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M.S. Wildlife Ecology

Wildlife ecology has grown as an area of study and concern and is now a major factor determining land/water use, wildlife populations, and recreation in the United States. Wildlife issues are no longer confined to hunting, fishing, and agricultural pursuits, but rather encompass much larger issues pertaining to energy sources, urban and suburban development, overpopulation of some species, threatened and endangered species, water use and availability, and coastal development. Nowhere is this more pronounced than in Central Texas.

Texas State University is torn between the demands of a burgeoning human population, and the requirements of wildlife species for habitat. These conflicts increase with the growth of human populations, and ethical and practical consequences of development must be considered as new challenges present themselves. These areas of concern bring with them positions requiring well-trained wildlife ecologists.

Faculty Involved:

Ivan Castro-Arellano Michael Forstner Clay Green
David Huffman Thomas Simpson Joseph Veech
Butch Weckerly    


The wildlife ecology program at Texas State has a long history of interagency cooperation with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Students have been supported financially in research by interagency contracts and many graduates of Texas State are employed by these agencies. Cooperation with these agencies has allowed students on the cutting edge of wildlife research in the state. As a result, student interest in wildlife ecology has risen substantially - especially at the Master’s level. 

Even though opportunities for students trained in wildlife ecology continue to increase, the field remains highly competitive and demanding in the selection of individuals for each job. In this competitive climate, a M.S. degree in wildlife ecology is a more and more necessary for employment.

Night Heron

Photo by Aaron Hudnall

Research Opportunities 

The ability to study and conduct research at the forefront of this discipline is greater here than almost anywhere in Texas. Six ecological regions are located within a two-hour drive from campus. Research options for students are varied including: White-tailed deer ecology and genetics, endangered bird species, and the ecology of turtles, toads, or bats. 

The Degree 

The M.S. in Wildlife Ecology is a more specialized degree plan with an emphasis on the practical application of ecological principles in the field and research leading to a thesis. Students are required to complete a minimum of two graduate courses in statistics or ecological methodology and analysis. Courses in geographic information systems (GIS) are recommended. The objectives of the degree are to provide:

  • A high quality M.S. for students with an undergraduate degree in ecology, biology, zoology or wildlife biology.
  • The knowledge and skills required to enter a highly competitive job market in natural resource management.
  • ‚ÄčAdvanced studies in wildlife management and ecology.

Components (30-hour minimum)

  • The seminar component of three to four hours consists of courses in methods of research and seminars.
  • Core wildlife ecology courses including two advanced statistics courses from the 21 to 22 hours of the ecological foundation. Based on the nature of the research, a graduate student may take courses that assist in data analysis.
  • These support courses may substitute for prescribed deceives under the ecological foundation component. The student's major professor and/or graduate committee develop a plan of study with courses that relate to the student's research.
  • The thesis component of six hours comprises the research data collection and writing of the thesis.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements and information can be found at:

Financial Assistance

Departmental assistantships are available to academically qualified graduate students. The basic stipend is for a nine-month academic year. Financial assistance is offered by the university in the form of loans, scholarships, grants, or part-time employment

The Texas State University Environment

Texas State University has uniquely combined rapid growth with a small college atmosphere. Located in San Marcos, Texas, it is situated in an ecologically strategic position; within a 100 mile radius of the campus are several physiographic regions. These are the Gulf Prairie, Post Oak Savannah, Blackland Prairie, Cross Timbers, South Texas Plains and Edwards Plateau. This great diversity of terrestrial ecological systems provides excellent natural laboratories for study and research in wildlife biology. Facilities for controlled experimentation with wildlife are available near the campus at the Pollard Refuge, the 3500-acre Freeman Ranch and Spring Lake. On-campus classes are taught in a modern laboratory-classroom. A research collection is available for comparative studies.