Curriculum & Courses

The GDPE curriculum is designed to balance providing the fundamentals of ecology that unite students in our program with allowing customization for each student’s individualized scholarly pursuits.

There are four courses required of all MS and PhD students:

These required courses provide the common foundation for all GDPE students and ensure that all students engage in key intellectual opportunities within the program. The many different electives available allow students to specialize and customize their individual MS or PhD degree.

Also see the CSU Catalog for the curriculum.
To see when the courses are being offered, use the Class Schedule.

If you have questions about specific non-ECOL courses listed below, please reach out to the department or instructor directly.

M.S. in Ecology

Required Courses: 6 credits

Fundamentals Courses: 6 credits

Ecology Tools Courses: 3 credits

Additional Electives, Independent Study, Research, and Dissertation: Minimum 15 credits

Total: Minimum 30 credits

Ph.D. in Ecology

Required Courses: 8 credits

Fundamentals Courses: 6 credits

Ecology Tools Courses: 3 credits

Additional Electives, Independent Study, Research, and Dissertation: Minimum 55 credits

Total: Minimum 30 credits

Ph.D. in Ecology -
HEI Specialization

Required Courses: 11 credits

Fundamentals Courses: 6 credits

HEI Fundamentals Courses: 3 credits

Ecology Tools Courses: 3 credits

Qualitative HEI Tools: 3 credits

Additional Electives, Independent Study, Research, and Dissertation: Minimum 46 credits

Total: Minimum 30 credits

Coursework Information

Credit Requirement Information

First Year Coursework

  • All GDPE graduate students should take ECOL 505, Foundations of Ecology, during their first fall semester.
  • ECOL 693, Research Seminar, should be taken their first spring semester, or the second spring semester at the latest.
  • It is also useful to take statistics courses (e.g.; STATS 511 and 512) during the first year. Students should discuss which statistics and other quantitative courses are most appropriate with their advisor.

Full-time Graduate Student Credits

Graduate students must be registered for 9 credits or more during fall and spring semesters, or 5 credits or more during summer semester, to be considered a full-time student. Students enrolled in half-time (5 or 6 credits) or more participate in CSU’s Health Care program.

GTA & GRA Credit Requirement

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. Continuous Registration (CR, see below) is NOT acceptable to meet the minimum enrollment requirement for a GTA or GRA.

Continuous Registration (CR)

All students admitted to a graduate degree program at CSU are required to be continuously enrolled in their degree programs in fall and spring semesters. Thus, if coursework and research are essentially completed, and a student is working on their thesis or dissertation, they are required to register for at least one credit. This can be done by registering for one credit of coursework or research or through Continuous Registration (CR).

(Fall): CRN #62570
(Spring): CRN #12719
(Summer): CRN #45836 

Students registering with CR will be assessed a fee for each semester of CR registration.

Students enrolled with CR in any term are not considered enrolled full time for the purposes of financial aid, Visas, employment, etc. To receive full privileges for the summer semester, students must be enrolled either in the summer or the following fall semester. This policy applies from the first enrollment semester through the graduation term.

Students should contact their advisor if they do not plan to register.

Independent Study, Research, Thesis, and Dissertation Credits

Independent Study (ECOL 695), Research (ECOL 698), Thesis (ECOL 699), and Dissertation (ECOL 799) registration is for non-regular defined, variable-credit courses. Credit hours are determined using a base rate of 48 hours of student effort per credit hour over a 16-week semester. The total number of hours are divided by 48 and the result quotient (rounded to a whole number) will be the number of credits to be used. Speak with your advisor to determine how many research credits should be registered for. Your advisor will assign a grade at the end of the term, which is often done on a S/U (satisfactory/unsatisfactory) basis.

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