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Ph.D. in Forest and Conservation Science

This is the appropriate doctoral degree for any of the focal areas within the College of Forestry and Conservation except Wildlife Biology, which is offered as a separate degree program (students interested in Fish & Wildlife Biology should consult their web page).  The Doctor of Philosophy requires distinguished scholarship in a recognized field of learning, demonstrated in a dissertation based on original and creative work. It is not granted merely as a certificate of faithful performance of a prescribed program of studies and research. This degree is designed to provide an opportunity for students to receive specialized education in the various natural resource fields. It involves investigation and analysis of scientific, technical or managerial subjects.

Application Procedures

Apply online now!

Prospective graduate students should submit application materials to: for Statement of Interest and for unofficial transcripts.

If you are accepted, you will need to submit offical transcripts. If your university offers official electronic transcripts, those can be sent to  Any universities which do not yet offer official transcripts in an electronic version must send physical copies to:

College of Forestry and Conservation
Attn:  Grad Applications
The University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812

Letters of Recommendation can be submitted electronically by entering the email addresses of your references into the online application.

We are attempting to go paperless with the application process, so anything that can be sent electronically would be greatly appreciated!

A completed application must include:

  • Grad School Application and fee
  • Statement of Interest - This statement should outline the applicant's area of desired specialization and include the names of faculty members previously contacted regarding graduate study opportunities.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
  • Transcripts of all college work - Unofficial transcripts can be submitted for the application review process. If you are accepted, you will then need to provide us with an official transcript showing all degrees received. (If you are already enrolled in or have received your degree from UM you do not need to submit a transcript.)
  • Official Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores - The code for The University of Montana is R4489.  You must take the GRE by January 15 (for Fall applications) or August 15 (for Spring applications) to ensure we receive the scores by the deadline.  We cannot review an application without GRE scores.
  • Official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores if applicant’s native language is not English

The student is responsible for completion of the application file.  Please note that applications sent to us by FAX are not acceptable.  It typically takes 4 to 6 weeks from the date of your GRE or TOEFL examination for the scores to be reported.  Application files are checked periodically and the student is informed of any materials, which are lacking.  No action will be taken on any incomplete files.

Application Deadlines

Applications for fall semester admission will be reviewed beginning 31 January preceding the fall in which admission is desired.  Applications for spring semester will be reviewed beginning 31 August preceding the spring in which admission is desired.  Because the College receives applications from more qualified applicants than it can admit, submission of applications by these dates is highly recommended.

Admission Requirements

The College of Forestry and Conservation welcomes applications from men and women of all backgrounds who seek an intellectually challenging education.  Most applicants to the Ph.D. program have completed or are completing masters degrees.  The College of Forestry and Conservation will consider applications from students with only bachelors degrees if these applications demonstrate strong potential to complete a Ph.D. program.

Preliminary decisions regarding acceptance into the Ph.D. program will be made using the following criteria:

  • Minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 in undergraduate work, and 3.5 in graduate work; and
  • Minimum Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores of 153 verbal, 148 quantitative and 4.0 analytical for tests taken after August 1, 2011 and 500 verbal, 600 quantitative, and 4.0 analytical for tests taken prior to August 1, 2011.  For applicants whose native language is not English, the minimum TOEFL score is 79 for internet-based tests, 215 for computer-based tests, and 550 for paper-based tests.  GRE scores for applicants whose native language is not English will be evaluated in the context of the applicant’s English-speaking abilities.  Applicants who do not meet these minimums may still be considered for provisional admission if other aspects of the application show potential for successful completion of graduate study.

Further evaluation is made of letters of recommendation and the applicant’s statement of specific interest.  The latter is important because the final criterion for accepting an applicant is the willingness of a faculty member to serve ads an advisor.  The statement of specific interest is used to identify faculty members whose interests most closely match those of the applicant.  Under no conditions are persons accepted without the approval of a faculty member who will serve as the major professor.

Students must enroll in the semester stated in their acceptance letter.  If a student needs to defer, they can do so for up to one year and must get approval from their major professor.  They then need to contact the Graduate School to make sure the correct paperwork in done.  Unless prior arrangements have been made, students not initiating degree work within this time period must reapply for admission.

Review the Graduate Handbook

Please review the Graduate Handbook for information on student supervision and degree requirements.