Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Graduate Program Admissions Information

Thank you for considering the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation for your graduate degree program! We have a very diverse and exciting graduate studies program, and offer degrees at the Master of Science level, with thesis or non-thesis options, and at the PhD level.

Guidelines for Prospective MSc and PhD Applicants to WEC

Contacting WEC faculty & obtaining their agreement to serve as your graduate advisor is THE key!

The path to admission into WEC as a masters or PhD student begins with finding a WEC faculty member who has funding, a project of mutual interest, and agrees to serve as your graduate advisor. A comprehensive list of WEC graduate faculty, with links to their homepages, can be found on the faculty page. Prospective students are strongly advised to review the homepages of these faculty and contact those who have active research interests similar to their own.

The prospective student will need to:

  • Find appropriate faculty members by reviewing faculty web pages.
    • Read their recent research and any advice they may have for prospective students.
  • Contact each faculty member who you find to be appropriate.
    • Include a CV and a well-written email letter of inquiry that clearly relates your interests and professional goals to the faculty member's program.
    • Include your GPA and your most recent GRE scores and percentiles.
  • Await a response. You may or may not get one.
    • If you don't, then try a couple more times over a couple of weeks, and then move on.

Tips for the initial email inquiry to faculty:

  • Do your research on each faculty member's interests and current research activities.
  • Express yourself well in the initial email inquiry by making a reasonable argument for why you are the right person for this faculty member's lab.
    • A generic email saying you are interested in WEC is more likely to go unnoticed.
  • Email contact is best because professors are too busy to respond to phone call inquiries from all prospects.
    • Moreover, because research online can reveal faculty research programs and interests to prospective applicants, faculty do not feel obligated to save you time.
    • There are lots of prospects per faculty member and we will pursue prospects that stand out in some way.
  • Hastily prepared or generic emails exhibiting no knowledge of a faculty member's area of expertise are likely to be ignored.
  • Faculty will often call you back, however, after they have reviewed an interesting email inquiry that you have put some thought and research into preparing.
  • Remember, graduate students are scholarly partners for faculty to collaborate with on shared projects; therefore, faculty members look for signs of talent and motivation.

KEEP IN MIND
When you do all of the above, you very often get this response - "You look like a great prospective student! I would take you, but I have no funding." At some point when all appropriate faculty have indicated there is no spot for you (this is common), then look at other programs; don't lose your window of opportunity to matriculate elsewhere.

More tips:

  • Be EARLY with your inquiries (September to December).
    • In theory, it is never too late to apply to WEC. But the main 'season' for admissions coincides with the schedule of commitment of various government monies to support graduate student training; this occurs between October and March (for the next Fall).
    • Most admissions and funding packages for graduate students in WEC are worked out by February or March because the majority of graduate students in WEC are supported on funding packages that include some level of government funding in the form of matching assistantships and fellowships.
    • Other opportunities occur on fully grant-funded projects that faculty can hire for at any time of year. Faculty will post these positions on the website or on electronic jobs boards nationally and internationally; so keep an eye out for them, and include inquiries to faculty concerning grant-funded opportunities upcoming.
  • Present yourself professionally, as graduate school is professional training, not just extended undergraduate learning. Inquiries that say things like "I've always wanted to visit Brazil, and I see that you work there..." as justification for why we should take you as a graduate student will probably close the door.
  • No matter how badly you want to work with Professor X in WEC/UF, be mature enough to have a plan B! (Plans C, D, and E are also smart to have lined up!)

NOTE
In WEC, a prospect can submit an application, but no one will look at it and no response will be sent the applicant unless a faculty member becomes interested. The prospect is responsible for generating that interest and cultivating a partnership with a faculty member.

Other critical pieces of the puzzle:

FUNDING is FUNDAMENTAL::
To be admitted, a graduate student in WEC will need to have a support package including tuition, fees, and stipend, using academically linked funding in the form of Fellowships, Assistantships, and/or Grants. Funding packages arise from collaborations between your advisor, UF/WEC, and you.

  • Prospects can help coalesce necessary funding by applying for fellowships and other sources of funding that are available to them.
    • Spend some time learning about the following kinds of opportunities:
      • NSF Graduate Fellowships,
      • EPA STAR fellowships,
      • McKnight Fellowships.
    • These represent premier programs independent of UF that students can pursue to fund their graduate work.
  • Varied UF programs offer fellowships that prospects can collaborate with faculty to obtain.
    • UF Graduate School Fellowships,
    • Tropical Conservation and Development fellowships and assistantships, et al.
    • Explore UF websites for these helpful opportunities.
  • Self-funded students supported entirely on non-academically-linked monies are discouraged in many labs (for a variety of reasons).

TEST SCORES and GRADES MATTER:
Graduate school is advanced academic training. In a nutshell, graduate school at the MSc level trains you how to obtain new knowledge through organized scientific approaches. If you seek a PhD, you should have a driving interest and capability to become proficient in applying rigorous scientific procedures, integrating knowledge across disciplines, and developing and testing theory in order to advance human understanding. If your interests do not lie in these pursuits, or if you lack a healthy dose of independent motivation, then graduate school might not be for you. During the application process, we weigh indicators of your abilities and motivation to excel in academia rather heavily. Written expression, quantitative problem solving (GRE) and overall academic performance (GPA) are the main indicators we use, although experience, enthusiasm, and advanced skills of various kinds can weigh in your favor.

GRE scores:
All applicants must take the Verbal and Quantitative GRE Exam, this is a University of Florida Graduate School requirement. GRE Subject Tests are not required. The UF Graduate School and WEC do not have a minimum Quantitative GRE score requirement for admission.  According to UF Graduate School policy, applicants with GRE verbal scores below 140 (10th percentile) can be conditionally admitted with final approval from the Graduate School (http://gradcatalog.ufl.edu/content.php?catoid=10&navoid=2019).

TOEFL scores:
INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: All International MS & PhD applicants must meet current UF Graduate School Verbal GRE score requirements (320 Verbal on tests taken prior to 8/2011 or 140 Verbal (10thpercentile) on tests taken 8/2011 onward). If English is not the native language, a score of 550 (paper based) or 80 (web based) or more on the TOEFL (for MS or PhD program) is also required. If the student’s earned bachelor’s or master's degree is from an English-speaking institution, the TOEFL is not required.

GPA in Previous College Work:
The UF Graduate School (and WEC) requires a 3.0 GPA or higher for admission. Applicants calculate their own grade point averages by following instructions given while completing their online UF Graduate Admission Application Form. This GPA is to include all grades and credits, starting after the term where the applicant reached 60 semester hours or 90 quarter hours.

Applicants with top scores have an easier time throughout graduate school:

  • No petitions for admission are needed.
  • Competitive awards you can apply for after you are admitted (inside and outside of UF) will be easier to get.
  • It is worth it (in real $) to study hard for exams, consider re-taking GRE/TOEFL to overcome sub-minimum scores, and to work to keep your GPA up.

EXPERIENCE ALSO MATTERS:
Previous work experience in the field and in universally important positions (like supervisory positions or those with extra responsibility and training) is always a plus.

  • Completion of an undergraduate thesis, and especially one that is published, is a strong point of any application, as are letters of recommendation from researchers who have worked with you on projects.
  • Demonstrated proficiency with skills of note is important (e.g., field work under extreme conditions, database management, foreign languages, mathematical modeling, computer programming, oral presentation, Peace Corp/military experience).
  • While these things can make your application very desirable, satisfying the academic minimum scores and grades is required. Poor scores and grades cannot be overcome by being worldly!

Questions after reading this?

  • Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator (Dr. Sieving; chucao@ufl.edu).

Deadlines

We consider applications for graduate admission every semester of the academic year. WEC does not have a fixed application deadline. If you are a US citizen, we strongly advise that you submit a complete application at least two months prior to the term for which you are seeking admission. For example, apply by June 1 for Fall term admission. International applicants should submit a complete application at least five months prior to the term for which they seek admission, so that there is enough time to receive their student visa following admission.

WEC will keep your prospective student file active in the Department for one year from the date on which you pay your $30.00 application fee to the UF Admissions Office.

How the WEC Admission Decision Process Works

Prospective students should read the Guidelines for Prospective MS and PhD Students from Dr. Katie Sieving and our Letter to Prospective Graduate Students before submitting an application for admission. Graduate applications are submitted online through http://www.admissions.ufl.edu/. Once your application is submitted, two UF units evaluate your application to the UF Graduate School: (1) the UF Office of Admission, which determines your eligibility for admission to the university and to the Graduate School, and (2) the department you select for your graduate studies program, which determines your eligibility for its graduate program and from which you have secured your graduate advisor. If you are a non-US applicant, the UF International Center also evaluates your application after admission to determine your eligibility for a student visa.

Each of these units needs specific materials from you to make an admission decision. Please make sure you promptly send the materials listed below to each of the correct units, so that your application is not held up by lack of information or missing required documents.

Click here for application instructions and materials http://www.admissions.ufl.edu/.

What You Send to the UF Office of Admission

Mailing Address
UF Office of Admissions 
POB 114000 (201 Criser Hall)
Gainesville, FL 32611-4000 
USA

Send these materials to the UF Office of Admission: 
— UF Graduate Application form (submitted online)
— Application fee payment ($30 in US funds, nonrefundable) 
— Official test scores (GRE, TOEFL) sent electronically to UF Office of Admissions by testing agency
— Official transcripts from all previous colleges/universities attended* sent electronically or by mail to UF Office Admissions by schools attended
— Florida residency affidavit (part of the UF Graduate Application form, submitted online) 
— Conduct declaration (part of the UF Graduate Application form, submitted online)

International students: If your transcripts are not written in English, you must also send official English translations of them to the UF Office of Admissions. International students must also send copies of all diplomas/certificates earned. If these diplomas/certificates are not written in English, you must also send official English translations of them to the UF Office of Admissions.

What You Send to the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

Mailing Address
Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation
University of Florida 
POB 110430 (110 Newins-Ziegler Hall)
Gainesville, Fl. 32611-0430
Attn:  Claire Williams

Send these materials to the UF Department of Wildlife Ecology  and Conservation: 
— Test scores (GRE, TOEFL) - You may email a copy of your score report to ccwillia@ufl.edu
— Transcripts from all previous colleges/universities attended* - You may email a copy of your transcripts to ccwillia@ufl.edu
— Statement of Purpose - You may email this statement to ccwillia@ufl.edu
— Resume or Curriculum Vitae - You may email this to ccwillia@ufl.edu.
— Three (3) Letters of Recommendation - It's best to use the online recommendation process provided through your UF Graduate Application, since these recommendations will be matched to your application when the reviewer completes and returns them. However, if necessary, your references can email their statements directly to ccwillia@ufl.edu .

International students: If your transcripts are not written in English, you must also send official English translations of them. International students must also send copies of all diplomas/certificates earned. If these diplomas/certificates are not written in English, you must also send official English translations of them.

What You Send to the UF International Center

Mailing Address
UF International Center 
POB 113225 (1765 Stadium Road, Suite 170 Hub) 
Gainesville FL 32611-3225 
USA

Once an international student is admitted, the UF International Center will contact you regarding your visa and other entry paperwork. You will work directly with an advisor in the UFIC to complete this information. If you are a non-US applicant, send your Certification of Financial Responsibility form to the UF International Center at the mailing address on the form, and other documentation as needed.

Application Fee

There is a nonrefundable $30 application fee to submit an UF online graduate application. You can pay this fee online by credit card or via mail with a bank check made payable to the "University of Florida." Payment must be in US funds. Your application will not be processed without this fee payment. The university cannot waive or defer this fee, except for participants in designated sponsored programs. (DO NOT SEND THE $30.00 APPLICATION FEE TO THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION.)

Test Score Codes

The University of Florida's school code for submission of GRE and TOEFL scores is 5812. (The Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation does not have a separate code, use 5812 in your application.)

Other Useful Information

These links will provide useful information to help you prepare for graduate school and navigate the application process smoothly: 
Department Contacts 
Educational Testing Service (GMAT, GRE, TOEFL, TSE) 
Florida Residency Requirements 
UF International Center 
UF Graduate School
UF Graduate Catalog
UF College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
UF Office of Admissions

If you have additional questions about the admission process for the Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation's graduate studies program, please feel free to contact Ms. Claire Williams, ccwillia@ufl.edu.