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Current Graduate Students

Paperwork and Handbooks

Take time to review the materials provided by the School of Graduate studies and the department.

School of Graduate Studies Degree Completion Forms

WATS Program of Study Spreadsheet (use this to submit your program of study)

Graduate Program Overview

MS Degree

The Master of Science degree in Fisheries Biology, Ecology, or Watershed Sciences emphasizes the management of fisheries or watershed resources and prepares students for decision-making roles in natural resource agencies. This degree is offered for students motivated toward an administrative career and for applicants with previous agency experience.

The minimum requirement for an MS degree is 30 credits, including 24 credits in residency and 6 credits of thesis research. A thesis based on original research performed by the student is required.

PhD Degree

The Doctor of Philosophy degree in Fisheries Biology, Ecology, or Watershed Science is for students interested in pursuing a research or academic career. The minimum requirement for a PhD degree is 30 approved graduate credits for students entering the program with a master’s degree or 60 approved graduate credits for students entering the program with a bachelor’s degree. At least two consecutive semesters (a minimum of 32 credits) of full-time registration must be in residence. A dissertation based on original research performed by the student is required.

Immediately prior to each Fall Semester, all incoming students participate in a graduate induction course. The course is an intense, five-day introduction to the fundamental concepts of watershed science, as well as to the faculty, staff, and current students.

WATS 6260, section 1 (CRN 44846) - Watershed Sciences Graduate Induction Course (Induction Course Website)

The Department of Watershed Sciences runs an introductory course for all its incoming graduate students immediately prior to each Fall semester. The course is an intense, five day introduction to the fundamental concepts of Watershed Science, as well as the people (faculty, staff and existing students) who make up the Department of Watershed Science and the techniques they use in their research. The course will typically begin with two to three days exploring the Logan River Watershed with field activities scattered about everywhere from its source in the Bear River Range to its mouth in the wetlands of Cutler Reservoir.

During this introduction to the Logan River Watershed, students will meet most of the WATS faculty as they lead students on short field exercises that highlights some mix of fundamental research questions and/or some of the cutting edge tools and technologies we use in WATS to address those questions. The course will then typically shift focus to some of the even more dramatic landscapes within a half-day’s drive of Logan (e.g. Grand Tetons). l In this part of the course, we discuss broader-scale geologic and regional controls on the landscape, and work on interpreting landforms and understanding their organization in the landscape. The course is residential and involves a mix of camping and rustic accommodation in cabins. Students should be prepared for moderately strenuous outdoor activity, including hiking, wading in streams, and white-water rafting. No previous experience is necessary and field and recreational gear is provided.

Class Objectives:

The general objectives of the course are to help incoming graduate students get acquainted with the nearby landscape, the people in the Department of Watershed Sciences, some of the broader concepts and questions that define Watershed Science, and some of the techniques that USU faculty use to answer those questions. A sampling of the techniques demonstrated: topographic data acquisition (with terrestrial laser scanning rtkGPS, and total stations), collection of aerial photography using drone aircraft, field mapping, rapid assessment surveys, soil evaluation, collection and analysis of climatic data, fish sampling (electrofishing, snorkel surveys, mobile-antennae PIT tags), macroinvertebrate sampling, water quality monitoring, large-scale landscape interpretation, and hydrography (e.g. with ADCP).

Information for Current Students

Seminars: All students are encouraged to attend the weekly Departmental Seminars. Fall Semester, Wednesdays at 4:00 pm; Spring Semester, Tuesdays at 4:00 pm

Student Club: American Fisheries Society Student Chapter
WATS Grad Student Rep: Macy Gustavus (2021-22)
CNR Graduate Student Representation Senator: Tony Roberts

Memorandum of Understanding: Faculty members and Graduate Teaching Assistants are encouraged to use this generic template to develop a memorandum of understanding with the faculty instructor leading the course for which they are TAing. The template is intended to be adapted to specific courses. 

Student Health Insurance: USU Subsidized Health Insurance for Graduate Students is administered through First Student.  If you need assistance, please contact the USU Student Health Center at 435-797-1660 or Basic information is at the USU Student Health Services webpage.

Decontamination Protocols: Utah Decontamination Protocols from the State of Utah.  Western Regional Panel Guidance from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

USU Trainings: There are several required and optional trainings for WATS graduate students, as well as other opportunities to advance your academic and professional skills.

Graduate Student Pre-Project Symposiums

Scholarships and Fellowships

USU School of Graduate Studies Fellowships and Scholarships

EPA Fellowship - National Center for Environmental Research - Funding Opportunities

Community Information - click here for more links!

If you would like more information about the community surrounding Utah State University and hints from other graduate students, make sure you follow the link to Community Information! You'll find links to maps, suggestions for things to do in Cache Valley and links to some favorite sites submitted by your fellow graduate students. There is also a graduate students guide to Cache Valley, written by graduate students!

Notice of Non-discrimination

In its programs and activities, including in admissions and employment, Utah State University does not discriminate or tolerate discrimination, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, status as a protected veteran, or any other status protected by University policy, Title IX, or any other federal, state, or local law. The following individuals have been designated to handle inquiries regarding the application of Title IX and its implementing regulations and/or USU’s non-discrimination policies: 

Executive Director of the Office of Equity

Alison Adams-Perlac

Old Main Rm. 161


Title IX Coordinator

Hilary Renshaw

Old Main Rm. 161



For further information regarding non-discrimination, please visit, or contact:


U.S. Department of Education

Office of Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights


U.S. Department of Education

Denver Regional Office