If you wish to apply for graduate study at USU in Watershed Sciences, you will need sponsorship from a faculty member. We offer PhDs and Masters in a) Watershed Science, b) Aquatic Ecology and c) Fisheries. If you are interested in working with me, make contact early in the process to discuss ideas. The application procedure itself is fairly straight-forward and involves:
You can apply at any time, and no separate applications are required for financial assistance (see here for deadlines by semester). Deadlines vary for other sources of funding and it is best to contact the potential major professor. See also the admission requirements for the department.
There are various ways to fund
your graduate education at USU, and your eventual acceptance
to the Watershed Sciences program will be contingent on a funding
source being secured for you. Unlike when you were an undergraduate,
most graduate students are paid to study and do their research.
As far as the University is concerned, there are four primary expenses
for you as a graduate student: 1) living expenses (paid in form
of stipend), 2) tuition and fees, 3) research expenses (e.g.
equipment & travel), and 4) health insurance.
If I accept you as a graduate student, my expectations of you are pretty simple.
Fundamentally, I expect you to do what it takes to transition from
a student to a professional researcher. I expect you to approach
your graduate education and research as a professional. You need
to treat it as a job, but one that you have tremendous freedom to
shape to your liking and interests. Although you will be pushed
and have to work hard, I expect you to have fun and chase your curiosities.
Otherwise, what's the point?
Is it merely a stepping stone to prepare you for a specific career track? Is it to prepare you for a career in research? What skills do you need to develop over the course of your graduate education? Clearly articulated answers to the above questions will help you make a deliberate choice about what program is right for you. Such answers will also help you in working with prospective major professors to communicate your expectations, needs and aspirations. It is better to communicate these things up front and find out that a situation won't meet your needs before hand, then to ignore them and assume that your needs will be met and face disappointment two to four years down the road.
These deliberate choices aside, timing and circumstances can trump everything. In a perfect world, you will get multiple offers to choose from, all from your top choices, and when you are ready to pursue your degree. In reality, the graduate student market is highly competitive and you may be faced with the situation in your first attempt of no offers or only one offer from the bottom of your list. This is a great time to pause and reflect on what's best for you. It may be accepting that offer you were not that excited about. Or it may be Is this an opportunity to take more time, be better prepared for the next round of applications and keep pursuing the goal of graduate education? Or is it a good chance to
If you are thinking about pursuing a PhD, please carefully read this depressing article in December's Economist on 'The disposable academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time'. If despite those odds and challenges, curiosity has the better of you and your willing to make the requisite sacrafices in pursuit of scientific inquiry, then great. Go for it. A career in research and/or academia can be extremely rewarding and offer a tremendous amount of freedom. However, to passively walk into a PhD program without a clear picture of the potential pitfalls ahead and why it is still worth while, can be a very disappointing experience. Masters and PhDs motivated by the prospects of better money and higher paying jobs alone are highly unrealistic. If money is what's important to you, there are much easier and smarter ways to make it ;).
You will be provided a comfortable working space in my lab in
the recently refurbished Janet Quinney Lawson building. The lab
is part of the College of Natural Resources' Spatial Modeling and
Analysis Center, which includes our lab, the RS/GIS
Laboratory (Doug Ramsey),
the Utah Climate
Edward's BIOD Lab, and Eric
Gese's Lab. The lab is centrally located on campus directly
across from the Natural
Resources Building, which is home to the College
of Natural Resources, the Ecology
Center, Watershed Sciences
& Society Department, the Wildland
Resources Department, and my office.
Our lab-space is in the Spatial Modeling and Analysis Center of the Janet Quinney Lawson building (above) on the Utah State University Campus (map) (room 147 ~ floor plan).
I will provide you with a workstation or laptop for your research and studies. You will have access to further state of the art computing facilities, IT support and an arsenal of field equipment through my lab, ICRRR and the department. You will find we are pretty well equipped for the type of research we do. In the event we don't have something, it is likely someone else on campus does.
The WATS Graduate Student Handbook covers all the basics for getting through the degree. You develop your own coursework curriculum with your Major Professor (see here for MS/PhD Degree Requirements). The only required course is the Departmental Seminar (WATS 6800/7800). Depending on your project and undergraduate education, you may need to make up some basic pre-requisites and undergraduate coursework. Other than that you have a plethora of courses across the campus to choose from. These include courses within the Watershed Sciences Department, or any relevant graduate course (if approved by supervisory committee) you can find in the General Catalog.
Utah State University offers an exceptional research environment
for you to develop professionally. For example the Ecology
Center and the Water Initiative
span multiple Departments, Labs and Research Interests on campus.
Graduate students in the Ecology Program are automatically part
of the Ecology Center, and any graduate student doing research in
a water-related field can apply to become a Water
Fellow. Both bring with them benefits of being part of a broader
research community, but in addition make you eligible for receiving
funding from these programs (e.g. travel grants). The Ecology Center
includes roughly 70 faculty whereas the Water Initiative includes
well over 100 faculty. This is a big list of potential academics
for your committee as well as potential collaborative opportunities.
Logan is a great place to live and if you are into outdoor sports
the mountains are hard to beat. On your doorstep are not only some
fantastic field-work opportunities and potential study sites, but
also a great playground for outdoor pursuits. This can be quite
an important counter balance to your research and education. If you're scoping out places to live and trying to figure out neighborhoods, you may find this neighborhood map helpful.
Don't just take my word for it. Ask existing
graduate students what they think of Logan and their program.
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