Future Grad Student Frequent Questions

Ask questions, get answers

Our advising team has compiled a list of the most common questions they receive from our students, and we are sharing them with you in hopes that these answers will help you on your academic journey. If you have questions not addressed here, you can contact fw.gradadvising@oregonstate.edu for assistance.

General Questions

Students looking for a job can peruse an aggregated list of Job Boards or jobs sent to the FWCS department for circulation.

Ecampus (same price for Oregon residents, out-of-state residents, and international residents)
Corvallis Campus
Summer Session (all tuition is in-state)

See the Tuition Comparison Chart to compare Ecampus and Corvallis Campus rates. Students taking a mixture of courses pay separate tuition and fees for each campus and those are added together. This can end up being quite expensive so students should talk to an advisor if they are unsure what to do.

The notation that a course “does not meet the Graduate School’s stand-alone requirement” means that the course was taught as a “slash” course, with both undergraduate (400-level) and graduate (500-level) students in the same class.  The Graduate School requires that 50% of any Graduate Certificate, Masters, or PhD program be stand-alone courses.

M.S./Ph.D students can view the FWCS class list
PSMFWA students can view the PSMFWA page.
Fisheries/Wildlife Management students can view the graduate certificate page

Students in any program can view the OSU general catalog. 

For online courses see the Ecampus schedule of classes.

M.S. and Ph.D.

We offer thesis-based degrees in Fisheries Science and Wildlife Science. Students typically complete these programs in residence at an OSU campus. For more information about departmental and university requirements, see our guide for thesis-based graduate students

No. Applicants are evaluated by the FWCS faculty for overall merit. GRE scores are no longer considered in the departmental review process and are not required by the OSU Graduate School. Individual faculty may still be interested in seeing GRE scores, so we recommend future students contact faculty members they hope to work with early to see if it will be necessary to take the GREs.

The Test Of English as a Foreign Language score required is 550 on the paper-based test 80 on the Internet (iBT) with a minimum score of 18 on each section. A minimum score of 6.5 on the IELTS or 110 on Duolingo may be used as an alternative to the TOEFL test. International applicants should check the OSU Graduate School Admission page for additional details.

Future students should review the How to Apply information before submitting an application. students must be accepted by a FWCS faculty member before being admitted by the Department. It is beneficial to complete your application early to be sure you are admitted before registration opens.  

Yes, only students who have contacted graduate faculty members and have been accepted into their lab will be admitted. When contacting faculty members by email it's often a good idea to attach (or include information on) your transcripts, a resume, and a statement of objectives. We do not recommend you start your application until you have the support of an FWCS Faculty member.

Master's degrees in Fisheries Science or Wildlife Science require 45 quarter credits minimum with at least 23 credits completed while at OSU. Doctoral degrees in Fisheries Science or Wildlife Science require a minimum of 108 credits. A minimum of 36 thesis credits must be completed after admission to your PhD program.  Our department does not require specific courses for your graduate program beyond three terms of our one credit seminar and one research ethics course. The remainder of your coursework should be planned in consultation with your faculty advisor and graduate committee. Your program of study should be filed by the end of your first year of enrollment in your degree program.

You must meet the minimum admission requirement outlined by the OSU Graduate School. The department does not have any admissions requirements other than those used by the OSU Graduate School. For additional information see our How to Apply information.

Students who do not have a background in the biological science or have a GPA below 2.75 should consider enrolling in our undergraduate post baccalaureate program. Courses to focus on would be statistics, ecology, general biology, chemistry, and math. A second bachelor's degree isn't always needed but could be a good option if you don't have any experience in this field.

Student who have a strong background or field experience in fisheries and wildlife but are having difficulty finding a faculty advisor should consider starting with one of our graduate certificates.


The Professional Science Master's degree in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (PSMFWA) provides advanced training for recent graduates of undergraduate programs looking to enter the workforce and early-career professionals employed by natural resources agencies, non-government organizations, and other entities with a need for expertise in fisheries and wildlife science. The PSMFWA also provides an opportunity for employers to meet their workforce planning goals and contribute to the self-improvement of current employees.

Read more on the program page.

Yes, federal financial aid is available if you are enrolled at least half-time. For graduate students, full-time enrollment is nine credits, and half time is five credits. Federal aid is generally available as student loans. OSU Ecampus does offer a Financial Hardship Grant for students enrolled in online Master's programs.

Students can be admitted to the PSMFWA program in any term (i.e., Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring). Please consult the OSU Academic Calendar for the dates that our terms start. 

Over half of the credits required for this degree are in biophysical sciences, including the internship credits; the rest are in social sciences and business/communication skills. Most of the biophysical science courses require at least a basic background in biology and ecology. We encourage you to review the PSMFWA curriculum and check the course catalog for recommended pre-requisites (most pre-requisites are advisory only at the graduate level). Specific information on graduate courses can be found in the OSU schedule of classes (enter the course number you’re looking for in the QuickJump box).  

We require that you start out in a Graduate Certificate before applying to PSMFWA. Taking the graduate level courses required for the certificate, getting used to online coursework, and finding the right balance of school, work and family are important to your success in the degree program. Your Certificate credits (up to 22) can transfer to PSMFWA or another graduate degree at OSU or any other University.

You cannot be admitted to the PSMFWA program until a member of our graduate faculty has agreed to advise you. For this reason, we typically require that students interested in the PSMFWA start with one of our Graduate Certificate programs. Once you have identified a faculty advisor for your program, you can add the PSMFWA to your overall graduate program at OSU.

All required coursework for the PSMFWA is available through OSU’s online Ecampus program.  If desired, students may also take credits in residence at OSU or at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport, Oregon. We strongly recommend that students review OSU tuition rates before taking anything other than online courses as part of the PSMFWA program.

We do not require GRE scores as part of your PSMFWA application.

There is no minimum level of professional experience required to be considered for the program; however, you may find that professional experience helps you in securing a graduate advisor. A current CV is required in the application materials.

Yes. For more information on connecting with an advisor, please the faculty who advise our students enrolled in our Graduate Certificate programs.

An internship or a capstone project is a required component of Professional Science Masters degrees. We are flexible about working with students to develop a useful project that fits their work schedule and needs. While previous work and “typical” daily activity at your current job cannot count toward the internship or capstone requirement, a “special project” within your agency, a joint project with another agency, or a temporary change of duties or location could be used.  Internship/capstone credits can be spread over several terms - you do not have to complete your this requirement in a single term.


The Fisheries or Wildlife Management Graduate Certificates prepare you to learn effective solutions to complex challenges that arise in the conservation or management fisheries or wildlife populations. These are flexible programs, with a large number of courses that allow the curriculum to be tailored to fit your interests.

Read more on the program page.

Students can apply to be admitted to a Graduate Certificate program in any term (i.e., Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring). In order for us to provide a timely review of your application we ask that you submit all required materials at least four weeks prior to the start of the term for which you are applying. It is highly beneficial to complete your application before registration opens for the academic term of interest. Please consult the OSU Academic Calendar for the dates that our terms start and to determine your application deadline. 

Yes, federal financial aid is available if you are enrolled at least half-time. For graduate students, full-time enrollment is nine credits, and half time is five credits.  Federal aid is generally available as student loans.  

References can be obtained from many sources, including current and former work supervisors, project leaders of internships and volunteer experiences you may have participated in, colleagues with a knowledge of your writing and academic ability, as well as ‘formal’ academic references. Letters from family members and close personal friends are not considered acceptable professional references.

Yes, as long as your courses are a part of the curriculum for the Master’s program you’re interested in pursuing. OSU offers two online Master’s programs that incorporate any the courses in the Fisheries or Wildlife Management Certificate curricula to satisfy a portion of their Master’s program requirements: the Professional Science Master’s in Fisheries and Wildlife Administration (PSMFWA) and the Master’s of Natural Resources (MNR).  Fisheries or Wildlife Management Certificate courses are graduate-level courses and may also be used for other graduate degree programs at OSU and other institutions.

Yes! Up to 9 credits of approved coursework can be transferred into a Graduate Certificate Program. Up to 22 credits can be transferred into a Master's program. There is no limit on the number of credits you can transfer into a PhD program. Please review the Transfer Credit Policies defined by the OSU Graduate School before requesting to transfer past coursework to any graduate program.

Graduate certificate students are assigned an advisor after they are admitted. Please visit our Graduate Certificate website to find contact information for the current program advisors. 

For graduate level courses, OSU does not enforce prerequisites. This means that you will be allowed to register for a course that has prerequisites without a check of your previous coursework. However, you should use the listed prerequisites to determine whether you have the necessary background to succeed in the course.

If you feel that you need a prerequisite course to prepare you for the graduate level class, you may enroll in the preparatory course as a part of your Fisheries or Wildlife Management graduate certificate program of study. You will not be able to count the preparatory course toward your 18 credit Fisheries or Wildlife Management graduate certificate requirements, but you may count it toward your minimum enrollment requirements for financial aid. For example, if you take one graduate level course and one “background” undergraduate course in a term, you will qualify as a half-time student for financial aid purposes, even though only one of the courses is a part of the Fisheries or Wildlife Management graduate certificate curriculum. A list of background courses approved to be used in this way can be found at the bottom of the curriculum sheets for the Fisheries Management and Wildlife Management graduate certificates. 

The online courses offered for the Fisheries or Wildlife Management graduate certificate are delivered through OSU’s learning management system (Canvas).  Most courses are based on readings and assignments posted on Canvas, and student deliverables are due within a given timeframe. There is usually a weekly discussion board where students engage on course topics, and these discussions are often a part of the course grading.  Some instructors offer recorded lectures or other multimedia components or in person meetings via Zoom, but these are structured so that students who are not able to attend in real time are not disadvantaged.

Graduate students may take up to 16 credits each term. For students who are working a full or part-time job in addition to school, we recommend a maximum of two courses per term (6-8 credits).

To meet the University’s minimum enrollment requirement, you must take at least 3 credits each term (except summer term).  If you find that you need to take a term off, please notify the Graduate Program Coordinator at least two weeks prior to the start of the term for which you are intending to take leave. You must complete your Fisheries or Wildlife Management Graduate Certificate program of study within seven years of enrolling.  

We have chosen courses for the Graduate Certificate that meet our desired learner outcomes and have provided a list of several course options for each component of the Graduate Certificate. However, new courses are added to OSU’s curriculum every year, and there may be a course that meets our requirements for the Graduate Certificate but is not on the list. Such a course may not be eligible for financial aid. You should check with your program advisor before taking any course not listed in your Fisheries or Wildlife Management Graduate Certificate Program.

Yes, a Capstone Project (FW 506, 3 credits) is required. For more details please see the capstone project section of our graduate certificate website.

Students should enroll in FW 506 Capstone Project in the last term of their Fisheries or Wildlife certificate program. 

You must submit a Capstone Project Proposal to the Graduate Program Coordinator for approval prior to registration in FW 506 Projects. This will allow us to provide input on your proposal. It will also notify us to grant you the course registration approval required to register for FW 506. 

If you enroll in FW 506 and then find that you cannot complete your project in a single term, you can take a grade of Incomplete and finish your project the next term. Please contact the Graduate Program Coordinator for more details.