SO YOU WANT TO BE A GRADUATE STUDENT FAQ...

What do you look for in a prospective student?

For most positions, we look for students with:

Most former students have had degrees in biology, ecology, environmental science, and forestry. A few have had degrees in landscape architecture, civil engineering, chemistry, international studies, political science, and computer science. We care less about what the degree is called and more about the content. Did you take chemistry? physics? calculus? genetics? advanced biology?

As for the GPA, the Graduate School is not going to consider you for full admission if your GPA have less than 3.0. We will not seriously consider you if your GPA is less than 3.2 (maybe down to 3.0 with some special circumstances). Most students will have a GPA of 3.5 or greater.

What's a high score on the GRE? The Educational Testing Service recently changed the scoring of the GRE, so forget actual scores. We want students who score in the 90th percentile rank or higher for both the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning sections of the test. We sometimes consider students with scores as low as 80th percentile rank.

Will you pay me to go to school?

Maybe. We do offer several kinds of assistance, with research assistantships and teaching assistantships the most common.

Most of our research assistantships are funded either by research grants or by educational endowments. The typical assistantship includes a modest stipend, tuition (both not fees - the two are different), and basic health insurance. Taken together, these three amount to substantial aid.

Teaching assistantships are funded by the Department of Forestry and Environmental Resources and are typically less generous that research assistantships. However, they are still quite valuable and highly sought after.

You should know that the assistantship scene has changed significantly over the last four years. With the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, most endowments lost much of their value, and the number of assistantships they fund dropped dramatically. At the same time, research funding became more difficult to obtain, and the number of grant-funded assistantships also dropped. And also simultaneously (and not surprisingly), the number of applicants for graduate school skyrocketed - students who can afford to do so are increasing looking at a stint in graduate school as a way to ride out the recession while gaining valuable skills that will make them more competitive when the employment market improves.

In other words: Many more students chasing fewer and fewer dollars. We are seeing many more students attending graduate school without aid.

Also know that funding cycles do not match graduate school application cycles. We are always seeking grant funds, and when and how much we win are always unpredictable.

How do I apply?

Go here. It's going to cost you just to apply. So you might send me an email inquiry, including your transcripts and GRE scores, before you burn that cash (many students send CVs, but they are of little interest - transcripts and GREs tell us most of what we want to know). I can tell you if you be seriously considered for joining our lab. I can often be too slow to respond to email, as I can get a great number of inquiries. Do not hesitate to ping me repeatedly if I am slow to respond.