The Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences offer four degree programs: the traditional Master of Science (M.S.) and Ph.D. degrees and two non-thesis Master’s distance education degrees: Master of Wildlife Science and a Master of Natural Resource Development.
The Master of Natural Resources Development is offered as an interdisciplinary degree between the Departments of Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and Ecosystem Science and Management. Both non-thesis Master’s 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 Master’s programs are designed to give students broad academic training combined with practical experience, to develop problem-solving and management skills. More information on the non-thesis Master’s programs.
The M.S. (thesis) and Ph.D. degree programs require a strong background in the basic and applied sciences, particularly as they relate to whole-organism biological systems. These degrees involve intensive research, and the resulting thesis or dissertation must demonstrate 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 the student’s graduate advisory committee.
Research activities in the department involve vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, 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 autecology 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; 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 the 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.