The master of professional studies degree requires graduate coursework credits and graduate seminars. Depending on the area of study, students may complete the M.P.S. degree with coursework and seminars, or a combination of coursework, seminars, and professional experience (internship). The M.P.S. degree is designed to accommodate a great breadth of student goals and needs, including students desiring additional education following some experience in their field, and science teachers seeking the master's degree for permanent certification. As in all degree programs in EFB, the student will be guided through the M.P.S. by a steering committee.
Coursework Option for the following areas of study: chemical ecology, conservation biology, ecology, entomology, environmental interpretation, environmental physiology, fish and wildlife biology and management, forest pathology and mycology, or plant science and biotechnology: At least 30 of the 42 credits required must be taken in residence at ESF. Coursework in this option includes three seminars (EFB 797), and a maximum of six credits earned in EFB 798 or 898. Neither a comprehensive examination nor a capstone seminar is required.
Coursework Option for the area of study in applied ecology: Coursework requirements include three credit hours each from five of the seven focus areas, two credit hours in graduate seminars (EFB 797) and additional 19 credit hours of graduate coursework for a total of 36 credit hours. Neither a comprehensive examination nor a capstone seminar is required.
Coursework Option for the area of study in plant biotechnology: Coursework requirements consist of 19 credit hours of core coursework (including two credit hours of graduate seminars (EFB 797)), nine credit hours of directed electives and eight credit hours of open electives for a total of 36 credit hours. Neither a comprehensive examination nor a capstone seminar is required.
Professional Experience Option for the following areas of study: chemical ecology, conservation biology, ecology, entomology, environmental interpretation, environmental physiology, fish and wildlife biology and management, forest pathology and mycology, or plant science and biotechnology: In addition to an internship earning 6-12 credits (EFB 898), this option requires at least 30 credits of graduate coursework, of which 24 must be taken in residence at ESF. At least 36 credits must be earned between internship and coursework. Coursework for this option includes at least two required seminars (EFB 797) and a maximum of three credits earned in EFB 798. A written report of the internship is required as well as an oral comprehensive exam and capstone seminar. For students completing the concurrent degree program (M.P.S./M.S.) leading to certification in biology (grades 7-12), 12 credits of student teaching and coursework will be accepted as equivalent to a professional experience.
The master of science degree entails a research-based thesis (6-12 credits of thesis research) in addition to 18-24 credits of graduate coursework (including special research topics and at least three seminars) for a total of at least 30 graduate credits. Students earning a M.S. degree find a much wider range of job options that have greater responsibilities and pay compared to jobs that require only a B.S. degree. Many jobs at the M.S. level require an ability to perform research. Students interested in research-type positions in government, non-profit organizations, and academic and industry settings should pursue a M.S., rather than M.P.S. degree. Additionally, although not required by many graduate schools, a M.S. degree is often a key step toward earning a Ph.D. The M.S. student presents a thesis proposal to the major professor and committee who will guide completion of the research and writing of the thesis. A capstone seminar and defense of thesis are required.
The doctor of philosophy degree may be pursued directly from the bachelor’s level, or following a master's degree program. Doctoral study culminates in a dissertation (or its equivalent as refereed publications) based on original research. In many cases this work serves as a foundation for future studies and publications throughout the student's career. Research activity is often funded through extramural grants to the student’s major professor. Abundant opportunities exist to gain teaching experience during the doctoral program. A written and oral examination is required to proceed to doctoral candidacy, at least one year prior to the capstone seminar and defense of the dissertation. Of the 60 credits required, 30-48 are awarded for coursework (including special research topics and at least five seminars) and 12-30 credits for the dissertation.