Schools with Wildlife Conservation Programs: How to Choose

Wildlife conservation programs prepare students to work in a variety of jobs in the wildlife field. Many community colleges and universities offer associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in wildlife conservation, wildlife management or wildlife biology. Graduates may also qualify for professional certification.

How to Choose a Wildlife Conservation School

Individuals may apply to associate, bachelor's and master's degree programs in wildlife conservation and the related fields of wildlife management and wildlife biology. Associate degree programs are available for study at vocational and community colleges, while bachelor's and master's degrees can be earned at 4-year universities.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Degree levels and career outcomes
  • Choosing a program
  • Practical training

Degree Levels and Career Outcomes

A variety of jobs exist within the field of wildlife conservation, and requirements vary, necessitating the need to ensure a program provides adequate education. Associate degree programs prepare students for entry-level positions in the field as forestry workers or wildlife management technicians. Bachelor's degree programs offer advancement opportunities and are usually required for wildlife management or biological science careers. Earning a master's degree in wildlife conservation or a related field is necessary for students whose career plans include teaching, research or high-level management.

Choosing a Program

Prior to selecting a school, students should choose a career and research academic requirements for achieving that goal. If a chosen profession includes graduate studies, applying to a school that offers undergraduate preparation and graduate education within the field of wildlife conservation may be beneficial. Those interested in biological aspects of wildlife sciences may wish to ensure they receive adequate education and experience to earn the optional Certified Wildlife Biologist credential offered by The Wildlife Society.

Practical Training

Hands-on training is a critical component of a quality wildlife conservation or management program. Some schools offer undergraduate research opportunities as part of an academic program. Many degree programs require students to complete internships that apply course credit toward the degree. Students may choose to supplement academic training with practical experience through a summer internship, paid positions or volunteer work through school-affiliated businesses and organizations.

Overview of Wildlife Conservation Programs

Associate Degrees

Many community and vocational colleges offer associate degree programs in wildlife conservation. These programs generally take two years to complete. Graduates are prepared for entry-level jobs in the wildlife field, or they may pursue additional education through a bachelor's degree program. Common courses include:

  • Environmental science
  • Biology
  • Wildlife management
  • Soil sciences
  • Hydrology

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degree programs in wildlife conservation usually take at least four years to complete. These programs prepare students for a variety of careers in the wildlife field as a wildlife conservationist, biologist or public educator. Students often have the opportunity to participate in internships, research projects or field studies through the school or with affiliated organizations. Courses that students may take include:

  • Wildlife management
  • Biology
  • Botany
  • Wildlife history
  • Conservation law

Master's Degrees

Master's degree programs prepare students for careers in research, education or administration in the field of wildlife and environmental conservation. These programs usually take at least two years to complete and offer students specialized coursework in a particular research or career focus. Students must typically choose between the completion of a research thesis or project to graduate. Courses vary based on specific areas of study and may cover:

  • Wildlife habitats
  • Fishery populations
  • Marine animals
  • Environmental ecology

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