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To schedule an appointment with Karen, please email her with some days and times that you are available, and she will get back to you promptly.

Ms. Karen Bray

Telephone 352-392-9230
Fax 352-392-9748

103 Black Hall, Box 116455
Gainesville, FL 32611-6455

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F


Interdisciplinary Ecology Graduate Program

Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees

The University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment offers interdisciplinary coursework in the basic and applied science of ecology, the related social sciences, and sustainability, leading to M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. Choose from about 450 courses, 280 faculty advisors, and 44 participating departments. Research areas of ecology graduate students range across natural resource ecology, environmental policy and management, and sustainable development.

Environmental problems are fundamentally human problems and should be understood in terms of human motivations and actions in a biophysical context. Their solution requires holistic thinking about dynamic ecological systems and the social, economic, and political forces driving human action. To this end, the goal of the Interdisciplinary Ecology graduate program is to provide advanced training in ecosystems thinking and the main theories and methodologies of the biophysical and social sciences to foster integrative approaches to complex real-world problems. Interdisciplinary Ecology students are intensely interested in the sustainability problem, and they welcome the challenge of addressing it through more than one traditional discipline.

About the Degree Program

The Interdisciplinary Ecology graduate degree program considers the Social-Ecological System the proper conceptual framework for understanding the full scope of complex, adaptive systems comprising humans in the natural world. (See the curriculum webpage for a diagrammatic depiction.) The degree program challenges students to understand both natural and human dynamics to obtain a holistic view and to foster integration of human activities with natural resources and the environment. This is a remarkably difficult goal, but experience shows that the program works on two levels. First, students map their interests on the particular components and processes of the Social-Ecological System and select courses that provide formal training in important areas of connection. Second, the discipline of this program of study sets up a life-long habit of learning that enables alumni to continue to grow intellectually and adapt to changing needs encountered in their careers.

Plan of Study

The master's and doctoral degrees in Interdisciplinary Ecology promote interdisciplinary thinking in natural resources and the environment by combining (1) coursework in the basic and applied science of ecology, related social sciences, and sustainability with (2) competence in an approved program in a traditional field of study. The former is achieved with a core-course and distribution requirement. The latter is achieved by extra coursework for the master's degree and a concentration for the doctoral degree. Requirements are:
» Two courses in advanced ecology (one in principles of ecology and one in ecology of a particular life zone, region, or group of organisms).
» Electives from a list of courses identified by the faculty, in the subject areas of resource-related natural science, environment-oriented social science, and human sustainability studies. This distribution requirement applies separately to the master's and doctorate.
» To provide a focus in a related discipline: For the master's degree, 6 credit hours of courses beyond the conventional minimum of 30 credit hours. For the doctoral degree, a concentration (comparable to a minor).
» A graduate course in statistics plus one (master's) or two (doctoral) in other methodology.
» An original research thesis (master's) or dissertation (doctoral). Alternatively, a non-thesis master's option enables students to complete coursework and enter the job market rapidly, with less research experience.
» A graduate seminar taken in two semesters.
» The degree requirements are 36 credit hours for the master's degree with thesis, 38 credit hours for the non-thesis master's degree, and 90 credit hours for the doctoral degree.

Fish-eye aerial photo of 34th Street and Archer Road, Gainesville FL
Photo by John Moran/The Gainesville Sun

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When You Apply

To be successfully admitted into the Interdisciplinary Ecology degree program, several things must happen. You must send application materials, a professor affiliated with the college must agree to be your major advisor, the professor's department chair must agree to host your activity, and you must be admitted by the school director. Financial arrangements must be made or understood. After you apply, the school director and professional advisor will help you make these arrangements.

Your Statement of Purpose will enable the school staff to help you identify potential advisors. We will contact potential advisors directly, circulate your application, and facilitate your communication. Faculty interested in your application will contact you, and you may also contact prospective advisors (most faculty preferred to be contacted by email), to discuss common interests, identify research opportunities, and discuss possible financial assistance. You can search for potential advisors by looking at the SNRE faculty page and then finding the web pages of individual faculty on their home department website. Success during your graduate program will depend on close collaboration with your faculty advisor, so we admit students only when a faculty member has agreed to take responsibility for you as an advisee in Interdisciplinary Ecology.

Applicants for Fall semester should apply during November, December, or January, so the application file is complete no later than February 1. Applications are reviewed as they are completed, starting January 2, and offers of admission are made as soon as advising and funding arrangements are settled. Except for unusual circumstances, all admission offers for Fall semester are made by April 15; most offers are made well before that date. Students also may be admitted to begin in Spring semester (January) or Summer semester (May). Financial support from faculty grants or other sources may become available at any time.

"...there does not exist a category of science to which one can give the name applied science. There are science and the applications of science, bound together as the fruit to the tree which bears it."
--Louis Pasteur, 1871

" is clear that the major failings of earth systems are due to the artificial fracturing of knowledge in the name of scholarship. The task ahead is to counter this tendency."
--David Rapport, 2000

"If we want things to stay as they are, things will have to change."
--Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa, in The Leopard

Last Modified: Monday, October 16, 2017 11:29