CORVALLIS, Ore. – This fall, Oregon State University will launch what educators say may be the first comprehensive online graduate certificate program in fisheries management in the world.

Some universities offer full-time graduate programs or one-term study programs, but there is a “serious curriculum gap” in the field – with little opportunity for professional fisheries managers to get graduate level training while still working, says Michael Harte, an OSU professor who coordinates the program.

Given the challenges facing 21st-century fisheries managers, Harte pointed out, there is an urgent need to fill that gap.

“When I first went to work in the fisheries industry as a policy manager 13 years ago and talked to a bunch of my colleagues I was surprised to learn that none of us had any formal training in fisheries management,” Harte said. “And fisheries management has since become more inclusive – incorporating government, industry, non-governmental organizations and individuals from multiple disciplines – making management even more complex, and the need for accessible graduate level education even more urgent.

“What we’re putting together is unique,” he added. “It will take time to fully develop, but the need is there and OSU has the faculty expertise to get this launched.”

A November 2007 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education ranked Oregon State first nationally in wildlife science and second nationally in fisheries science among graduate programs in the United States, based on faculty productivity. An earlier listing had ranked OSU No. 1 nationally in conservation biology.

The certificate requires participants to earn 18 hours of graduate credit at OSU through courses integral to fisheries management, and complete an applied “capstone” project. Harte, who directs the university’s Marine Resource Management Program, has enlisted leading faculty from OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Hatfield Marine Science Center and other colleges, including liberal arts and science.

The curriculum will be offered online through OSU Extended Campus (Ecampus), Harte said, because he anticipates most of the people signing up for the program will be professionals who wouldn’t be able to leave their jobs for extensive on-campus coursework. The certificate also is available to on-campus graduate students who want to specialize in fisheries management.

Harte has been working to develop the program with staff from the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, international fisheries management organizations and fisheries stakeholder groups from around the world. Each has brought a valuable set of training needs to the process, he emphasized.

“The challenge in developing such a program is to make it as relevant for a fisheries manager working in The Philippines as it is for a hatchery manager in Oregon,” Harte said. “This will be our first time offering the program so we anticipate a few speed bumps along the way, but we know it will blossom into a major international program.”

Harte said he hopes to enroll 50-60 participants during the first couple of years of the program and eventually expand it to 200. Most of the enrollees are likely to be working in a variety of related fields, including fisheries management and coastal management. He expects participants from watershed councils, extension services, NGOs, state and federal agencies, and international management organizations.

The certificate program will include options in freshwater and marine fisheries management as well as the option to complete stand-alone courses as needed.

More information on the program is available at: It is being offered by OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences and Department of Fisheries and Wildlife.

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Michael Harte,