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Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology M.F.W.C.B.

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

This program focuses on the ecology and management of wild animals, for their benefit and the benefit of humans. With human impacts on the environment increasing, wildlife-inhabited lands are being changed or lost at unprecedented rates.

Earn your master’s degree in conservation and wildlife biology online

Managing wildlife includes activities such as study design, data collection, and communication to constituencies so policies can be selected that have positive outcomes for both wildlife and humans. This degree provides the training you need to effectively guide studies, decisions, and policies related to wildlife management.

This intensive, coursework-only online master's degree is designed for professionals working in the fish, wildlife, and conservation biology field. Students will broaden their critical thinking on current issues and receive the training to be successful in careers at natural resources agencies, firms, and non-government organizations.

A program for biologists and conservation professionals with a fish and wildlife focus

Faculty incorporate their research and field work experience into coursework and discussions with online students. Examples of recent issues that FWCB faculty have been involved with include:

  • The impacts of natural gas development and associated habitat mitigation on wildlife (e.g., mule deer, greater sage-grouse, small mammals including bats, and an array of avian species).
  • The introduction and management of whirling disease-resistant rainbow trout in Colorado.
  • Behavioral ecology of the (critically endangered) waved albatross in the Galápagos Islands.
  • Understanding African elephant behavior, ecology, and associated human-wildlife conflicts.

Flexible course delivery to fit your schedule

This wildlife and conservation biology degree is offered online in a flexible, asynchronous study format optimal for working professionals. Courses are delivered online using the Canvas online learning management system, which offers forums for collaboration with other students and faculty.

What you learn

Build your knowledge base and understanding of how to review scientific information; analyze, interpret, and explain data; develop and communicate strategies and plans; and make complex decisions to successfully manage fish and wildlife while considering budgets, stakeholders, and human values. Topics of study include:

  • Conservation biology: theory and practice
  • Issues in wildlife-human conflicts
  • Fish and wildlife study design
  • Applied sampling, analysis, and data interpretation
  • Population dynamics and habitat management

Summary of admission requirements

Before applying to this program, please make sure you meet the following admission criteria:

  • A B.A. or B.S. degree in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology (F.W.C.B.) or a closely related discipline.
  • A minimum of 2 years full-time professional employment post-bachelor's degree, with work focusing on F.W.C.B. or a closely related field.
  • A 3.00 GPA or higher on all undergraduate coursework. Exceptions to this are made on a case-by-case basis.*
  • GRE scores are not required.

*Review the full admission requirements, applications deadlines, and other information in the How to Apply section.

Explore Careers Open Accordion

Graduates of CSU's Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology have worked and work for employers such as:

  • USDA National Wildlife Research Center
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • National Park Service
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service
  • US Forest Service
  • Alberta Environment and Parks
  • The Center for Environmental Management of Military Lands
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom
  • The Nature Conservancy
Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

Kyle F

Kyle F.

“The Master’s in Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (M.F.W.C.B.) program offered many benefits over the competition. Pacing is self-directed, which was extremely attractive because I spend so much time in the field. I gained the technical foundation in recent science and a broad understanding of the whole field of conservation biology, both of which I apply daily when considering project implications and disaster recovery actions. I recommend the M.F.W.C.B. program to any professional who is looking to broaden their technical scientific knowledge base, or who is looking for better understanding of the driving factors in global conservation biology trends.”

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU’s online fish, wildlife, conservation, and biology program you receive the same education and earn the same regionally accredited degree as students on campus. Additionally, you can expect:

A Program with a Strong Legacy: Earn your wildlife biology degree from a department with a strong national reputation for fish and wildlife management. Our reputation is backed by the number of prominent federal, state, and local agencies that have facilities here at CSU and have research partnerships with faculty.

A Non-Thesis Degree: The master’s in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology does not require you to complete a thesis or research project. Instead, this course-intensive degree focuses on preparing graduates with applicable tools for addressing conservation problems and the communication and decision-making skills to implement science-based conservation.

Instruction from Expert Faculty: Courses are taught by faculty who share their own research and applied experiences in the online classroom. Learn from experts leading current projects, both in the lab and in the field, and gain first-hand knowledge of the most pressing issues facing fish and wildlife management today.

The Skills to Make an Impact: Learn how to set actionable fish and wildlife conservation efforts in motion that use quantitative methods to articulate need and sound reasoning. Our program provides a strong foundation in ecological theory and the tools needed to apply that theory to solve pressing issues in fish and wildlife management.

Improved Communication Skills: Gain an understanding of the social elements critical to communicating with various stakeholder groups, resolving conflict between them, and driving them to action.

A Program for Working Professionals: Study in-depth content focused on statistics, decision making, and knowledge of physical, chemical, and biological processes – all critical components to fish and wildlife conservation efforts. This program is designed for working professionals needing to apply this knowledge immediately to their jobs.

Curriculum Open Accordion

Gain the knowledge and skills to confidently design, review, and interpret studies and communicate their results in order to arrive at informed decisions related to natural resource management.

Coursework will provide students with an advanced knowledge in ecology and conservation of fish and wildlife and develop competencies in:

  • Population ecology, sampling, and advanced quantitative/statistical methods.
  • Wildlife habitat management strategies.
  • Current issues in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology such as maintaining biodiversity, endangered species management, and potential impacts of climate change on species management.
  • Effective strategies for conservation decision making including stakeholder identification, communication, and conflict resolution.
  • Understanding human/wildlife interactions including animal damage and zoonotic diseases.


The master's in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology requires completion of 30 credits, including 21 credits of required core coursework and 9 credits of electives. This is a coursework-only degree and does not require completion of a thesis.

  • Up to 9 credits may be taken before formal admission to the program.
  • 24 credits must be earned from Colorado State University, 21 of which must be earned after formal admission.
  • Course substitutions may be possible with approval of the Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology Department

Required Courses

Students must complete 21 credits (7 courses) from the following list. The eighth core course can be taken as an elective, contributing to the 9 credits of electives (see below).


Students choose at least 9 credits from the following elective courses (if they are using an eighth core course as an elective (see above) they will only need 6 credits from this list):

How to Apply Open Accordion

Application Deadlines

Fall semester April 1
Spring semester October 1

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1 Review Admission Requirements

The Master of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology requires that students have the following:

  • A B.A. or B.S. degree in fish, wildlife, and conservation biology (F.W.C.B.) or a closely related discipline.
  • A minimum of 2 years full-time professional employment post-bachelor's degree, with work focusing on F.W.C.B. or a closely related field.
  • A 3.00 GPA or higher on all undergraduate coursework. Exceptions to this are made on a case-by-case basis.
    • No specific coursework is required but courses in ecology, introductory calculus, and statistics are prerequisites for a number of the online Master degree program’s core courses. Because applicants are working professionals, having the equivalent knowledge and skills from job settings could be used to meet a course prerequisite with instructor approval.
    • Applications are reviewed for the presence of courses in the three topics listed above. If such courses are not readily apparent on a transcript, the applicant must explain briefly in their Personal Statement how equivalent knowledge to an undergraduate course has been gained in that topic or how the applicant plans to address this deficiency through coursework if admitted to the program.
  • GRE scores are not required.

Note that meeting the minimum department standards does not ensure admission to the program. Admission is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience, references, and the Personal Statement.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

  • Three letters of recommendation
    Three professional recommendations are required. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf. Request letters from at least two of the following:
    • Previous or current college/university instructors
    • Previous or current immediate professional supervisors
    • Observers other than supervisors who can verify the professional or intellectual expertise of the applicant. Letters from friends, relatives or character witnesses are considered only supplemental to the three required reference letters
  • Resume
    Provide a detailed professional employment history and any publications, written reports, presentations, collegiate work, service activities, applicable trainings, and awards. The resume should demonstrate how the applicant meets all of the listed Admission Requirements. Dates of professional employment should clearly indicate how the applicant has a minimum of 2 years full-time professional employment post-bachelor's degree at the time the resume is submitted.
  • Statement of purpose
    This focused statement should include information on past work experience specifically related to F.W.C.B. and natural resources and the applicant’s educational and long-term professional goals, addressing how the F.W.C.B. online Master degree program will contribute to both. Additionally, if courses listed under Review Admission Requirements are not readily apparent on the transcript, the applicant must explain briefly in the Personal Statement how equivalent knowledge has been gained in that topic or how the applicant plans to address this deficiency through coursework if admitted to the program.

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology (M.F.W.C.) – Distance" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Official Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Morgan Parsley
Prospective Student Support Coach
Schedule Time to Talk

Program Details

$705 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Master of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology
Time Frame
Can be completed in 2.5 years
Admission Reqs.
  • Bachelor’s degree in a closely related discipline
  • A 3.00 GPA or higher on all undergraduate coursework. Exceptions to this are made on a case-by-case basis.
  • Two years professional, post-bachelor’s degree experience in a related field

Application Dates

Fall semester
April 1
Spring semester
October 1

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