Face-Off: Snow Science vs. Fish and Wildlife

snow science vs-final

For students interested in the outdoors, there’s plenty to love about both of these majors. But which is ultimately the best? Let’s find out.

Classes and Curriculum
Both programs are respected and well-established—in fact, Fish & Wildlife Management was first offered in 1936. Students study habitat management, inter-specific competition among predators, fisheries, and a variety of climate and population issues. Snow Science boasts a state-of-the-art research lab and shares the groundbreaking Subzero Lab with the engineering department. The program also emphasizes field time on skis and snowmobiles, with 15 sensor stations providing data. Compared to skiing powder for credit, counting deer seems a bit docile. Edge: Snow Science

The faculty in Snow Science may be reformed ski bums, but they’re on the leading edge of avalanche and snow-dynamic research, with major contributions on the international stage. The Fish & Wildlife instructors are equally esteemed in their field, however, and bring in millions of dollars in research grants. Edge: Tie

Peers and Social Life
It’s probably safe to say that Snow Science attracts skiers and snowboarders, so it’s a fair bet you’ll be surrounded by like-minded folks who don’t mind skipping class on huge powder days—hey, it’s research. Meanwhile, Fish & Wildlife attracts a similarly outdoor-oriented crew, but from more diverse backgrounds. Both are likely to enjoy a frosty beverage after a tough day of studying Montana’s landscapes, but there’ll probably be a more balanced guy-to-girl ratio among the ecologists. Edge: Fish & Wildlife

Future Careers
While a Snow Science grad may luck into a sweet job as an avalanche forecaster, it’s more likely to end up back in school to pursue an advanced research degree, or simply live the dream on Bridger ski patrol. Fish & Wildlife provides a far broader spectrum of possible employment in resource management. Edge: Fish & Wildlife

Score: 2 to 1
MSU got it right in 1936, and Fish & Wildlife reigns supreme for outdoor lovers.

Face-off: Agriculture vs. Engineering


These two colleges are among MSU’s most esteemed. But is one better than the other? Let’s find out.

Classes & Facilities
Both over 100 years old, these colleges have upgraded to state-of-the-art facilities and cutting-edge courses. Ag proudly claims the Plant Growth Center, complete with greenhouses, exotic plants, and innovative research. Engineering collaborates on projects with NASA and sends students around the world with Engineers Without Borders. The possibility of a trip around the world (or into space) makes exotic plants seem kinda, well, ground-level. Edge: Engineering

While the folks over in Ag are more partial to cowboy boots than ties, the quality of educators is hardly lacking. Ag professors are leaders in their fields and have the highest level of education—who knew you could get a PhD in Meat Science? With professors that have PhD’s from MIT, Stanford, MSU, and the University of Washington, Engineering isn’t slacking either. Edge: Tie

Peers & Social Life
Peek your head into any engineering class and you’ll notice a serious lack of estrogen—your classmates may be smart, but good luck finding a female study partner. More gender-balanced, Ag has a mix of biologists, farmers, and steer-ropin’ students. Ag also lets loose with rodeos, mud bogging, and local-hop homebrews. Call us crazy, but cold beer and double horsepower on the weekends beats a semester-long sausage party. Edge: Agriculture

Future Careers
Engineering alumni can be found at Boeing, the US Air Force, or in biomedical engineering fields—all stable, high-paying jobs, but stuck behind a computer for much of the day. Agriculture careers range from local to global: ranching, international trade, the EPA, and Cargill, to name a few. Some of these jobs may require computer and lab time, but many involve extensive field work—hence the bronzed (or at least famer-tanned) skin of the average Ag student. While Boeing and NASA would be the highlight of any résumé, here in Bozeman we appreciate the outdoors, sunshine, and dirt under our fingernails. Edge: Agriculture

Score: 2 to 1
Back in 1894, MSU was called the Montana Agriculture College—and over 100 years later, it looks like Bozeman’s Ag-heads still reign supreme.


 Classes For Any Major


Maintain your sanity this year by taking some fun classes. Here are a few options:

Pocket Billiards: Want to become a pool shark? Here’s your chance.
Bowling: Learn how to nail that pesky seven-ten split.
Beginning Yoga: For those who need to relax and become more flexible.
Social Dance: Waltz, jitterbug, cha-cha… a little bit of everything.
Beginning Aikido: A primer for this Japanese martial art.
Beginning Taekwondo: If you like kicks, try this Korean martial art.

If you want to get some fresh air during the day, try these outdoor electives:

Skiing, Snowboarding, and Telemarking: Credit to ski? Enough said.
Cross-Country Skiing: For a fun, tough workout and class credit.
Soccer: If you need a reason to run, soccer is your sport.
Yellowstone Scientific Lab: Numerous field trips to our nation’s first national park, and all of its scientific wonders.
Dinosaurs: If you’re expecting Jurassic Park, this isn’t it, but it’s still pretty cool to go digging for fossils.

*Although these classes are fun and provide a break from the monotony of your other courses, they do have strict attendance policies.