University of West AlabamaBy Asian Correspondent Feb 16, 2012 4:50PM UTC
This state university opened as an all-girls’ school in the 1830s, and it has grown into an important regional school offering a broad range of degrees programs. Today, it offers international students with an interest in environmental sciences a unique angle on the American academic experience.
The University of West Alabama is gaining prominence, with substantial surges in enrollment in the past few years. However, the student body is still relatively small, which means current students enjoy plenty of attention, the benefits of a tightly networked community and the opportunity to break in new facilities and equipment as they are being introduced to the campus.
Students pursuing degrees in environmental sciences do so through the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. They work with a diverse set of faculty who come from various backgrounds. Some have been heavily involved in research, others in field studies and application. All are committed to fostering an on-campus environment that encourages exploration, discovery and critical thinking.
The university offers the full campus experience. It’s based in a relatively sleepy region of Alabama, so the university town is self-sufficient. The cities of Tuscaloosa and Meridian are within short range and offer the complete gamut of shopping and entertainment.
Most importantly, for students arriving from Asia and other parts of the world, The University of West Alabama has solid infrastructure in place to help international students make the transition to life in the South. Incoming students are paired with an international adviser who understands the unique challenges students face when they travel to study.
The University of West Alabama encourages international students to apply to all of the school’s programs. This is a refreshingly diverse campus, and international students present new perspectives to campus activities and classroom discussions. With this in mind, the faculty and administration work hard to foster a supportive, welcoming environment for overseas students.
Every international enrollee will be put in touch with an international student adviser. This person is an essential resource and will work to ensure that each international student enjoys every opportunity available. They will also serve as a point of contact and can help organize everything from shopping trips in Tuscaloosa to extra English classes.
In all, UWA offers more than 60 undergraduate and 10 graduate programs across eight different schools. Classes of interest to students of environmental sciences are hosted by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources – Dual Degree
This dual-degree program allows students to attend UWA for three years before transferring to Auburn University’s School of Forestry. Upon completion of the program, the graduate will hold a Bachelor of Environmental Sciences from West Alabama along with one of the following from Auburn:
- Master of Natural Resources with a Wildlife Biologist concentration (wildlife track)
- Master of Natural Resources with a Professional Forrester concentration (forestry track)
UWA has a few other offerings in addition to the dual-degree Environmental Sciences and Natural Resources program. These are some of the most prominent environmental science programs hosted at the school:
- marine biology
- biology comprehensive: conservation and field biology track
- pre-fishery and pre-wildlife programs (two years)
UWA is a dynamic place for international students to be based. The campus is diverse, with a much higher female than male enrollment. Half of the student body is made up of minorities, many of whom hail from overseas. There’s plenty of on-site support for international students.
You’re not required to live on campus during your tenure at the University of West Alabama, but freshmen and sophomores are strongly encouraged to do so. Five residence halls and the Hoover Apartments are made available through the university. Students in residence halls can sign up for various meal plans.
Students also have the option of enrolling clubs and organizations hosted on campus. Some of these are geared toward leisure and hobbies, while others offer ambitious students the chance to get more involved with campus planning or their own course of study. The full list of organizations is published on the UWA website.
The University of West Alabama is located in rural Sumter County in the sleepy country capital of Livingston. Students enjoy the charms of the American south, with plenty of access to state parks and other outdoor facilities. At the same time, the major city of Birmingham is less than two hours’ drive away.