Environmental Graduate Funding Update – 37 Assistantships

Below find the latest graduate assistantships and other funding opportunities posted across the web in the last week in ecology, conservation and related environmental fields.

Master’s  Opportunities

MS Student Position: Community Ecology, Landscape Ecology, and/or Ecosystem Ecology
Simon Fraser University | Burnaby, Canada
Program: Resource Management – MS
Study watersheds using geostatistical modeling of ecosystem function, data synthesis, and simulation-based modeling of landscapes and animal movement.

MS Student: Whip-poor-will Ecology and Behavior
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Champaign, Il
Program: Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology – MS
Research the behavior and demography of Whip-poor-wills in Illinois, relying on a combination of nocturnal surveys, radio telemetry, and nest monitoring.

MS Research Assistantship: Fisheries Biology
Iowa State University | Ames, IA
Program: Fisheries Biology – MS
Conduct research evaluating Invasive Carp reproductive success in the Upper Mississippi River.

MS Assistantship: Beaver Dams and Water Quality
Iowa State University | Ames, IA
Program: Forestry – MS
Quantify impacts of beaver dams on nutrient and sediment loading, hydrology, and stream channel morphology within agriculturally-dominated Iowa watersheds.


Graduate Research Assistants (3): Silver Carp
Murray State University | Murray, KT
Program: Biology – MS
Three assistantships are available to conduct research on Silver Carp in Kentucky Lake. Fieldwork will occur year-round in challenging conditions.

MS Position:  Tree Anatomy and Ecophysiology
University of Maine | Orono, ME
Program: Forest Resources – MS
Study xylem anatomy and tree ecophysiology to better understand how climate-change will impact northeastern forest trees.

UMass Graduate Student
University of Massachusetts Amherst | Amherst, MA
Program: Organismic & Evolutionary Biology – MS
Study the effects of soil amendments and pollinator plantings on native bees in log-landings on National Forests in the lower Midwest.

MS Assistantships: Multiple, Ecology and Toxicology
Missouri University of Science and Technology | Rolla, MO
Program: Applied and Environmental Biology – MS
MS Graduate assistants for Spring 2021 in toxicology, aquatic ecology, microbial ecology, microbiology and/or evolutionary ecology.

MS Student: Studying Beaver Mimicry
University of Montana | Missoula, MT
Program: Wildlife Biology – MS
Examine the influence of beaver mimicry on the structure and function of headwater streams and riparian food webs in western Montana.

MS Position: River Ecosystem Responses to Restoring Fish Migrations
Cornell University | Ithaca, NY
Program: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology – MS
Study the ecosystem consequences of restoring fish migrations into tributaries of the Great Lakes.

Graduate Student Assistantships(4): Environmental Education
Southern Oregon University | Ashland, OR
Program: Environmental Education – MS
Responsibilities may include managing the EE Office, developing activities and curricula, managing our Natural Science Kits, or working with area educators and environmental education providers.

MS Assistantship: Ecology of Migratory Ducks
Oregon State University | Corvallis, OR
Program: Wildlife Science – MS
Study the behavior of radio-tagged ducks during spring migration through the Southern Oregon Northeast California (SONEC) region in the Pacific Flyway.

MS Graduate Research Assistantship: Aquatic Turtle Ecology
University of Houston-Clear Lake | Houston, TX
Program: Biological Sciences – MS
Gain valuable field experience collecting environmental DNA (eDNA) and genetic samples, conducting herpetological field surveys and analyzing data directly related to species conservation and wildlife management, particularly related to Western Chicken Turtles and Alligator Snapping Turtles.

MS Assistantship: Urban Avian Ecology and Community Science
University of Texas at San Antonio | San Antonio, TX
Program: Biology – MS
1.Lead efforts to evaluate the effects of backyard bird feeding on the movements of birds in urban areas as part of a community science approach.
2. Assist with the recruitment of community scientists, especially through local schools.
3. Assist in the development and implementation of research instruments to evaluate the integrated model.

MSc Position: Research in the Ecology and Evolution of Carnivorous Plants
Texas Christian University | Fort Worth, TX
Program: Biology – MS
Work on projects related to the ecology and evolution of the pitcher plant, Sarracenia alata.

MS Position: Behavioral Ecology and Conservation
William & Mary University | Williamsburg, VA
Program: Biology – MS
Recruiting new research Masters students in areas of behavioral ecology and applied conservation science, to start in Fall 2021.

MS Position: Walleye-Salmonid Interactions in Wyoming Reservoirs
University of Wyoming | Laramie, WY
Program: Zoology & Physiology – MS
Evaluate the walleye consumption of stocked salmonids through diet and stable isotope analyses and bioenergetic modeling.

Master’s & Doctorate  Opportunities

MS or PhD Graduate Research Assistant
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Fisheries – MS
Examine the interactions and spread of native and non-native crayfishes. The position requires rigorous field sampling and developing relationships between the distribution of native and non-native species.

Graduate Assistantships: Metabolic Ecology, Biodiversity or Macroecology
University of Kentucky | Lexington, KT
Program: Biology – MS
Potential themes include
1. Metabolic theory of life history including field and comparative
2. Biogeography and conservation of island and montane biodiversity
3. Urban biodiversity and the importance of scale
4. Human macroecology and sustainability.

Interdisciplinary MS or PhD: Conservation Science
University of Maine | Orono, ME
Program: Wildlife Ecology – MS
Integrate biophysical and social sciences in collaborative, engaged, and solutions-driven research, professional development, and coursework on resilient conservation of natural resources.

MS or PhD Position: Study Habitat Management in Michigan Prairie Fens
Central Michigan University | Mount Pleasant, MI
Program: Biology – MS
Design, implement, and assess habitat management in prairie fens with the goal of maintaining and growing populations of Poweshiek skipperling.

Doctorate  Opportunities

PhD Position: Modeling Extrinsic Factors in Shaping Forest Dynamics
University of Alabama | Tuscaloosa, AL
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Use process models to evaluate the importance of various extrinsic factors in shaping forest dynamics and quantify linkages among possible drivers (climate, edaphic conditions, management, and disturbance) and outputs (forest composition and structure, biomass pools, C, water, nutrient, and energy fluxes).

PhD Assistantship: White-Tailed Deer Movement and Social Structure
Trent University | Ontario, Canada
Program: Environmental and Life Sciences – PhD
Work on a large, multi-faceted field project with the primary focus on quantifying potential spread of chronic wasting disease in Ontario’s landscapes.

PhD Position: Marine Movement, Diet and Nutritional State of Nunatsiavut Arctic Char in a Changing Climate
Memorial University of Newfoundland | St. John’s, Canada
Program: Physics and Physical Oceanography – PhD
Study char marine movement patterns as determined by biotelemetry, and the linkages with seasonal changes in diet and nutritional status as determined by amino acid stable isotope and fatty acid analyses.

PhD Student: Entomology and Wildlife Ecology
University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
Program: Zoology – PhD
Investigate the efficacy of spatial repellents (and other interventions) to protect white-tailed deer fawns from flies that transmit pathogenic Orbiviruses (Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus and Bluetongue Virus).

PhD Position: Evolutionary Biology
University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
Program: Zoology – PhD
Study the evolutionary interplay of behavior and morphology, often focusing on sexual selection.

PhD Position: Grassland Ecosystem Services and Climate Resilience
University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
Program: Interdisciplinary Ecology – PhD
Focus on managed grasslands in Florida where prior research has revealed long-term enrichment of phosphorus in soils, which, especially when interacting with extreme precipitations, could compromise downstream water quality and associated ecosystem services.


PhD Research Assistantship: Fisheries Biology
Iowa State University | Ames, IA
Program: Fisheries Biology – PhD
Research will evaluate the ability of physical barriers to mitigate the escapement of Walleye and Muskellunge from reservoirs.

PhD Positions (2): Harmful Algal Blooms Effects on Fisheries and People in Lake Victoria
Cornell University | Ithaca, NY
Program: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – PhD
Study of how harmful algal blooms affect fisheries from human, fish, and ecosystem perspectives.

PhD Assistantship: Wildlife Genomics 
North Carolina State University | Raleigh, NC
Program: Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology – PhD
Study urban and disease adaptation in raccoons and eastern woodrat genomics.

PhD Position: Quantitative Human Dimensions of Wildlife – Valuation of Wildlife Management Areas in the Southeast
North Carolina State University | Raleigh, NC
Program: Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology – PhD
Estimate the market and non-market value of wildlife management areas by studying how they impact tourism, real-estate values, and ecosystem services in the southeastern United States.

PhD Assistantship: Rangeland Wildlife Ecology
North Dakota State University | Fargo, ND
Program: Range Science – PhD
Investigate the influence of four different grazing management practices that vary in the spatial and temporal use of fire and grazing on the habitat quality of breeding songbirds.

PhD Position: Arctic Food Web Ecology
UiT The Arctic University of Norway | Tromsø, Norway
Program: Arctic and Marine Biology – PhD
Research focus of the 3-year post-doc position is on food web ecology of the seafloor ecosystem in the northern Barents Sea and adjacent Arctic Basin. The approach will include use of trophic markers such as stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes and fatty acids.

PhD Position: Marine Mammal Reproductive Biology- South Texas
Texas A&M University Corpus Christi | Corpus Christi, TX
Program: Marine Biology – PhD
use innovative techniques to explore the biomechanics of genital and sperm interactions in cetaceans.

PhD Research Assistant: Wildlife Ecology
Utah State University | Logan, UT
Program: Wildlife Biology – PhD
Develop a bioenergetic model for Great Salt Lake and its marshes that can compare energy needs of avian populations to energy production by GSL habitat.

PhD Assistantship: Amphibian Disease Ecology
University of Vermont | Burlington, VT
Program: Natural Resources – PhD
Research community disease ecology in an amphibian system. While the general theme of the project is defined, the successful candidate will co-develop research questions based on their interests.

PhD Position: Energy Flow through Great Lakes Food Webs
University of Wyoming | Laramie, WY
Program: Ecology – PhD
Design and conduct research to quantify the relative importance of multiple energy pathways to Great Lakes prey fish.

Career Advice

11 Reasons to Join a Conservation Corps

Do you dream of doing exciting and important work in an environmental field? Serving with a conservation corps can provide you skills and direction to turn that dream into reality.

What is a Conservation Corps?

Conservation corps are organizations that serve communities by helping to protect and sustainably manage natural resources. Young adults and veterans can serve with a corps program for a set term, generally from 3 months to a year, and gain real-world work experience.

Working with conservation corps can earn you a living stipend and education award. It can also help launch your environmental career.

Want to see if there are programs near you? Check out the Corps Network to find a conservation corps in your state or region. You can also search websites like Conservation Job Board to find specific positions that conservation corps are advertising. 

So how can a conservation corps benefit you? Check out our top 11 reasons below to learn more.

1. Ecological Literacy

Photo courtesy of the Nevada Conservation Corps

If you want a  conservation career, ecological literacy is a must. A service term with a conservation corps is a great place to build a foundation of knowledge in ecology, especially in the region where you hope to work. The Nevada Conservation Corps for example teaches through a combination of field research and direct conservation work. The crew not only instructs their corps members on how to thin forests but educates them on why they are thinning. Other popular topics they cover include biological surveys, exotic species control, and trail maintenance.

2. Networking

Slough Creek Puncheon, Yellowstone National | Park Photo Credit: Alyson Morris

Professional connections are more important today than ever before. In a corps you have the opportunity to connect with leadership, the personnel at your host site, organizational partners and of course, fellow corps members. These contacts, if nurtured appropriately, can continue to serve you years later. As a two-term conservation corps alum myself, I can personally speak to the benefits. Because of my service terms, I have friends in the conservation field all across the US and strong mentors. I even landed a few jobs as a direct result of my network.

3. Job Opportunities

Photo courtesy of Conservation Corps Minnesota and Iowa

Break into the tough environmental job market by serving with a conservation corps. The experience will not only look great on a resume, but it’s not uncommon for host sites to hire their service members. Shane DeGroy served three separate terms with Conservation Legacy, Conservation Corps Minnesota & Iowa, and Minnesota Green Corps. After his last term he was hired by his host organization, the Hennepin County Forestry Program. Read about his and other CCMI alumni experiences.


4. Technical Skills

Photo courtesy of the California Conservation Corps

The mission of a conservation corps is to empower youth to become stewards of the environment. To do that successfully, these programs provide technical skills training in a variety of topic areas. Not only will these skills help you stand out when applying for jobs but they can also help you achieve success in your future positions. Below we list a few specialized trainings offered through the California Conservation Corps that are fairly universal across many corps programs.

  Flood Fighting Techniques

 Plant Identification

Trail Construction & Maintenance

♦  Emergency Camp Support

♦  Firefighting Techniques

♦  Forestry/Fire Hazard Reduction

♦  Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response

♦. Trail Structures

♦  Construction & Trades

♦  Chainsaw Safety

♦  Tree-Climbing Safety


5. Communication Skills

Strong communication skills are important in all aspects of life. While serving with a corps you often work alongside other members and professionals at the federal, state and local levels. In these roles, you hone “soft skills” like verbal and written communication. Specialized internship programs, like Individual Placement Programs, heavily emphasize these types of professional social skills.

Lucinda Morris, Big Sky Watershed Corps member 2016-2017 | Photo Credit: Nick Franz, Wildlife Conservation Society

The Big Sky Watershed Corps in Montana is an individual placement program run through the Montana Conservation Corps. Their members participate in communication workshops and attend a number of professional conferences that help them bolster their communication skills. 


“I thoroughly enjoyed my term of service with BSWC, it was both challenging and rewarding. I was definitely pushed to a level of a professional standard above any time previously in my life. This personal growth has prepared me to enter the workforce as more than just a laborer by introducing me to a level of responsibility and expectation that I would guess many people my age do not experience. I don’t think I would have been able to find my place here without the connections this program fostered. I would consider myself to have developed into an entirely new person, one that my previous self could hardly have dreamed of.”
-BSWC Member



6. Leadership

Corps members often leave their programs feeling more confident in taking leadership roles. When you serve with a corps program you can work alongside people from different regions, religions, ethnicities, races, socioeconomic statuses and political backgrounds. These programs show how much diverse groups can accomplish with a united goal. This perspective is incredibly powerful in recognizing the ability to make change.

Many conservation corps place a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion. For example, the Northwest Youth Corps offers programs that engage Native American, LGBTQ, and Deaf/Hard of Hearing youth and young adults. The organization also has youth and young adult programs for all the communities it serves.

Photo courtesy of Kupu Hawaii

The Conservation Leadership Development program at Kupu in Hawaii is another program that offers rigorous and empowering experiences for those looking for careers in environmental conservation. They have a great video that summarizes their corps experience and provides testimonials of program alumni.

7. Career Insight

Photo courtesy of NOAA Fisheries

Conservation corps provide opportunities to “try out” different careers and find professional direction. Sarah V, alumni with the GulfCorps crew, a program run by the Texas Conservation Corps, understands this well. After completing her degree in environmental biology and English she was unsure what to do. Her experience with the Corps provided her with additional skills and direction as she discovered her passion for ecology. Read more about her term experience and other TXCC alumni


8. Work Experience

The struggle with landing entry-level jobs is that many employers want you to have some relevant experience. But how can you gain experience if you are unable to get a job? Fortunately, serving in a conservation corps can help you overcome this obstacle. Whether you are just out of high school or a recent graduate, serving in a conservation corps will give you environmental field experience that can set you apart from other candidates. And the best part is you don’t NEED experience to work for a conservation corps.

Photo Credit: David Kallenbach

The Student Conservation Association offers programs for teenagers 15-19.  Most traditional field crews are 18-25 and if you are interested in more of an internship experience there are a number of individual placement opportunities, that are generally for those 21 and up (these often require a bachelor’s degree before you can enroll). 

9. Education Award

Upon completion of an Americorps term, members receive Segal Americorps Education Awards. You can use this money to pay for college, graduate school, vocational training or towards existing student loans. The award amount will depend on the length of time you served. 

Learn more on the Americorps site about how to use this award. 

Other fun facts. When serving with any Americorps program, you have the option to defer any current student loans you are paying. While a loan is in deferment it continues to accrue interest but many Americorps programs offer interest repayment options at the end of your service.

10. Education Advancement

After gaining career insight (benefit #7) you may decide that the next step in your career journey is additional schooling. All of the benefits described in the article can bolster your undergraduate or graduate application. Experience, direction and professional contacts can all make you a much stronger candidate for environmental Master’s programs

Photo Credit: Alyson Morris

In some cases, your service can help open the door to graduate school opportunities. Evan Norman, an alumni with the Big Sky Watershed Corps, discovered his passion for hydrology during his term of service. His experience introduced him to his graduate school advisor and eventually led to a job with the Montana Department Natural Resources. Read more about how his experience in the corps launched his professional career.

11. Personal Growth

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Conservation Corps

You become a part of something bigger than yourself by serving communities and protecting natural resources. And with that comes a sense of pride. Yet the work is not easy. Any program you choose will challenge you mentally, physically and emotionally. Once you reach the other side however, you find that the adversity you faced has built lasting strength and perseverance. An alumni from the Arizona Conservation Corps sums up their experience. 


“I am more adventurous and capable in the back-country, and I’m less afraid of working hard and getting dirty. I feel that I’m less intimidated by starting big tasks or learning new skills, and have been able to apply them even in unfamiliar environments and challenging new work. I’ll continue to fill my life with out-of-the-ordinary experiences that excite me, broaden my horizons, and teach me.”
-Tracy (AZCC).   


Reasons to Join a Conservation Corps – Infographic


Alyson Morris is the communications specialist for CJB Network and writes on environmental career development. She is a graduate student at the University of Oregon and is pursuing her Master’s in Strategic Communication. She is also an alum of both the Student Conservation Association and Big Sky Watershed Corps.


Graduate School Advice

How to Apply to Environmental Graduate Programs

An overview of how to approach the application process for an environmental Master’s or PhD program

So you want to go to graduate school in an environmental field. After extensively researching your options, you find a program that looks like a great match for you… 

Now what.

Don’t Let the Graduate School Application Process Intimidate You

Often, the worst part of applying to environmental graduate programs is knowing where to even start. While the undergraduate application process follows a pretty straightforward path, things tend to get more complicated when it comes to Master’s and PhD admissions. For many prospective students, the thought of applying to graduate school can induce fear and confusion.

You may have heard horror stories about the dreaded process of contacting potential advisors. Perhaps you’re confused about the numerous application requirements and how they vary by school. 

Let me guess…your undergraduate curriculum didn’t include a crash course on applying to graduate school? In this article, we break down the application process for environmental Master’s and PhD programs. We explain how steps can vary across schools. We give tips to help you navigate the process like a pro!


The Two Stages of the Graduate Admissions Process

For most research-based graduate programs in environmental fields, the application process follows two distinct stages:

Stage 1: Connect with a Graduate Advisor

You contact professors to inquire if they would be willing to take you on as a graduate student and serve as your advisor. You must get approval from a professor to serve as your advisor before the program will accept you.

This process typically includes: 

  • Sending an email inquiry
  • Submitting your resume/CV, recommendations, and personal statement
  • Interviewing with professor 

Stage 2: Submit Formal Application to the School

You submit a formal application package to the school. For some schools, you must complete Stage 1 and secure your advisor before you can submit your formal application. For other schools, you can undertake both stages at the same time.

The application package typically includes:

  • application paperwork
  • personal statement 
  • recommendations 
  • undergraduate transcripts
  • GRE scores (if required)

Further in the article, we go into more detail on how to successfully complete each of these stages. 

Programs with a Single-Stage Application Process

Some graduate programs follow a single-stage process in which you apply by submitting an application package to the department or graduate school. This simplified process largely mirrors the undergraduate application experience. 

Single Stage: Submit Formal Application to the School

The application package typically includes:

  • application paperwork
  • personal statement 
  • recommendations 
  • undergraduate transcripts
  • GRE scores (if required)

What Types of Programs have a Single-Stage Application Process?

For coursework-based, Master’s programs, you typically apply by submitting an application package. These non-thesis (and increasingly online) programs emphasize professional development rather than research. You may need to interview with faculty and take other steps. However, you usually do not need to secure a faculty advisor before formally applying.  

You can view a full list of non-thesis Master’s programs using the CJB Network search tool.


Examples: Programs with Single-Stage Application Process

  Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Stewardship – Master’s program

♦  Unity College’s Environmental GIS – Master’s program


Some research-based, Master’s programs allow students to select an advisor after enrollment, but this is less common.

In both of these scenarios, program admission depends on the formal application process – not the discretion of any specific advisor. 

When Should I Apply?

Early in your graduate school search, you should sketch out the application timeline for the programs that interest you. You need to know the application due dates in order to plan when you need to acquire references and contact potential advisors. It will serve you best to do these steps well in advance of any due date. 

Pro Tip: It can take a long time to complete preliminary steps like getting your references and connecting with potential advisors. Begin these steps at least several months prior to your target application date to give yourself enough time.

Fortunately, most environmental graduate programs follow a similar schedule for their application due dates. 

On average, the majority of schools accept fall admission graduate applications around December and January. 

For instance, for a Master’s of Environmental Science that begins in the fall of 2021, a school would typically review applications for priority consideration in December or January of 2020.

There are exceptions to this pattern, so you should always carefully note the application due dates for your specific programs of interest.

Keep in mind, some schools will also have separate deadlines for domestic and international students. It is also important to consider fall or spring admission – some schools offer the option to begin a graduate program in the spring, while others only accept applicants for the fall.

Pro Tip: You should always discuss application dates with potential graduate advisors. Some advisors will have certain timeframes when they anticipate selecting their graduate students. This could be in advance of the school’s formal deadline. In some cases, an advisor may already accept you into his or her lab before you have even submitted your application – we will go into more detail on this in the next section. 

Connecting With Your Graduate Advisor

If you are only considering a non-thesis, coursework-based Master’s, then you can probably skip this section.  However, for most research-based programs, you will need to find a graduate advisor who will take you on as a student. 

As part of your graduate school search, you will be scouring department websites, reading academic papers and talking to your network – all with the goal of identifying potential advisors who could be a great match for you. 

What do you do once you have identified an ideal professor to hopefully serve as your advisor? 

This section looks at the steps you can take to successfully make your hope for a connection into a reality. 

Sending an Email of Inquiry

As a first step in connecting with a potential advisor, you can send an Email of Inquiry in which you introduce yourself and express your interest in a graduate opportunity. 

It is perfectly normal to feel absolute dread about the idea of sending emails to professors who don’t know you. Take a deep breath. You can do it! 

What to Include in an Email of Inquiry

An effective Email of Inquiry will communicate the key information while keeping the overall message focused and concise. If you want to see what an Email of Inquiry looks like in the environmental sciences, the American Ornithological Society has crafted a great template. 

Keep in mind the following best practices:

  • Write a Good Subject Line – Make sure it is relevant, focused, and matter-of-fact. Professors get overwhelmed with emails. The subject line is what they see in their inbox, and it can affect whether or not they open the email.  
  • Present Relevant Research and Experience – You want to grab the professor’s attention and show why you are a great candidate. Stick to the main points. Attach your resume/CV for the fine details.
  • Explain Why You Are Interested – In your emails to professors, you want to explain what it is about their research, the lab, and the program that interests you. You may want to note specific literature published by the advisor that captured your attention. 
  • Keep Your Email Lean and Focused – You want to strike a balance between presenting the key information and keeping your message focused and not overly long. 

See our Email of Inquiry Checklist below for a review of what to include in your message.

If you do not receive a response to your email, don’t feel discouraged. They may have overlooked your message. They may be delayed in responding. You can send a polite follow-up email after a week or so. If you still do not hear back, you can continue sending additional follow up emails until you receive a response.

Advisor Applications

In some cases, advisors will require interested students to complete an application separate from the formal graduate school admissions process. These applications will vary from advisor to advisor. For the application, you might need to include: a short essay, your resume/CV, a summary of previous research experience, GPA, GRE scores, and references. If an advisor requires an application, you can still send an introductory email.

Sometimes, professors will explicitly advertise assistantship opportunities. These listings will typically present specific application steps. You should always thoroughly review an advisor’s website to not overlook these opportunities and application instructions. 

What Comes Next?

Now…let’s say you receive a response from your top choice advisor. What are the next steps? They can vary amongst advisors, but here’s what you can expect:

The advisor may ask for a phone or video interview to get to know you better. If this goes well, he or she may also invite you to visit the lab on campus and meet with other graduate students in the program. 

If the advisor does not explicitly mention an in-person visit, I encourage you to ask. Here’s why:

  1. It shows you are truly invested in the opportunity 
  2. It gives you a better idea of whether the program and lab are right for you

Pro Tip: Some schools will encourage applicants to contact advisors before applying to research-based programs, but will state it is not required. ALWAYS reach out to advisors in these cases – otherwise, you will put yourself at a disadvantage to other applicants.

Formally Applying to the School

Before completing your formal application to the school, you should try to figure out the weight it carries.

For coursework-based Master’s programs, the school may focus exclusively on your formal application in determining whether you get in. For some research-based programs, the approval of your advisor will play a much more important role than your application.  

Regardless, you should make sure you follow application instructions carefully. 

Below, we list the common components of environmental graduate program applications:

  • resume/CV
  • letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores (if required)
  • undergraduate transcripts
  • statement of purpose/personal statement
  • Application fee (varies, generally $65-$85)
  • International Applicants: TOEFL or IELTS scores

You will notice that some of the components of the formal application also play a role in your engagement with advisors. When you contact potential advisors, they will also likely want to see your CV, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and statement of purpose before making a decision. 

Statement of Purpose

Your application essay, commonly known as a statement of purpose, is a chance for you to present yourself in writing. Make sure to explain your objectives and goals in pursuing a graduate degree. It is important to include:

  • why you are pursuing your specific degree track
  • why the school’s program is right for you
  • the type of research (or professional work) you are interested in pursuing
  • how you will add value to the program

For more information on creating a strong statement of purpose, check out this template by Northeastern University.


Application Requirements

Now that you have a solid foundation of how to approach the application process, let’s crunch some numbers. Below we run through what environmental graduate programs are looking for in your GRE scores, GPA, undergraduate coursework, and additional requirements.

> Do I need to take the GRE?

If you dislike standardized testing, we have some good news for you. Environmental graduate schools are increasingly waiving the GRE requirement. 

CJB Network has compiled listings of every environmental graduate program in the United States including admissions requirements. Over 38% of environmental Master’s programs do not require the GRE. 

If the GRE requirement is really getting you down, CJB Network’s search tool allows you to filter out schools that require the GRE. 

For programs that do not require the GRE, you can still submit your result, and you will probably want to do so if you scored highly.

> What are the minimum GRE scores accepted by most environmental graduate programs?

As a general rule of thumb, you should try to score in at least the 50th percentile across each section in the GRE. Many programs will prefer you score higher than the 50th percentile, but you can use this as your baseline to gauge your progress while preparing for the test.

Always do your due diligence and check out the numbers for your specific programs of interest. Some schools set explicit minimum scores. Many schools require the GRE but do not set a minimum. If you reach out to your program of interest, they may tell you the average percentiles for admitted applicants (e.g. “most accepted applicants score in the 80th percentile across verbal and quantitative sections”). 

Ideally, your GRE results will meet or exceed these averages. However, keep in mind that most graduate programs will view your applications holistically. You can retake the GRE as many times as you want. If you are on the fence about retaking the test, it doesn’t hurt to reach out to the graduate school for advice.

You should also ask potential advisors if they would like to see GRE test scores. While the program itself may not require it, some advisors may request you still take the test.

> Is my undergraduate GPA good enough for environmental graduate school?

About ⅔ of environmental graduate programs set a minimum GPA that applicants must meet in order to be accepted. For these programs, the minimum GPA requirement averages 3.0. If your GPA falls short of this number, do not stress. The minimum GPA requirement varies by program. Furthermore, many programs will view your GPA together with other factors like your experiences and personal statement. Simply put, for many programs you can overcome a GPA below 3.0.

Worried your GPA won’t make the cut? Using CJB Network’s search tool, you can filter schools based on their GPA requirements.

> Is my undergraduate coursework enough?

Many environmental graduate programs require that applicants have completed certain undergraduate coursework. These requirements vary widely but typically include core subjects related to the program focus.

If you lack some of the required coursework for program admission, the department may insist that you take these classes prior to enrollment. 

> I’m an international student. Are there additional application requirements for me?

Most environmental graduate programs require that international students take the TOEFL, IELTS, or PTE. These standardized tests assess skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking English. Always check with the schools to determine which test results they accept and if they have set any minimum requirements.

International students may be exempt from taking these exams if they received undergraduate degrees from institutions where all class instruction was in English.

Now What?

Now that you have a basic understanding of the application process to environmental graduate programs, it’s time to get to work. Whether it be sending cold emails, preparing for the GREs, or crafting your statement of purpose, it’s important to remember persistence is key. 



Environmental Graduate Funding Update – 24 Assistantships

Below find the latest graduate assistantships and other funding opportunities posted across the web in the last week in ecology, conservation and related environmental fields.

Master’s Opportunities

MSc Position: Work on Marine Habitat Mapping
Memorial University of Newfoundland | St. John’s, Canada
Program: Marine Biology – MS
Mapping the distribution and abundance of key marine benthic habitats in coastal Newfoundland and Labrador.

MS Position: Conservation Physiology of Invasive Fish
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Champaign, IL
Program: Natural Resources & Environmental Sciences – MS
Define the role of aquatic pollutants at deterring the upstream movement of invasive Bigheaded Carp in the Illinois River.

MS Student: Wetlands Restoration Malheur National Wildlife Refuge
Louisiana State University | Baton Rouge, LA
Program: Renewable Natural Resources – MS 
Evaluate factors affecting vegetation establishment on the lake and to test revegetation techniques. In addition, the student would participate on an interdisciplinary team addressing broader issues related to lake restoration.

Graduate Position: Aquatic Ecology
Ohio State University | Columbus, OH
Program: Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology – MS
Examines linkages among watershed land use, reservoir age, hypoxia, and sport fish recruitment in Ohio reservoirs.

MS Graduate Assistantship: Ecology and Management of Whitebrush (Aloysia gratissima)
Texas A&M University-Kingsville
| Kingsville, TX
Program: Range & Wildlife Management – MS
Conduct research on whitebrush management and control in experimental field settings throughout private rangelands of Texas.

MS Research Assistantship: Thornforest Restoration and Seedling Ecophysiology
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Edinburg, TX
Program: Ocean, Coastal, & Earth Science – MS
Participate in a seedling conditioning study aimed at enhancing thornforest seedling field performance and restoration success.

MS Graduate Position: Climate Change Resilience to Drought
University of Wyoming
| Laramie, WY
Program: Rangeland Ecology & Watershed Management – MS
Focus on understanding rancher perception of and response to drought.


MS Position: Wind Facilities and Insects
University of Wyoming | Laramie, WY
Program: Zoology & Physiology – MS
Review literature about the state of knowledge on wind energy and insects.

Master’s & Doctorate

MS or PhD Research Assistantship(s)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Champaign, IL
Program: Biology – MS
1. Quantify the role of pollutants in preventing the upstream spread of Bigheaded carp in the Illinois River.
2. Improve fish care during fishing tournaments.

MS or PhD Student Position: Pollinator Molecular Ecology
University of Maryland | College Park, MD
Program: Marine Estuarine Environmental Sciences – MS
Study pollinator health, specifically pollinator foraging, landscape ecology and floral resource competition between wild and managed bee species.

MS or PhD Position: Forest Ecology and Ecohydrology
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Natural Resource Ecology & Management – MS
Study the impact of different land use and vegetation change on ecosystem carbon dynamics and water use within the grassland and forest transition zone – the Cross-timbers of the south-central Great Plains.

Doctorate Opportunities

PhD Position: Scaling of Ecological Trade-Offs
Concordia University
| Montreal, Canada
Program: Biology – PhD
Work on the scaling of ecological trade-offs across traits and spatial scales. Biological trade-offs are omnipresent in nature and form the basis of understanding how species are distributed and co-exist across ecological communities.

PhDPosition: Genetics and Evolution of Plant Secondary Metabolism
University of Central Florida | Orlando, FL
Program: Integrative & Conservation Biology – PhD
Study the genetics and evolution of plant secondary metabolism in crop and wild sunflowers.

PhD Positions (2): Tree Ecophysiology 
Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg
| Würzburg, GERMANY
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Characterize the drought-stress resistance of temperate tree species by plant hydraulic and dendroecological techniques. 

PhD Position: Plant Trait Ecology of Tundra Ecosystems
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign | Champaign, IL
Program: Biology – PhD
Be part of an exciting collaborative team developing capacity for the remote estimation of aboveground and belowground plant functional traits and streamlining their inclusion in process models to quantify and predict regional carbon balance.

PhD Assistantship: Ecological and Evolutionary Informatics 
University of Maine | Orono, ME
Program: Ecology & Environmental Sciences – PhD
Work on quantitative modeling and analysis of ecological and evolutionary processes, often making use of newly available biodiversity data produced through next generation sequencing approaches.

PhD Assistantship: Identifying and Prioritizing Habitat for Pheasant Conservation and Management
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
| Lincoln, NE
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Study upland game bird ecology and management, determine minimum habitat thresholds and configurations necessary to support pheasant populations.

PhD Assistantship: Identifying and Prioritizing Habitat for Pheasant Conservation and Management
University of Nebraska, Lincoln
|Lincoln, NE
Natural Resource Sciences – PhD
Conduct interdisciplinary research on wildlife ecology, spatial science and conservation.

PhD Position: Forest Ecology of the Hubbard Brook Ecosystem
Dartmouth College | Hanover, NH
Program: Ecology, Evolution, Environment & Society – PhD
Design and conduct original research on biota of the Hubbard Brook Forest as part of the NSF-sponsored Long Term Ecological Research project. 


PhD Position: Hydrology/Earth Science
University of Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh, PA
Program: Geology & Environmental Science – PhD
Study global patterns and drivers of suspended sediment in rivers using satellite remote sensing. Use satellite remote sensing to examine water quality in rivers, lakes, and estuaries.

PhD Graduate Studentship: Floating Treatment Wetlands
University of South Carolina | Columbia, SC
Program: Marine Science – PhD
Work to advance the science and engineering of floating treatment wetlands (FTWs). Specifically water quality influences, habitat value, microbial community composition, and plant species suitability of various FTW configurations across nutrient and salinity gradients.

Graduate Assistant
Baylor University | Waco, TX
Program: Environmental Science – PhD
Engage in interdisciplinary research projects concerning air and water quality, climate change, environmental toxicology and chemistry, risk assessment, applied ecology, and environmental management. 

PhD Position: Landscape Ecology and Fire
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX
Program: Wildlife, Aquatic, & Wildlands Science & Management – PhD
Help mentor undergraduate cohorts through The Bridge Adventure Program. Serve in a leadership role in the program while earning a doctoral degree in Wildlife, Aquatic, and Wildlands Science and Management.

PhD Position: Fish Ecophysiology
The University of Texas at Austin | Austin, TX
Program: Marine Science – PhD
Study respiratory plasticity in marine fish following exposure to prolonged environmental hypoxia.

Assistantships Graduate School Cost

Funding for Graduate School: What Are My Options?

College can be prohibitively expensive and graduate school is no exception. In 2020, the average environmental Master’s program cost $37,550 in the United States. When you consider the earning potential for environmental professionals (generally low) the cost of school may give you second thoughts about whether a graduate education is attainable.  

But don’t feel too disheartened. Thankfully, there are a number of options available to students to help pay tuition and other associated expenses. In this article, we review the most common options in detail and we provide tips on how to secure that funding.



An assistantship is a form of academic employment that provides students with tuition reimbursement and certain financial benefits. Assistantship roles require specific work duties in support of a professor, a research lab, or a program department. You can think of them as part-time jobs, with a typical commitment of 20 hours per week.

In environmental fields, both Master’s and PhD programs frequently offer assistantships. In addition to tuition coverage, additional benefits can include:

  • Modest stipend to cover living expenses 
  • Health insurance 
  • Student loan forgiveness 
  • Student housing

How Much Do Assistantships Pay?

Assistantship stipends range from $15,000 to $30,000 per academic year depending on the school. Your stipend may fall short in paying the bills. Student activists at campuses across the country have been pushing for a $15/hr minimum living wage. Some schools already pay above those levels. For example, Cornell University pays a $28,036 stipend for a 9-month academic year of work at 15 hours per week.

Types of Assistantships 

Not all assistantships are the same. Environmental graduate programs generally offer 3 types of assistantships: 

  1. Research Assistantships
  2. Teaching Assistantships
  3. General Graduate Assistantships

These 3 types differ in the main role that you perform, as reflected in their distinct nomenclature. They also differ in how you get them.

You might see the term “graduate assistant” thrown around. This is commonly used as a general name that can refer to any of the assistantship types.

Sound confusing? 

No fear! We review each assistantship type in more detail below.

Research Assistantship

In a research assistantship, you work on a research project, usually under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Research assistants often work in a group or lab environment in close coordination with faculty, staff and other students. While rigorous, this work provides great hands-on research experience that culminates in the production of your thesis or dissertation and sometimes even publication in a scholarly journal.  

How to Get a Research Assistantship

Available funding usually comes from grants secured by individual faculty members. For most research-based programs you need to engage with a prospective faculty adviser and ask them if they would be willing to take you on as a graduate student BEFORE you formally apply to the school. 

Sometimes, faculty will explicitly advertise research assistantship opportunities. Below we list some sources where you can find these opportunities listed for environmental fields:


Find Assistantship Postings

Directly on a lab or faculty’s web page  (look for an “Opportunities” link)
Texas A&M University Agriculture & Life Sciences Graduate Assistantships
Ecophys Jobs Graduate Opportunities
Conservation Job Board 
American Fisheries Society
Northern Kentucky University Rick Boyce Graduate School Opportunities
CJB Network  


Many professors do not advertise available funding. Often, you will need to contact faculty directly to inquire about whether or not funding is available. In some cases, funding for a research assistantship can become available at some point after you enroll. But you should hesitate to enroll in a program based on the expectation that you will secure funding later. It may not happen.

If a professor does not have funding available, they may still be willing to take you on as a student but you will need to pay your own way (or cover your tuition through another method). 

Teaching Assistantship

Teaching Assistantships provide another source of potential funding for graduate students. The responsibilities of a teaching assistant can vary depending on the needs of the department or professor. Roles could include setting up lab equipment, grading tests and assignments, proctoring quizzes, keeping office hours, creating syllabi, and – of course – actually teaching classes. Before applying for a Teaching Assistantship, you should always try to find out what responsibilities the position will entail. 

How to Get a Teaching Assistantship

The application process for Teaching Assistantships varies by school. In some cases, you can apply for these positions beforehand as part of your overall application to the university. For some schools, you apply after enrolling. For example, the Department of Ecology at Montana State University chooses Teaching Assistants mid-semester, to become active in the following term. 

Schools award these assistantships based on a variety of criteria including student merit, financial need, seniority and the specific teaching needs of the department. Before applying for a Teaching Assistantship, you should confirm what criteria the school uses in its decision making. Successful applicants often carry a high GPA, good GRE scores and relevant teaching experience.

General Graduate Assistantship 

Some schools offer assistantships that provide general support to the needs of the department. You might help with any of the following: 

  • Office and  lab maintenance 
  • Clerical and receptionist duties
  • Tech support
  • Recruiting

Similar to Teaching Assistantships, the application process and hiring criteria for these positions vary from school to school. 

Fellowships, Grants, and Scholarships

For graduate school, you will see the word “Fellowship” or “Grant” used more than “Scholarship.” The three terms usually refer to a similar concept – a source of free money awarded to students by the schools themselves or outside funders to cover education-related expenses. 

Common Types of Fellowships and Grants

Fellowships and grants for graduate school can vary widely in the size of the awards, what expenses they cover, and the focus of the funding. Below, we outline some common types of fellowships and grants that you will encounter:

Fellowships as Scholarships – Many graduate fellowships and grants mirror the concept of the “scholarships” that you would find for undergraduate students. These awards cover all or most of your tuition. However, graduate fellowships tend to use merit-based criteria.

Research Fellowships – Research fellowships provide funding to students to support their graduate research. Some awards fully cover tuition and provide a stipend so you can pursue your own research idea. As such, research fellowships can provide a funding alternative to assistantships. We discuss this in more detail in the section, “Funding Your Own Research” below.

Career Development Fellowship – Some fellowships support professional development in a field by providing funding for you to go to school and build your skills. Unlike research-based funding, these awards can pay for your education in non-thesis and online professional programs. Some of these fellowships require recipients to work in the field for a certain amount of time after earning their degree.  

Example: The American Association of University Women (AAUW) Career Development Grants provide $2,000 – $12,000 to change careers in education, health, or social sciences.

Small Awards – Many funding sources provide small one-time awards or grants that follow some specific mission or purpose. These awards typically range from $250 to $2,000 and can help ease the financial burden of graduate school.

Specific Expense Grants – Similar to Small Awards, many funding sources will cover a specific expense item related to your graduate education. A common example, travel grants and conference grants can pay for you to attend events or participate in field experiences.

Need-Based Funding – A number of government and foundation programs provide need-based funding for graduate school.

Where to find Fellowships and Grants

Internal Sources of Funding

Schools and their departments can provide fellowship and scholarship funding for students. You can research this on the university and department websites. For example, UC Davis offers multiple internal sources of funding to students in the Graduate Group in Ecology.

If you are considering a graduate program, you should inquire about the availability of these internal sources of money, especially if you are not able to secure an assistantship. 

External Sources of Funding: 

You can apply for fellowship and scholarship funding from a variety of external sources including foundations, non-profits, government, and even for-profit companies. Below we list some websites where you can find fellowship and grant funding sources for environmental fields:


Where to Search for Funding:
University of Kansas – Grad School Funding Listing
Pathways To Science – Education and career training opportunities in STEM
Montana State University – Funding Sources for Graduate Students


Tips for Securing Funding

  • Start Early – Identify what you might be eligible for before you are eligible.
  • Research – Ask for direction from departments and universities, grant fellowship offices, foundations in your field (or outside), or specialized organizations.
  • Follow Application Instructions -Follow instructions or you risk having your application immediately tossed for overlooking the details
  • Connect – Connect with students who have received funding. Reach out and ask them about their experience. They can often provide insight that will help you with your applications.
  • Share – Use your cover letter to showcase your qualifications. Give examples to back up your claims and be specific.
  • Expand – Ask someone outside your field of study to review your application to make sure you have explained yourself and your proposal well.
  • Be Persistent- There is no such thing as failure, just growth! Applying for money is hard and rejection is common. Develop a thick skin, use feedback as a tool and get back out there. 


Funding your Own Research

You do not need to rely on funding provided by a professor to pay for your graduate research and education. 

As we discussed earlier, fellowships can provide funding for you to pursue a research topic. If you are unable to secure an assistantship, then a research fellowship or grant can provide an alternative source of money to help pay for your education. 

Some highly competitive and prestigious fellowships will fully cover your graduate education and provide a stipend. These fellowships boast some advantages over research assistantships. 

Advantages of Research Fellowships

Research fellowships can boast some advantages compared to other funding sources 

  1. Unlike assistantships, research fellowships typically lack work requirements.
  2. Fellowships can provide more academic freedom to pursue your own research interests. With an assistantship, your research will typically follow a predefined scope which may not be your ideal topic. 
  3. With some fellowships, you can secure funding before you apply to schools. More schools and faculty advisers will want to bring you on if you have your own money. You can be more selective in your decision making.
  4. Fellowships showcase your tenacity as an independent researcher from the get-go. They can build your prestige and create additional tangible benefits. For example, Brown University offers an incentive program for students who are awarded outside funding.


“Fellowships are good because they give you much more freedom to choose your own research topics”.  
-Phil Agre, a former UCLA faculty member with UCLA, discussed in considerations for grad school


Where to Look for Funding

Do your own research and explore organizations, foundations and society groups in your field of interest.

Many students start their search with the National Science Foundation (NSF). As an independent federal agency, the NSF works to promote progress in science. Applicants submit over 50,000 research proposals annually to the agency. The NSF funds about 11,000.

NSF offers a program specifically for graduate students, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). The program focuses on funding students early in STEM research fields.

PRO TIP: Many research grants exclusively fund organizations rather than individuals. But don’t rule these out completely. The Southern Illinois Grant Funding: A Guide for Graduate Students suggests teaming up with your adviser to apply for these grants through your university to help fund your research. 


Work-study refers to a federal program that provides funding for part-time jobs for students with financial need. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 3,400 colleges and universities have a Federal Work-Study Program. These programs allow students to earn money to help pay for educational expenses. The first step to acquiring a work-study position is filling out that same Free Application for Federal Student Aid you fill out for loans (discussed in the next section). 

Keep in mind that qualifying for work-study doesn’t guarantee you a job. You will have to secure a position with your school or a qualifying federal, state, or local public agency; a private nonprofit organization; or a private for-profit organization.

Pro Tip: There may be certain restrictions associated with work-study. For example, graduate students at the University of Denver cannot utilize a work-study job and have an assistantship in the same quarter. 

Student Loans

Depending on your financial situation you may need to take out student loans to pay for school. Loans provide borrowed money for you to pay for school and other associated costs. With most loans, you will ultimately pay back the amount you borrow plus interest. 

If you are considering a student loan, you should first fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). These forms need to be submitted between January and March of the year prior to the start of school. 

Private lenders are also an option. These are usually banks or financial institutions. 

Whichever options you consider, pay close attention to the interest rates. They can dramatically increase the debt you accrue.

Admissions advisor at New Mexico State University, Austin Gentry says, “We would much rather have our students turn to grants, work-study — any other source of aid — before they turn to loans.” –via Nerd Wallet

Pro Tip: Do your homework when it comes to loans. Build out a comprehensive repayment plan, the earlier you can pay them off the less you will inevitably pay over time. 

Self Finance

Consider self-financing with great care. Many resources are available to help fund graduate school and lessen financial burdens. Make sure you are financially prepared for the costs if you choose to take them on and have a solid plan to meet all your financial obligations. 

Before You Go to School

When comparing schools and programs keep an ongoing list of questions to ask administrators and faculty. You want to have all the information you need to make the best decision for your future.

We have compiled our top 10 questions below. 

  1. What percent of graduate students receive funding?
  2. How are they typically funded?
  3. What are the stipend levels?
  4. Are additional benefits provided like health insurance or housing?
  5. Do assistantships waive tuition costs? 
  6. In addition to tuition, what additional fees am I responsible for?
  7. How long does the average student take to complete their degree?
  8. What are the service requirements associated with assistantships? 
  9. What is the time commitment for assistantships? How often do students exceed that time weekly?
  10. What is the average cost of living in the area? 



Alyson Morris is the communications specialist for CJB Network and writes on environmental career development. She is also a graduate student at the University of Oregon and is pursuing her Master’s in Strategic Communication.



Environmental Graduate Funding Update – 38 Assistantships

Below find the latest graduate assistantships and other funding opportunities posted across the web in the last week in ecology, conservation and related environmental fields.


Master’s Opportunities

MSc Graduate Research Assistantship: AU Shellfish Lab
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Fisheries – MS
Conduct research on improving Eastern oyster (Crassostrea virginica) crop inventory and farm management through the practical integration of RFID technology in shellfish aquaculture.

Graduate Research Assistants (2): Alabama Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Fisheries – MS
Develop a thesis that provides extensive information on the distribution, habitat use, and demographics of invasive carp and native fishes of the lower Mississippi River

MSc Assistantship: Mesocarnivore Movement – Cal Poly, SLO
California Polytechnic State University | San Luis Obispo, CA
Program: Biological Sciences – MS
Work on a mesocarnivore movement study involving coyote-sheep interactions in and around San Luis Obispo, CA in fall, 2021.

MS Assistantships (3): Fisheries Conservation Genetics
Humboldt State University | Arcata, CA
Program: Natural Resources – MS
Apply genetic approaches to fish conservation and management, including:
1. quantification of the variability of Ceratonova shasta DNA concentrations in Klamath River water samples.
2. monitoring coho salmon at local-scales in northern California streams using environmental DNA.
3. using genomics to elucidate local adaptation among isolated populations of the endangered tidewater goby.

MS Assistantships (3): Ecology and Evolution of Fall Webworm
University of Denver | Denver, CO
Georgetown University | Washington, DC
University of Massachusetts | Amherst, MA
Program: Biological Sciences – MS, PhD
Study ecology and evolution of diet breadth of a generalist caterpillar, fall webworm. Examine how bottom-up and top-down selective pressures affect the diet breadth of a generalist insect; the research will involve both field and lab work.

MS Graduate Opportunity: Microbial Ecology of Terrestrial-Aquatic Linkages
University of Georgia | Athens, GA
Program: Ecology – MS
Work on the microbial ecology of terrestrial-aquatic linkages at University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory in Aiken, SC.

MS Position: Aquatic Biogeochemistry
Louisiana State University | Baton Rouge, LA
Program: Environmental Sciences – MS
Work on carbon transport and transformation in aquatic systems. The research involves field sampling of the Mississippi River and an urban lake with a research focus on biogeochemical cycling of carbon, especially CO2 outgassing.

Graduate Assistant: USM Gulf Coast Research Labratory
The University of Southern Mississippi | Hattiesburg, MS
Program: Marine Science – MS
Study the recruitment, growth, and health of oysters in Mississippi Sound as part of a large restoration program following the 2019 mass mortality due to the opening of the Bonnet Carré spillway.

Research Technician: MO Cooperative F & W Research Unit
University of Missouri | Columbia, MO
Program: Natural Resources – MS
Assist with the collection of telemetry and other data for Striped Bass and other fish species in Bull Shoals Lake.

MS Position: Social Network Analysis and Ecology of Bats
New Mexico State University | Las Cruces, NM
Program: Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology – MS
investigating the effects of animal movement and social behavior on disease dynamics, with a focus on bats and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

MS Positions: Environmental Science
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga | Chattanooga, TN
Program: Environmental Science – MS
For students wanting to gain experience in the fields of environmental science, biology, geoscience, and natural resources. The non-thesis is designed for students who wish to enhance their professional degree skills.

MS Assistantship: Artificial Reef Research
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Edinburg, TX
Program: Ocean, Coastal, and Earth Science – MS
Investigate juvenile fish use of artificial reefs via ROV surveys and visual observations on SCUBA.

MS position in Thornforest Restoration & Seedling Ecophysiology
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley | Edinburg, TX
Program: Biology – MS
Evaluate conditioning pretreatments to minimize the transplant shock and improve initial field performance of thornforest seedlings.

MS Position: Genomics and Evolutionary Biology
Texas Christian University | Fort Worth, TX
Program:Biology – MS
monitoring the effects of hatchery rearing on genome-wide variation in Chinook Salmon, with a particular focus on the effects of domestication selection.

MSc Position: Human Dimensions of Wildlife
University of Texas at San Antonio | San Antonio, TX
Program: Environmental Science – MS
Assess the effects of Bird City Texas, a community-focused certification program created to help people protect birds and their habitats on
1. attitudes towards birds and bird conservation
2. engagement in nature-based recreation and bird conservation efforts
3. nature-based knowledge.

Graduate Assistantship: Ravens and Grouse
Utah State University | Logan, UT
Program: Wildlife Biology – MS
Investigate raven movements inside known Greater sage-grouse habitats.

MS Opportunities: Behavioral Ecology and Conservation
William & Mary | Williamsburg, VA
Program: Biology – MS
Recruiting new research Masters students in areas of behavioral ecology and applied conservation science, to start in Fall 2021.

Masters & Doctorate

Graduate Research Assistant (MS or PhD) in Aquatic Macroecology / Data Science 
Louisiana State University | Baton Rouge, LA
Program: Oceanography & Coastal Sciences – MS
Work on building a database of CO2 in flowing waters (streams) across the US and use statistical modeling to detect spatial and temporal trends.

Phd or MS Position: Predation Risk, Maternal Stress Effects, and Transgenerational Plasticity
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | Dartmouth, MA
Program: Biology – MS
Projects in our research group are centered on two major themes:
1. Some aspect of how ecological stressors drive changes in free-living animals physiology and behavior, how this impacts reproduction and survival, how this drives changes in population dynamics and ultimately community structure.
2. Some aspect of how maternal stress may impact offspring physiology, behavior and fitness.

MS or PhD Assistantship: Migration Ecology
New Mexico State University | Las Cruces, NM
Program: Fish, Wildlife & Conservation Ecology – MS
Examine migration ecology in the southwest and, particularly, the effects of light pollution on migrating birds.

MS or PhD Assistantship: Restoration Ecology
Utah State University | Logan, UT
Program: Wildlife Biology – MS
MS –  plasticity of Bluebunch wheatgrass for restoration
PhD – Criollo cattle in the Canyonlands area
PhD – sagebrush die-off science & restoration in southern UT


To post a graduate opportunity to our next Funding Update, please email us:
[email protected]


Doctorate Opportunities

PhD Assistantship: Wildlife Survey Design
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Wildlife Sciences – PhD
Evaluate current and potential alternative survey designs for assessing abundance of wintering waterfowl in Alabama’s Tennessee River Valley.

PhD Research Assistantships (3): Stream Ecology
University of Arkansas | Fayetteville, AR
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Focus on factors affecting population and community dynamics of freshwater fish and invertebrates, especially the role of disturbance in community dynamics, impacts of introduced species in aquatic ecosystems, and conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

PhD Position: Sustainable Oceans
University of California, Davis | Davis, CA
Program: Ecology – PhD
Research Traineeship (NRT) program “Sustainable Oceans: From Policy to Science to Decisions”
Focusses on the front-end of the research and training enterprise as a means of building more effective links between the science and decisions on sustainable use of living marine resources.

PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Connecticut | Mansfield, CT
Program: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology – PhD
Study the interface of ecology and evolution with a focus on understanding the creation and maintenance of biodiversity and resilience of natural systems to disturbances such as climate change.

PhD Student: Forest Ecosystem Dynamics
University of Florida | Gainesville, FL
Program: Forest Resources and Conservation – PhD
Study forest dynamics across spatial scales exploring topics of forest health and tree regeneration.

PhD Position: Remote Sensing & Forestry
University of Georgia | Athens, GA
Program: Forest Resources – PhD
Work on research related to the assessment of understory vegetation in the coastal plain region of the Southern US.

PhD Student: Idaho Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit
University of Idaho | Moscow, ID
Program: Natural Resources – PhD
Evaluate factors associated with the distribution, occurrence, and population dynamics of Bull Trout in Idaho.


PhD Research Assistantship: Soil Chemistry
University of Kentucky | Lexington, KT
Program: Integrated Plant and Soil Sciences – PhD 
Study the biological and abiotic transformations of ammonium in soils using a combination of wet chemical and imaging/spectroscopic techniques to contribute novel information to our understanding of the nitrogen cycle.

PhD Position: Plant Evolutionary Ecology
Michigan Technological University | Houghton, MI
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD 
Understand the origin, maintenance, and changes of genetic, phenotypic and species diversity patterns. Current projects are related to plant genome size evolution and ecology, species interactions (plant-herbivore-pathogen-pollinator-plant interactions), and invasive species biology.

PhD Position: Forest Restoration, Soil Health, & Water Quality
Mississippi State University | Starkville, MS
Program: Forest Resources – PhD
Assess changes in ecosystem services like water quality and soil health during forest restoration activities.

PhD Research Assistantship: Soil Health Monitoring
University of North Dakota | Grand Forks, ND
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Develop process-level understanding in support of management that improves soil health, biodiversity, and productivity of irrigated meadows.

PhD Assistantship: Black Bears
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Natural Resource Ecology & Management – PhD
Address factors affecting fine-scale movements of dispersing male and female black bears and the implications for bear-human conflict and establishment of a self-sustaining black bear population in east-central Oklahoma.

PhD Assistantship: Landscape Ecology and Fire
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX
Program: Wildlife, Aquatic, and Wildlands Science and Management – PhD
Help mentor undergraduate cohorts through The Bridge Adventure Program, a program that aims to foster diversity and inclusion through field-based experiential learning opportunities, including regular excursions for mentored research, service learning, and community-building adventure.

PhD Position: Stream Ecology
University of Texas at Arlington | Arlington, TX
Program: Quantitative Biology – PhD
Determine how biodiversity and species co-occurrence networks in streams—one of the most threatened ecosystems on Earth—would respond to climate change under mitigated, stabilizing, and increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

PhD Positions (2): Microbiome Ecology
University of Texas | Arlington, TX
Program:Quantitative Biology – PhD
Project 1. Seeks to quantify the role of gut microbiota in the plant-insect chemical arms race.
Project 2. Examines the relationship between stinkbugs and the bacterial genus Burkholderia, an emerging model system in symbiosis research, to understand when and how animals benefit from environmentally-acquired microbes.

PhD Assistantship: Rangeland Ecology
Utah State University | Logan, UT
Program: Wildlife Biology
Assess movements of an experimental herd of GPS-collared Criollo and evaluates their impacts on ecosystem services, as well as analyzes efficiency of beef production.

PhD Assistantship: Environmental Data Science and Forecasting
Virginia Tech | Blacksburg, VA
Program: Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences – PhD
apply innovative new techniques to combine lake ecosystem modeling with sensor data analyses to forecast future water quality in drinking water reservoirs

Graduate School Cost

How Much Do Environmental Graduate Programs Cost?

How much does graduate school cost? For environmental professionals, this is an especially important question to consider.

In fields like conservation and ecology,  an ultra-competitive job market and relatively low pay can make graduate school both critically important and financially questionable at the same time.

If you think you may need to self-fund or secure loans for graduate school, then you should give close consideration to program costs in your decision making. 

Why? First of all, understanding the likely costs can help you decide whether or not you should even go to graduate school. You need to know the costs to determine if the benefits of graduate school are worth it. 

Second, knowing the costs of different programs can help you comparison-shop and decide which one is best for you.

Understanding the Costs

Most schools publish an official “Cost of Attendance” on their websites. You will see numbers for “Tuition Per Semester,” “Tuition Per Credit,” “Mandatory Fees, and other potentially confusing terms. 

Unfortunately, these numbers give an incomplete picture of what your actual program costs will be. To complicate matters, different schools use different pricing approaches. This makes apples-to-apples comparisons difficult.

In the sections to follow, we try to help you better understand the different ways that graduate school pricing works. We also explain how you can translate the prices provided by graduate schools into working estimates of your program costs. 


How do Schools Charge Tuition?

Tuition is the main cost you will pay as a student. If you want to get a good handle on total program costs, you should first look at the tuition numbers. Schools typically charge tuition in one of three ways as outlined below: 

Pricing Approach # 1: Tuition Per Credit

Some schools charge tuition on a simple cost per credit basis. For example, Texas A&M charges $903 tuition per credit hour for non-residents. 

Estimating Total Program Tuition 

Under this pricing model, you can easily estimate your Total Program Tuition costs (i.e. the total tuition you will pay over the duration of your enrollment). Simply take the minimum number of program credits required to graduate and multiply that number by the cost per credit hour. Please note, to figure out your full program cost you will also need to add in the school fees which we review later in this article.


EXAMPLE – Tuition Cost Estimate

Texas A&M’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program
*Requires a minimum of 32 credits to graduate.

$28,896 tuition = 32 credits x $903 per credit


PRO TIPBump your estimates by 15% to buffer for unanticipated costs

When making your estimates you should keep in mind a couple of caveats that could raise your costs. You may want to increase your estimates by 15% to account for these two possibilities:

  1. If you take more than the minimum number of credits required to graduate, then you will pay more than the estimate. This could easily happen. Maybe you decide to take an extra class to fill in a knowledge-gap or build skills. Maybe your combination of classes goes 1 or 2 credits over the minimum. For a 30 credit program, taking an extra 3 credits will bump your tuition costs 10%.
  2. Prices can change from year to year. If you are in a 2-year program, the tuition figures for year 1 could go up the second year.

Pricing Approach # 2: Fixed Tuition Per Semester (Full-Time Students)

Many schools charge a fixed tuition cost per semester for full-time students. So what does it take to be a “full-time” graduate student? Generally, if you enroll in 9 credits (or more) in a semester, your school will consider you a full-time student. 

For example, Colorado State University charges non-residents a fixed tuition cost of $12,895 for enrolling in 9 credits or more. But it charges $1,432 per credit for enrolling in less than 9 credits.

You Can Save Money by Taking a Heavier Course Load 

Under this pricing model, the cost per credit is variable depending on the number of credits you take. See how the cost per credit at Colorado State decreases 25% as a student goes from 9 to 12 credits:

Estimating Total Program Tuition

Estimating your Total Program Tuition under a Fixed Tuition Per Semester model is more complicated and less certain. It depends on how many semesters it takes you to complete your degree and the number of credits you take each semester. This can be hard to predict.

To get a good sense of a typical semester-by-semester course load for a program, contact the department. They should be able to give you the most common scenario. You can then plug in the credits and associated costs for each semester and estimate a total.

There is also a simpler and safer way to calculate your estimate.

Schools with Fixed Tuition Per Semester pricing for full-time students should also have a tuition per credit rate for part-time students.  You can take that part-time tuition per credit rate and multiply it by the number of program credits required to graduate.

This “safe” estimate of total tuition may be a little higher than what you would pay with a heavier course load. But it gives a good rough estimate of your total tuition “ceiling.” 


EXAMPLE – Estimating Total Tuition with Part-Time Student Rates

Colorado State University’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program

*Requires a minimum of 30 credits to graduate and a Thesis.
*We assume taking no more than 9 credits per semester
*Charges $1,432 per credit for part-time students

$42,960 tuition = 30 credits  x $1,432 per credit


Pricing Approach # 3: Fixed Tuition Per Program

Lastly, some schools use a less common approach of charging a single fixed price for the entire program tuition. You can find this cost structure in some non-thesis, professional- based Master’s programs and Certificate Programs. 

The straightforward approach takes the stress out of projecting your program costs.

Tufts University for example charges a flat rate of $44,346 for its 12-month Conservation Medicine – MS program.

Mandatory and Optional Fees

Paying for school means more than just covering the cost of tuition. Schools also charge what are known as “Mandatory Fees.” This term sounds imposing, but it simply refers to fees that you are required to pay. 

On the other hand “Optional Fees” typically cover extra niceties like on-campus housing or a dining plan, which you can elect to pay for, or not.

Though they will vary a bit from school to school and program to program, mandatory fees generally help cover extra operational and program expenses.

Below are the mandatory fees at the University of Oregon (Fall 2020). 

  • Matriculation Fee (one-time) | $430
  • Building Fee | $23-$45 (depending on number of credits)
  • Incidental Fee | $259.25
  • Health Service Fee | $233.25
  • Recreation Center Fee | $38
  • Technology Fee | $50


How much will you be paying in mandatory fees?

To arrive at an accurate estimate of your total program costs, you will need to add in your mandatory program fees. These are usually charged on a per-semester basis.  

On average, environmental master’s programs listed on CJB Network charge about $450/semester in mandatory fees. However, fees can vary widely from school to school. You should always determine the school fees before estimating program costs. Also, keep in mind that your total fees may depend on how many semesters it takes you to complete your degree. 

See how the fees change our cost estimates from earlier. We assume a student completes these programs in 4 semesters:


EXAMPLE – Total Cost with Mandatory Fees

Texas A&M’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program
Estimated Total Tuition = $28,896
Mandatory Fees = $1,744 ($436 per semester)

Total Cost = $30,640

Colorado State University’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program
Estimated Total Tuition = $42,960
Mandatory Fees = $4,520 ($1,130 per semester)

Total Cost = $47,480


In-State Discounts

You can save a lot of money by attending a public university within the state you live, sometimes paying half the tuition rates that students pay coming out of state. Some schools also participate in regional exchanges that offer discounted tuition to residents of neighboring states.

Most states let you apply for residency after 1-2 years of living within the state. Just make sure you have the proper paperwork for proof of residency when applying to your chosen school. Change your driver’s license, register to vote, have tax documents for your place of work or lease paperwork for your housing.


EXAMPLE – Resident vs. Non-Resident Tuition
See how a resident discount decreases the estimated tuition in the two state schools below:

Texas A&M’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program
Non Resident – Estimated Total Tuition = $28,896
Resident – Estimated Total Tuition = $12,480  (saves 56%)  

Colorado State University’s Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences – MS program
Non Resident – Estimated Total Tuition = $42,960
Resident – Estimated Total Tuition = $17,520  (saves 59%)

PRO TIPSome online graduate programs offer in-state rates to out-of-state students.

School Tuition Varies Widely

Tuition for environmental graduate programs can vary widely across schools. Below, see two examples on the low and high end of total cost per credit for full-time students.

What is the Average Cost for an Environmental Graduate Program?

Below we outline a range of tuition costs for environmental Master’s and Certificate programs. We calculated these figures from data we gathered on over 1400 environmental graduate programs in the United States that we list on CJB Network.

Total Fees in the table are based on an average of school mandatory fees applied to 4 semesters for a Master’s and 2 semesters for a Certificate. 

Other Costs

So far this article has only looked at mandatory tuition and fees charged by schools. However, when considering graduate school, you should also weigh the full costs of the experience including living expenses, books, supplies, and the opportunity cost of any foregone income. 

This will help you decide whether graduate school is right for you. It can also help you compare the relative costs of programs.

Living expenses can vary widely across geographic areas. This can have major impacts on the relative affordability of programs. You can use a cost of living tool to estimate your living expenses in multiple geographic locations.


Environmental Graduate Funding Update – 34 Assistantships

Below find the latest graduate assistantships and other funding opportunities posted across the web in the last week in ecology, conservation and related environmental fields.


Master’s Opportunities

MS Position: Fire Ecology of Oak and Pine Forests
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Forestry – MS
Conduct extensive field research investigating the influence of fire on upland oak and pine forest regeneration. Understand the consequences of forest compositional shifts on resource availability and forest flammability at a variety of sites across the southeast.

MS Assistantship: Stream Fish Ecology
University of Central Arkansas 
| Conway, AR
Program: Biology – MS
Study variation in fish assemblages across Gulf Coastal Plains streams in Arkansas in relation to land use.

MS Position: Tree Root Research for Improving Green Tree Reservoir Management
University of Arkansas Monticello 
| Monticello, AR
Program: Forest Resources – MS
Conduct field and controlled environment studies to better understand the interactive effects of temperature, flood, and dormancy on oak root physiology.

MS Research Assistantship: Minnow Population Genomics
Southern Illinois University | Carbondale, IL
Program: Zoology – MS
Analyze Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) genotypes for the conservation of chubs (Macrhybopsis spp.).

MS Research Assistant: Wetland Macroinvertebrates
Emporia State University
| Emporia, Kansas
Program: Biology – MS
Investigate the effects of various wetland management practices on macroinvertebrate community dynamics.

MS Teaching Assistantships (3): Marine and Environmental Biology
Nicholls State University | Thibodaux, Louisiana
Program: Marine & Environmental Biology – MS
1. Conduct water quality surveys and monitor for the presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the public boat launches of southeast Louisiana.
2. Monitor of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (ARB) and antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs) in the migratory birds in southeast Louisiana.
3. Conduct laboratory and field research on an NSF funded functional genomics and husbandry project using spotted gar.

MS Graduate Assistantship: Assessing the Distribution and Abundance of Bridle Shiner
University of Maine 
| Orono, ME
Program: Wildlife Ecology – MS
Incorporate historic data, standard field surveys and the use of environmental DNA to assess current distributions of the Bridle Shiner, a special concern species in Maine.

MS Position: Lake Sturgeon Ecology
University of Toledo | Toledo, OH
Program: Biology – MS
Leverage the Great Lakes Acoustic Telemetry System (GLATOS) to address questions related to Lake Sturgeon ecology through analysis of telemetry data.

MS Position: Tropical Community Ecology
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Plant Biology – MS
Develop an independent research project around:
1. Effects of enemies (herbivores, pathogens, etc.) and mutualists on plant communities.
2. Effects of altered climate on species interaction and coexistence
3. Roles played by enemies and mutualists along succession.
4. Coexistence theory.

MS Research Assistant: Fisheries
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Natural Resource Ecology and Management – MS
Investigate Striped Bass and Catastomid populations in river and reservoir habitats and hydroacoustic assessment of forage in reservoirs.

MS Assistantship: Ecology & Conservation of Freshwater Mussels
Clemson University | Clemson, SC
Program: Wildlife & Fisheries Biology – MS
Address questions related to the ecology and recovery of the federally endangered Carolina Heelsplitter mussel in South Carolina.

MS Graduate Assistantship: Fisheries Ecology 
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX
Program: Wildlife, Aquatic & Wildlands Science & Management – MS
Conduct a population assessment of invasive Bigheaded carps (Bighead carp, Silver carp) in the Sulphur River as it flows through Texas and Arkansas.

MS Teaching Assistantships: Conservation, Data Science, and Genomics
William & Mary | Williamsburg, VA
Program: Biology – MS
Topics can be chosen around molecular genetics, biomath and ecology, and should explore the research interests of current faculty.

Masters & Doctorate

MS or PhD Positions: Influence of Dams on Riverine Fish Populations
Auburn University | Auburn, AL
Program: Fisheries – MS
Study the effects of large lock-and-dam systems on riverine fishes, potential for fish to pass structures using spillways and lock chambers, use of hard part microchemistry and stable isotope analysis to study natal origins and fish movement as a response to the presence of dams, and laboratory study of fishes in response to effects of dams.

MS and PhD Graduate Student Positions: Aquatic/Fisheries Ecology
Ohio State University | Columbus, OH
Program: Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology – MS, PhD
1. Study the ecology of Lake Erie yellow perch.
2. Study the ecology of blue catfish and channel catfish in Ohio reservoirs.
3. Study the impact of cyanobacteria blooms and hypoxia on Lake Erie’s food webs.

MS and PhD Positions: Water Quality and Carbon Cycling in Freshwaters
Purdue University | West Lafayette, IN
Program: Forestry & Natural Resources – MS, PhD
Research opportunities include:
1. Apply national networks of in situ water sensors (including NEON and USGS) to model microbial and photo-oxidation of organic matter.
2. Use sensor networks to model and predict water quality in midwestern lakes at risk for eutrophication.
3. Understand landscape controls on methane production using high-resolution LiDAR and bathymetry.

MS or PhD Assistantship: Gizzard Shad Sampling in Reservoirs
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Natural Resource Ecology & Management – MS, PhD
Develop protocol for sampling gizzard shad with hydroacoustics and trawls in large highland reservoirs.


To post a graduate opportunity to our next Funding Update, please email us:
[email protected]


Doctorate Opportunities

PhD Position: Plant Ecology
University of California Davis | Davis, CA
Program: Plant Biology – PhD
Develop drought strategies of herbaceous species in California grassland systems.

PhD Assistantship for Fisheries Population Dynamics
Florida International University | Miami, FL
Program: Biology – PhD
Develop quantitative modeling approaches to assess and predict fisheries population dynamics for spiny lobsters and red snappers.

PhD Position: Ecological/ Evolutionary Plant Physiology
Florida International University | Miami, FL
Program: Biology – PhD
1. the effects of genome size-cell size allometry on plant structure, function, and evolution.
2. the physiological dimensions of floral evolution.
3. speciation of the desert genus Encelia (Asteraceae)

PhD Research Assistantship: Fire Ecology
University of Idaho | Moscow, ID
Program: Natural Resources – PhD
Evaluate the effectiveness of fuel breaks in mitigating size and risk of damaging wildfires and the fuel break ecological impacts in sagebrush steppe ecosystems.

MS or PhD Assistant Positions (3): Invasion Ecology
Southern Illinois University | Carbondale, IL
Program: Zoology – MS, PhD
1. Fish movement including novel analysis techniques for telemetry data.
2. Invasion ecology including the impacts and management of invasions.
3. Socioeconomic/ecological factors underlying the establishment and control of aquatic species invasions.

PhD Positions: Fish and Aquatic Ecology
Purdue University | West Lafayette, IN
Program: Forestry and Natural Resources – PhD
Address important management issues in the Great Lakes (e.g., ecological effects of eutrophication, climate change impacts on larval fish dispersal and hypoxia influences on fish distributions and movement patterns).

PhD Positions: Tree Functional Ecology, Life History Tradeoffs, Demography and Community Ecology
University of Notre Dame | Notre Dame, IN
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Research on North American tree biology and/or Asian subtropical or tropical forests.

PhD Positions: Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior
University of Louisville | KY
Program: Biology – PhD
Study how populations of Rhagoletis flies and Ambystomatid salamanders respond and their consequences for community interactions vary across time and space.

Phd Position: Community Ecology and Species Coexistence
University of Maryland Baltimore County | Baltimore, MD
Program: Geography & Environmental Systems – PhD
Understand the role of native plant biodiversity in enhancing ecosystem services on urban vacant land.

PhD Research Assistantships: Aquatic Ecology
University of Mississippi | Oxford, MS
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Research the interface between community, behavioral, and evolutionary ecology in freshwater systems, or at the freshwater/terrestrial interface, as well as participate in ongoing projects.


PhD Position: Fishes in the Warming Gulf of Maine
University of New Hampshire | Durham, NH
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
investigate how diets of predators have shifted over the past several decades. This information, along with climate change models, will be integrated to understand how predator-prey relationships may continue to change in the future.

PhD Graduate Assistantship: Quantitative Fisheries Science
Cornell University | Ithaca, NY
Program: Natural Resources – PhD
Investigate mechanisms underlying changing fish community dynamics in temperate lakes.

PhD Graduate Research Assistantship: Recovery and Restoration Strategies for Steelhead in California’s Central Valley
Oregon State University | Corvallis, OR
Program: Fisheries Science – PhD
Conduct a multi-year research project developing quantitative tools to assist managers in constructing recovery and restoration strategies for Steelhead in California’s Central Valley.

PhD Positions: Investigate Continental Patterns of Riverine Fish Invasions
Clemson University | Clemson, SC
Program: Wildlife & Fisheries Biology – PhD
Perform observational field studies, experiments, and modeling of large datasets to investigate community ecology and fish conservation.

PhD Positions (2): Stream Fish Invasion Ecology
Clemson University & Louisiana State University | Clemson, SC & Baton Rouge, LA
Program: Oceanography & Coastal Sciences – PhD
Investigate continental patterns of riverine fish invasions.

PhD Assistantship: Assessing Effects of BMPs and Land Use in the Chesapeake Bay Basin on Stream Fishes
Virginia Tech | Blackburg, VA
Program: Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences – PhD
Participate in an innovative multi-scale assessment of the effectiveness of widely implemented BMPs in improving physical, chemical, and biotic conditions in streams of the Chesapeake Bay basin.

PhD Positions (5): Social-Ecological Dynamics of Fisheries
Virginia Tech & Indiana University Bloomington | Blacksburg, VA & Bloomington, IN
Program: Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences – PhD
Focus on arapaima fisheries in the Brazilian Amazon including, habitat effects on arapaima movement, effects of fishers’ perceptions on rule compliance in light of community culture, leadership, and institutional arrangements, effects of markets, institutions, and government rules on arapaima management, and effects of habitat and rule compliance on the dynamics of arapaima populations.



Environmental Graduate Funding Update – Sep 23, 2020

Below find the latest graduate assistantships and other funding opportunities posted across the web in the last week in ecology, conservation and related environmental fields.

Master’s Opportunities

MS Assistantship – Microbial Ecology and Carbon Cycling of Coastal Alaskan Wetlands
Utah State University | Yukon-Kuskoksim Delta, AK
Program: Ecology – MS
Understand the role of herbivory, climate change, and wetland ecology and management in affecting microbial communities and carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas (carbon dioxide and methane) exchange in wetlands of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in Alaska.

Stream Ecology MS Research Assistantship Macroinvertebrate Communities in Gulf Coastal Plains Streams of Arkansas
University of Central Arkansas 
| Conway, AR
Program: Biology – MS
Study macroinvertebrate assemblages across Gulf Coastal Plains streams in relation to land use in Arkansas.

Fish Ecology MS Assistantship: Fish Ecology in Gulf Coastal Plains Streams of Arkansas
University of Central Arkansas | Conway, AR
Program: Biology – MS
Study variation in fish assemblages across Gulf Coastal Plains streams in relation to land use.

Spacial Ecology MS Position
Colorado State University Pueblo 
| Pueblo, CO
Program: Biology – MS
Monitor a range of species, including golden eagles, using telemetry. Look at a range of disturbance and vegetation treatment effects on community movement.

Graduate Assistant in Urban Sustainability
University of the District of Columbia | Washington, D.C.
Program: Urban Sustainability – PSM 
Assess the current condition and survival of oak trees in the District of Columbia including the evaluation of the presence of pests and pathogens, and measurement of abiotic factors that may negatively impact urban trees.


MS Assistantship in Applied Forest Ecology
Iowa State University | Ames, IA
Program: Forestry – MS
Work on a continuing study of drought resilience in singleleaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla), the most dry-adapted pine species in North America. Identify traits and strategies that confer seedling tolerance to drought, using common garden experiments that compare performance of seedlings from different populations of origin.

Graduate Opportunity: Community Ecology
University of Maryland, Baltimore County | Baltimore, MD
Program: Geography & Environmental Systems – MS
Focus on community ecology and the factors that promote species coexistence in space and time, both in aquatic and urban ecosystems. Understand the role of native plant biodiversity in enhancing ecosystem services on urban vacant land.

Graduate Research Assistantship in Algal Biology
New Mexico State University | Las Cruces, NM
Program: Molecular Biology – MS
Work on algal biology and ecology projects, with opportunities to (1) study field-reared cultures of the microalga Nannochloropsis and (2) work with industrial partners.

Graduate Position to Join the Evolutionary Neuroecology Group
University of North Carolina Wilmington
| Wilmington, NC
Program: Marine Biology – MS
Study the neuroecology of marine vertebrate vision, centering on topics that include the sensory basis of dynamic skin color change, deep-sea bioluminescence, and the visual ecology of gamefish and whales.

MS or PhD Positions in Aquatic/Fisheries Ecology
Ohio State University | Columbus, OH
Program: Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology  – MS
Conduct research on the following topics: 1) ecology of western Lake Erie’s yellow perch population; 2) ecology of blue catfish and channel catfish in Ohio reservoirs; and 3) impacts of cyanobacteria blooms and hypoxia on Lake Erie’s food webs and fisheries.

MS or PhD Position: Underlying Mechanisms of Phenotypic Plasticity
University of Dayton | Dayton, OH
Program: Biology – Biology – MS, PhD
The student will be expected to develop an independent research program that expands or compliments current research in the lab.

PhD or MS Assistantship: Gizzard Shad Sampling in Reservoirs
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program: Natural Resource Ecology & Management – MS
Develop a protocol for sampling gizzard shad with hydroacoustics and trawls in large highland reservoirs with the freedom to develop project objectives to address larger questions related to forage management or sportfish-prey balance in reservoirs.

MS Research Assistantship to Study Asian Carp Invasion Biology in South Dakota
University of South Dakota | Vermillion, SD
Program: Biology – MS
Document presence/absence and seasonal use patterns of Silver and Bighead Carp in three tributaries of the Missouri River: the Big Sioux, Vermillion, and James Rivers, using acoustic telemetry and environmental DNA (eDNA) and determine if the carp occur upstream of putative barriers on the study rivers.

PhD and Master’s Students in Conservation Science
University of Tennessee Knoxville 
| Knoxville, TN
Program: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology – MS
This growing research program is seeking applications from prospective graduate students in conservation science. Outstanding students interested in either pursuing a Ph.D. or research-based Masters should apply.

MS Research Assistantship Thornforest Restoration
University of Texas Rio Grande Valley |
Brownsville, TX
Biology – MS
Beginning Jan 2021 (Summer 2021 latest) Seedling conditioning study aimed at enhancing thornforest seedling field performance and restoration success.

MS or PhD Assistantships in Environmental Toxicology
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX 
Environmental Toxicology – MS, PhD
Beginning Spring 2021 applicants may conduct research in a variety of areas depending on interest.

Fisheries Ecology MS Graduate Assistantship
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX
Program: Wildlife, Aquatic & Wildlands Science & Management – MS
Study the ecology of invasive fishes, conduct a population assessment of invasive Bigheaded carps in the Sulphur River as it flows through Texas and Arkansas.

Masters Assistantship Examining Perspectives on Forest Adaptation and Restoration Strategies
University of Vermont | Burlington, VT
Program: Natural Resources – MS
Examine forest stakeholder perspectives on restoration, adaptation, and transition management techniques at fostering forest health and productivity in the face of novel climate, insect, and disease threats.

MS in Biology Studying Plant-Insect Interactions for Species Found in Puerto Rico
Virginia Commonwealth University | Richmond, VA
Program: Biology – MS
Study the network structure of various taxonomic and functional groups (pollinators, specialists, introduced species) or in different environments (wet forest vs. dry forest).

To post a graduate opportunity to our next Funding Update, please email us:
[email protected]

Doctorate Opportunities

PhD Position: Amphibian Conservation and Synthetic Biology – Australia
University of Melbourne | Melbourne, AUS
Veterinary Medicine – DVM
Investigate advantageous genetic traits against the disease chytridiomycosis and use that knowledge and synthetic biology to increase disease resistance in declining frog species.

PhD Position in Department of Environmental Studies
University of California Santa Cruz | Santa Cruz, CA
Program: Environmental Studies – PhD
Understand and predict how global environmental changes alter ecosystems and biodiversity, as well as their consequences for human well-being.

PhD Assistantship Studying Fish Transcriptomics
Purdue University |
West Lafayette, IN
Forestry & Natural Resources – PhD
Conduct studies evaluating the transcriptome responses of Florida Pompano Trachinotus carolinus to different salinities.

PhD Graduate Positions: Evolutionary Ecology
University of Louisville | Louisville, KT
Program: Biology – PhD
Study how populations respond to rapid environmental change and the consequences of adaptation, divergence, and species interactions.

PhD Assistantships in Evolutionary and Microbial Ecology
Louisiana State University | Baton Rouge, LA
Program: Biochemistry – PhD
Use experiments, analysis of existing datasets, and mathematical modeling to understand the ecological and evolutionary mechanisms that direct community assembly and ecosystem functions. Explore the eco-evolutionary dynamics in plant microbiomes to predict microbial impacts on plant fitness. Explore the eco-evolutionary responses of plant-microbiome systems to emerging environmental stressors.

PhD Position: Research in the Conservation and Coexistence Group
University of Michigan | Ann Arbor, MI
Program: Environment & Sustainability – PhD
Develop new and detailed knowledge of tiger movement, space use, and behavior in response to road infrastructure in order to develop effective road mitigation strategies. Other areas of study within the lab are also available.

PhD Position in Plant-Insect Ecology
Michigan State University | East Lansing, MI
Program: Entomology – PhD | Integrative Biology – PhD
Research how heterogeneity—including biological diversity and climate variability—influences interactions among plants, insect herbivores, and predators. Work in natural and agricultural ecosystems and strive to answer fundamental questions that have relevance for agricultural sustainability or global change biology.

PhD Position in Applied Ecology
Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences
| Koppang, NOR
Program: Applied Ecology & Biotechnology PhD
Study the influences of habitat and landscape parameters on pine martens. Use available data collected through different Scandinavian research projects to examine factors that influence European pine marten abundance and movements along a gradient from areas dominated by extensive non-forested areas with high anthropogenic influence to larger tracts of relatively undisturbed forest in Norway and Sweden.

PhD Assistantship Studying the Nutritional Ecology of Climate Change: Impacts on Northwest Atlantic Fish
University of New Hampshire | Durham, NH
Program: Biological Sciences – PhD
Work to understand how warming oceans, species distributions, and feeding habits interact to impact the Northwest Atlantic ecosystem.

PhD Graduate Fellowship
Dartmouth College | Hanover, NH
Program: Ecology, Evolution, Environment & Society – PhD
Work at the Dartmouth Organic Farm that borders the Connecticut River and Dartmouth-owned forest, including active maple-sugar bush or on Chinatown urban food supply networks on the east coast. Possible topics include, but are not limited to, critical transition theory, complex hysteretic patterns and land-use change dynamics.

PhD Graduate Assistantship: Quantitative Fisheries Science
Cornell University | Ithaca, NY
Program: Natural Resources – PhD
Contribute to native fish restoration in the Finger Lakes region. Potential projects will be able to leverage acoustic tag telemetry, eDNA, and foodweb modeling to advance understanding of inland lake ecosystem dynamics.

MS or PhD Positions in Aquatic/Fisheries Ecology
Ohio State University | Columbus, OH
Program: Evolution, Ecology & Organismal Biology  – MS
Conduct research on the following topics: 1) ecology of western Lake Erie’s yellow perch population; 2) ecology of blue catfish and channel catfish in Ohio reservoirs; and 3) impacts of cyanobacteria blooms and hypoxia on Lake Erie’s food webs and fisheries.

MS or PhD Position: Underlying Mechanisms of Phenotypic Plasticity
University of Dayton | Dayton, OH
Program: Biology – MS, PhD
The student will be expected to develop an independent research program that expands or compliments current research in the lab.

PhD or MS Assistantship: Gizzard Shad Sampling in Reservoirs
Oklahoma State University | Stillwater, OK
Program:Natural Resource Ecology and Management – MS
Develop a protocol for sampling gizzard shad with hydroacoustics and trawls in large highland reservoirs with the freedom to develop project objectives to address larger questions related to forage management or sportfish-prey balance in reservoirs.

PhD Graduate Position in Fish Ecology and Conservation
University of Clemson | Clemson, SC
Program: Wildlife & Fisheries Biology – PhD
Work closely with agency ecologists on research aimed to improve barrier removal prioritization for stream fish passage in the Southeastern US.

PhD and Master’s Students in Conservation Science
University of Tennessee Knoxville 
| Knoxville, TN
Program: Ecology & Evolutionary Biology – MS
This growing research program is seeking applications from prospective graduate students in conservation science. Outstanding students interested in either pursuing a Ph.D. or research-based Masters should apply.

MS or PhD Assistantships in Environmental Toxicology
Texas Tech University | Lubbock, TX 
Environmental Toxicology – MS, PhD
Beginning Spring 2021 applicants may conduct research in a variety of areas depending on interest.

PhD Position Understanding the Role of Dust in Catchment Biogeochemistry
Utah State University
| Logan, UT
Program: Watershed Science – PhD
Explore the role of atmospheric dust in watershed biogeochemical cycles and aquatic ecosystems. The project is primarily focused on understanding the fate and mobility of dust within watersheds.


PhD Graduate Student Positions on the Social-Ecological Dynamic of Fisheries
Virginia Tech/Indiana University | Blacksburg, VA
Program: Fisheries & Wildlife Sciences – PhD
Study the social-ecological dynamics of freshwater fisheries as part of an interdisciplinary project with Virginia Tech and Indiana University.

PhD Position in Seagrass Biodiversity
University of Virginia | Charlottesville, VA
Program: Environmental Science – PhD
Study the patterns and drivers of seagrass biodiversity at the Virginia Coast Reserve Long Term Ecological Research Project.

PhD Position in Ecological Synchrony of Kelp Forests
University of Virginia | Charlottesville, VA
Program: Environmental Sciences – PhD
Study ecological synchrony in giant kelp forests across California, and Baja California, Mexico.

PhD Position in Plant Functional Ecology and Trait Variance
Virginia Commonwealth University | Richmond, VA
Program: Integrative Life Sciences – PhD
Study plant functional ecology and trait variance across spatial and temporal scales using a combination of publicly available data (NEON, FIA, etc.) and field-collected data across our sampling sites in Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Virginia.

PhD Position in Sustainable Agroecosystems
University of Wisconsin-Madison
| Madison, WI
Program: Soil Science – PhD
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Online Programs

Online Environmental Graduate Programs: Are They Right for You?

What if the only thing standing between you and an advanced environmental degree was a computer?

A graduate degree can help you launch a career or even land a promotion. But are online graduate programs right for you and are they available in your field of interest?

Online program availability in the environmental sciences has grown over the years. In the U.S. alone, there are at least 117 online graduate programs in fields like wildlife science, natural resource management, and conservation biology. And with COVID 19 requiring universities to reimagine education delivery, the number of available online courses is likely to increase even more rapidly.

But how do online environmental programs differ from traditional in-person ones? How are courses structured when you’re not physically there to interact with professors, fellow classmates, or perform fieldwork? You may be feeling some uncertainty about environmental programs taught online but don’t worry, I am here to break it down for you.

This article will help you better understand the different types of online degree programs. I will discuss how the programs work and present their pros and cons. My goal is to help you figure out if these programs are right for you.

Let’s dive in.


Online VS In-Person

Online academic programs allow students to earn their degrees primarily or entirely with a computer and an internet connection. Where traditional college programs require students to be onsite and attend in-person, online programs let you physically be anywhere in the world and earn an advanced degree.

There are various pros and cons to earning a graduate degree online (and we will explore those in detail later on). But the advantage of flexibility is what really differentiates online programs.

Where and when you do coursework is up to you as the student. You don’t have to uproot your life to be physically present on campus, on specific days at specific times. For many, this makes the prospect of earning a graduate degree more achievable. Do you work best in the early morning before work, at night when the kids are in bed, or in small free moments throughout the day? Are you already working full time and can’t make it to class?

An online program might be a good fit.

Types of Online Graduate Programs

U.S.-based universities offer over 117 different advanced environmental degrees online, including 66 master’s degrees, 48 certificate degrees, and even 3 doctoral programs. Program subjects include natural resources management, GIS, wildlife science, environmental education, sustainability and more.

Online Master’s and Certificate programs primarily focus on professional development and career advancement.

Certificate Programs

Certificate programs are short, focused programs that consist of just a few core courses. Programs vary in length but are generally 4-6 courses (sometimes more). Students can usually complete programs in 6 to 12 months. Certificate programs frequently specialize in a narrower topic area than Bachelors’s or Master’s degrees. For example, Colorado State University offers a certificate in Communications for Conservation. University of Nebraska Lincoln offers a certificate in Grassland Management. Not all online certificate programs focus so narrowly. For example, Oregon State University offers an online certificate in Wildlife Management.

Master’s Programs

In general, master’s degree programs can offer two distinct educational tracks – a research-based option (usually culminating in the production of a thesis) or a coursework-based option. While in-person programs can follow either track, online programs are almost exclusively coursework based degrees (non-thesis).

Why is that?

Coursework-based programs (non-thesis) are able to structure the curriculum through modules and can be taught via lectures, seminars and discussion boards.

Research-based degrees (thesis), on the other hand, often require student-conducted research and may involve substantial fieldwork, data collection, and analysis. Research requirements are not as well adapted to remote learning.

If you are interested in a research career or pursuing a PhD, a traditional research-based master’s degree is often a good choice.

Online coursework-based programs are geared towards professionals who already have some work experience and are looking to advance in their field.

For example, Prescott College offers several coursework-based environmental master’s programs that are completed entirely online. Their programs present a unique bioregional approach that applies knowledge and skills directly to each student’s local community and ecology. For those already working in their region, there is the opportunity for immediate application of course work in their professional work and vice versa.

Not all programs are exclusively online. Some programs have the option to attend in person or online, but the curriculum is identical. Oregon State University offers a Master’s in Environmental Science that traditionally was only available in-person but beginning Summer 2020 has been offered completely online as well.

What about online and in-person existing in one program? For those that want to have their cake and eat it too. Hybrid programs also exist!

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a blended learning curriculum for a Master’s in Environmental Conservation. The accelerated 15-month program starts with in-person courses in the spring and summer on the Madison campus, and then transitions to online for the remaining terms in the fall and winter. If you’re looking for an on-the-ground connection with people and the land, as well as some flexibility towards the end of a program, a hybrid model could be a great option.


Structure of Online Graduate Programs


So we know that online programs don’t require you to be there in-person but how do they actually work?

Here’s a breakdown of the day-to-day.

Most schools use an online learning management platform. Once enrolled, students access the learning environment through a web browser. College courses use platforms like Canvas, Blackboard or Moodle. Within these platforms students have access to their courses, posted lectures, links, reading files, assignments and discussion boards all in one place. Additionally, students communicate with professors and other students in their courses through messaging systems within the platform.

Many classes follow a weekly timeline for the entire term. For example, students have assigned readings (a scientific journal article maybe), a lecture and a discussion post. Within the week there is the flexibility to accomplish these items. By the end of the week, however, students need to complete the required assignments to stay on track. Many classes have all coursework and deadlines laid out at the start of a term, giving students the opportunity to work ahead if needed.

Some online programs require virtual class attendance. Students must log on at a specific time to meet with their professors and fellow students. Professors use platforms like Zoom, Skype, Slack, Team Viewer and Google Hangouts to give real-time lectures or host class discussions.

If students are located in different timezones, coordinating calls can pose a challenge. As a popular alternative, pre-recorded lectures allow students to listen and “attend” class at their convenience.

For learning technical programs, online tutorials are provided. Tackling programs for GIS mapping or mastering R or Python for statistical analysis can be daunting without in-person support in a computer lab. But regardless of the course structure or topic professors offer help and check-in opportunities through chat, email, video call or screen-share technology.

Pros to Online

Flexibility. One of the biggest advantages of attending school online. Whether you need to be close to home or want the ability to travel, you can earn a degree without committing yourself to a specific geographic location.

Flat-rate tuition. For many schools, there is no in-state or out-of-state tuition when you enroll in an online program. Each student pays a flat tuition rate to be in the program whether they are physically living in the state of the university or in a different country. This allows traditional “out-of-state” students to earn a degree from a highly respected, regionally accredited school in their field, and not have to pay more than another student.

Expanded networking. Unique opportunities for networking exist when physical proximity isn’t a factor. When enrolled in a program where students attend from all across the United States and abroad a more wide-spread network is available – for example, if for example – you are interested in salamanders and have been studying them in the New England area, and you encounter a student who has years of experience studying a related species in the deserts of Arizona. You have the opportunity to share knowledge and resources you might not have otherwise.

Simpler application process. Are you dreading the Graduate Record Exam (or GRE)? Good news, many online graduate programs don’t require you to submit GRE scores. But make sure to read all your program requirements. Some programs may require work experience minimums instead. Additionally, unlike many research-based master’s programs, online programs don’t require you to be accepted by an advisor first. You just apply to the school or program.

Cons to Online

Isolation. Depending on the person and the program, online school can feel isolating. You may never have the opportunity to get to know your professors and the interactions you have with other students may be limited.

Networking challenges. You may notice that networking is a pro and a con. Although technology can increase the range of people for networking, the lack of direct contact can also make it more challenging. Networking in an online program can require more initiative.  It is increasingly important in the professional world to have connections, particularly in competitive environmental fields. But with little opportunity to meet casually, online students need to be savvy and proficient technological communicators.

Technology know-how. As an online student, you will need to navigate technology, virtual presentations, and new online platforms to complete your coursework. If computers and unfamiliar software make you queasy, and you haven’t taken college courses in a while, then you may find it challenging to jump immediately online.

Motivation and work ethic. In order to be successful, students need to be motivated, communicate well and have the ability to fully manage their time. All responsibility is on the student to stay on schedule and complete all necessary assignments and tasks. For self-starters and introverts, this learning style could be perfect. However, for those that are energized by those around them, being alone in a room with just a computer can create hurdles. A graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Environmental conservation master’s program says,

“ some of the classes are pretty easy if you approach them from a homework standpoint, and it can be tempting to skate through. Don’t – you’ll get out exactly what you put in.” 


Alyson Morris is the communications specialist for CJB Network and writes on environmental career development. She is also a graduate student at the University of Oregon and is pursuing her Master’s in Strategic Communication.