Master of Science in Ecology 3+2

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Science
    • Accelerated Master's Degree

    Get Involved

    Research Opportunities 

    While you can work anywhere in the world to conduct research, you can also find great opportunities to work with faculty on projects such as:

    • Aquatic Ecology: Monitoring and assessing aquatic ecosystems in the West.
    • Fisheries Biology: Evaluating and managing aquatic ecosystem health and human activities to maintain sustainable fish populations for commercial, recreational and conservation purposes.
    • Forest and Fire Ecology: Investigating the role of wildfire and climate on forest ecology and management in the West.
    • Invasive Species Ecology: Working with land managers to identify and implement methods for invasive species control and restoration of native communities.
    • Population and Conservation Ecology: Investigating population dynamics of rare plants.
    • Terrestrial Ecosystem Ecology: Quantifying changes in carbon and nutrients under different disturbance regimes and land management strategies in the Arctic and western Colorado.
    • Wildlife Ecology: Studying habitat relationships and land management consequences to wildlife populations and communities.


    Institutional Scholarships

    Common Scholarships

    Western offers approximately 70 common scholarships for which a wide variety of students are eligible (e.g., locals, veterans, transfers). Apply for any number of these common scholarships using Western’s Common Scholarship Application, which is due April 1. For more information, visit

    Early Action Credit

    If a student is accepted to Western by Nov. 1 and qualifies for a merit scholarship, the student will receive an additional $500 for the first year. Use our Net Price Calculator to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship.

    Mountaineer Alumni Recommendation Scholarship

    Western Colorado University alumni can nominate prospective students for a $500 scholarship ($250 per semester) for first year only. Application deadline is typically June 1. For more information, visit

    Neighboring States Program

    Students with a permanent address from one of the seven contiguous neighboring states to Colorado who have demonstrated financial need are automatically considered for a special $1,000 per year grant, totaling $4,000 over four years.

    The Western Neighboring States program can be added to WUE, CP or merit scholarships. So, if you are a permanent resident of one of those seven states—and show financial need—you are eligible.

    For more information about the Neighboring States program, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Presidential Promise

    The Presidential Promise is guaranteed to students who have received a scholarship through the Denver Scholarship Foundation (DSF) and/or GearUp—and are eligible for a Pell Grant.

    For students who meet these criteria, Western will cover the cost of tuition and fees through the combination of federal, state and institutional aid. For more information on the Presidential promise, visit

    Tuition Discount Programs

    Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE) or Central Plains (CP) tuition represents a substantial savings relative to normal, out-of-state tuition. Students eligible for the WUE or CP program will be charged 150% of Western’s total in-state tuition. For 2018-19, total in-state tuition was $8,934. WUE/CP tuition was $13,401. The WUE/CP discount is valued at $4,695.

    For more information about the WUE and CP geography-based programs, visit Western’s Tuition Discount Programs Page.

    Western Merit Scholarship

    Immediately upon acceptance at Western, every student is considered for a merit scholarship worth between $2,500-$4,500 per year for in-state students and $8,000-$10,000 for out-of-state students. The amount is based on the student's GPA and ACT/SAT scores. Visit our Net Price Calculator at to determine whether you qualify for a merit scholarship. 

    For more information about merit scholarships at Western, visit

    Faculty & Staff


    Kevin Alexander, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of Biology; Chair, Department of Natural and Environmental Sciences
    Phone: 970.943.3405
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 143C
    Robin A. Bingham, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of Biology
    Phone: 970.943.3355
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 222
    Jonathan Coop, Ph.D. headshot
    Associate Professor
    Phone: 970.943.2565
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 105
    Brian Dalton, Ph.D. headshot
    Lecturer in Biology
    Phone: 970.943.2287
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 132
    Jennie DeMarco, Ph.D. headshot
    Lecturer in Environment & Sustainability
    Phone: 970.943.2013
    Office Location: Leslie J. Savage Library 303
    Derek  D. Houston, Ph.D. headshot
    Thornton Chair in Biology
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 143B
    Corrie Knapp, Ph.D. headshot
    Associate Professor of Environment & Sustainability
    Phone: 970.943.3154
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 116
    Patrick Magee, Ph.D. headshot
    Assistant Professor of Wildlife & Conservation Biology
    Phone: 970.943.7121
    Office Location: Hurst Hall 143A
    Jessica Young, Ph.D. headshot
    Professor of Environment & Sustainability, Master in Environmental Management and Master of Science in Ecology
    Phone: 970.765.8488
    Office Location: Kelley Hall 143
  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Master of Science
    • Accelerated Master's Degree


    The Master of Science in Ecology 3+2 prepares students to answer pressing questions in ecology, conservation and resource management from local to global scales. Undergraduates interested in the program can major in Biology or Environment & Sustainability with an Ecology 3+2 emphasis. Once students reach the graduate portion of the program, they choose a track in Ecology & Conservation or Fisheries & Wildlife Management.

    How It Works

    Ecology 3+2 is an official emphasis within the Biology and Environment & Sustainability majors. The summer after their sophomore year, students apply to the M.S. in Ecology program. If they meet the credit requirements, score well enough on the GRE and are accepted to the program, they become “M.S. in Ecology Candidates with Provisional Acceptance” at the end of their junior year.

    Students spend their senior year taking the first courses of the M.S. in Ecology program. Those courses also count as their final undergraduate credits, and students earn their B.S. or B.A. upon completion of the courses. Students then enter their fifth year as “M.S. in Ecology Degree Seeking Students.” They complete their master’s that year after they complete and defend a publishable research project.

    Tuition & Aid

    M.S. in Ecology 3+2 students have access to financial aid for four years, during which they also have access to program-specific aid. For the first three years, students in the program pay undergraduate tuition and are eligible for undergraduate financial aid. The fourth year, students pay full M.S. in Ecology tuition, plus six credits of undergraduate tuition; this qualifies them for better financial aid options. In the final year, students pay graduate tuition. Altogether, this reduces the price of a master’s degree by approximately one year from what a traditional program would cost.

    Learn More

    Reach out to Matthew Benoit, Ph.D. for more information.