Wildlife and Fisheries Biology


Degrees Offered

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Research areas include wildlife ecology and management, forest ecology and management, conservation biology, landscape ecology, human dimensions of wildlife management, and environmental toxicology. Recent graduate projects have focused on seabird ecology in the Gulf of Mexico, ecology of freshwater turtles in managed forests, conservation of stream salamanders in the Appalachians, recreation conflicts with shorebird habitat, historical land use effects on wetland communities, fish community ecology, and supercomputing applications for conservation planning.

Students are encouraged to pursue multiple lines of evidence using multiple methods at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Graduate theses and dissertations typically include several aspects of field, remote sensing, and computer models incorporating population and habitat assessment, marking and tracking techniques e.g. radio and satellite telemetry, collection of toxicological and water quality data, statistical analysis, and geographic information systems (GIS). Most research directly addresses integrated social, economic, and ecological issues, but much basic research is also conducted. Funders of graduate wildlife research have included US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Forest Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, SC Department of Natural Resources, and private industry. Graduate programs of study are flexible and decided by the student and their committee. Courses offered emphasize relationships among wild plants and animals and their changing environments, and management and conservation solutions.

Graduate students typically interact with those from other programs across campus including Biological Sciences, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, and City and Regional Planning.

Students may become certified by The Wildlife Society by taking the appropriate courses.

We strongly recommend that you contact prospective advisors prior to applying.


More information can be found in this graduate handbook.


Program of Study

The PhD requirements consist of 30 credits beyond the MS or 60 beyond the BS.  Course requirements will be specified by your advisory committee. The program generally lasts three to five years. In addition to the final oral exam, PhD students must pass a comprehensive exam at the end of the second year.


The WFB graduate programs are housed in the Department of Forestry and Environmental Conservation. The Department is based in Lehotsky Hall in which there is extensive laboratory and teaching space. The 17,500-acre Clemson Experimental Forest represents Piedmont and Southern Blue Ridge forest types and has long term data on historical land uses, and many past and present student research projects.  In addition, students work with faculty members located at the Belle W. Baruch Institute of Coastal Ecology and Forest Science in Georgetown, South Carolina. At the Baruch Institute, opportunities exist for research at a 17,000-acre ecological reserve of forests, high-salinity marsh estuaries and brackish and freshwater marshes. Research opportunities for graduate students are enhanced by cooperative programs housed at Clemson including US Forest Service Southern Research Station, USGS Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Research Units, and the National Council for Air and Stream Improvement.


We emphasize graduate research that is relevant and publishable. Graduate research projects are designed and conducted with utmost attention to selecting appropriate methods of data collection and analyses, with an eye to disseminating in top journals. Structure of theses and dissertations generally follows the "multiple paper" approach. Dozens of graduate student-lead publications over the past few years attest to the dedication of faculty members to coaching students through the time consuming and often humbling process of submitting work for peer-review. We believe that strong publications are the most valuable legacy students will have when they leave and more than anything, help students build their careers. At the same time we emphasize the finer points of professional development including communication, networking, ethics, and conduct.

Our Students

Our students come from a variety of backgrounds in environmental sciences, wildlife ecology and management, forest biology, conservation biology, fish ecology, and landscape ecology/GIS. Most have strong applied interests, and are driven to conduct research to help solve environmental problems. Students in WFB programs at Clemson come from all over the United States, and we have many international students. Recent graduates have been hired by state and federal agencies, colleges and universities in tenure-track positions, not-for-profit conservation groups, and forest products and energy companies.


Application Information

We strongly advise students interested in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology degree program to establish common interest with one of our faculty members, prior to applying. Most of our students are supported through external research funds and those are advertised as research assistantships or combination teaching and research assistantships. Faculty members commonly advertise open positions on Texas A&M Wildlife Job Board, Society for Conservation Biology job board, and/or Ecolog. In selecting among applicants, most of our faculty emphasize previous research experience, strong academic background as evidenced by a combination of scores and grades as well as previous publishing, and shared interests.

Required Documents

Submit all documents electronically through the online application.

Submit all documents electronically through the online application.


Students applying to the graduate program in WFB will be admitted when funds are available to support the student through a research assistantship or combination of teaching and research assisantship. Assistantships generally come with a tuition waiver, although a student with an assistantship is responsible for University fees. While self-support for graduate study is an option, we require documentation of funding sources.


Program Contact(s)

Program Coordinator(s)