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Academic Majors


Fisheries and Wildlife

The world’s fish and wildlife resources are ecologically, socially and economically important. Professionals are needed to ensure sound stewardship of these resources on both public and private lands. With the ever-increasing demand for and impact on our natural resources, fisheries and wildlife professionals must be knowledgeable and technically competent to solve a wide array of complex management problems.

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Background Information

Fish and wildlife biology are scientific disciplines dealing with the ecology, behavior and conservation of wild animals. At North Dakota State University, students interested in careers in fisheries and wildlife major in zoology, emphasizing course work and professional development in ecology and natural resource management.

Skills Needed

The field requires a wide breadth of training and skill. An understanding of anatomy, physiology, cellular processes, behavior and ecological and evolutionary principles is essential. Integrating such knowledge with plant biology, soil science, socio-economic factors and human relations is one of the exciting challenges of fish and wildlife biology.

Much of fish and wildlife management is people management. An effective resource manager must understand principles of economics, political science and law, and be trained in aspects of psychology, sociology and history. Skillful communication, written and oral, is one of the most important tools a fish and wildlife biologist uses.

The Curriculum

Basic education in English, social sciences, math, chemistry and physics is required, along with a solid background in the biological sciences and specialized courses in ecology, fish and wildlife biology and natural resource management. Suggested courses are listed in the sample curriculum.

Field Experience

The Department of Biological Sciences assists students in obtaining recommended field experience, such as summer or temporary employment with resource agencies, independent field research or field classes.

Student Organization

The Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society is a student organization that presents speakers to help members learn more about wildlife and wildlife preservation.

Career Opportunities

Most fish and wildlife biologists find employment with federal or state agencies, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Marine Fisheries Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and state fish and wildlife departments. Competition for these jobs is intense and most professional-level positions require an advanced degree. Competition for graduate school positions also is keen. Other career opportunities exist with private resource groups (the Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Ducks Unlimited) and with private industry (environmental consulting firms, oil, coal, mineral and chemical companies).

Specific job possibilities include wildlife disease specialist; law enforcement agent; wildlife refuge manager; waterfowl biologist; fisheries biologist; zoology professor; museum curator; naturalist in national, state or municipal parks; hatchery manager; environmental consultant; nature writer/photographer and lecturer; and limnologist.

Some students combine a fish and wildlife background with education courses to become teachers or environmental educators with parks or nature centers. Students may improve employment chances by combining fish and wildlife majors with such specific skills as journalism, art, soil science or computer and statistical expertise.

No matter what professional route students choose, it must be remembered that a strong commitment to professionalism is a must from early in the undergraduate period. Above all, a love of science and a deep commitment to the natural resource base are essential.

The Program

The Wildlife Society (the scientific and professional organization of wildlife biologists and managers) has developed a minimum set of requirements to be fulfilled in order to qualify as a certified wildlife biologist. These requirements, along with suggested courses to fulfill them at NDSU, are listed in the sample curriculum. Students should work closely with their academic advisors to develop a program that meets their professional goals.

Sample Curriculum

General Education RequirementsCredits
First Year Experience
  UNIV 189 - Skills for Academic Success1
  COMM 110 - Fundamentals of Public Speaking3
  ENGL 110, 120 - College Composition I, II 3, 3
  ENGL 324 - Writing in the Sciences3
Quantitative Reasoning
  STAT 330 - Introductory Statistics3
Science & Technology
  BIOL 315, 315L - Genetics and Lab 3, 1
  CHEM 121 - General Chemistry I 3
  CHEM 122 - General Chemistry II3
Humanities & Fine Arts6
Social & Behavioral Sciences6
Cultural Diversity-
Global Perspective-
College and Department Requirements Credits
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.S. Degree) 6
Hum/Soc. Science Electives (B.A. Degree) 12
Second Year Language Proficiency (B.A. Degree) -
Totals 6-12
Major Requirements Credits
BIOL 150, 150L - General Biology I and Lab 3, 1
BIOL 151, 151L - General Biology II and Lab 3, 1
CHEM 121L - General Chemistry I Lab 1
CHEM 122L - General Chemistry II Lab 1
MATH 146 - Applied Calculus I 4
ZOO 491 - Seminar 2
Total 16
Fisheries and Wildlife Option Credits
CHEM 240 - Survey of Organic Chemistry 3
CSCI 114 - Microcomputer Packages 3
PHYS 120 - Fundamentals of Physics 3
ZOO 364 - General Ecology 3
ZOO 475 - Conservation Biology 3
Biodiversity Elective 6-7
Ecology and Behavior Electives 3-4
Management Electives 6
Morphology Elective 3-4
Physiology Elective 3
Zoology Electives 1-4
Electives 7

This sample curriculum is not intended to serve as a curriculum guide for current students, but rather an example of course offerings for prospective students. For the curriculum requirements in effect at the time of entrance into a program, consult with an academic adviser or with the Office of Registration and Records.

Stevens Hall
Room 201B

Stevens Hall is located on the corner of Centennial Boulevard and Bolley Drive (Campus Map)

Contact Information

Dr. Wendy Reed, Department Head
Department of Biological Sciences
North Dakota State University
Stevens Hall 201B
Dept #2715, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-7087 / Fax: (701) 231-7149

Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Ceres 114
Dept #5230, PO Box 6050
Fargo, ND 58108-6050

Tel: (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802



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Office of Admission
North Dakota State University
Phone: +1 (701) 231-8643 / Fax: (701) 231-8802
Campus address: Ceres Hall 114
Physical/delivery address: 1301 Administration Ave., Fargo, ND 58102
Mailing address: NDSU Dept. 5230 / PO Box 6050 / Fargo, ND 58108-6050
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Last Updated: Wednesday, June 29, 2016 3:14:04 PM
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