The Ecology core requirements are few and flexible. Students must meet these requirements, as well as any additional ones of their home department.


  1. The degree is research-based and requires a thesis or dissertation.
  2. The Ecology Center schedules regular seminars throughout the school year with ecological scientists from other participating institutions.  Ecology majors are required to attend or view a minimum of 10 such lectures per 1-credit Ecology Seminar course. This 1-credit course is offered in both the Spring and Fall Semester and students will be required to fulfill the attendance requirement for their enrolled semester (BIOL/ENVS/PSC/WATS/WILD 6870). Should you find an ecologically focused seminar offered by another department or college, simply email the Ecology Center to confirm that it would count toward the Ecology Seminar attendance requirement. A maximum of 2 seminars offered by an outside department can be used toward the attendance requirement.  
    • MS students must pass the 1-credit Ecology Seminar at least two times during their program of study.
    • PhD students must pass the 1-credit Ecology Seminar at least three times during their program of study.
  3. The degree requires some demonstrated breadth of knowledge in Ecology, most often satisfied with courses from the topical Blocks listed below.
    • MS students must take three credits each from two of the Blocks.
    • PhD students must take three credits each from three of the Blocks. 

Students may substitute other courses from the same topical area by request of the graduate supervisory committee to the Ecology Center Director. 

Block #1: Biophysical Ecology

CEE 6740 Environmental Quality Modeling/Surface Water Quality Modeling (Neilson) (Fall)
GEO/PSC/WATS 5680/6680 Paleoclimatology (Rittenour) (Spring even years)
GEO/WATS 6150 Fluvial Geomorphology (Wheaton) (Fall)
PSC 6130 Soil Genesis, Morphology, and Classification (Boettinger) (Fall)
PSC 5500/6500 Environmental Physics of Land Ecosystems and Climate (Hipps) (Spring)
PSC 6820 Environmental Biophysics (Hipps) (Spring)
WATS 6900 Fluvial Hydraulics & Ecohydraulics (Wheaton) (Fall)
WILD/PSC 5350/6350 Wildland Soils (Kulmatiski) (Fall)

Block #2: Organismic, Population, and Evolutionary Ecology

BIOL 5530 Insect Systematics and Evolution (von Dohlen) (Fall, every 2-4 years)
BIOL 6240 Physiological Ecology of Vertebrates (French) (Fall odd years)
BIOL 6260 Behavioral Ecology (Not currently offered)
BIOL 5600/6600 Comparative Animal Physiology (French) (Fall)
WATS 5310 Ecology and Restoration of Wetland and Riparian Plants (Kettenring) (Spring odd years)
WATS 6230/7230 Fish Ecology (Budy) (Spring odd years)
WILD 6720/7720 Advanced Conservation Biology (Beard) (Spring even years)
WILD 6900 Graduate Ecology (Avgar / Manlove) (Fall)
WILD 7400 Plant Population Ecology (Schupp) (Fall even years)

Block #3: Community, Ecosystem, and Landscape Ecology

BIOL 6010 Biogeography (not currently offered)
BIOL/PSC/WILD 6200 Biogeochemistry of Terrestrial Ecosystems (Stark) (Fall)
BIOL 6210/6750 Measuring and Modeling the Terrestrial C Cycle (Waring) (Spring even years)
WATS 6110 Biogeochemistry: Tracking Environmental Processes and Change (Brahney) (Fall)
WATS 6310 Wetland Ecology and Management (Kettenring & Howe) (Spring odd years)
WATS/WILD 6700 Restoration Ecology (Kettenring/Veblen) (Spring even years)
WILD 6730 Forest Community Ecology (Lutz) (Fall odd years)
WILD 6770 Community Ecology (Adler)
WATS 6820/7820 Stream Ecology (Hawkins) (Fall)
WILD 6900 Invasion Ecology (Beard) (Spring even years)
WILD 6900 Graduate Ecology (Avgar / Manlove) (Fall)
WILD 7000 Theory and Applications of Wildland Ecosystem Management (du Toit) (Spring even years)
WILD 7710 Landscape Ecology (Edwards) (Spring)

Block #4: Quantitative Ecology

BIOL 6270 Ecology: Concepts & Theory (Beckman) (Fall, odd years)
GEOG 4950/6950 Geospatial Analysis in R (Shcheglovitova) (Spring)
MATH 6910.002 Topics in Mathematical Biology and Ecology (Variable Instructors) (Spring even years)
MATH 6910.003 Topics in Mathematical Biology and Ecology (Variable Instructors) (Spring even years)
MATH 6820.004 Topics in Mathematical Biology and Ecology (Variable Instructors) (Spring even years)
MATH 6910.005 Topics in Mathematical Biology and Ecology (Variable Instructors) (Spring even years)
STAT 5000/6000 Biostatistics Methods (Stephens) (Spring)
STAT 5120 Stat Methods for Rates and Proportions  (Fall)
STAT 5200 Design of Experiments Class (Various) (Fall, Spring)
STAT 5570/6570 Statistical Bioinformatics (Stevens) (Fall odd years)
STAT 5600 Applied Multivariate Statistics (R. Cutler) (Spring)
STAT 5650 Statistical Learning and Data Mining (R. Cutler) (Spring)
WATS 6050 Aquatic Ecosystem and Water Resource Systems Modeling (Null) (Fall alternating odd years)
STAT 6200 Generalized Linear Mixed Models (Coster) (Spring)
WATS 6450 Ecological Analysis with Mixed Effects Models (Walsworth) (Fall)
WATS 6900 Hydrologic Modeling for Watershed Sciences (Null) (Fall, Spring, Summer)
WATS 6920 Advanced Geographic Information Systems and Spatial Analysis (Wheaton) (Spring)
WILD 6500 Design and Analysis of Ecological Experiments Using R (Manlove) (Fall)
WILD 6580 baseR: Mangement and Manipulation of Data Using R (Edwards) (Online)
WILD 6900 Space-use Ecology (Avgar) (Spring even years)
WILD 6900 Computational Tools for Reproducible Science (Picardi) (Spring 2021)

Block #5: Human Ecology


ASTE 5260/6260 Environmental Aspects of Agricultural Systems (Miller) (Fall)
ENVS 6320/7320 Water Law and Policy in the United States (Endter-Wada) (Spring)
ENVS 6900 Introduction to Environmental Law and Policy (Kurtzman, online only)


ENVS 6400 Ecological Aspects of Wildland Recreation (Monz) (Spring)


LAEP 6110 Landscape Planning for Wildlife (Hirschfeld) (Fall)
LAEP 6200 Bioregional Analysis and Planning (Licon) (Fall)
LAEP 6270 Site Analysis: Social, Behavioral, and Biophysical Dimensions (Johnson) (Fall)

Economics, and Sustainability, and Translational Science:

APEC 5560 Natural Resource and Environmental Economics (Li) (Spring)
APEC 5950 Applied Economics Policy: Environmental Benefit Cost Analysis (Not currently offered) *will be assigned a new course number
ENVS 6010 Applying Human Dimension to Natural Resource Management (Hedin) (Spring, online)
ENVS 6350 Ecological Economics (Lant) (Spring Even Years, subject to change)
ENVS 6410 Translational Ecology (Brunson) (Spring odd years)
ENVS 5550/6550 Sustainability: Concepts and Measurement (Tainter) (Spring)
PSC 6070 Advanced Agroecology (Reeve) (Spring)

Anthropology, History, Psychology, and Sociology:

ANTH 5340/6340 Archaeology of the Desert West (Finley) (Fall, odd years)
ENVS 6300/7300 Conservation Psychology (Brunson) (Fall, even years)
SOC 6620 Environment, Technology, and Social Change (Givens) (Fall, even years)
SOC 6630 Natural Resources and Social Development (Ulrich-Schad) (Fall)

*Abbreviations - Biology (BIOL), Geology (GEOL), Plant Soils and Climate (PSC), Watershed Sciences (WATS), Wildland Resources (WILD)

Forest Ecology Specialization

Within the Ecology MS and PhD degrees in the Wildland Resources Department a student also can choose to pursue a Specialization in Forest Ecology, which will appear on their transcript if completed. To opt for the Specialization in Forest Ecology, select it when you fill out your committee form or enter it under your plan description in your program of study. Required elements for this specialization for the MS or PhD degree include the following, with the remaining credit hours for the degree determined by the student and his or her committee:


Financial Support Opportunities For Ecology Graduate Students

Graduate students working on Ecology degrees are eligible to apply for the following types of support. All depend on availability of funds and worthiness of the application.

  1. Partial support for travel to regional or national professional meetings in which you present a paper or poster as first or sole author. Application is made by your major professor, who should describe the meeting (name, location, dates), the title and type of the presentation, authorship and an estimated budget. This is best done by e-mail to Ecology Center Director, Dr. Nancy Huntly. Support will depend on availability of funds, the nature of the meeting, and other meetings in the current year for which the Ecology Center supports your travel. Occasionally, the Ecology Center may contribute to costs of participation in an international meeting.
  2. Graduate research awards (currently up to $5,000 per year). To assist in thesis or dissertation research, these are offered competitively in spring of each year and you may apply in two consecutive years. A proposal is required. Calls for proposals will be announced in early January each year, and those who are awarded funding will receive access to those funds on July 1st. 
  3. Sometimes, the Ecology Center may award a few PhD assistantships. When available, this award competition is announced in the spring and requires a proposal.
  4. Finishing-up funds. If you have no other sources of support, are in residence at USU working on completion of your MS or PhD degree, and are within three months of defending your thesis or dissertation, you may apply for this one-time award of up to $2,000. A one-page proposal is required and should indicate your progress, work yet to be accomplished, and anticipated defense date. The proposal must be submitted and endorsed by your major professor.

Prospective Students

Ecology is increasingly interdisciplinary, and ecologists have diverse training backgrounds. The Ecology program at Utah State includes affiliated faculty from 11 departments in 5 colleges and fellow students with many different interests. The Ecology curriculum is research-based and includes a common but flexible core of seminars and courses, along with specific departmental degree requirements and a research thesis or dissertation.

Acceptance into the Ecology degree program requires acceptance by a faculty who will serve as advisor for the degree program. If you are interested in studying Ecology at Utah State, you should contact the Faculty Associate(s) whose areas of research align with your professional interests. Inquiries sent to the Ecology Center will be routed to appropriate department(s), department head(s), or faculty member(s).

Application should be made to:

The School of Graduate Studies
Utah State University
0900 Old Main Hill
Logan, Utah 84322-0900
(Phone: 435-797-1189, Fax: 435-797-1192)

More Information

The department of interest should be specified. Departments offering Ecology MS and PhD degrees are:

Utah State offers a variety of competitive graduate scholarship and fellowship opportunities (see also Departmental and College webpages). Also, the National Science Foundation offers Graduate Research Fellowships through a competitive process.

Graduate Student Resources

Dr. Lee Foote - Ecology Center Graduate '91
Video recording January 20, 2016, seminar "Learn how to successfully pass an oral comprehensive exam"
You can also find Dr. Foote's book:  Oral Exams: Preparing For and Passing Candidacy, Qualifying, and Graduate Defenses

Help us populate this page with information that you think would be useful to other graduate students.

Email suggestions to or stop by and chat with Thad in NR314.