Benjamin Hayden in Arboretum

Master of Wildlife Biology

The Master of Wildlife Biology (MWB) is a new one-year program designed to equip graduates with the academic, technical, and experiential training needed to pursue fulfilling careers in wildlife biology. You will be introduced to the latest techniques and knowledge in wildlife biology and will learn to apply this knowledge to real-world circumstances.

Our structure allows for flexibility and customization to ensure graduates are well equipped for their individual career paths.

Why Wildlife Biology?

Whether you are interested in conservation, consulting, or hands-on wildlife rehabilitation, this program is for you! Our Master of Wildlife Biology program will equip you with the understanding and knowledge to solve challenges facing wildlife, society, and ecosystems today. You will be guided through best practices for conservation management and monitoring wildlife, taught essential science communication skills, and learn in-demand techniques and skills for wildlife biology in the 21st century.

Students can customize their program to suit their personal and professional interests. This program is ideal for international and domestic students seeking academic excellence in an efficient, active, flexible, and individualized learning program. Graduates will be prepared for exciting careers in areas such as government, not-for-profit, environmental consulting, education, and industry.

Degree Details

The Master of Wildlife Biology is a one-year, course-based program (three semesters, or 12 months) starting in the fall semester. Students will complete three core courses, three to four elective courses and a practicum placement in the third semester.

Students will be able to customize their certifications and electives to meet their chosen specialization in one of the following three fields:

Owl receiving eye exam

Wildlife Rehabilitation

Wildlife rehabilitation involves the care and management of orphaned, sick, hurt, or otherwise impaired wildlife with the purpose of restoring their health and increasing their survivability in the wild. Students will gain practical rehabilitation experience, technical skills and receive hands-on training. This pathway will allow students to seek careers in areas such as wildlife rehabilitation and wildlife non-profit organizations.

Student walking through field with bug net

Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife conservation focuses on skills, policy, and procedures that serve to protect and preserve wildlife in Canada and beyond. Students will learn strategies and tools for the preservation of biodiversity at multiple scales and in a context of rapid human-environmental change. This pathway will allow students to seek careers in areas including environmental consulting and conservation authorities.

Students using binoculars in woods


Biomonitoring focuses on the observation and assessment of the state of species and ecosystems over time. Students will have the opportunity to learn research methods and technical skills, including statistical analysis, assessment of the health of a population or environment, and monitoring techniques for individual species and whole ecosystems. This pathway will allow students to seek careers in fields such as environmental consulting, environmental governance, and non-profit organizations. 

Hands-on Training and Skill Development

As part of this program, students will have the chance to develop personal career goals and seek training in their chosen field. Students will dedicate course time to gaining certifications and training in specific technical skills unique to their desired career path in two major ways:

Independent Pathways Portfolio

Through the Professional Skills and Qualifications in Wildlife Biology course, students will spend three semesters developing an Independent Pathways Portfolio (IPP). Students will work with professionals and course instructors to identify skills and experiences important to their desired careers. Each student will be able to customize their IPP through a wide range of workshops, certificates and training opportunities relevant to their intended career.

The MWB helps support student training and certification relevant to their IPP. 

Practicum Placements

All students will complete either a practicum placement or major research project relevant to their chosen field within wildlife biology in their final semester. MWB will help students identify and reach out to wildlife biology organizations that suit each individual student’s career path. Students can also choose to complete a major research project with an academic advisor instead.

Moira Parker
The program has not only broadened my horizons in terms of career options but has also fostered a sense of community. Establishing connections with individuals who share a collective desire for success has been a gratifying aspect of this journey. It is truly invigorating to be united with a group of like-minded individuals who share a passion for wildlife biology.

Moira Parker, Graduate Student
Master of Wildlife Biology

Julia Linnell
I chose the Master of Wildlife Biology program because it provided me with everything I was looking for in a master's. It allows me to specialize in my desired career path (wildlife rehabilitation), provides me with invaluable hands-on practice during labs, and it allows me flexibility in choosing the courses and workshops I believe will be the most beneficial to me in the long-term. Not to mention the incredible people and instructors I've been lucky to meet!

Julie Linnell, Graduate Student
Master of Wildlife Biology

Master of Wildlife Biology Courses

The core courses for the MWB program provide a wide baseline of knowledge in wildlife biology, transferrable skills, and experiential learning opportunities. The University of Guelph’s high-ranking position as a leading institution in wildlife biology means that students have a wide range of electives to choose from. Here is a sample of the newly created courses for the MWB program. 

For more information, visit the Graduate Academic Calendar.

This course is required for all three semesters of the program. This course will help students develop skills, qualifications, and gain experiences related to their chosen field, and create their individualized Independent Pathways Portfolio (IPP). Students are expected to complete 80 hours total of professional workshops and qualification skills over the three semesters of this course. 

Students attend a series of lectures and guided discussions with panelists regarding emerging issues that impact wildlife with an emphasis on emerging diseases, threats due to climate change, and mitigation strategies in Canada.

What are the best ways to share biological knowledge with non-scientists, including user groups wishing to apply this knowledge? Students learn to be accurate, credible, inclusive and engaging communicators in a variety of media (from written articles or policy documents, to tweets and podcasts.

A major research project or experiential placement/practicum is completed and presented by students in the Master of Wildlife Biology program. Projects may involve primary research or the application of knowledge. Professionalism and communication skills in written, oral and visual formats are also emphasized.

This course is designed for students to gain valuable knowledge and hands on experience in wildlife rehabilitation practice through a series of lectures and labs. Students learn about wildlife rehabilitation and the skills necessary to care for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife. Labs include stabilization techniques, physical examination, feeding (gavage) techniques, technical diagnostic skills, and comparative anatomy that is relevant in wildlife rehabilitation.

This course introduces students to a variety of field and analytical methods used for species surveys and environmental assessment. Oral, written, and visual communication skills, considering diverse stakeholders, are also emphasized.

This course is designed for students interested in interested in a career working with free-ranging wildlife (specifically with wild canids, ursids, cervids). Students will critically examine whether chemical immobilization of a wild animal is required and will consider human safety and animal welfare concerns. Students will be taught how to safely handle tranquillizing equipment and drugs.

How can physiological and behavioural plasticity help vertebrates cope with human-induced rapid environmental change? What are stress responses, when do they indicate that an animal’s coping mechanisms are over-taxed, and does this mean that wild animals ‘suffer’? And when and how should we treat wild animals with more compassion?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Is there an application deadline for the MWB program?

Yes. Applications are due Feb.1 for international students and June 1 for domestic students for entrance into the program in September of the same year. Applications for outstanding domestic prospective students will be considered up until Aug. 1 (space permitting).

  • What documents do I need to submit for my MWB application?

The program requires your OUAC application, unofficial transcripts and any relevant supporting documents, and two referee assessment forms with your application. A CV/resume and statement of interest are required for the September 2024 intake.

  • Do I need to contact an academic advisor before applying for this program?

No. This program is course-based and allows for students to apply and join the program without having first contacted and been approved by an academic advisor.

If you choose a major research project in your third semester, you will be required to find an academic advisor.

  • What kind of references should be used in the application?

If you have relevant work experience, you are welcome to use a professional reference and an academic reference instead of two academic references for your application (preference for both professional and academic references). Remember that your references should be able to speak about your potential to successfully complete a master's degree and other skills relevant to the graduate program.

Please contact us for alternate admission if you have further questions about reference letters. 

  • I have accepted my offer in WebAdvisor. How do I register and select courses, pay tuition, etc.?

Please see the Schedule of Dates in the Graduate Calendar to see when course selection opens/ends. The Registration Guideline will guide you through the registration process.

  • I have accepted my offer in WebAdvisor. Where do I send my final transcripts? Do they have to be submitted before I can register and begin classes?

Official and final transcripts must be submitted to the Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (OGPS) before the 14th class day of the Fall semester. Please see the Schedule of Dates for academic deadlines. Students who do not submit their final transcript in time will be required to defer their application to the following year. Please do not upload Exam Marksheets; transcripts are required.

  • When can I start the MWB program?

Students can only start the MWB program on the first day of classes in September of each calendar year.

  • If I completed my previous degree(s) outside of Canada, how do I determine my eligibility for this program?

Please visit the International Credential Guidelines and select the country your previous degree was in to determine information regarding eligibility and approximate GPA. Please note that your previous educational institution(s) must be accredited in order for your application to be considered. In addition, for international institutions, please refer to the country in the International Credential Guidelines to determine the equivalency of your previous degree.

  • How do international students apply for a study permit?

Please use the official offer of admission that you received from the Office of Graduate Studies to apply for your study permit. You can apply for a study permit with a conditional offer of admission. If you have specific questions about your transition to the University of Guelph, you can reach out to an International Student Advisor.

  • Do international applicants need to submit English proficiency test scores?

English proficiency test scores are not required for applicants whose first language is English. For applicants who speak English as a second or additional language, you may request consideration for a waiver of the English language requirement after you submit your application if you have successfully completed a bachelor's or master's university degree in English in Canada. In all other situations, an English proficiency test score is required with your application.

  • Can international students apply for work permits following graduation from this program?

Please contact the University of Guelph International Student Advisor for information regarding post-graduation work permits.

  • Will I have funding during the Master of Wildlife Biology program?

No. Master of Wildlife Biology students will not receive a minimum stipend for this program. 

  • Will I be able to apply for graduate teaching assistantships (GTA) during my degree?

Yes, it is a campus-wide policy that any student enrolled in a graduate program can apply for graduate teaching assistantships (GTA). MWB students will be able to apply for GTA, but do not have a job guarantee through the program, as they will be considered Level 2 in their applications. Students can apply for a GTA in any department. For a complete list of GTA positions available on campus, please go to: Available TA Positions.

  • Can I work full-time during the MWB program?

We strongly discourage attempts to work full time while completing the MWB program, as it is a full-time graduate program. Students are encouraged to consider working part-time to dedicate adequate time to completing the program or consider applying for graduate teaching assistantships and scholarships.

  • Are there any funding opportunities that I can apply for through the University of Guelph?

Yes, but there are limited opportunities for students in course-based master's programs. Students who apply are not guaranteed funding. Please see the Scholarship Handbook for CBS Students (PDF) to check your eligibility to find what bursaries and scholarships you might be able to apply for.

Wood duck

About Us

The Department of Integrative Biology has a strong international reputation for excellence in both teaching and research. With specializations in ecology, physiology, and evolution, and a record of student-integrated research programs, we work together on projects across all scales, from DNA to biomes. Situated within the community of Guelph, we enjoy the benefits of a welcoming community with commitments to improve life in all we do. Learn more about the City of Guelph.

Contact Us

Dr. Sherri Cox
Assistant Professor, Master of Wildlife Biology Program Director
Phone number: 519-824-4120 Ext. 56826

Kate Artuso
Graduate Program Assistant
Phone number: 519-824-4120 Ext. 56097

Karen White
Graduate Admissions Assistant
Phone number: 519-824-4120 Ext. 52730

Dr. Cortland Griswold
Integrative Biology Graduate Coordinator
Phone number: 519-824-4120 Ext. 56240