This degree combines formal course work with the graduate student's first experience with original research. The research experience changes the student from a passive learner to an active participant in the advancement of knowledge. The master's thesis involves developing the research question, planning research, gathering original data, analysis, and synthesis. During the process, students learn a great deal about their strongest intellectual interests and they discover things at which they excel and abilities that need improvement. For students intending to continue to the doctoral degree, the master's experience provides an opportunity to explore and refine interests, develop research skills, and learn from mistakes in a preliminary phase. Many students change their focus of interest as a result of the master's experience. For these reasons, the School ordinarily requires doctorate-seeking students to complete the master's first, unless the student has already had a research experience equivalent to the master's thesis. Students ordinarily complete the master's degree in two years.
The Interdisciplinary Ecology graduate degree program considers the Social-Ecological System the proper conceptual framework for understanding the full scope of complex, adaptive systems comprising humans in the natural world (see the curriculum webpage for a diagrammatic depiction). The degree program challenges students to understand both natural and human dynamics in order to obtain a holistic view and to foster the integration of human activities with natural resources and the environment. This is a remarkably difficult goal, but experience shows that the program works on two levels. First, students map their interests on the particular components and processes of the Social-Ecological System and select courses that provide formal training in important areas of connection. Second, the discipline of this program of study sets up a life-long habit of learning that enables alumni to continue to grow intellectually and adapt to changing needs encountered in their careers.
The ultimate responsibility for your degree program is yours, but the university empowers a Supervisory Committee of Interdisciplinary Ecology faculty to guide you and to decide whether you have met the program's requirements and achieved its learning outcomes. The Supervisory Committee for the MS-thesis program will be composed of a minimum of 3 members are required, at least 2 must be Graduate SNRE affiliate faculty. The Committee chair counts as 1 Graduate SNRE affiliate faculty member. You will need 1 more Graduate SNRE affiliate member from a different UF department and 1 additional member. Please consult with the SNRE graduate staff member as soon as possible. The 3rd member can be a “Special Member.” In order to be a Special Committee member, please contact the SNRE graduate staff member to discuss.
Note: The majority of your committee cannot be from the same UF department or school. We suggest you have an interdisciplinary committee. Please discuss this with the SNRE graduate staff member.
At the end of your thesis defense, your Supervisory Committee will assess your achievement of the School's learning outcomes in the Interdisciplinary Ecology degree program. They will assess your program of study, defense of your thesis, and your professional behavior over the duration of your degree program based on the following:
Thorough understanding of the components, processes, and interactions of the Social-Ecological System.
Competence in research methodologies for applying the scientific method to the generation of new knowledge.
Professional Behavior Outcome:
Interacting with professional peers with honesty, ethical behavior, cultural sensitivity, teamwork, and effective communication.