Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture
Department Head: Dr. Andrew J. Kouba
Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Kevin M. Hunt
Forest Products Bldg. Room 1203
Mississippi State, MS 39762-9690
Telephone: (662) 325-0870
The Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department offers graduate education leading to the Master of Science in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture with emphases in wildlife ecology and management, fisheries ecology and management, and aquaculture.
A Ph.D. degree is offered in Forest Resources with a concentration in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture. A limited number of graduate research assistantships and fellowships are available. For additional information please contact the Graduate Coordinator.
The applicant for a master’s degree must hold a bachelor’s degree and must be sponsored by an extramurally funded research project. The applicant for the Ph.D. degree must hold a master’s degree and also is usually sponsored by an extramurally funded research project. It is strongly encouraged for the applicant to personally contact a professor within the department to discuss potential research opportunities. An applicant cannot be admitted to the department until a faculty member agrees to serve as a major professor. The applicant for the master’s program must have taken the general Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and a) have a minimum GPA of 3.00 out of 4.00 for the last 60 semester hours of undergraduate academic work, or b) have an overall undergraduate GPA above 3.00 and achieved a GPA greater than 2.75 out of 4.00 for the last 60 semesters hours of undergraduate academic work. An applicant for the Ph.D. program must have an M.S. degree, a minimum GPA of 3.20 out of 4.00 on all prior graduate studies (excluding research or thesis credits), and must have taken the general GRE. Official transcripts of undergraduate and graduate work, GRE, and TOEFL or IELTS scores (if appropriate) should be sent to the Graduate School.
An applicant who has not fully met the GPA requirement stipulated by the University may be admitted on a provisional basis. A student entering on a provisional basis (available only for master’s students) is required to take three graduate courses (minimum of 9 hours) in the first regular fall or spring semester and make a grade of B or higher in each of these courses. These courses will be selected by the departmental Graduate Program Advisory Committee (GPAC) and will include ST 8114 or equivalent, but may not include special problem courses, directed individual study courses, or thesis research hours. No provisional probation courses can be scheduled with the student's major professor. Failure to meet the grade requirement will result in dismissal and loss of eligibility for readmission to this department’s graduate program. Students on provisional probation are not eligible for an assistantship and must cover their own tuition but may be paid wages equivalent to a base stipend..
Students must maintain a cumulative 3.00 GPA on all courses after admission to the graduate program. If a master’s student falls below a 3.00 cumulative GPA, he/she will be placed on probation for the next fall or spring semester. Probation courses will be selected by the GPAC and will include two 8000-level courses and one 6000 course if available. No special topics courses, directed individual study courses, or thesis research hours can be used toward probation. No probation courses can be scheduled with the student's major professor. A master’s student admitted under normal circumstances (not provisional) will be allowed only one probationary semester. If a student is admitted on a provisional basis, he/she will be allowed one probationary semester beyond that point. If grades do not meet the required B or better in each course taken, the student will be dismissed from the program. The department has an appeal process in the event the student wishes to file an appeal. A doctoral student falling below a 3.00 cumulative average after admission to the program will be immediately dismissed from the program unless the student’s committee justifies an exception which is reviewed by the departmental GPAC and then approved by the department head.
All graduate students are expected to know and comply with University, departmental, and subject-area requirements. Failure to comply satisfactorily with all requirements may seriously affect the student and, in some cases, may lead to termination of assistantships or dismissal from the graduate program in this department.
Program of Study/Completion Requirements
Prior to submitting the formal program of study to the graduate coordinator, the student’s graduate committee and major professor will be selected and officially appointed in consultation with the student. A Committee Request Form must be completed by the student with committee members’ signatures and submitted to the graduate coordinator within the first 12 months of enrollment. If, during the course of a student’s tenure, his/her research direction changes, it may be necessary to change the members of the graduate committee or the student’s advisor. Such changes must be submitted on a change of committee request form.
Master of Science graduate committees must include at least three members of the graduate faculty, including the major professor and a minor professor if required.
A Ph.D. student’s committee will include the major professor as chairperson, who must be from the department and hold a graduate faculty appointment, at least three committee members from the student's major field of interest, and a minor committee member if required.
The graduate committee and the master’s student will meet during the student’s first 12 months of work to prepare the program of study. This is followed by a mandatory seminar regarding the proposed research plan. The graduate committee and the Ph.D. student will meet during the student’s first 12 months to prepare the program of study. Students must complete this form with the help of his/her major professor and concurrence of his/her graduate committee. A doctoral student’s program of study is required in the Graduate School when the preliminary/comprehensive examination is scheduled. The program of study will be kept in the department head’s office and forwarded to the Graduate School during the student’s last semester of coursework. The Committee Request Form, Program of Study, and Proposal for both master's and Ph.D. students must be signed and submitted to the graduate coordinator within the first 12 months of work, or a departmental hold will be placed on the student's account.
The Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture allows graduate students outside of the graduate program in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture to obtain a minor at either the master's or doctoral level. The minor may be in one of three subject areas: aquaculture, fisheries, or wildlife. If a minor is chosen, the student's graduate committee must include a representative from the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture to serve as the minor professor, approve all coursework (B or better in 9 hours graduate-level coursework the M.S.; B or better in 12 hours graduate-level hours for the Ph.D.) that is applied towards the minor, and administer the minor examination. Once minor coursework is approved by the graduate committee it must be reviewed and approved by the WFA graduate coordinator. The minor exam (written, oral, or both) will be administered by the WFA minor committee member in combination with and using the same procedure as the major exam. The minor committee member will work with the student's instructors to determine appropriate subject areas for the exam. The minor professor is responsible for ensuring that the student demonstrates knowledge and understanding commensurate with a M.S. or Ph.D. minor in addition to fulfilling the usual duties of a committee member. For more information on obtaining a graduate minor in WFA, please contact the WFA graduate coordinator.
Master of Science in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
|Graduate-level statistics course||3-4|
|WFA 8000||Thesis Research/ Thesis in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture||6|
A research proposal seminar, thesis defense and comprehensive oral examination are required.
Master of Science in Conservation Education
|Major Required Courses|
|Education and Leadership|
|WFA 8713||Program Development and Evaluation for Conservation Educators||3|
|WFA 8723||Conservation Education Outreach Techniques||3|
|WFA 8733||Conservation Leadership, Management, and Communication||3|
|WFA 6623||Conservation Biology||3|
|WFA 8743||Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation||3|
|WFA 8753||Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation||3|
|WFA 8763||Capstone Project for Conservation Education||3|
|Additional Electives as approved by WFA Graduate Degree Program Coordinator and MS Conservation Education Degree Coordinator||9|
In addition to coursework, all students will be required to take a final comprehensive exam.
Prerequisites: BIO 1134 (or equivalent); BIO 1144 (or equivalent). The prerequisite courses, or their equivalent, must be completed before admission. A grade of C or better is required on all undergraduate prerequisite courses and must be completed at an accredited institution. A passing score on the Praxis II Biology exam would be accepted in lieu of the prerequisite courses for admission requirements.
Doctor of Philosophy in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
|WFA 9000||Dissertation Research /Dissertation in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture||20|
|Doctoral committee approved coursework 1||34|
¹The Ph.D. student is required to complete 54 hours past the bachelor's degree. Of the 54 hours, 20 hours must be WFA 9000 Dissertation Research hours. Of the remaining 34 hours, 24 hours must be graded coursework which is determined by the student's committee. 12 of these hours must be taken at MSU; the remaining 12 hours can be taken at MSU or can be transferred in from the students master’s institution. Additionally, 12 of these hours must be doctoral level courses (8000 level or equivalent). The remaining 10 hours can be any combination of graded coursework credits, dissertation research credits, or transfer credits.
The Ph.D. also requires a proposal defense, oral and written comprehensive preliminary examinations, a written dissertation and oral defense of the dissertation.
WFA 6113 Animal Behavior: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: WFA 3133, BIO 3104 or equivalent). Two hours lecture, two hours lab. Emphasizes applied approaches to the study of animal behavior. Covers fundamental principles, early studies in ethology, genetic, physiological and selective mechanisms, behavioral ecology, emerging field of conservation behavior, and integration of behavior into habitat management
WFA 6133 Fisheries Science: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: ST 3113 or equivalent). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Study of the biological parameters of fish populations
WFA 6173 Fish Physiology: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: BIO 1134 and BIO 1144 or consent of instructor).Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Basic anatomy and physiology of major systems in fish: integration of the physiological systems as they function during development, growth and maturation
WFA 6183 Principles and Practices of Aquaculture: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites: BIO 1134 and BIO 1144, or consent of instructor) Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory alternate weeks. Principles and practices of aquaculture applied to the farming of marine and freshwater species of fish, crustaceans, and mollusks throughout the world
WFA 6223 Wildlife Plant Identification: 3 hours.
WFA 6233 Limnology: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite:WFA 3133 or consent of instructor ). Two hour lecture. Four hours laboratory alternate weeks. The physical, chemical, and biological processes underlying the function and productivity of freshwater ecosystems. Laboratory skills required to evaluate freshwater ecosystems
WFA 6253 Application of Spatial Technologies to Wildlife and Fisheries Management: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: Sr. Standing or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory weekly. Practical application of Global Positioning Systems and Geographic Information Systems to Wildlife and Fisheries Management
WFA 6263 Wildlife Diseases: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: BIO 1134 and BIO 1144, or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Effects and management of parasites and diseases in wild bird and mammal populations. (Same as CVM 4263/6263)
WFA 6273 Ecology and Management of Human-Wildlife Conflicts: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: WFA 3133, or consent of instructor). Ecological principles and management approaches to resolve human-wildlife conflicts
WFA 6313 Fisheries Management: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: WFA 3133 or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Laboratories alternate weeks. Principles of fisheries management and methods for assessment and analysis of fish populations and aquatic habitats
WFA 6323 Wildlife Nutrition and Physiology: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: BIO1134 and BIO 1144, or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Nutrition and physiology of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife, with emphasis on understanding life history strategies and functional adaptations to habitat and environmental variation
WFA 6343 Pond and Stream Management: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: Junior or Senior standing or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory alternate weeks. Ecological foundations and management techniques for fisheries in small impoundments and streams
WFA 6353 Fish and Wildlife Policy and Law Enforcement: 3 hours.
Prerequisite: Sr. standing or consent of instructor). Three hours lecture. A survey of the major content areas of fish and wildlife policy and law enforcement. Emphahis is on the fundamentals of conservation policies and laws
WFA 6373 Principles and Practice of Conservation in Agriculture Landscapes: 3 hours.
Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Introduces theoretical background for ecological conservation in agricultural landscapes with focus on the role of USDA Farm Bill programs in achieving conservation goals
WFA 6383 Wetlands Ecology and Management: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: WFA 3133 and Junior Standing, or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Hydrology, soils and biogeochemistry of wetlands; structure and function of important wetland types; wetland management for wildlife and fisheries; wetland creation and restoration
WFA 6393 Urban Wildlife Ecology: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites: Junior or higher standing, Grade C or better in WFA 3133, and/or Instructor Consent). Three hours lecture. Investigations of traditional wildlife conservation, ecology and management principles as they pertain to urban environments with an emphasis on species natural histories and urban ecosystem characteristics
WFA 6394 Waterfowl Ecology and Management: 4 hours.
(Prerequisite: WFA 3133 and Junior standing, or consent of instructor). Three hours lecture. Four hours laboratory. Annual ecology of North American waterfowl, habitat and population ecology and management, waterfowl identification, field trips, management plan, and current issues
WFA 6483 Seminar in Tropical Biology: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites:WFA 3133 or consent of instructor ) One hour lecture. Four hours laboratory. An introduction to the composition and function of tropical ecosystems of the New World
WFA 6484 Upland Avian Ecology and Management: 4 hours.
(Prerequisites: WFA 3133 and WFA 4153 and Junior standing or consent of instructor). Three hours lecture. Four hours laboratory. The application of ecological principles to management of wildlife populations, focusing on avian species and communities inhabiting upland ecosystems
WFA 6494 Large Mammal Ecology and Management: 4 hours.
(Prerequisites: WFA 3133 and WFA 4153 and Junior standing). Three hours lecture. Four hours laboratory, alternate weeks. Ecological principles and applied methods used in the management of large mammals
WFA 6513 Current Topics in Human-Wildlife Interactions: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites: Junior or higher standing, Grade of C or better in WFA 3133, and/or Instructor Consent). Three hours lecture. Investigations and related discussions regarding current topics and past trends in human-wildlife interactions emphasizing the role of wildlife damage management by wildlife biologists
WFA 6613 Landscape Ecology: 3 hours.
Prerequisite (WFA 3133 and ST 3123 (or equivalents or consent of instructor). Two hours lecture, two hours lab. Foundational concepts and research methods of landscape ecology and application to ecology and management of natural resources
WFA 6623 Conservation Biology: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Theory and applications of conservation biology, measures of biodiversity, ecological geography, measures and treatments of decline
WFA 6633 Problem Solving in Conservation Biology: 3 hours.
(Pre-requisites: WFA-4623 or equivalent with instructor consent). Three hours lecture. Upper-level conservation biology course that builds on foundational concepts in lower-level courses in Conservation Biology. Focus on problem-solving of real-world conservation issues in a discussion, case-study, and in-class exercise format
WFA 6881 Current Topics in Conservation Biology: 1 hour.
(Prerequisites: WFA 3133, Applied Ecology and WFA 4623, Conservation Biology or consent of instructor). One hour lecture. A forum to discuss current literature and theory that advances the study of biodiversity and its application to conservation biology
WFA 6990 Special Topics in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture: 1-9 hours.
Credit and title to be arranged. This course is to be used on a limited basis to offer developing subject matter areas not covered in existing courses. (Courses limited to two offerings under one title within two academic years)
WFA 7000 Directed Individual Study in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture: 1-6 hours.
Hours and credits to be arranged
WFA 8000 Thesis Research/ Thesis in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture: 1-13 hours.
Hours and credits to be arranged
WFA 8134 Research Methods in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences: 4 hours.
(Prerequisites: Graduate standing, ST 8114). Three hours lecture. Four hours laboratory. Graduate level introduction to application of scientific methods to wildlife and fisheries ecology and management
WFA 8184 Advanced Population Ecology: 4 hours.
(Prerequisite: ST 8114 Statistical Methods or instructor consent). Three hours lecture. Two hours laboratory, weekly. Theory of vertebrate population ecology including population modeling, population regulation, competition, predation, and life history strategies. Statistical methods of population sampling and population parameter estimation
WFA 8212 Communication Skills in Wildlife and Fisheries: 2 hours.
(Prerequisite:Graduate student status in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries) Two hours lecture. Effective strategies for professional communication to scientific and lay audiences in the fields of wildlife, fisheries, and othe natural resources sciences and management
WFA 8223 Management of Impounded River Ecosystems: 3 hours.
(Prerequisite: WF 6313/4313 or equivalent). Three hours lecture. A survey of guidance and criteria for managing reservoirs and associated riverine environments to enhance fisheries. Focus is on managing fish and their environment
WFA 8273 Advanced Fisheries Management: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites: WFA 4133/6133 and WFA 4313/6313 or consent of instructor) Three hours lecture. Field exercises during spring break. Advanced treatment of the multidimensional aspects of fisheries management in a global setting with emphasis on setting realistic objectives and establishing appropriate strategy
WFA 8343 Concepts in Ecology and Natural Resource Management: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. A forum to discuss current literature and theory that advances the study of community ecology and its application to natural resource management
WFA 8344 Wildlife Habitat Analysis and Management: 4 hours.
(Prerequisite: BIO 4203. Three hours lecture. Four hours laboratory alternate weeks. Identification, ecology, analysis and management of plant communities of value to upland and wetland game species of North America
WFA 8413 Advanced Fishery Science: 3 hours.
(Prerequisites: WFA 4133/6133 and ST 3113, or equivalents). Two hours lecture. Two hours laboratory. Estimation and interpretation of vital statistics of fish populations: analysis of fishery data using computers; models for assessment of fish stocks
WFA 8423 Applied Bayesian Statistics in Ag/Natural Resources: 3 hours.
(Prerequisiste: ST 8114 and ST 8253 or consent of instructor ).Two hours lecture. Fours hours labaratory, alternate weeks. Bayesian statistics and Bayesian hierarchical models in wildlife, fishery, agricultural and other natural resource management applications
WFA 8433 Natural Resource and Conservation Decision Making: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Natural resource and conservation decision making including rapid prototyping of decision problems, structuring objectives, structured decision making, adaptive management, and relevant case studies of successful natural resource decision making. No prerequisite classes
WFA 8463 Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Theory, measurement and application of human dimensions in wildlife and fisheries conservation, with emphasis on how people value wildlife, how they want wildlife to be managed, and how they affect or are affected by wildlife and wildlife management decision making
WFA 8663 Movement Ecology: 3 hours.
[Prerequisite: ST 8114 or equivalent, or permission of instructor] Two hours lecture, two hours laboratory weekly. Principles of movement including displacement, path analysis, random walks and diffusion, home ranging, and habitat selection. Includes application to GPS and biologger data using Geographic Information Systems and Program R
WFA 8713 Program Development and Evaluation for Conservation Educators: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Development and evaluation of conservation education outreach programs and activities for varied audiences across; learning levels, abilities, and cultural environments
WFA 8723 Conservation Education Outreach Techniques: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Theory and practice for establishing effective conservation education and outreach programs
WFA 8733 Conservation Leadership, Management, and Communication: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Theory, best practices, and enhancement of skills in leadership, management, and communication for conservation educators with an emphasis on volunteer management but applicable to management of all organizational employees
WFA 8743 Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology, conservation and management matters of freshwater, tidal, and open ocean systems and application of knowledge to design and evaluate outreach educational materials related to aquatic systems
WFA 8753 Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation and management matters of terrestrial biomes and application of knowledge to design and evaluate outreach educational materials related to terrestrial systems
WFA 8763 Capstone Project for Conservation Education: 3 hours.
Three hours lecture. Preparation for final comprehensive exam and establishment of a conservation education entity partnership for development, delivery, and evaluation of a conservation education project
WFA 8990 Special Topics in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture: 1-9 hours.
WFA 9000 Dissertation Research /Dissertation in Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture: 1-13 hours.
Hours and credits to be arranged