Information for Prospective AL Students

Two programs are available to graduate students at the Appalachian Laboratory - the MEES program through UMCP and the programs of the Biology Department of Frostburg State University. The MEES program grants both M.S. and Ph.D. degrees, while FSU grants M.S. degrees.

To enter graduate programs at AL, prospective students must first find an AL faculty member in advance who is available and able to function as the student's advisor, and who is able to arrange research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and research support if needed. Prospective students are encouraged to learn about interests of faculty through their web pages. We also encourage students to view general information and familiarize themselves with graduate programs available at AL by visiting program web pages before contacting AL faculty. Prospective students can then directly contact faculty members whose interests and research programs appear best suited to the student's interests. Specific questions about the programs should be directed to the MEES Program Director or FSU Biology Graduate Program Director. More general questions about graduate opportunities at AL can be directed to the Chair of the Graduate Education Committee at AL, Dr. Mark Castro.

MEES Graduate Program

The MEES Program is an inter-disciplinary effort of the University System of Maryland. MEES is organized around six areas of specialization (AOS's):

The four areas most likely of interest to students of AL faculty include ecology, environmental science, fisheries science, and environmental chemistry. The general MEES requirements and individual AOS requirements are minimal, so that MEES can be responsive to both student and faculty needs. Faculty associated with the MEES program represent at least six campuses of the System.

Further information on the MEES Program, associated faculty, coursework, and admissions can be obtained from:

Frostburg State University Graduate Program

Through its Department of Biology, Frostburg State University offers M.S. degrees in either Wildlife/ Fisheries Biology (WFB), or Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology (AECB, including the new track in Landscape and Watershed Ecology, described below). See the FSU Graduate Catalog - Biological Sciences for more information. AL faculty direct graduate students in either of these degree programs. Both programs have core course requirements. Elective courses to complete degrees in WFB or AECB generally come from four departments: Biology, Geography, Economics, and Mathematics. Currently the AL faculty and administration are pursuing the potential for a sub-program in Landscape and Watershed Ecology within FSU's AECB degree. Further information on FSU graduate programs, degree requirements, and admissions materials can be obtained from:

Master of Science in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology

The Master of Science in Applied Ecology and Conservation Biology Program is offered through the Biology Department at Frostburg State University. The program enables students to gain scientific training in addressing conservation issues, especially those pertaining to the persistence of native populations and communities in a changing environment, landscape fragmentation, conservation/development conflicts, watershed assessment, and integrated resource management. The program addresses both domestic and international issues, since the need of professionals is broad-based and global. Frostburg State University has inter-institutional agreements with universities and national agencies in African and Central American countries that facilitate the international dimensions of this program.

The Conservation Biology Track addresses both local and global problems associated with conflicts between human development and conservation of biodiversity. It is designed to prepare students for professions that require specialized training directed at maintaining biodiversity. The Landscape and Watershed Ecology Track addresses the effects of human activities and natural processes on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at multiple scales. Students completing this track will be prepared for professional careers in resource and watershed management and restoration. Both tracks prepare students for work with environmental consulting firms, national and international conservation organizations, and state and federal agencies. Graduates of our program also are well prepared to pursue further graduate education.

Master of Science in Wildlife/Fisheries Biology

The Wildlife/Fisheries Biology Program is designed to prepare students for research and management positions within the public and private sectors. The program allows flexibility, yet offers courses necessary for certification as a biologist with professional organizations such as The Wildlife Society and the American Fisheries Society.

Upon completion of the Wildlife/Fisheries Biology Program, students will have achieved a general knowledge and competence in one or more of the following disciplines: aquaculture, aquatic ecology, terrestrial ecology, conservation biology, management techniques, population biology, evolutionary ecology, aquatic toxicology, habitat analysis, systematics, and systems modeling.

Special Admission Criteria

A screening committee composed of Appalachian Laboratory and Frostburg State University Biology faculty will examine your transcripts and determine if your course work meets the requirements listed below. Areas of deficiency will necessitate your taking undergraduate courses that will not be counted toward the 36 credit hours required for the degree program. You must have completed a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university. Your undergraduate training must have included one year of courses in general biology and general chemistry, and at least one semester of organic chemistry and statistics. One semester of genetics is required for the Conservation Biology Track and one semester of physical science is required for the Landscape & Watershed Ecology Track. Additionally, your transcripts must show that you have passed one course in at least three of these eight fields:

  • Anatomy or Morphology
  • Ecology
  • Physiology
  • Cellular or Molecular Biology
  • Evolution or Systematics
  • Natural Resource Management
  • Developmental Biology
  • Environmental / Earth Science

Student Admission and Support

Admission to either the UMCP MEES Program or the FSU graduate program is competitive from two points of view. First, applicants are judged on their academic merits. Second, before academically eligible students are admitted, they must be accepted by a faculty advisor; many such students are not accepted into these graduate programs for lack of an advisor. Thus, prospective students interested in working with AL faculty advisors should correspond directly with AL faculty members having similar research interests about potential research projects and assistantships.

Most AL graduate students are supported by research assistantships based on faculty grants or contracts. In addition, there are a limited number of competitively awarded teaching assistantships available. Outstanding applicants may also be nominated by the MEES Program for highly competitive UMCP Graduate School Fellowships or the UMCES President's Graduate Fellowship.

Depending on the program of study and type of degree, AL students within the MEES Program can either reside in Frostburg throughout their program by taking both onsite classes and classes through the Interactive Video Network (IVN) or they may need to maintain residence in College Park for one to two years before moving on to full-time research at AL. Students enrolled in FSU M.S. programs generally reside in Frostburg throughout their degree program.