Getting Started

Before you apply to this program, explore the academic and research opportunities at CSU. Examine GDPE's curricular requirements. Discover the diverse expertise of the faculty. Investigate the research facilities.

In order to provide the most up-to-date information and to preserve the environment, GDPE provides the content on this website as the primary information source. This site is your guide to applying to the program--we do not have a hard-copy informational booklet or brochure. If you have questions after exploring our site, please contact the GDPE Program Coordinator.

January 1 is the application deadline for Fall admission to the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. Acceptance into the GDPE is competitive; approximately 25 students are accepted annually from an applicant pool of around 180.

If students wish to apply for admission in the spring semester, they need to have secured a faculty advisor who will inform the GDPE program office that the student has applied and that the faculty member has agreed to serve as advisor starting in the spring semester. The GDPE program office recruitment services and level of support that is offered to faculty and prospective students for fall admissions are not available for spring (or summer) admissions.

Understand Admissions Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree in any of the agricultural, anthropological, biological, biochemical, mathematical, or physical sciences from an accredited college or university
  • Undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Official scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test (verbal, quantitative and analytical writing). Subject tests are not required.
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Communication with a faculty advisor who is interested in bringing a new student into his/her research lab

Preferred Qualifications

  • Successful completion of at least one course in Statistics and one course in Ecology
  • An average GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • GRE scores exceeding the 70th percentile
  • Demonstrated evidence of scientific productivity (particularly PhD students)
  • Articulated evidence of leadership qualities
  • Confirmation from GDPE faculty advisor

Identify An Advisor

Finding Potential Advisors

Finding a good fit for an advisor is the most important aspect of your graduate education. This person will challenge you and guide you, and determine the culture and environment of the lab group that you'll be immersed in during your graduate program. To find an advisor, do your research on-line and at the library. Seek articles that interest you. Track citations. Follow references that are cited and document the individuals in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology who are active and publishing in areas that interest you most.

Where are these advisors?
What are they working on now?
Who are their past students, and what are those alumni doing now?
Where are they in their career?
Where is their research headed?

Contacting Potential Advisors

  • Email, phone or write a letter to a potential advisor once you have identified an individual or a few individuals whose work you are interested in, very familiar with, and with whom you think you would like to work.
  • Be very clear that you are focusing on this particular individual as a potential advisor, and that you know a lot about her or his research.
  • Inquire if he or she is accepting graduate students as advisees.
  • If possible, visit campus to meet with any potential advisor(s). Personal chemistry and the culture of the lab group of students are equally important as working with a leader in the field. All times of year are great in Fort Collins. Mid-February, during the Front Range Student Ecology Symposium (FRSES), is when many prospective GDPE students visit CSU. It's a great time to talk with current students in the GDPE. If you want to meet with faculty members during your campus visit, contact them in advance to find out their availability and set up a time to meet.
  • A potential advisor may have a research grant or access to other funding sources that may cover some or all of your research expenses. Inquire about and discuss funding opportunities when communicating with potential advisors. Ask about what physical resources will be made available to you (lab, office space, computer access, etc.)
  • Check student directory to see which students have the identified faculty member as an advisor. Contact them to inquire about their experience.
  • Some—but not all—faculty in the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology are seeking graduate students to advise and / or assist with their research. A list of faculty have opted into including themselves on this list of Faculty actively recruiting Advisees. Other GDPE faculty may be open to accepting advisees, but are not on this list. Use this list as a reference, but not as the only tool to seek a faculty advisor.

Explore Funding Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions related to Funding
and Financial Support

Graduate Teaching Assistantships

Graduate teaching assistantships (GTAs) are awarded by departments. Students should contact their advisor if they are interested in being considered for a GTA. Note that application deadlines vary by department. GDPE has two GTA positions that are awarded competitively for up to one year. GDPE GTAs are intended to support current students and are rotated among current students. They are not to be perceived as a permanent or continuing source of support.

Graduate Research Assistantships

Graduate research assistantships (GRAs) are available through individual faculty members.

GDPE First-Year Graduate Student Scholarships

The GDPE offers a limited amount of first-year scholarship money to the most deserving applicants, based on faculty nominations. They are not to be perceived as a permanent or continuing source of support.

International Student Information

We appreciate your interest in Colorado State University and the Graduate Degree Program in Ecology. Although we are very interested in accepting international students into our program for the breadth and depth that they bring, we have no Program funds dedicated to international student support. The only way we can accept international students is if they are self-funded or if a CSU faculty member agrees to fund them. We regret we cannot be more encouraging.

External Funding Opportunities

We encourage students to investigate additional sources of outside funding. Some fellowships provide stipends for greater amounts than teaching or research assistantships.

Ask a potential advisor about what external funding resources they may know about from their department or college.

Furthermore, a record of securing outside funding in the form of fellowships, scholarships, and research grants may enhance future career opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions
related to Funding and Financial Support

Does the program offer financial support?
The GDPE offers a limited amount of first-year scholarship money to the most deserving applicants, based on faculty nominations. Resources to support students over the course of their program of study are provided through the primary / major advisor. This is generally in the form of Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) or Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs). Any agreements around support are between that faculty member and the student.

What sorts of funding are available to cover tuition and research expenses?
A variety of funding sources are available to graduates students to cover tuition and research expenses, including Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs), Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs), and several external funding opportunities. Additionally, your advisor may have a research grant or access to other funding sources that will cover some or all of your research expenses. You should make sure to discuss funding opportunities when communicating with potential advisors.

How do I get a Graduate Teaching Assistantship (GTA)?
Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) are awarded by departments. Students should contact their advisor if they are interested in being considered for a GTA. Note that application deadlines vary by department. GDPE has two GTA positions that are awarded competitively for up to one year. GDPE GTAs are primarily intended to support current students and are rotated among current students. They shall not be viewed as a permanent or continuing source of support.

Is it true that the Graduate School will help pay for my University Health Insurance if I am a GTA or GRA?
For the most current information regarding the health insurance contribution, please visit the Graduate School Assistantship Health Contribution page. It is always good to check on your specific situation directly with the Graduate School and your home department.

What does it mean to be a "full-time fee paying student" and how is this different from being a "full-time student"?
"Full-time fee paying student" and "full-time student" have different meanings at CSU. As mentioned above, "full-time student" status is official when taking nine or more credits (five or more credits in the summer). This definition of "full time" is the one you are used to, and is the one used by the registrar's office to determine your student status.

"Full time fee paying student" is a designation used to calculate the dollar amount of the General Fee portion of your student fees. It may be easier to think about this if you drop "paying" and "student" from the end of the phrase, and focus on "full-time fee."

For the purposes of calculating the General Fee portion of your student fees, graduate students are considered "full-time fee paying students" with 6 or more credits (Registrar's Office - Tuition & Fees). Among other benefits, "full-time fee paying students" have access to many of the services offered by the Hartshorn Health Clinic at no extra cost. Note that some services at Hartshorn Health Clinic are covered entirely by the health fee that is part of the General Fee for "full-time fee paying students", and some services are offered at reduced rates. Membership to the Campus Recreation Center is also included in the General Fee for full-time fee paying students (6 or more credits).

How many credits do I need to take to be considered "full time?"
Enrollment status (full-time, half-time) is determined by the number of credits which the student has completed or is pursuing for the term in which the certification is requested. Courses from which the student has withdrawn or is auditing are not included. Graduate students taking 9 or more credits in the Fall/Spring semesters or 5 or more credits during the summer session are considered full time for enrollment certification purposes (click here for more information). Note that this is different from the full-time/part-time schedule for tuition and fees. Refer to the Graduate and Professional Bulletin for more information.

Can I be a student without being full time (9 or more credits Fall/Spring; 5 or more credits Summer)?
Yes. However, Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) and Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) can only be awarded to students enrolled in at least one on-campus credit during the spring and fall semesters, including Research (ECOL 598/698), Thesis (ECOL (699/799), or Interdisciplinary Seminar (ECOL 592), and such credits as the appointing department may require each summer term during which the appointment is in effect. Continuous Registration credit is not acceptable to meet the minimum enrollment requirement for a GTA or GRA. While you are working toward your graduate degree you must be enrolled in at least one credit during each fall and spring semester. This is also true if you have satisfied your course requirements, turned in your thesis or dissertation, and are just waiting to graduate. If you are not a GTA or GRA, Continuous Registration credit is sufficient to meet the minimum enrollment requirement.