Master of Wildlife Conservation

NOTE:  As of 9/1/2023, the department is temporarily suspending applications to the Master of Wildlife Conservation (M.W.C) program.  Please check back periodically for updates.

The University of Maine’s M.W.C. is a non-thesis degree for students who wish to focus strongly on the coursework portion of a degree rather than a thesis. It has allowed past students with undergraduate degrees in subjects such as history, sociology, political science, geology, and theology to develop a foundation in ecological sciences and natural resource management. All of our M.W.C. graduates have found rewarding careers. For example, they have included:

  • An environmental planner for one of Maine’s Native American tribal governments.
  • The founder of an environmental group on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi.
  • The policy and development director for a conservation organization in Vermont.
  • The founder of a consulting firm that undertakes non-lethal management of beavers all over North America and abroad.
  • Two conservation managers for The Nature Conservancy.
  • Director of one of the Massachusetts Audubon Society’s sanctuaries.
  • Two staff members of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

M.W.C. students may focus their courses within three general focus areas: conservation biology, fisheries, or wildlife management and science. Given that everyone has a different background and interests each student’s set of courses will be unique. Although M.W.C. students must meet the same set of course requirements as all of our graduate students, these requirements are quite broad and allow significant latitude for individual choice.

Admission Requirements

Acceptance to the University of Maine (UMaine) graduate programs in wildlife ecology (WLE) is highly competitive. Most successful applicants have an excellent academic record (3.4-4.0 GPA), high scores on the Graduate Record Examination, substantial practical experience through summer or post-graduate employment, and strong letters of recommendation.

Financial Assistance

Financial support such as stipends and tuition waivers are not readily available for our M.W.C. programs. Occasionally limited support may become available (e.g. working as a research technician during the summer) but these opportunities are highly unpredictable. Thus students must be responsible for both their cost of living and tuition, which varies depending on residency (Maine, New England, Canada, or elsewhere). Check the Funding link on the Graduate School home page for details on tuition and fees

Inquiries and Applications

Applications for the M.W.C. program are reviewed periodically from January through March for programs that begin in September. Thus March 31 is a deadline but earlier applications are strongly encouraged. Open houses may be organized during this period for candidates who would like to visit campus and meet our faculty and other grad students.

Course Requirements for All Graduate Degrees

As with undergraduate degrees, course requirements are intended to balance the specific informational requirements of graduate research projects with a wider perspective to be shared by successful students in the Department.

Requirements for degrees include:

  1. A demonstrated breadth of learning will include topics of Biology and Ecology, Natural Resource Management, and Analytical Tools.  This may be satisfied by a) the completion of coursework prior to initiating graduate degree work at the University of Maine (at or above level 300, or approved by the graduate coordinator) or b) by coursework taken at UMaine as part of the degree program (level 400 or above, or as approved by the graduate coordinator).  A total of 30 credit hours of the following topics are required from a combination of undergraduate and graduate work, however, only the graduate-level coursework conducted during the graduate program will count towards the required graduate degree credits (see graduate-level course requirement sections, below).
    Ecology and Organismal Biology – 9 credits* which may include:  Botany, Ecology, Zoology (Vertebrate or Invertebrate), Anatomy, Physiology, Evolution
    Natural Resource Management – 9 credits* which may include:  Habitat Conservation, Resource Economics, Policy, Conservation, Social Science, Human Ecology
    Analytical Tools – 9 credits* to include:  Statistics (3 credit minimum) and additional statistics coursework or courses in Population Dynamics, Geographic Information Systems, or Modeling*Note that the listed requirements sum up to 27 credits, thus one topical area will require 12 rather than 9 credits).
  2. At least three courses must be taken within the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Conservation Biology (either taught by our faculty or with a WLE designator).  One of these three courses must be at a 500 level or greater.
  3. Meeting the minimum course credit requirements for the graduate degree program (specific to M.S., M.W.C., and Ph.D.) as described below.

Course Work Requirements for M.W.C.

A minimum of 30 units of graduate credit (Course work and thesis credits) are required for the M.W.C. degree.  A minimum of 24 units of coursework (400 level or greater) is required, and of this, at least 12 credits must be derived from courses designated 500 level or above.  At least three credits and no more than six must be an independent project.  Prerequisite coursework below the 400 level may not be included as part of the core curriculum of the graduate program.  The coursework for the M.W.C. program will be selected by the student and the advisor during the first semester of study, subject to approval by the graduate committee.

Graduate Committee Composition

The committee will consist of three or more graduate faculty members, including at least one from outside the Department.  Cooperating faculty who hold a joint appointment in the Department serve as an external member on graduate committees.

Independent Project

The independent study will be on a topic selected by the student and advisory committee.  The submission of a formal report for approval by the advisory committee is required.  Though this is not a thesis, it will require significant scholarship and should exhibit the quality of presentation suitable for publication.

Final Oral Exam

Upon completion of coursework and the independent project, a candidate for the M.W.C. degree is required to successfully complete an oral examination on general relevant issues, but emphasizing the topic for the independent study.  As part of the examination, a seminar on the independent project must be presented to the Department, usually before the oral defense.  To facilitate meaningful reading of the project, an approved draft of the report must be to the committee at least three weeks prior to the exam.