Information for Incoming Students
Getting Started with GDPE
The Colorado State University (CSU) Graduate Degree Program in Ecology (GDPE) is an interdisciplinary program for students with interests in a wide range of ecological subjects. GDPE is designated as a Special Academic Unit (SAU) and is organizationally housed in the Graduate School Office (Grad School) as an intra-university program.
Students are dual citizens where their degree is in Ecology and their “Advising Department” is the department where their faculty advisor is located. Because the degree is granted in Ecology, academic paperwork goes through GDPE and is signed by the GDPE director. A student’s faculty advisor has primary responsibility for overseeing the degree program, along with the student’s graduate committee. The degree programs include taking core courses in ecology, a variety of other courses, and by completing original research or a major project.
A student’s faculty advisor has primary responsibility for overseeing the degree program, along with the student’s graduate committee.
GDPE Program Listserv
GDPE has multiple listservs for academic, program, and job announcements that are sent out in a GDPE Weekly Digest and as seperate emails. Graduate students are added to the GDPE students’ listserv once they are admitted into the program. When a student leaves the program, their email is automatically moved from the student to general announcements listserv. To be added or removed from the listserv, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
GDPE Social Listserv
For non-program, non-academic, political, housing, and social information, sign up for the GDPE Social Listserv which is managed by GDPE students. After your enrollment has been approved, you do not need permission to send an email, just be respectful of the number of emails people receive when considering if you want to send one.
Follow Us on:
GDPE uses Instagram from the account @CSU_GDPE.
Join our GPDE Slack channel here.
GDPE uses Twitter from the account @CSU_Ecology.
Email email@example.com with your LinkedIn information to start getting connected.
Subscribe to our YouTube channel CSU Ecology to stay tuned to all our great content.
Getting Started at CSU
Graduate Student Orientation
Fall 2022 – TBD
Students are encouraged to attend the Graduate School’s campus-wide New Graduate Student Orientation.
Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Training
Fall ’22 – Monday August 15,
The Institute for Learning and Teaching (TILT) provides mandatory training for new GTAs. This is a great opportunity to learn from our pedagogy experts about the ins-and-outs of being a TA. Please visit the Fall Training for First-Time GTAs site for more information and to register.
Note that some GTA positions (e.g. LIFE102/103) often hold separate course-specific orientations/trainings. Please coordinate with your specific instructor/lab coordinator for details.
Advising Department Orientation and Events
GDPE students are encouraged to participate in orientation and other start-of-the-year events with their advising department (this is your advisor’s department). Please check with your advisor or your advising department’s administration for details on these events.
Get Your CSU NetID
Every CSU student and employee must have an NetID. Students use their NetID to to access central services including RAMweb, CSU Google Apps email, college services, and more.
Visit NetID for more information.
Go to the Ramcard webpage: http://housing.colostate.edu/get-a-ramcard and follow the directions found there. For help contact the RamCard Office at 970-491-2344 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ramcards are used to check out library resources, can be charged with funds for use at dining facilities and elsewhere on campus, and to ride TransFort busses for free.
Register for Classes
RAMweb provides online access to application status, registration, financial information, personal records, jobs, and more for applicants, new, and current students.
How to sign up for classes:
- Go to https://ramweb.colostate.edu/registrar/Public/Login.aspx
- Use your CSU credentials to log in.
- Complete any requirements in the registration box in the center of the page.
- Click “Go to registration.”
- Scroll down to “Continue to Registration” and press that.
- Click “Register for classes”.
- Use the drop down menu to select the correct semester (i.e., Fall 2020).
- In the subject section, add the department code (i.e., ECOL).
- In the course number section, add the 3 digit course number (i.e., 571).
- Search and add the desired classes.
- When you’ve added the classes you are interested in, submit your schedule with the “Submit” button on the lower right.
What to take your first year:
A good place to start is to review the GDPE Curriculum & Courses page. Speak with your advisor. Review the electives for suggestions for ecologically-relevant courses on campus (note this list is not comprehensive and you are welcome to take electives not listed there).
Ideal first semester classes for any GDPE graduate student:
- Foundations of Ecology (ECOL 505) – This is taught every fall. It’s a cohort building class, so it’s a great opportunity to meet people and make friends.
- Intro to Statistics (STAT 511) – This is taught every fall semester, but it’s difficult to get into your first semester. If you can get in, it teaches you R and basic statistics. You can put yourself on the waitlist ASAP, and if it’s long enough, it’s possible another section will open up.
Information about other required classes:
- Advanced Topics in Ecology (ECOL 571) – This class is offered every spring. Master’s students should sign up for the 1 credit version, and PhD students should sign up for the 2 credit one. The GDPE brings in three ecologists who give two talks each. In this class you have the chance to meet with the speakers and listen to their talks.
- Research Seminar (ECOL 693) – These seminars are offered in the spring. Students typically take them their first spring semester, though not necessarily. In this class you get the opportunity to either learn about writing proposals or practice giving presentations.
- Interdisciplinary Seminar in Ecology (ECOL 592) – These seminars differ from semester-to-semester. Master’s students will need to take one credit worth of seminars, and PhD students will need to take two. For a full list of upcoming seminars or to see what was offered in the past, click here. If there is a topic you are interested in learning about, you can also submit proposals to lead an interdisciplinary seminar with one or more faculty members.
- Human-Environment Interactions (ANTH 530) – Note that this is only required for those in the Human-Environment Interactions specialization. This class is offered every odd fall semester (e.g., Fall 2021, Fall 2023, and so on). You learn about several social-ecological frameworks and issues.
If, after speaking with your advisor, you have other questions about your program of study, please contact the GDPE Assistant Director.
Student Health Insurance
Students will be enrolled in the University’s health program, or they may elect coverage under their own insurance or through another employer. The Graduate School has more information about the policy.
Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP)
CSU’s Student Health Insurance Plan (SHIP) provides comprehensive coverage on campus as well as in the community and nationally. If enrolled, student receive several services for free or at a reduced cost at the Student Health Center.
For more information visit https://health.colostate.edu/student-health-insurance/
Campus Computer Access
Contact your advising department’s IT Coordinator to register your computer and gain access to advising department networks, drives, printers, and more.
Graduate student mailboxes are provided by your advising department. Ask your advising department Program Coordinator where the graduate student mailboxes are located.
Mail is distributed and picked up daily. On-campus mail does not require postage and usually takes three days to reach its destination. Off-campus mail requires an account number and Postage Accounting Form. Ask your Lab Coordinator, advising department Advisor, or advising department Program Coordinator for more information about accounting and processing off-campus mail.
Be sure to use your advising department delivery code for your campus address. Using the GDPE campus delivery code will delay your mail.
Graduate students are usually issued keys to their offices, labs, and their corresponding buildings. Ask your advising department Program Coordinator how to request keys.
Getting Settled in Fort Collins
Establish Colorado Residency ASAP
If you are an international student or are already a resident of Colorado, you can ignore this.
Colorado residents pay significantly lower tuition than non-residents. CSU typically covers out-of-state tuition for domestic graduate students from other states for one year, and one year only. It is the student’s responsibility to obtain CO residency before the second year starts. GDPE and advisors may not remind you about the deadlines, so keep track of them! If you have not gained residency by your second year, your assistantship will not cover the additional expense of out-of-state tuition.
Read about Residency Classification in Colorado.
You petition for Colorado residency after your second semester, but there are things that you must do before your first semester starts. This guide is meant to help you with that.
We try to keep the below information up to date, but procedural changes in the different offices are inevitable. Please leave yourself plenty of time, and check directly at the relevant offices for information.
Before your first semester of graduate school
The following things must be done before the Monday of the first week of classes.
- Obtain a Colorado driver’s license
- Register to vote in the state of Colorado
- Register your vehicle in the state of Colorado
Obtaining a Colorado driver’s license
You can go to any Larimer County DMV to obtain a driver’s license. The line is usually not too bad as long as you don’t go right at the end of the month. However, you can also schedule an appointment at the DMV here. You will need to bring various forms of ID and proof of your change of residence. There is also a small fee. You can find out exactly what you need here.
Registering to vote in the state of Colorado
You can register to vote in Colorado while at the DMV getting your driver’s license. You can also register online here.
Register your vehicle in the state of Colorado
Things to do before going to the DMV:
- Have your vehicle emissions tested. To find an emissions testing facility, click here.
- Obtain a Colorado car insurance policy.
- Have documentation that you own the vehicle. For a full list of needed documents and for information about registration fees, click here.
- Obtain a Colorado driver’s license (see above).You will have to wait 24 after getting your driver’s license to register your vehicle, so be sure that you give yourself more than one day to go through this process.
- You can also schedule an appointment to register your vehicle online as well by clicking here.
COVID note: Things are changing rapidly due to COVID. You may want to call the DMV at (970) 680-1500 between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM Monday to Friday to verify the above is still valid. While the offices were closed to the public for a while, they have opened back up, and as far as we know have not re-closed.
Documents you will need to petition for residency
- Voter registration
- Federal income tax returns for the past two years
- Colorado state income tax returns for the past two years
- Other state income tax returns for the past two years
- Driver’s license
- Vehicle registration
- Residential information
- Proof of employment history for past two years – note that if you are married they may also require proof of your spouse’s employment history (sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t).
A full list of acceptable forms of documentation for each of the items above are listed on the residency petition. The section below tells you how to access the actual petition.
Petitioning for residency
After your second semester you will petition the school for residency. For a list of deadlines for when you have to have your petition in, click here.
In order to obtain the actual petition (application form), you must go through a residency orientation. There is an online and in-person version, though we recommend that you do it online.
- To access the online residency orientation, click here and then click on the button that says “Online Residency Orientation.” You will be asked to answer a few questions and then prompted to watch a short (~5 minute) video. You will then have to take a 5 question quiz on the information in the video. Once you pass the quiz you will have access to the downloadable petition.
- Alternatively, you can attend an in-person orientation every first and third Tuesday of the month between 3:00-4:00 PM in Room 100A Centennial Hall. After sitting through the orientation, they will hand you a copy of the petition.
Writing your personal statement
Write your personal statement in a way that suggests that you love the state of Colorado and you want to live there for the rest of your life. Talk about what the state offers you (job opportunities, nature, lifestyle, etc.). If you have a partner, you can also talk about your partner’s long-term interests in living in Colorado. Your goal is to convince them that you want to live here forever. One of the requirements for residency is that you are NOT just applying for tuition purposes. You must demonstrate that you are interested in living in Colorado after graduating.
You can sit down with a counselor to review your petition prior to submitting it. While it is optional, it can be helpful for ensuring that you have all of the needed documents before officially submitting it. Reviews can be done in the Office of Financial Aid in Centennial Hall at CSU Monday-Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM in the spring and fall semesters and 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM during the summer. The wait is usually not bad as long as you don’t go right before a deadline.
Submitting your petition
You can submit your petition online or drop it off at the Office of Financial Aid in Centennial Hall. We recommend submitting it by the Priority Deadline. You will hear back about whether your petition was accepted prior to the start of the semester, which will give you the time to resubmit it if you need to. You should hear back about your petition within four weeks of submitting it.
Fort Collins Basics
- You plus two: Fort Collins only legally allows you and two other non-related people to live together
- There are landlords who break this law which you should be aware of so you can make an informed decision
- Typical range for 3-4 bedroom house with 1-2 bathrooms is $1800-2200 (although you can find lower and higher)
- Typical range for 1-2 bedroom place is $900-1400 (although you can find lower and higher)
- It can also be nice to sublet for your first summer and find housing during that summer (if starting in the fall)
- Ask labmates
- Reach out to GDPE social listserv – contact one of your GDPE Social Reps, Ryleigh Gelles email@example.com and/or Anna Wright firstname.lastname@example.org
- CSU housing facebook group, some grads in there! https://www.facebook.com/groups/CSURentals/?epa=SEARCH_BOX
- Craig’s list
Where to live:
- If you want to drive to school you could live in many places in Fort Collins, although it is best if youstay north of Harmony Rd. regardless (CSU campus outlined in green)
- You can obtain a parking permit on campus for ~$500 per year, or a mile away from campus for about ~$250 per year. To learn about parking options or to purchase a permit: https://pts.colostate.edu/parking/purchase-a-permit/
- If you don’t want to drive to school, it is nice to live near bus lines (http://www.ridetransfort.com/) so you can take the bus when it snows (unless you are a brave biker!). All bus fees are covered in your student fees so you can ride them around town for free.
- It is also nice to live near bike trails (although this can be expensive) – https://www.fcgov.com/bicycling/bike-maps
- But also FoCo is super biker friendly so biking on roads is also great (except for major roads – College Ave, Shields St, Prospect St, Mulberry St)
- Where the undergrads live (in case you would like to avoid them)
- Most undergrads live within a few blocks of the CSU campus
- Particular hotspots are Laurel St. between Shields St. and College Ave. and Elizabeth St. east of Taft Rd.
- Most of the trails for hiking/mountain biking/trail running are west of town and 25 (the main highway down to Denver) is east of town
Here’s a compiled list of transportation resources from CSU.
CSU Safewalk is a service at CSU in which a campus security officer will walk you anywhere within a certain radius of school that’s available 7 days a week. Their phone number is 970-491-1155.