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Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

Wildlife Ecology and Conservation department

DWEC Graduate Program Admissions Information

Admissions Information: All Degrees

For all graduate degrees, students must have an earned Bachelor's degree and a minimum GPA of 3.0 or better.  

WEC no longer uses GRE scores for determining admissions petitions, awards of merit or allocations of resources to graduate students. We have implemented a Holistic Admissions Review process for our research degree (MSc/PhD with thesis/dissertation) applicants (see below). 

However, the University of Florida Graduate School Graduate Record Exam (GRE) requirements are not the same. Currently, MSc applicants are not required to submit GRE scores as part of the application process, but all PhD applicants are required to submit GRE (Verbal and Quantitative) scores (but not GRE Subject Tests), unless the applicant already has an MSc degree completed. According to UF Graduate School policy, applicants with GRE verbal scores below 140 (10th percentile) require approval from the Graduate School for admission to the program (

Some Preliminaries:

Non-thesis MSc Applicants! Please skip down to Admission Process: Non-Research MSc Degrees

Money!  For research degrees assistantship stipends are usually awarded on a 0.40-0.50 FTE basis and currently pay $20,000-$25,000 annually, but alternative assistantship structures and salaries are sometimes possible, depending on the source of funding. The nature of appointments vary, but many include coverage of tuition. Some appointments require teaching, and this will be clear in your letter of offer. A limited number of additional assistantships may be awarded beyond an original appointment, generally to support only one or two semesters, enabling a student to complete a degree or to meet special teaching needs in the department.

Your professional life as a graduate assistant can be thought of as a pie in thirds: 1/3 time you work for UF (your advisor, as a TA, etc.), 1/3 time you excel in courses and coalesce non-research aspects of your degree program, and 1/3 time you are expected to conduct thesis research. Pay-scales are modest, but updated regularly to meet national standards. Remember, the added values are substantive and real if not all quantifiable. You are getting a degree, receiving advanced training in current approaches, connecting with life-long mentors, earning recommendations to future employers, and developing interpersonal and professional skills through collaboration with your peers, teachers, and colleagues. Scientific endeavors are supported principally by public resources, and the majority of graduate stipends derives from the taxes of US citizens. Therefore, your graduate training should be considered an apprenticeship in public service. If you need a lot of money immediately, graduate school is not for you.

Timing! Theoretically, students can be admitted to WEC at any time of year as faculty seek new students when they receive grants and project funding.  However, if you are just beginning to look for graduate programs, we recommend that you start the process of contacting faculty (here or elsewhere) 6-12 months before the term that you intend to start graduate school. It takes time to prepare for each contact and discussion, and you may need to have several conversations with prospective faculty before you find a lab that suits you and can support you. For a Fall term admission, you should begin your search in the previous Fall / early Spring for matriculation the following Fall, and in the Spring / Summer for matriculation in the following Spring. You should know that the majority of state monies allocated by the University to graduate student support in WEC for each Fall term, are already dedicated to incoming students for each Fall term during the previous Spring semester. If applying in response to an advertisement for a graduate position in a DWEC lab, then follow it's guidance. If selected, your application must be submitted within 2 months of your matriculation date (i.e., by June 1 for a Fall term admission). 

Keep in Mind! To enter the program, our process requires that a WEC faculty member have both funding and desire to take you as a student. Submitting an application to the department without contacting faculty will get no response.  In graduate school, you become a collaborator and research partner in pursuing new knowledge and in using science to solve real-world problems. Faculty seek students with talent, drive, commitment to self-improvement, a love of scholarship, and high standards of performance and ethics. Moreover, being able to convey a thoughtful, clear vision of how graduate training will serve your future goals is a necessity. Consider carefully whether you are ready for the pressures and fast pace of research training.


Admissions Process: Non-Research MSc Degrees 

Non-thesis online MSc degree in Wildlife Forensics.

Admission for this degree is handled through the Maples Center for Forensic Medicine. Please see this link,

Non-thesis MSc degree, on-campus program. If you are seeking admission to the MSc non-thesis degree in WEC (an on-campus program), then follow these steps.

Step 1) Contact the Graduate Coordinator to discuss finding a coursework advisor.

Dr. Katie Sieving / chucao 'at' ufl 'dot' edu / (352)-846-0569

Step 2) Complete your application as outlined below under UF Application Preparation and Submission. Contact Claire Williams ( to discuss the particulars of this process. 

A completed application for a non-thesis MSc degree is comprised of the

(a) UF online application,

(b) 1 essay (the Personal Statement in the UF application; written according to the directions below),

(c) 3 letters of recommendation and

(d) an annotated CV (see below).

Admissions Process: Research MSc and PhD Degrees 

In Brief

Step 1) Research your interests, search for and then connect with a faculty member who agrees to be your advisor.

Step 2) You apply to UF/DWEC when the time is right.

A completed application for a research degree is comprised of the

(a) UF online application,

(b) 3 essays (2 prepared for the inquiry email, and the Personal Statement in the UF application),

(c) 3 letters of recommendation,

(d) an annotated CV (see below), and

(e) either a videoconferenced or in-person interview with your prospective advisor.

Step 3) Your advisor must complete a holistic review process with you, including an in-person interview or an online video-conference, and assemble a funding package to support you for 2 years (MSc) or at least 4 years (PhD). 

Step 4) You receive an offer letter, and then you matriculate in a term agreeable to you and your advisor. 

A Holistic Admissions Process: In Detail

Here, we guide you through our department’s holistic application and review process.  In order to assess a broad spectrum of each applicant's skills, experiences, and personal strengths, we now ask for more information from you, and hope that you take the time to consider your options and potential mentors carefully as well.  Applicants should pay close attention to this guide to become educated about the process and to present their talents and interests clearly. 

Step 1: Review WEC research & graduate programs. (a) Read WEC Faculty webpages to identify one or more labs/faculty that matches your interests. (b) Consider how the research described could help you advance toward the next steps in your career, after getting the degree you seek. Be thorough. (c) For example, find recent journal or popular articles produced by faculty and their lab members and read them for methods, content, and application. (d) If the information is available, see where graduates from the lab have gone. Finally, (e) explore the appropriate WEC Graduate Student Handbook to know the requirements you will need to fulfill for the degree you seek.

Step 2: Contact with Faculty. When you have identified and prioritized the labs you like, then prepare the following 3 types of materials (A-C) in the requested format. 

A) Your curriculum vita (CV)

In addition to the standard information in a CV, please make sure that you list and briefly describe all important (a) research experience (whether volunteer or paid), (b) non-research volunteer work experience and (c) paid work experiences you have had since your previous degree in the following way, if any.  Under each entry, briefly:

  • state the goals of the research or function of the position,
  • state the major responsibilities,
  • list the major activities performed,
  • indicate average # of hours per week &
  • the total # of weeks/months you were engaged in each experience.

For each experience, or in a separate section, note substantive presentations made (oral or written) and the audience / venue for each substantive presentation. Note any publications resulting from your experiences. All of this information should be easy to find and presented in an orderly fashion. A section of your CV should also note any skills you have acquired over your research/work experience (e.g., experience with specific software or programming languages, writing training, teaching certifications, wildland training or certifications in CPR, diving, etc.).

B) Two essays

To help both you and prospective advisors to find the right match, your first contact with faculty should include the following two essays. Your essay should include the essay topic (as written below) followed by your essay.  Your essay, not including the topic header, should adhere to the word limit. 

Essay 1: Expository writing on a science topic.  

Suppose you have been involved in a discussion that addresses one of the topics below. Select one topic and in 500 words, demonstrating your best writing skills, design a clear strategy that demonstrates how you will portray, support or counter the position you take about your selected topic. Consider your experiences. The essay should be convincing, factually accurate, and your strategy valid and defensible. Consider all sides of the issue.

  • Use of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) in the environment
  • Ban on importation of exotic reptile species for the US pet trade
  • Human-assisted migration of rare species to accommodate range shifts under climate change
  • Extermination (via lethal methods) of non-native animals (pigs, horses, goats, rats) in areas with endangered species (islands)
  • Imposing leash laws (and their enforcement) on free-ranging dogs to reduce their harassment of wildlife in developing countries

Essay 2: Professional motivation and resilience.

In 500 words demonstrating your best writing skills, explain how your academic and personal history has prepared you for graduate work in a scientific discipline. This is an honest self- appraisal, not a personal advertisement. Discuss your strengths, and areas for improvement in attaining the skill-set you seek. Elaborate on experiences that demonstrate your understanding of coping skills when challenges arise, and your follow-through in the pursuit of excellence.

C) Email inquiry letter.

Prepare a one-paragraph, well-written email message to explain your interest in the faculty member’s lab.  Catch their attention with skills and interests that would make you valuable to their research program.  Demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about and genuinely interested in their research.  Indicate how training in their lab will help attain your future goals. Show you have an understanding of the graduate program requirements. Make sure your contact information is easy to find on your CV or in the message body.

Step 3: Contact faculty.

For each person you contact,

  • send an email with Prospective (MSc or PhD) Student in the header,
  • your one-paragraph inquiry letter in the message body,
  • and 2 attachments (CV annotated as above, and both essays together in one PDF document).

Step 4: How to proceed…

  • IF the faculty member responds with interest, then provide any requested information, engage in discussion, and seek to schedule a video conference interview (e.g., Skype, Zoom) with the faculty member. An in-person or online interview is a requirement. You should expect to discuss funding issues, timing, research ideas, and you should be prepared to ask questions about the lab, other student’s work (and their contact information). We strongly recommend that you contact other members of the faculty’s lab and ask them about their graduate experience. To be admitted to the program, you must have a source of funding for salary and tuition, so discuss with the faculty member what funding they can provide. If you have applied for fellowships from outside of UF, let them know. You must meet the UF requirements for graduate school (minimum GPA, language or GRE exams).  If you do not meet UF requirements, then the faculty member will need to prepare a petition, or else ask you to meet the requirements before applying again.  After substantive discussions, your admittance may not happen for a number of reasons (lack of funding is the usual one).  Factor that into your plans and have your back up “Plan B” lined up.
  • IF you do not get a response within a week or 10 days, then re-send your inquiry once, maybe twice. If still no response comes back, then you should move on and engage other faculty. If there is no money or place for you in WEC labs, you should leave time to apply to other programs (departments, universities) before your window to matriculate closes.

Step 5: IF you and your prospective advisor agree on your admittance, then prepare and submit your UF Graduate Application materials as follows (if you have not already done so). 

The UF Graduate School Application requires a Personal Statement. DWEC requires that you follow these guidelines in preparing this Personal Statement.

UF Graduate Application - Personal Statement Guidelines:

  • In 500 words using your best writing abilities, summarize your academic experience thus far: successes, challenges and overall performance. If you had gaps, withdrawals, failed courses or low academic workload, provide an explanation. Finally, assess strengths and weaknesses of your past coursework / degree area as preparation for graduate coursework in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation.


UF Application Preparation and Submission


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

Graduate applications are submitted online through 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

What You Send to the UF Office of Admission

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

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 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. 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 International Center

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

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,