• Student Kelly Hopping is using her GPS system to identify land-cover types.
  • Dave Martin, Kayce Anderson, and Brian Gill sampling a creek above Lake Isabelle in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado in 2011. Photographer: Chris Funk
  • Student Jesse Lewis holding a bobcat
  • Student Jesse Nippert with South African colleague in Kruger National Park, South Africa. They are taking a break from sampling and looking at pictures they took of their sites.
  • Student Kevin Wilcox (GDPE Knapp Lab) at the SGS checking his soil moisture probes in his climate change experiment
  • Student Jenny Soong is featured in the foreground of the isotope labeling chamber, where we produce 13C and 15N labeled plant material for litter decomposition and biochar studies.

Current Students

The Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE) is CSU's first and largest interdisciplinary graduate degree program. Its primary goal is to provide outstanding training for graduate students in the ecological sciences. Since its inception in 1992, GDPE has grown to become the principal organization that catalyzes cutting-edge and world-renowned ecological research performed at Colorado State University.

The mission of the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology is to provide the highest quality education in ecology through advanced training in current ecological methods, theories, controversies, applications, and teaching methods by drawing on the great depth and breadth of ecological expertise at Colorado State University and in our local community of scientists.

The GDPE Community

Students and faculty in GDPE are located across the CSU campus, both physically and departmentally, making GDPE social events and sponsored seminars an important opportunity to get to know your student and faculty colleagues. We expect our students to genuinely invest in the program, in terms of sponsored GDPE events that include, in addition to formal course requirements, seminars, speakers, social events, and the Front Range Ecology Symposium. Being engaged in the community increases your personal and intellectual growth, as well as generates a wonderful collaborative environment.

We know that there are many demands on your time while you are in graduate school; we believe that an important part of your graduate education is the opportunity to interact with students and faculty from diverse fields within ecology, and we trust that you will find your academic and social interactions within GDPE and the greater CSU community to be rewarding and valuable experiences that you will carry with you as you advance through your academic and professional life.

Curriculum Overview

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates. There are four courses required of all MS and PhD students: Foundations of Ecology (ECOL 505), Distinguished Ecologists Lecture Series (ECOL 571), Interdisciplinary Seminars in Ecology (ECOL 592), and Research Seminar (ECOL 693). These required courses provide a consistent ecological background for all GDPE students and ensure that all students engage in key intellectual opportunities within the program. ECOL 505 (taught each fall) and ECOL 693 (taught each spring) should be taken the first year in the program.

Other required credits are chosen from the three core areas of our menu system: Organism/Population (Group A), Community/Ecosystem (Group B) and Quantitative Tools (Group C). Each GDPE student is required to select one to two courses from a set of core-like courses in Groups A and B. Additional courses can be flexibly selected from Groups A, B, C by the student, in conjunction with his or her graduate committee, creating an individually-tailored curriculum which is subject to approval by the GDPE Director. This approach ensures that all students have a fundamental background in ecology while also permitting them to tailor a program to their interests.

GDPE Organizational Structure

The program is led by the Director, with the Senior Ecologist providing vision and leadership and teaching in the core curriculum. An Executive Committee guides the program direction; this committee comprises representatives from each of the Colleges, as well as 2 At-Large Members and two student representatives. The Director reports to the Deans of the College of Natural Sciences and the Warner College of Natural Resources. The Program Coordinator works with current and prospective faculty and students in the daily operations of the program.

The Graduate School

Graduate degrees are awarded by Colorado State as an overall institution. Accordingly, the University has specified that certain academic practices and procedures shall apply to all graduate degrees regardless of the departments and colleges in which study is undertaken. As is the case in most quality universities, some consistency of requirements has been found desirable. The Colorado State University Graduate School is the unit which applies and administers these requirements. Students should check the Graduate School website frequently for updates and important information regarding deadlines, forms, student services, student rights and responsibilities, details of the thesis and dissertation submission process, and other student resources. GDPE is the only program that offers advanced degrees in Ecology.

The GDPE Student Handbook

The GDPE Student Handbook provides details of the program goals, the nature of the program, resources and facilities, and requirements and guidelines relating to admission standards, committee formation, and the program of study.