Montana State University

Ecological and Environmental Statistics


The Ecological and Environmental Statistics Program will train students to understand and critically apply modern statistical principles to the solution of problems in ecological and environmental science. We feel that to do this successfully the student must develop an understanding of both statistics and the underlying science.


The purpose of the masters program in Ecological and Environmental Statistics is to foster interdisciplinary cross-training at MSU, by promoting the statistical training of ecological and environmental scientists and the scientific training of statisticians. Ecology and other biological and environmental science disciplines have become increasingly quantitative, and graduate students in those disciplines now require extensive training in sophisticated statistical methodology. The old criterion of one introductory statistics course followed by an additional course in linear modeling is no longer adequate. Such quantitative and interdisciplinary skills are needed so that ecological and environmental scientists are equipped to facilitate communication between science and society, between scientists and the general public and between scientists and those who make policy based on scientific knowledge. MSU's location provides a unique opportunity to take advantage of and address these needs. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem is recognized by scientists around the world as an outstanding natural laboratory for ecology and environmental science.

MS Program - Ecological and Environmental Statistics

A student's graduate committee would be composed of a minimum of two members from Mematical Sciences, and one member representing the collaborating department. Students would need to pass two comprehensive exams, one in statistics and one in the participating field.

  • Minimum of 30 postbaccalaureate units as stated in the Graduate Catalog.
  • No more than 9 units duplicated in other MSU degrees (see Graduate Catalog).
  • Minimum of 21 units in statistics (400 level or higher) or other approved quantitative courses. Unless equivalent previously taken, these must include:
  • Minimum 20 graduate level credits (note that unless some of the required undergraduate statistics courses have been previously taken this implies more than 30 credits will be needed).
  • Comprehensive exam in Statistics:
    • A four hour written exam covering the required courses listed above and two elective courses selected by the student and approved by the student's committee.
    • The exam will be graded as pass or fail. Examinees will be informed of the results within three working days of taking the exam.The exam may be repeated once in which case, the student's committee will indicate which topics are to be repeated.
  • Demonstration of the following c:
    • Technical knowledge of participating substantive field. Requirements to be determined by collaborating department. Requirements may include:
      • Comprehensive exam .
      • Course work.
      • Undergraduate degree.
    • Competence in scientific writing, satisfied by:
      • A graduate course in scientific writing and a professional paper.
        • Or research thesis in statistical ecology.
        • Or a research paper suitable for publication (with approval).
      • Or research thesis of collateral degree.
    • Scientific presentation satisfied by:
      • Presentation at a scientific meeting.
      • Or a seminar course requiring presentation.
    • Research satisfied by:
      • Research thesis in statistical ecology.
      • Or research thesis of collateral degree.
      • Or a research paper suitable for publication (with approval).
    • Philosophy of science, one course such as:
Potential statistics and approved quantitative courses:
Competency in Ecology

Competency in ecology can be demonstrated either by the completion of a collateral graduate degree in ecology (M.S. or Ph.D.) or by completion of at least four graduate courses in ecology and a comprehensive exam. Ecology would require a course from each of four categories:

  • philosophy and process of science
  • population level ecology
  • ecology at higher levels of organization such as community, ecosystem, or landscape scales
  • evolutionary ecology
Competency in Environmental Science

Competency in environmental science can be demonstrated either by the completion of a collateral graduate degree in Land Resources and Enviromental Sciences (M.S. or Ph.D.) or Land Rehabilitation (M.S.); or by completion of a comprehensive exam and at least four graduate courses (12 credits) in environmental sciences from the following list:

  • LRES advisor approved, graded, graduate-level LRES courses, not including 500 or courses numbered ≥ 592 other than 591(special topics)
  • up to 6 credits of LRES advisor approved, graded, graduate-level MSU environmental science course work may be substituted for LRES courses.

Collaborating Departments and Faculty

Mathematical Sciences

Homepage 2-214 Wilson

Participating Faculty


Homepage 310 Lewis

Participating Faculty

Land Resources and Environmental Sciences

Homepage 334 Leon Johnson

Participating Faculty

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