Curriculum & Courses

The GDPE curriculum is designed to provide a breadth and depth of training to MS and PhD students, who will emerge from the program as highly competent and skilled graduates. There are four courses required of all MS and PhD students: Foundations of Ecology (ECOL 505), Distinguished Ecologists Lecture Series (ECOL 571), Interdisciplinary Seminars in Ecology (ECOL 592), and Research Seminar (ECOL 693). These required courses provide a consistent ecological background for all GDPE students and ensure that all students engage in key intellectual opportunities within the program.

ECOL 505 (taught each fall) and ECOL 693 (taught each spring) should be taken the first year in the program.

Other required credits are chosen from the three core areas of our menu system: Organism/Population (Group A), Community/Ecosystem (Group B) and Quantitative Tools (Group C). Each GDPE student is required to select one to two courses from a set of core-like courses in Groups A and B. Additional courses can be flexibly selected from Groups A, B, C by the student, in conjunction with his or her graduate committee, creating an individually-tailored curriculum which is subject to approval by the GDPE Director. This approach ensures that all students have a fundamental background in ecology while also permitting them to tailor a program to their interests.

Courses with ECOL Prefixes

Courses with an ECOL prefix are administered by GDPE. They are staffed by GDPE faculty from various academic departments or research units. Some courses (ECOL 620, for example) are not taught every year. Check with the GDPE Coordinator if you have questions regarding when a specific course is offered.

Course Number,
Section & CRN
Course TitleTermCreditsPre-
requisites
Course Description
ECOL 505 - 001 -
CRN 60162
Foundations of EcologyFall2One course in ecologyOverview of the science of ecology; what questions are asked, how they are answered.
ECOL 571 - 001 -
CRN 18219
Advanced Topics in Ecology - Distinguished Ecologists Lecture SeriesSpring1One course in ecological principlesCurrent research topics presented and analyzed by visiting scientists. Attend each Distinguished Ecologist seminar during the semester for which you are registered. THIS COURSE DOES NOT MEET EVERY WEEK.
ECOL 571 - 002 -
CRN 18220
Distinguished Ecologists Lecture SeriesSpring2One course in ecological principlesCurrent research topics presented and analyzed by visiting scientists. Attend each Distinguished Ecologist seminar, read papers by the seminar speaker and participate in a discussion period prior to the speaker's visit, and participate in a lunchtime discussion with the speaker during their visit. THIS COURSE DOES NOT MEET EVERY WEEK.
ECOL 571 - 003 -
CRN 21250
Distinguished Ecologists Lecture SeriesSpring2One course in ecological principlesCurrent research topics presented and analyzed by visiting scientists. Attend each Distinguished Ecologist seminar, read papers by the seminar speaker and participate in a discussion period prior to the speaker's visit, and participate in a lunchtime discussion with the speaker during their visit. THIS COURSE DOES NOT MEET EVERY WEEK.
ECOL 592 - Various -
CRN Varies
Interdisciplinary Seminars in EcologyFall1 - 3One 300- or 400-level course in ecologyConcepts and principles of basic and applied ecology in an interdisciplinary context. Specific topics vary. Course website and current CRNs
ECOL 592 - Various -
CRN Varies
Interdisciplinary Seminars in EcologySpring1 - 3One 300- or 400-level course in ecologyConcepts and principles of basic and applied ecology in an interdisciplinary context. Specific topics vary. Course website and current CRNs
ECOL 600 - 001 -
CRN 20590
Community Ecology - LectureSpring3One course each on general ecology, calculus, and statisticsCurrent theories on the dynamics and regulation of populations and communities of organisms. Course website
ECOL 600 - R01 -
CRN 20591
Community Ecology - RecitationSpring0One course each on general ecology, calculus, and statistics.Recitation for ECOL 600 - 001
ECOL 600 - R02 -
CRN 20592
Community Ecology - RecitationSpring0One course each on general ecology, calculus, and statistics.Recitation for ECOL 600 - 001
ECOL 610 - 001 -
CRN 66480
Ecosystem Ecology - LectureNot Fall 20133 LIFE 320 or any ECOL courseConcepts, methods, issues in ecosystem science: energy and matter cycling, systems perspectives, simulation modeling, sustainability, global change. ECOL 610 is offered in the Fall 2012. The course will not be offered in 2013 as the faculty member will be on sabbatical. The course will be offered again in Fall 2014.
ECOL 610 - R01 -
CRN 66481
Ecosystem Ecology - RecitationNot Fall 20130Must register for ECOL 610 lecture and recitationRecitation for ECOL 610 - 001
ECOL 620 - 001 -
CRN 66478
Applications in Landscape Ecology - LectureOccasionally2 Previous coursework in geographic information systems, ecology, statistics, and mathematicsSpatial patterning of landscape elements and dynamics of ecological systems; spatial heterogeneity. Influence on biotic and abiotic processes.
ECOL 693 - 001 -
CRN 18231
Research Seminar - enhancing oral presentation skillsSpring1Written consent of instructorCritique of research programs, plans, and ecological theory
ECOL 693 - 002 -
CRN 18232
Research Seminar - enhancing proposal writing skillsSpring1Written consent of instructorCritique of research programs, plans, and ecological theory
ECOL 693 - 003 -
CRN 19376
Research Seminar - enhancing proposal writing skillsSpring1Written consent of instructorCritique of research programs, plans, and ecological theory
ECOL 695 - 001 -
CRN 60575
Independent StudyFall1 - 18GDPE ApprovalRequires a contract, thoroughly outlining the scope of the project, signed by student, instructor and and approved by the Director.
Application for Approval of Independent Study
ECOL 695 - 001 -
CRN 10371
Independent StudySpring1 - 18GDPE ApprovalRequires a contract, thoroughly outlining the scope of the project, signed by student, instructor and and approved by the Director.
Application for Approval of Independent Study
ECOL 695 -  001 -
CRN 50821
Independent StudySummer1 - 18GDPE ApprovalRequires a contract, thoroughly outlining the scope of the project, signed by student, instructor and and approved by the Director.
Application for Approval of Independent Study
ECOL 698 -  001 -
CRN 60576
ResearchFall1 - 18
ECOL 698 -  001 -
CRN 10372
ResearchSpring1 - 18
ECOL 698 -  001 -
CRN 50822
ResearchSummer1 - 18
ECOL 699 -  001 -
CRN 60577
ThesisFall1 - 18
ECOL 699 -  001 -
CRN 10373
ThesisSpring1 - 18
ECOL 699 -  001 -
CRN 50823
ThesisSummer1 - 18
ECOL 799 -  001 -
CRN 60578
DissertationFall1 - 18
ECOL 799 -  001 -
CRN 10374
DissertationSpring1 - 18
ECOL 799 -  001 - CRN 50824DissertationSummer1 - 18

Continuous Registration

Graduate degree candidates must be either enrolled for at least one credit or must register for CR during the term (fall, spring, or summer) they will complete their degree requirements.

Graduate School Continuous Registration Information

CR CONRG - 001 -
CRN 64943
Continuous
Registration
Fall
CR CONRG - 001 -
CRN 15551
Continuous
Registration
Spring
CR CONRG - 001 -
CRN 51749
Continuous
Registration
Summer

Frequently Asked Questions related to Curriculum


If I have completed an MS in Ecology at CSU and then begin a PHD program in GDPE, what required courses need to be repeated?
Students who complete a MS in Ecology at CSU and then enroll in the PhD program will be required to take ECOL 693, ECOL 592 and ECOL 571 again. ECOL 505 and courses in Groups A, B and C that were taken in the MS program need not be repeated and can count toward the PhD requirements.

Are there particular courses I should take during my first year?
Yes! All first year graduate students should take ECOL 505, Foundations of Ecology, offered each Fall semester. You should also plan to take ECOL 693, Research Seminar, offered each Spring semester.

What is Continuous Registration?
All students admitted to a graduate degree program at CSU are required to be continuously enrolled in their degree programs in the fall and spring semesters. This policy applies from the time of first enrollment through the graduation term. Students should contact their adviser if they do not plan to register for at least one credit of course work or research. Students graduating in summer term are required to be registered for at least one credit or Continuous Registration (CR). Students registering for CR will be assessed a fee for each semester of CR registration. Students enrolled for Continuous Registration in any term may not be considered enrolled full time for the purposes of, for example, financial aid, student loans, visas, or employment. Moreover, to receive full privileges for the summer term, students must be enrolled either in the summer or for the following fall term.

If my labmate in GDPE got an exemption for a particular course, can I assume that I will get the same?
Not necessarily. Each student's situation is unique and any exemptions must be submitted through the advisor's formal request to the GDPE office. This request must be reviewed and approved by the GDPE Director. This information is subsequently kept in the student's file.

I have been told by a GDPE graduate about certain restrictions within GDPE. Although I can't find the text to support that, should I assume that is true?
Each student's situation is unique and some policies do change, either within the Graduate School or GDPE. It is ALWAYS best to consult with your advisor and the program office to find answers to your particular situation.

How many total credits do I need to complete my MS or PhD requirements?"
Please refer to the Graduate Student Bulletin, see the table and accompanying information below.

  Grad School Max. Transfer Min. Complete at CSU Min. at 500+ Level Min. "Regular" Courses* GDPE Req'd
MS30624161218
PhD (w/MS)7230 (MS)4221n/a25
PhD (no MS)72106237n/a25

*"Non-regular" courses are defined courses ending in course codings 82-99.

MASTERS CREDIT REQUIREMENTS: (p.22-3) Credit requirements vary greatly; for certain terminal professional degrees, the minimum number of credits may exceed 60; other master's degrees vary from 30 to 36 (Table 1). Further, individual departments may have credit requirements in excess of these minimum university requirements. A minimum of 24 credits must be earned at Colorado State, 21 of which must be earned after admission to the Graduate School. A minimum number of credits earned at Colorado State must be in 500 or higher level courses (21 for Plan C master's degrees; 16 for all other master's degrees). Of this number, at least 12 credits must be in regular courses.

PhD CREDIT REQUIREMENTS: (p.24) A minimum of 72 semester credits beyond the baccalaureate is required.
For students who submit a master's degree in partial fulfillment of these requirements: A master's degree from an accredited college or university may be accepted for a maximum of 30 credits. In addition, up to ten credits in courses earned after the date on which the master's degree was awarded may be accepted in transfer if approved by the student's advisory committee, the department, and the Graduate School. A minimum of 32 credits must be earned at Colorado State University after admission to a doctoral program. At least 21 credits beyond the master's degree must be earned in courses numbered 500 or above. For students enrolled in a continuous master's/PhD program at Colorado State University, all courses taken during the master's program may be applied to the doctoral degree, even if the total master's degree credits exceed 30. These courses must be specified on the PhD program of study and approved by the student's advisory committee, the doctoral department, and the Graduate School. Continuous programs are those in which the student is admitted to the PhD program and formally registers the Fall or Spring semester immediately following receipt of the master's degree. All other prescribed credit requirements of the master's and PhD degrees remain in effect in such cases. For students who do not submit a master's degree in partial fulfillment of these requirements: Up to ten credits earned at an accredited college or university may be accepted for transfer if approved by the student's advisory committee, the department, and the Graduate School. A minimum of 62 credits must be earned at Colorado State University after admission to a doctoral program. At least 37 credits beyond the bachelor's degree must be earned in courses numbered 500 or above.

Can I take 400 level courses for graduate credit?
Yes, as long as you satisfy the requirements in the table above. You may not substitute any 400 level courses for GDPE curricular requirements.

What are Research, Thesis, and Dissertation credits?
They are non-regular defined courses ending in course coding 82-99 (like ECOL 695 - Independent Study, ECOL 698 - Research, ECOL 699 - Thesis, and ECOL 799 - Dissertation credits).

How do I know how many credits to claim for research (ECOL 698), thesis (ECOL 699), dissertation (ECOL 799) or independent study (ECOL 695) courses?

Please refer to the Graduate Student Bulletin (p. 20) For thesis, dissertation, research, and independent study graduate courses, the number of student credit hours earned will be determined using a base rate of 48 hours of student effort per credit hour. The faculty adviser, or other department official, shall estimate the total number of hours of student effort required over the length of the semester. This effort shall include consultation with the adviser, as well as library, laboratory, field, or studio work. The total number of hours shall be divided by 48 and the resultant quotient (rounded off to a whole number) shall define the number of credits to be awarded.

How do I fulfill the ECOL 571 requirement if I am doing spring field work?
Talk to your advisor and then the program office. The instructors for the ECOL 571 courses may be able to work out a solution for your situation. You need to confirm what the agreement is before the seminars start. The two credit section for this course involves nine specific meeting times in the spring. The one credit section for this course involves six specific meeting times.

What does it mean to be a PhD Candidate?
Doctoral students at Colorado State University are considered to achieve "candidacy" for the degree upon passage of preliminary examinations. Candidates generally retain that status through the completion of the degree. However, candidacy is lost if (1) the student is placed on probation due to insufficient grade point average; (2) the student's graduate advisory committee finds that insufficient progress is being made toward the degree; or (3) the student is dismissed for academic or disciplinary reasons. Students who lose candidacy may regain it, when appropriate, through the established procedures for improving grade point average, demonstrating satisfactory progress, or achieving readmission.

Note that in order to apply for an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG), a student must have advanced to candidacy prior to submitting the DDIG proposal. Proposals are due each November. (The deadline varies each year.)

What are the expectations for reasonable progress towards a degree?
Although graduate study is often flexible, GDPE and the Advisor expect the Student to make steady progress toward their degree. The following general guidelines reflect reasonable milestones of satisfactory progress for MS and PhD students as they progress through graduate program. These guidelines are general and not necessarily exhaustive. PLEASE NOTE that each student should individually discuss these expectations explicitly with their advisor, so that there is mutual understanding about specific expectations for the student.

For the MS degree
  • Semester 1. Discuss with the Advisor a plan of coursework and enroll in first courses. Discuss potential graduate committee members, and a plan for the dissertation or thesis project. Review the literature on the thesis/dissertation topic.
  • Semester 2. Select graduate committee members, prepare research proposal, and hold committee meeting to approve research study plan. Submit GS-6 form to GDPE for review and approval and then submit to the Graduate School. Initiate research and data collection.
  • Semester 3. Perform data analysis from research activities.
  • Semester 4. Complete research, begin to write thesis and a draft manuscript from the research for a professional journal.
  • Semester 4+. Complete thesis and defend, and submit manuscript for publication in a professional journal.
For the PhD degree
  • Semester 1. Discuss with the Advisor a plan of coursework and enroll in first courses. Discuss potential graduate committee members, and a plan for the dissertation or thesis project. Review the literature on the thesis/dissertation topic
  • Semester 2. Select committee members and hold an initial committee meeting to agree on the plan of coursework and discuss the thesis/dissertation topic and research approach. Develop a draft GS-6 form to discuss with Advisor. Initiate research and data collection.
  • Semester 3. Complete research proposal. Complete GS6. Hold a formal committee meeting to gain approval of GS6 and proposal from the committee. Submit GS6 to GDPE for review and approval and then submit to Graduate School. Perform data analysis from research activities.
  • Semester 4. Present to-date research results at a professional meeting.
  • Semester 5. Take written and oral comprehensive exams (pre-lims).
  • Semester 6. Analyze project data to date and prepare manuscripts for publication, and present results at professional meeting.
  • Semester 7+. Complete coursework dissertation chapters and defend dissertation in public seminar held in home department. Write manuscripts from dissertation and present key findings at a professional meeting.

What are the expectations about Thesis or Dissertation?
At its core, a MS thesis or PhD dissertation is a document that both demonstrates and follows the accepted principles and practices of scholarship. It should provide the graduate committee evidence, in a well-written and internally consistent document, of a student's ability to

  1. plan and execute original and substantive research,
  2. rigorously analyze the results,
  3. interpret these results in the broader context of the field, and
  4. logically argue a coherent thesis (a hypothetical proposition or point of view) that is defensible, and ultimately, provides new knowledge and understanding for the discipline of ecology.