Application Process Contents

Please use the links below to jump to specific sections of the application process page.

Faculty Advisors

We strongly recommend that applicants contact individual faculty in the department who work in their area of interest to determine if they are accepting applications before submitting a formal application to the Graduate School or review the positions posted on the Graduate Training Opportunities page.  Most successful applicants have

  1. developed a research focus
  2. prepared a student ‘statement of purpose’ in the area of interest
  3. the ability to relate their desired area of study to that of a particular faculty member
  4. completed a copy of the supplementary application.

Personal contact is very important. Applicants should make this contact at least 6-12 months prior to their anticipated admission, which can be anytime during the year (not only fall semesters). Note: such contact does not ensure admission; it merely serves to initiate a dialog between a student and a potential advisor.  The applicant can learn whether there will be openings when they wish to apply.

Generally, the Department does not routinely accept new graduate students into the program unless they meet all admission requirements. In the vast majority of cases students will only be admitted when:

  1. financial support for the student is currently in the hands of a faculty member, or is assured by the time a student begins, or
  2. a student brings independent funding and has contacted a faculty member who agrees to serve as advisor.

Thus, it is to the applicant’s advantage to contact potential advisors before applying because they may be able to save the application fee if no support is available or faculty are not accepting applications for the term they wish to enter the university.

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Application Materials

The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department requires specific materials for the graduate application.  These materials include

  • Graduate School Application Form and Application Fee
    • All applicants must complete the Graduate School's online application which is available on their Electronic Application website.
  • Supplementary Application
    • To assist the admissions committee in reviewing files, we require applicants to submit a supplementary application.
    • The supplementary application will appear as a part of the Graduate School's electronic application once the applicant selects Forestry or Wildlife Ecology.
  • Resume or CV
    • Applicants must submit resume or CV electronically through the supplementary application.
  • Transcripts
    • Applicants must submit official transcripts for all previous undergraduate and graduate study.
      • Applicants that submit hard copy official transcripts must submit two copies directly to the department (see below for mailing address).
      • Applicants that submit official PDF transcripts must send the transcripts directly to Sara Rodock (
    • Applicants also need upload a single PDF with all of their unofficial transcripts electronically through the supplementary application, applicants should note that this does not replace the need to have official hard copy transcripts sent as a part of the application, applicants should not submit unofficial transcripts via email.
    • International academic records must be in the original language accompanied by an official English translation. Documents must be issued by the school with the official seal/stamp and an official signature.
    • The Forest & Wildlife Ecology department requires all applicants to have a BA/BS degree from an accredited institution.
    • A minimum undergraduate grade-point average of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) on the equivalent of the last 60 semester hours from the most recent bachelor's degree institution is required for regular admission. If an applicant has received a post-baccalaureate degree and the GPA for that degree is above a 3.0, then they may be admitted with full standing even if their undergraduate GPA does not meet the standards above. Under some circumstances, applicants with lower averages are admitted on probation but this is not common.
  • Statement of Purpose
    • This should describe the applicant's graduate program objectives and career focus.
    • Applicants are strongly encourage to describe past research experiences in their statement.
    • The statement of purpose should be around two pages in length.
  • Three Letters of Recommendation
    • These letters are preferably from people acquainted with the applicant's academic, research and/or professional qualifications.
    • The preferred method for submitting letters is online through the Graduate School's electronic format (see the admissions FAQ for more information).
    • Applicants may also submit their letters in hard copy, (must be on letterhead stationery), if the reference is submitting a letter in hard copy the appropriate cover sheet should accompany the letter (Forestry MS, Forestry PhD, Wildlife Ecology MS and Wildlife Ecology PhD).
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores
    • The UW-Madison code is R1846 and no departmental code is needed.
    • The department does not require any subject GRE test scores.
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
    • Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must provide official scores from TOEFL, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB).
    • An admitted applicant whose TOEFL internet based (iBT) test score below 92; TOEFL (paper-based) test score is below 580; TOEFL computer-based test (CBT) score below 237; IELTS score below 7; or MELAB below 82 must take an English assessment test upon arrival. Students must then register for any recommended English as a Second Language (ESL) course(s) in the first enrolled semester.

Note: International student financial information will only be requested by the Graduate School after the departmental recommendation for admission. The Graduate School provides a list of international student expenses

Additional information regarding admission requirements can be found on the Graduate School website. Please refer to the Application Process at a Glance for items that should be sent directly to the Graduate School.

Submitting Application Materials

All materials that are submitted in hard copy should be mailed to:

Sara Rodock
284 Russell Laboratories
1630 Linden Dr
Madison WI 53706

All materials that are submitted electronically (that are not submitted through the Graduate School's online application) can be sent to the Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock.

All questions regarding the admissions process and an individual’s application should also be directed to Student Services Coordinator, Sara Rodock (email), or 608-262-9926.

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The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department accepts applications on a rolling basis; however, it is to the applicant’s advantage to apply as early as possible.  The Graduate School requires all admissions decisions, including reentry requests, to be made 2 weeks before the start of a term.  Applications will not be reviewed until all of the application materials (listed above) have been received.

Fall and Summer Admissions Deadline
There are certain fellowships, awards and prospective student recruitment funds that are only available to applicants who apply by February 1 for the following summer and fall term.  It is strongly recommended that applicants apply by the February 1 preference date unless instructed to do otherwise by a faculty member in the department.

We make every effort possible to have all admissions decisions finalized by April 15 for applicants who submit their materials by the February 1 preference date.

Spring Admissions Deadline
There is no set deadline for spring admissions consideration.

AOF Fellowship Deadline
The Forest and Wildlife Ecology department is a member of the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMed GRS) Program at UW-Madison.  Students eligible for Advanced Opportunity Fellowships (AOF) are strongly encouraged to apply by the January 15th deadline for full fellowship consideration.

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Forestry MS and PhD Curriculum

The Forestry program prescribes no specific graduate coursework beyond seminar requirements due to the diversity of research areas available; students select appropriate graduate-level coursework in consultation with their advisor and a graduate advisory committee.   All MS students are required to write, present, and defend a thesis and all PhD students are required to pass their preliminary exam and produce, present, and defend a dissertation.

For more information on the MS and PhD requirements in Forestry please visit the Forestry Handbook page.

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Wildlife Ecology MS and PhD Curriculum

The Wildlife Ecology program requires all students to meet the Wildlife Ecology prerequisite requirements which include introductory biology; ecology (population ecology and another ecology); conservation biology, wildlife management, natural resources policy, or human dimensions of natural resources; organismal biology; genetics or evolution; plant ecology or plant taxonomy; and college-level geometry, algebra, trigonometry, or calculus.

Additional graduate-level coursework is selected by the students in consultation with their advisor and graduate advisory committee.  All MS students are required to write, present, and defend a thesis and all PhD students are required to pass their qualifying exam and preliminary exam and produce, present, and defend a dissertation.

For more information on the MS and PhD requirements in Wildlife Ecology please visit the Wildlife Ecology Handbook page.

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Last updated December 14, 2015 (SR)

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