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Help me get into a Wildlife Bio Master's Program!


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Hello, I graduated from Virginia Tech with a B.A. in Geography and since then I have decided that I want to work in the field of Wildlife Biology. I applied to some programs but didn't get in, so I have been applying to a LOT of jobs to try and get experience but I haven't had any luck there either. I have about 30 credit hours of Biology but it seems like most jobs want me to have a Wildlife undergrad degree. I looked into getting a second bachelors and it seems like it would take me an additional 2 years (not to mention the extra cost!). Should I just go ahead and get the second degree? I was also looking into just doing a study abroad program that involves 2-3 months of field research and counts for 3-12 undergraduate credits. Has anyone had any experience with that kind of program? I would have to get a loan to pay for it but it would be a lot cheaper than an extra 2 years at VT! Any advice would be helpful!

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Field experience is always good if you want to go into this branch of biology. I think that it may even be more important than your degree title. A lot of graduate programs allow students from other disciplines (but with the right amount of relevant experience) to enter, and then, if necessary, make up the missing coursework or electives. Have you contacted  any prospective advisers to see if they would want a MS student with a background in Geography? If you can find a program that would be ok with this, then the best option is to gain lots of field experience and then apply to the programs rather than invest in 2 additional years just for another degree.

What sort of wildlife research are you interested in? Have you looked into Evolution, Ecology, and Behavior (EEB) programs? They might be more flexible in admitting you than programs only focusing on wildlife biology. 

Regarding the study abroad, if you can afford taking the loan, that might be a good idea! Especially if it is your first field experience. I paid for my first biology field school in college, and then was able to find lots of paid positions after that.

However, if you can find a paid or even just volunteer position where they pay for your food, etc., then perhaps that might be a good idea too. Let me know what you are interested in :) I know quite a few sites online where people list cool field research jobs. For example, if you are interested in primates, Wisconsin's Primate Info Net website is an excellent place to look for fieldwork!

Edited by Fossey
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I've contacted a few advisers and they were happy with my geography degree, they just want to see more experience that's relevant to Wildlife. I've never looked into EEB programs, is that something that would allow me to do field research? As of right now I am fairly open as far as subject matter, I've been looking for all types of fieldwork, just to get my foot in the door. But any sources that you can think of would be helpful!

Regarding the study abroad, its a stretch to get the extra loan but it's a lot cheaper than 2 more years of undergrad! I've looked into internships, temporary positions and even volunteer work, but it's been a struggle to get accepted so far.

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