The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences offers four degree programs. Traditional Masters of Science and Ph.D. degrees are in wildlife and fisheries sciences. The department also offer two distance education programs, a Masters of Wildlife Science and a Masters of Natural Resource Development. Both of these programs are non-thesis. The Masters of Natural Resources Development in offered as an interdisciplinary degree with the departments of Ecosystem Science and Management and Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences. These programs prepare students for careers with academic institutions, governmental agencies and private business/industry. Studies in environmental conservation and education are available to those students interested in preparing themselves for public service in a number of fields other than research and management. The non-thesis Masters programs are designed to give students broad academic training combined with practical experience, to develop problem-solving and management skills. The MS (thesis option) and Ph.D. degrees require a strong background in the basic and applied sciences, particularly as they relate to whole-organism biological systems. The latter two degrees involve intensive research, and the resulting thesis or dissertation must demonstrate a superior knowledge and understanding of the subject area.
Graduate study in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences normally requires some breadth in several disciplines, which differ among courses of study and are dependent on candidate background. The academic program of study is tailored to the background and educational goals of each degree candidate in consultation with his or her Graduate Advisory Committee. International students are required to meet a foreign language requirement set forth by the university.
Research activities in the department involve vertebrates, invertebrates, plants and natural-resource systems, and span the broad fields of wildlife ecology and management, fisheries ecology and management, aquaculture, biodiversity and systematics, conservation education, and the human dimensions of wildlife and fisheries resource management. Research in these fields is supported by disciplinary expertise in aut- and synecology, evolutionary biology, resource sociology, animal behavior, physiology, animal diseases and parasitology, bioenergetics, nutrition, genetics, and systems analysis and modeling. Although much of the research program is without geographic bounds, the more site-specific aspects of the program focus on Texas, Mexico and the neotropics.
Facilities for research and graduate education include over forty laboratories with modern and sophisticated scientific instrumentation; an NSF-sponsored Center for Biosystematics and Biodiversity; the Biodiversity Research and Teaching Collections, which is among the largest collections of animals and genetic tissues in the New World; the Marine Mammal Research Facilities at Galveston; an Aquacultural Research and Teaching Facility (laboratory and ponds) devoted to study of fish and invertebrate production for food and sport fishing; and, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division and Brazos Research Station, which focuses on problems of environmental toxicology. Provisions for research in marine mammalogy, marine fisheries ecology and mariculture are available at Texas A&M University in Galveston. Field studies may be conducted at the Texas A&M University System’s off-campus research and extension centers. Texas A&M is a member of the Archbold Tropical Research Center on the Caribbean island of Dominica. Graduate students are eligible to apply for usage of laboratory and field facilities at both of these locations.
Some faculty members in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences have appointments on the intercollegiate faculties of Genetics, Ecology, Nutrition, Toxicology, and Marine Biology; graduate students are also eligible to seek degrees in those areas. The department also encourages interdisciplinary research efforts with other departments, and within the Institutes of Marine Life Sciences and Renewable Natural Resources.
The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences requires all MS and PhD students to meet residency requirements as set forth by Texas A&M University. Master of Science students must complete 9 credit hours during one semester on campus. Students who enter the doctoral degree program with baccalaureate degrees must spend three semesters, of 9 hours each, on the campus. Students who hold master’s degrees when they enter the doctoral degree program must spend two semesters, of 9 hours each, in resident study on the campus. Students who are employed full-time while completing their degree may fulfill residence requirements by completion of less than full-time course loads each semester. To be considered, a student must submit a Petition for Waiver and Exceptions along with verification of employment to the Office of Graduate Studies.