Curricula for bachelor's and master's programs that cover environmental conservation emphasize math and science coursework, along with hands-on lab work and field experience opportunities. Prospective bachelor's degree students should have acquired a high school diploma or associate's degree prior to entering the bachelor's program. In addition, some schools suggest applicants complete basic, college-level science and math courses. These courses include biology, physics, chemistry, statistics, and calculus.
In order to enter the master's program, students should have acquired a bachelor's degree in biological science, environmental science or a related field. In addition, the maintenance of a minimum grade point average (GPA), especially in math and science courses, is also required.
Some schools do not require prior coursework or knowledge of scientific principles for admission into the certificate program. However, many schools require that individuals have a current enrollment status at an accredited university. Others require a college degree for admission.
Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Conservation
Environmental conservation focuses on environmental chemistry, ecological toxicology, and global threats to biodiversity. It is an interdisciplinary field of study including elements of economics, statistics, and field methods. In a program dedicated to environmental or natural conservation, students select a specialization to develop expertise, such as natural resources. Some schools offer environmental conservation as a concentration within another natural sciences degree program, such as a B.S. in Biology, while others offer complete minors to accompany related major studies.
A curriculum focused on environmental conservation pairs general education classes with those dedicated to applied science. Course topics include:
- Society and the environment and chemistry
- Conservation of wildlife and ecology
- Management of forest fires
- Hydrology of wetlands
- Geographic information systems (GIS)
- Management of fisheries and public policy
Master's Degree in Environmental Conservation
Although rare master's degree programs are available specifically for environmental conservation, this field of study is more prevalent as a concentration. A Master of Science (M.S.) in Natural Resources includes a specialization in environmental conservation. This option is designed for graduate students whose interests reside in natural resource policy, sustainability, and ecological ethics. In general, this degree program prepares students to confront environmental concerns and use holistic approaches to solving them. Students are expected to complete a thesis before graduation.
An environmental conservation M.S. program involves elements of biology, chemistry, mathematics, and graduate research. Courses discuss:
- Conservation biology
- Statistics fundamentals and GIS statistics
- Ecology of soil and marine ecology
- Ecology and management of wetlands
- Forestry and conservation within a community
- Environment, agriculture, and chemistry
Find schools that offer these popular programs
- Environmental Sciences
- Environmental Studies
Certificate Programs in Environmental Conservation
The program prepares students for a career in natural resources management. Through case studies and in-depth research of conservation science, it provides students with the necessary knowledge to be productive environmental leaders. A certificate is earned after completing either an undergraduate or graduate degree to further specialize related science studies or out of personal interest.
An environmental conservation certificate program requires fundamental science courses and humanities courses. Topics covered include:
- Watershed management
- Ecosystem and ecology
- Sustainability and botany
- Conservation and management of forests
- Environmental policy and limnology
- Restoration of native habitats and evolution
Popular Career Options
A bachelor's degree in environmental conservation can benefit those who aspire to jobs such as:
- Government lobbyist or spokesperson
- Public policy administrator
- Environmental consultant
- Elementary and secondary school science teacher
Graduates of certification programs may work in private industries, as well as state, federal, county and city governments. This certificate program prepares students for the following career options:
- Restoration technician
- Water quality technician
- Environmental science and protection technician
- Activist for private environmental organizations
- Outreach specialist
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
A bachelor's degree is typically required for conservation science jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), conservation scientists earned a median annual wage of $61,110 in May 2015. The BLS further reported that increased interest and funding in preventing wildfires and restoring federally owned lands may augment job growth in this field for the years 2014 through 2024 (www.bls.gov). Projected job growth is 7%.
Depending on the school, it may or may not be possible to earn a degree or certificate focused entirely on environmental conservation. However, most schools offer related programs that cover all aspects of the field and may offer formal concentrations in the subject.