Graduate Catalog
2020-2021
 
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.
310 West Campus Drive, Mail Code:0321 Blacksburg VIRGINIA 24061
Cheatham Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MS
MS Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.0
Offered In:
Blacksburg
• PhD
PhD Degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences
Minimum GPA: 3.5
Offered In:
Blacksburg
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 : Emmanuel Frimpong (Associate Department Head for Graduate Affairs)
Emeriti Faculty: Steve McMullin; Brian Murphy; Richard Neves
Professors: Kathleen Alexander; Paul Angermeier; C Dolloff; James Fraser; Emmanuel Frimpong; Carola Haas; Eric Hallerman; William Hopkins; Yan Jiao; Sarah Karpanty; Marcella Kelly; Donald Orth; Dean Stauffer
Associate Professors: Leandro Castello; William Ford; James Parkhurst
Assistant Professors: Ashley Dayer; Luis Escobar Quinonez; Francesco Ferretti; Holly Kindsvater

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, marine fisheries and conservation, 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 an applied research center within the Department. 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.


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, raises funds to support student travel to professional meetings, 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 administration and organization of the chapter is completely student controlled.

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 (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.0
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 550.0
    • Computer
      • 213.0
    • iBT
      • 80.0

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). 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 would 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 checking this web site regularly. 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. 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 (Blacksburg)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.5
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • iBT
      • 80.0

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). 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 would 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 checking this web site regularly. 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. 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.

Fish and Wildlife Conservation Facilities Introduction

The department maintains facilities in Cheatham and Latham Halls and the Integrated Life Sciences Biulding for laboratory analysis, small-scale aquatic experiments, small-animal holding, computer analysis, and geographic information systems. The latest computer technology is available. 

The Wild Animal Research Facilities (WARF) are located at the edge of the campus adjacent to an approximately 45 ac. woodlot that serves as a living-learning outdoor laboratory for research and teaching. The WARF consist of aquaculture laboratories that provide state-of-the-art facilities for aquaculture and endangered aquatic species propagation, the research aviary, and the black bear holding and research facilties.

Black Bear Research Facility

The Black Bear Research Facility provide housing and secondary and tertiary containment for adult and juvenile bears. The facility has associated investigator housing and laboratory space designed for physiological investigations.

Conservation Aquaculture Center

The Conservation Aquaculture Center is an approximately 5400 sq ft building designed for the culture and propagation of aquatic organisms. There are a range of tanks and other artificial aquatic habitat available from 10 gallon aquariums to artificial streams and large aquaculture tanks. The open and flexible space of this facility allows set-up of just about any aquaculture configuration or experimental design.

Integrated Life Sciences Building

Genetics and disease ecology laboratories are located in the Integrated Life Sciences Building in the Corporate Research Park at the south end of campus. The laboratories and accompanying shared facilities of ILSB provide modern genetic analyses and BSL Level 2 space.

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 on 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.

Mussel Propagation Center

The Mussel Propagation Center is an open, reconfigurable aquaculture facility designed specifically for the propagation of North American freshwater mussels. An adjacent pond provides a food source for young mussels and the facility is equipped to house fish that function as hosts for the mussel larvae. An adjacent grow-out facility provides the production capacity to support reintroduction and augmentation programs for endangered mussel species.

Research Aviary

Our Research Aviary is a unique facility with 16 replicated aviary rooms and is located at our Wild Animal Research Facilities. Each room can house a small flock of songbirds or can house family groups of species. Other features include partial roofing of each room with an outer, mesh-enclosed area so the birds can experience daylight cycles and natural temperature changes, but remain sheltered from extreme weather.
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