School after the departmental recommendation for admission. The Graduate School provides a list of international student expenses.

Additional information regarding admission requirements can be found on the Graduate School website. Please refer to the Application Process at a Glance for items that should be sent directly to the Graduate School.

Submitting Application Materials

All materials are to be submitted electronically through the Graduate School’s online application.

All questions regarding the admissions process and the application should also be directed to the Academic Advising Manager, Allee Hochmuth.


The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department accepts applications on a rolling basis; however, it is to the applicant’s advantage to apply as early as possible.  The Graduate School requires all admissions decisions, including reentry requests, to be made 4 weeks before the start of a term.  Applications cannot be reviewed until all of the application materials (listed above) have been received.

Fall and Summer Admissions Deadline
There are certain fellowships, awards and prospective student recruitment funds that are only available to applicants who apply by February 1 for the following summer and fall term.  It is strongly recommended that applicants apply by the February 1 preference date unless instructed to do otherwise by a faculty member in the department.

We make every effort possible to have all admissions decisions finalized by April 15 for applicants who submit their materials by the February 1 preference date.

Spring Admissions Deadline
There is no set deadline for spring admissions consideration.

AOF Fellowship Deadline
The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department is a member of the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMed GRS) Program at UW-Madison.  Students eligible for Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (AOF) are strongly encouraged to apply by January 15 for full fellowship consideration.


Most offers of admission include funding through Research Assistant (RA) appointments. Please see the Funding page for details.

Forestry MS and PhD Curriculum

The Forestry program prescribes no specific graduate coursework beyond seminar requirements due to the diversity of research areas available; students select appropriate graduate-level coursework in consultation with their advisor and a graduate advisory committee. All MS students are required to write, present, and defend a thesis and all PhD students are required to pass their preliminary exam and produce, present, and defend a dissertation.

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Wildlife Ecology MS and PhD Curriculum

The Wildlife Ecology program requires all students to meet the Wildlife Ecology prerequisite requirements which include

  • one course in ecology, with population ecology/dynamics strongly recommended
  • one course in conservation biology, wildlife management, natural resources policy, or human dimensions of natural resources
  • one course in organismal biology (i.e. physiology, terrestrial vertebrates, ornithology; does not include plant based courses)
  • one course in genetics or evolution

Additional graduate-level coursework is selected by the students in consultation with their advisor and graduate advisory committee.  All MS students are required to write, present, and defend a thesis and all PhD students are required to pass their qualifying exam and preliminary exam and produce, present, and defend a dissertation.