Graduate Catalog
2019-2020
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
College of Natural Resources and Environment
The first phase of Cheatham Hall was built in 1972, to provide new classroom, laboratory, and office space for Forestry and Wildlife Resources, then a division of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Constructed at a cost of $1,670,000, the building offered 56,010 square feet of spacious classrooms and offices, all of which boasted paneled walls of different species donated by forest industry companies. The building was dedicated on May 5, 1972.
100, Mail Code:0321 Blacksburg VA 24061
Cheatham Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MS
MS Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
• PhD
PhD Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.5
Offered In:
Email Contact(s):
Web Resource(s):
Phone Number(s):
540/231-5573
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Aug 01
Spring: Jan 01
Summer I: Apr 01
Summer II: Jun 01
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Department Head : Joel Snodgrass
Graduate Program Director : Sarah Karpanty (Assistant Department Head)
Emeriti Faculty: Richard Neves
Professors: Paul Angermeier; James Fraser; Carola Haas; Eric Hallerman; William Hopkins; Donald Orth; Dean Stauffer
Associate Professors: William Ford; James Parkhurst

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Introduction

The Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation offers one of the leading programs of its type. The comprehensive curriculum covers fisheries and wildlife biology and ecology, habitat analysis, and human dimensions of natural resource science and management. Faculty specialties include endangered species management, cold water stream management, conservation genetics, tropic ecology, recycling aquaculture systems, wildlife physiology and ecotoxicology, human-wildlife interactions (including disease transmission), habitat analysis and management, geographic information systems, human dimensions, policy and administration. M.S. programs stress preparation for professional careers in public agencies and private organizations with fisheries and wildlife responsibilities. Doctoral programs stress preparation for research and leadership positions in public agencies and for university faculty positions.

Research centers

The Virginia Cooperative Fisheries and Wildlife Research Unit focuses upon training of graduate students for employment by federal and state fisheries and wildlife management agencies. Founded in 1935, the Unit is supported by the U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division, The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and Virginia Tech University.

The U.S. Forest Service Coldwater Fisheries Research Unit carries out research pertaining to management of fishes on Forest Service lands. Although all aquatic species are of interest, much of the unit's research concerns trout-habitat relationships from the habitat unit to the landscape scales.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Research Unit conducts research aimed at restoration of imperiled freshwater mussels in impacted ecosystems of the Southeast. This research has both field and aquaculture laboratory components.


The Conservation Management Institute (CMI), which grew out of the department's research program, is now a research center within the College of Natural Resources. CMI was established in 2000 to better address multi-disciplinary research questions that affect conservation management effectiveness in Virginia, North America, and the world. Faculty from the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences and other institutions work collaboratively on projects ranging from endangered species propagation to natural resource-based satellite imagery interpretation.

The Horseshoe Crab Research Center (HCRC) is dedicated to providing the information needed for sustainably managing the horseshoe crab (Limulus polyphemus) resource. Since its creation in 2001, the HCRC has produced a steady stream of information useful in both the scientific and management arenas to conserve horseshoe crabs, a resource central to the protection of public health and worth more than $100 million annually to the U.S. economy.

Graduate student organizations

The Fisheries and Wildlife Graduate Student Association advocates for the interests of the graduate student body in departmental and university governance. Within the department, it organizes an orientation program for new graduate students, assigns graduates student desk spaces, and maintains shared computers and printers.

The Virginia Tech Chapter of the American Fisheries Society is an award-winning unit that aims to improve the conservation and sustainability of fishery resources and aquatic ecosystems by advancing fisheries and aquatic science and promoting the development of fisheries professionals.

The Student Chapter of the Wildlife Society at Virginia Tech integrates the experience, knowledge and participation of undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and wildlife professionals to provide learning opportunities and experiences for those with an appreciation for and interest in wildlife.
Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal : 550.0
      • Quantitative : 600.0
      • Analytical : 600.0

We offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Science. Students specialize in either Fisheries or Wildlife Science. Coursework is tailored to the interest and needs of the students in consultation with the student's graduate committee.


Successful applicants to our program usually have grade point averages above 3.5/4.0 (over the last 60 semester hours) and GRE scores at or above 156 (550 on old scale) in verbal and 148 (600 in old scale) in quantitative and analytical areas. Discipline-related experience is always a plus. Students with backgrounds in fisheries, wildlife, or natural resource management tend to be accepted at a higher rate than students with degrees in biology or environmental sciences. Although obviously there are many similarities between the fields, having a solid ecological background, an applied perspective, and background in policy and management is very helpful as you pursue an advanced degree in fisheries and wildlife.
If you do not have a B.S. in a resource management field, and you have the opportunity to take courses in natural resource management or fisheries and wildlife management, you would increase your chances of acceptance. You also might gain a better feel for whether you'd prefer enrolling in an ecology program or a fisheries and wildlife program. We accept students into the Ph.D. program only if they have completed an M.S. degree. We accept students only when a faculty member has financial resources to support stipend, tuition, and research expenses.
Updated lists of available positions are posted on the department's webpage. Please check the list of available positions on a regular basis to see if there are opportunities for the upcoming semesters that match your research interests. Please be aware that we receive some funding opportunities at the last minute. It will be worth re-checking this web site periodically. You may want to check the list of faculty research and academic interests and correspond with a particular faculty member about likely openings in the next year or two. If you submit a formal application, you will be considered for any openings.


All graduate students must conduct M.S. or Ph.D. research projects, in addition to course work chosen in consultation with an advisory committee. Research projects are designed in a student-written research working plan that is approved by the advisory committee. In almost all cases, students are funded on research contracts or teaching assistantships, both of which require substantial work outside of degree requirements. Most graduates are expected to satisfy certification requirements for either the American Fisheries Society or The Wildlife Society; this may require additional course work by students entering the program from other disciplines. All students must deliver at least two seminars and write a semi-technical manuscript about their research. Doctoral students are required to complete a diagnostic assessment of their competencies in five areas of knowledge within the first semester in residence and must teach at least one semester, regardless of funding source. All students are expected to participate in the professional and collegial life of the department and its professional specialty by attending seminars and professional meetings, participating in student organizations, and serving on departmental and professional committees.

Offered In ()

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.5
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0
  • GRE
    • General Test
      • Verbal : 550.0
      • Quantitative : 600.0
      • Analytical : 600.0
We offer M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences. Students specialize in either Fisheries or Wildlife Science. Coursework is tailored to the interest and needs of the students in consultation with the student's graduate committee.
Successful applicants to our program usually have grade point averages above 3.5/4.0 (over the last 60 semester hours) and competitive GRE scores in quantitative and analytical areas. Discipline-related experience is always a plus. Students with backgrounds in fisheries, wildlife, or natural resource management tend to be accepted at a higher rate than students with degrees in biology or environmental sciences. Although obviously there are many similarities between the fields, having a solid ecological background, an applied perspective, and background in policy and management is very helpful as you pursue an advanced degree in fisheries and wildlife.
If you do not have a B.S. in a resource management field, and you have the opportunity to take courses in natural resource management or fisheries and wildlife management, you would increase your chances of acceptance. You also might gain a better feel for whether you'd prefer enrolling in an ecology program or a fisheries and wildlife program. We accept students into the Ph.D. program only if they have completed an M.S. degree. We accept students only when a faculty member has a sponsored contract to support stipend, tuition, and research expenses.
Updated lists of available positions are posted on the department's webpage. Please check the list of available positions on a regular basis to see if there are opportunities for the upcoming semesters that match your research interests. Please be aware that we receive some funding opportunities at the last minute. It will be worth re-checking this web site periodically. You may want to check the list of faculty research and academic interests and correspond with a particular faculty member about likely openings in the next year or two. If you submit a formal application, you will be considered for any openings.
All graduate students must conduct M.S. or Ph.D. research projects, in addition to course work chosen in consultation with an advisory committee. Research projects are designed in a student-written research working plan that is approved by the advisory committee. In almost all cases, students are funded on research contracts or teaching assistantships, both of which require substantial work outside of degree requirements. Most graduates are expected to satisfy certification requirements for either the American Fisheries Society or The Wildlife Society; this may require additional course work by students entering the program from other disciplines. All students must deliver at least two seminars and write a semi-technical manuscript about their research. Doctoral students are required to take a diagnostic exam within the first semester in residence and must teach at least one semester, regardless of funding source. All students are expected to participate in the professional and collegial life of the department and its professional specialty by attending seminars and professional meetings, participating in student organizations, and serving on departmental and professional committees.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Facilities Introduction

The department maintains facilities in Cheatham and Latham Halls for laboratory analysis, small-scale aquatic experiments, small-animal holding, computer analysis, and geographic information systems. Latest computer technology is available. The department collaborates frequently with the Conservation Management Institute, a research, survey, and outreach organization that grew out of the department's research program. Off campus aquaculture laboratories provide state-of-the-art facilities for endangered species aquaculture. Center Woods is an off-campus woodlot housing captive animal facilities for black bear and other animals. Most student research, however, is conducted in field locations; most projects are in Virginia and adjacent states, but current projects also occur in Alaska, South Dakota, Florida, and other states, as well as Belize, Indonesia, Botswana, and other countries.

Julian Cheatham Hall

Cheatham Hall houses the department's teaching and most of its research laboratories, computer labs, faculty and graduate student offices, and administration. Key research spaces include laboratories focusing upon applied mammal and fish ecology, human dimensions of natural resources management, wildlife ecology, fish landscape ecology, wildlife behavioral ecology, threatened and endangered species, fluvial fishes and wildlife habitat and population analysis.

Latham Hall

Dedicated in 2006, Latham Hall provides well-outfitted laboratory space, environmentally controlled chambers, a necropsy room, and a walk-in freezer. Laboratory and research spaces include: the Fish Ecology and Management Laboratory, Wildlife Ecotoxicology and Physiological Ecology Laboratory, and the Ecological Research Archive.

Off-Campus Facilities

Two research groups, the conservation genetics and ecotoxicology groups, have research laboratories in the Corporate Research Center approximately two miles from the main Blacksburg campus. 

 

Off campus aquaculture laboratories provide state-of-the-art facilities for aquaculture of imperiled species, focusing on freshwater mollusk.

 

Center Woods is an off-campus woodlot housing captive animal facilities for black bear and potentially for other animals.

 

Most student research is conducted in field locations; most projects are in Virginia and adjacent states, but current projects also occur in Alaska, South Dakota, Florida, and other states, as well as Belize, Indonesia, Botswana, and other countries.

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