Contact Us

Graduate Program Officer for Botany
Ellen Currano - Professor

1000 E University Ave.

Aven Nelson Building

Laramie, WY

Find us on Instagram (Link opens a new window)Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window)Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)Find us on LinkedIn (Link opens a new window)Find us on YouTube (Link opens a new window)

Botany Department

Graduate Programs


Thank you for your interest in our graduate programs! The Department of Botany is an interdisciplinary, collaborative department, and our faculty and graduate students conduct research spanning diverse areas of the ecology and evolution of plants and animals, ecological and evolutionary theory, and statistical developments for the life sciences. We are always looking for graduate students who are passionate about advancing the frontiers of knowledge in ecology, evolutionary biology, and biodiversity science. We believe that diversity is critical to the success of our department, and we welcome applications from students with diverse backgrounds, abilities, races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and other distinctive identities.

Review of applications begins February 1st each year. Please direct inquiries about the graduate programs to a faculty member with whom you share research interests (see ‘how to apply’ below), or to Dr. Ellen Currano, the Graduate Program Officer for Botany.


Degrees offered:


M.S. and Ph.D. in Botany

We offer two advanced degrees in botany: the M.S. degree (~2 yr program with a thesis) and the Ph.D. degree (4–6 yr program with a dissertation). In both degree programs, each student will work closely with a faculty adviser from the Department of Botany, and, with input from other faculty mentors, design and complete an original research project.

Programs of graduate study are based on courses, seminars, readings and research, and normally use some materials and human resources from other parts of the university or other centers of scholarship. Regardless of the degree program or professional direction, students will achieve a breadth of knowledge about biodiversity, ecology, evolution, and plant biology and will be accomplished in their ability to extend knowledge through scholarly research. Students will be skilled in conveying knowledge in both academic and non-academic settings and will understand the value and practice of scientific service activities.

Details of the graduate program philosophy and degree requirements are given in the Botany Graduate Student Handbook (.pdf). This document contains important information for prospective and current students.

Specific instructions for the application procedure are below ("How to Apply").

Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution

Most faculty in the Department of Botany participate in the interdepartmental, doctoral Program in Ecology and Evolution (PiE2)*. Applicants to PiEE must first apply to a host department for admission. If you are a prospective student for the Program in Ecology and Evolution, with a faculty adviser in Botany, please follow the instructions below ("How to Apply") and review the instructions for application to the Program in Ecology and Evolution. Questions can be directed to

*Note, this degree program was previously called the “Program in Ecology,” with the name change officially approved in December 2022. Updates to the UW website are currently in progress.

Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences

Dr. Cynthia Weinig participates in the interdepartmental Ph.D. program in Molecular and Cellular Life Sciences (MCLS). Students apply directly to the MCLS program, rather than to the Department of Botany. First year students rotate through four laboratories before choosing a mentor for their degree. Prospective students are encouraged to contact Dr. Weinig and to review information about the program, including application procedures. Questions can be directed to

Ph.D. in Hydrologic Sciences

Several faculty members participate in the interdisciplinary Hydrologic Science Program in Water Resources/Environmental Science & Engineering (WRESE), which grants Ph.D. degrees in Hydrologic Sciences. Students who are interested in seeking a Ph.D. through the Hydrologic Science Program are encouraged to contact their potential advisor or the Hydrologic Science program ( for more information and guidance regarding applying. Additional information on admissions may be found here.


Financial Assistance

Teaching or Research Assistantships, including stipends and tuition, are available to support all students admitted to the graduate programs. Individual faculty should be contacted regarding support from grant or institutional funds. Summer support is also often available.


How to apply

If you plan on applying, please read this entire page. Here’s a quick summary of what you’ll need to do to complete an application to one of our graduate programs:

  • Correspond with a faculty member who shares your research interests;
  • Fill out the university’s online application form after you have identified a potential advisor. This includes a $50 application fee;
  • Create and upload a statement of interests;
  • Create and upload a curriculum vitae;
  • Provide the names and contact information of three people who will provide letters of recommendation for you;
  • Provide unofficial scores of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Doulingo test (only required for some international students, see below); and
  • Upload unofficial copies of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended. A minimum GPA of 3.0 on previous coursework is required for admission (3.25 for Ph.D. in Ecology or MCLS).

You are only required to submit official transcripts and test scores (if applicable) if we make you an offer and you decide to accept it

Review of applications begins February 1st each year.

Before you start, reach out to us!

We typically accept graduate students to conduct research within a specific lab group, and so it is very important to reach out to faculty members who are doing research that matches your interests. We are on the lookout for inquiries from great students, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.

During the application process, you do not need to figure out the exact research question you will study here at UW. Rather, your goal is to figure out a few general research topics you find exciting, and that you think will still excite you after you’ve been researching this topic for 2–5 years! Once you have identified potential research topics, check out our faculty websites and see who might be a good match. Look over your potential advisor’s website and read a publication or two.

Most successful applications start with the student contacting a potential advisor months before the application due date. If you do not identify a faculty member who is able to advise you, you will not be admitted. We highly recommend that you include a CV as part of your email, and that you personalize your email to show why you are interested in working with the specific faculty member. Here is some more information to help you write an email to a potential advisor.

Writing an effective statement of interests

Your statement of interest should be no more than two 8.5x11-inch pages of single-spaced text, with one-inch margins and at least 11 pt. font. There is no set format for your statement of interest. The prompts below are meant to help stimulate your thinking about what to put in your statement of interests; we do not expect anyone to address all of these points.

  • We seek evidence that you are passionate about research in your chosen focus area. We also want to know why you think a research-based graduate degree will help you achieve your goals. To provide us with this information, please answer the following questions in your statement: (a) Why are you seeking a graduate degree in The Department of Botany at the University of Wyoming? (b) What knowledge and skills do you hope to gain from our graduate program? (c) How will that knowledge and those skills aid in achieving your long-term career goals?
  • Graduate student research, coursework, and life in general involve a range of challenges. Describe an instance in which you have shown resilience and/or perseverance in the pursuit of your academic goals or in your personal life and discuss how you have grown as a result.
  • The best researchers are often the ones who stay curious and are willing to question their own and others’ work in the pursuit of great science. Describe an instance in which you exhibited these qualities while working on an academic or personal activity that you were excited about.
  • The Department of Botany values equity, inclusion, and collaboration among diverse groups. Please describe your commitment to these principles, drawing on examples from your own past actions.
  • Is there anything you would like to say in support of your application or anything that puts your application in a broader context that was not addressed in your responses to the points above?

Creating an effective CV

CVs are the academic equivalents of resumes. They should communicate one’s professional credentials, experiences, and accomplishments, and can be several pages long. 

All CVs should include the following:

  • your education, including degree(s), date(s) received, and institution name(s);
  • professional experience, including jobs, fellowships, and assistantships, with institution names and date ranges.

Your CV should also include any applicable information in the following categories: 

  • scholarly honors including dates (ex: magna cum laude, Dean’s List, and President’s List);
  • scholarly awards (e.g., student travel or research grants), including dates and amounts of monetary awards;
  • peer-reviewed academic publications, including dates, lists of coauthors, and journal names, with volume and page numbers;
  • academic presentations at regional, national, or international conferences, including dates and lists of coauthors; and
  • relevant affiliations with groups you belong or have belonged to (e.g., BSA, ESA, SSE), including start and end dates. 

Last, we encourage you to highlight any relevant special skills. Additional examples of relevant special skills include: fluency in a computer programming language; experience in sample preparation; fieldwork experience; wilderness medical or leadership training; fluency in a language other than English; experience in fixing or building machinery; and experience in tutoring or mentoring other students or coworkers.

Academic transcripts

You must upload unofficial copies of all your academic transcripts—official copies are only needed if we make you an offer and you decide to accept it.

International applicants

Admission to the University of Wyoming requires one of the approved English language exams for applicants whose native language is not English. However, citizens of and students who have earned a university-level degree from a school in one of the following countries may be exempt from providing test results: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Belize, Bermuda, Canada (all provinces except Quebec), Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, New Zealand, Nigeria, Singapore, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia Dominica, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, United Kingdom, and the United States. If you are not exempt, you may submit scores from TOEFL (minimum score = 540 (76 iBT)); IELTS (minimum score = 6.5); or Duolingo (minimum score = 110). Unofficial scores are sufficient to complete an application. Official scores are only necessary if we grant—and you accept—an offer of admission to the program.

Letters of recommendation

We require three letters of recommendation, and we suggest that you contact potential letter writers well in advance of the time you plan to submit your application, to make sure they are willing to write letters for you. We think that the most informative letters come from advisors of undergraduate or graduate research; supervisors of internships, academic assistantships, and work study jobs; and instructors of courses you excelled in. If you are having trouble finding a third letter writer, a coach of a sports team or a supervisor of a summer job can often provide useful context and insight on your work ethic and dedication, particularly if they can write about one or more of the special skills you identified in your CV.

During the online application process, you will provide names and contact information for your letter writers, and after you click submit, the university’s human resources software will send them each an initial note requesting a letter and then will follow up later with reminders.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

We do not require the GRE. Any GRE scores included in application materials will be redacted and thus will not be visible to prospective advisors.

Application questions?

Please email your potential advisor or Dr. Ellen Currano, the Graduate Program Officer for Botany.

Problems with online application?

Call or email UW Admissions, if you have any questions.

Phone: (307) 766-5160 option 1




Contact Us

Graduate Program Officer for Botany
Ellen Currano - Professor

1000 E University Ave.

Aven Nelson Building

Laramie, WY

Find us on Instagram (Link opens a new window)Find us on Facebook (Link opens a new window)Find us on Twitter (Link opens a new window)Find us on LinkedIn (Link opens a new window)Find us on YouTube (Link opens a new window)