The Ecological Systems Foundation encompasses a broad array of topics and scales of research, all with the fundamental perspective that understanding the interactions between organisms and their environment leads to valuable scientific discovery and application. From genes to ecosystems and from the mountains to the seafloor, previous student research in this area has included development of techniques in landscape ecology, ecological genomics and fisheries stock assessment.  Tools developed over the course of a graduate student career may include sophisticated field and laboratory studies as well as analytical and simulation modeling.  Faculty supporting this foundation are actively conducting research around the globe from the Arctic and Australia to continental areas such as the American Midwestern prairie and the iconic Chesapeake Bay.  Our faculty draw from the traditions of individual, population, community, and ecosystem approaches, providing students with depth in their individualized training even as the curriculum promotes access to a variety of ecological perspectives.  We are committed to training the future leading scientists and professionals in all aspects of ecology.  Students interested in pursuing ecological research or engaging in cross-disciplinary research that bridges to each of the other three Foundational Areas are strongly encouraged to explore graduate work with us. 


  • 2 Introductory science courses
    • Introductory science courses are defined as 100 and 200 level courses, generally taken in students’ freshmen or sophomore years in college.
  • 2 Advanced science courses
    • Advanced science courses are defined as 300 and 400 level courses, generally taken in students’ junior or senior years in college.
  • 2 Quantitative courses
    • Quantitative courses can be Calculus-level math (or higher), computer programming, or statistics courses.
  • 2 Foundation-relevant courses
    • At least one of these must be an advanced science course.

Courses & Other Requirements (M.S. & Ph.D) 

  1. Foundational Course: MEES 660 – Ecological Systems
  2. A minimum of three Professional Development courses including:
    • MEES609A - Applied Environmental Science (*required)
  3. One Issue Study Group
  4. Elective courses approved by the student's advisory committee

Note: Students seeking a M.S. degree must take a minimum of 30 credits with 24 credits of course work and 6 credits of graduate research. Of the 24 course credits, 12 of them must be at the 600 level or higher.

Students seeking a Ph.D. must complete a minimum of 36 credits, with at least 24 credits of course work and 12 credits of dissertation research. At least twelve credits of course work must be at the 600 level or above.

For information regarding faculty members who are associated with Ecological Systems, see the link below.