Q: How big is the program?
A: Our program is fairly small, with ~15-20 active students in the program and ~12 actively involved faculty. This means small class sizes in our core courses (8-12 students), lots of one-on-one attention, and abundant opportunities for research and internships.
Q: Do you provide funding for grad students?
A: Each year we offer a number of $8000 Teaching Assistantships to qualified students, including incoming graduate students. Teaching Assistantships require that students teach two 3-hour undergraduate laboratory sections per week during the Fall and Spring semesters. If you are interested in applying for a Teaching Assistantship position, please indicate your interest in the cover letter of your application. Teaching Assistantships are typically awarded in May.
Additionally, there are a number of funding opportunities available to graduate students enrolled in the program. Most of these opportunities are only to available once you become an enrolled CSU Stanislaus student. Our university awards a large number of graduate assistantship positions (~25 per semester), and students in our department have been selected at a high rate (~50% award rate). Faculty members occasionally have grant-funded research projects that employ grad students to work on research projects. The Biology Department also provides research funds for supplies and travel on a competitive basis. Many of our students work part-time for local environmental agencies, and we make an effort to help place students in paid positions whenever possible. Despite recent tuition increases, the cost of tuition in the Cal State system remains relatively low compared to nearly all private and public universities. The cost of living in the San Joaquin Valley is much lower than in other parts of California.
Q: How competitive are admissions to your program?
A: We have a fairly high rate of acceptance of applicants who meet our minimum criteria (>3.0 GPA; undergraduate major in biology, environmental science, or related science; all pre-requisite courses completed). We also occasionally accept promising students who do not meet the minimum requirements in a provisional status, with the understanding that they will make up required courses or raise their GPA in the first semester at CSU Stanislaus.
Q: Do I need to have a faculty member accept me into his/her lab in order to be admitted to the program?
A: No, you do not need to receive a commitment from a specific professor prior to being admitted to the program. However, you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the research interests of the faculty, and we encourage applicants to email faculty members they are interested in working with about their interests. Students whose research interests are aligned with one or more faculty members will be looked upon favorably during the application review process. Students will meet with faculty during their first semester and select a graduate advisor by the end of the first semester.
Q: Can students work part- or full-time jobs while in the program? What time of day are your classes?
A: Some of our students work part-time, off-campus jobs while they are in the program. It is nearly impossible to work a full-time job and make progress on your degree, however, even if the job offers flexible scheduling. All classes are offered on weekdays. Some grad classes, such as seminars, are offered in the evening. Most other classes, especially classes that involve labs or field work, meet in the afternoon. Although grad classes are all offered in the afternoon and evening, undergraduate classes (such as 4000-series ecology and economics courses) may be offered earlier in the day. We encourage our students, if at all possible, to remain full-time students with minimal (<15 hours/week) off-campus work positions. On-campus paid work is often available to qualified students in the form of teaching or research assistantships. For students who need to work off-campus, the program has relationships with several nearby natural resources and environmental agencies and organizations that often hire graduate students in a field related to their academic interests.