Best Conservation Biology PhD Programs

This article will provide detailed information regarding three Ph.D. in Conservation Biology programs, as well as a brief introduction to several other Ph.D. options.

Conservation biologists focus upon the protection of wildlife and natural habitats in a sustainable manner. Earning a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology will put graduates at the forefront of research in this important career field. Read on to learn some details about three Ph.D. programs in Conservation Biology, as well as be introduced to several other programs.

SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

For students wishing to pursue a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology, one program to consider is at the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry, located in Syracuse, New York. The Ph.D. can be pursued directly after earning a bachelor's degree, and also accepts students who hold a master's level degree. To apply, students should expect to submit transcripts, GRE scores, three recommendations, and a resume. Communication with faculty sharing research interests prior to application is encouraged. Three to four years of a graduate teaching assistantship can provide financial support for students.

To complete the Ph.D., students can expect to complete coursework, oral and written examinations, and a dissertation. Some specific courses may include indigenous issues and the environment, wetland management policy, and Adirondack cultural ecology. Students can take advantage of the Roosevelt Wildlife Station and Thousand Islands Biological Station to conduct independent field-based conservation research. Sustainability is a major focus at this SUNY campus, with the school earning a #4 rating from Sierra magazine for its efforts to develop a green campus, according to the school website.

Northern Arizona University

Northern Arizona University (NAU), in Flagstaff, offers a Ph.D. in Biological Sciences with a focus upon conservation biology. To apply to NAU, students should expect to provide transcripts, and at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA is preferred. Applicants should also provide GRE results, three recommendations, and a resume. To demonstrate potential for scientific study, applicants should either hold a master's degree, have published a scientific paper, or presented at a conference.

Degree completion requirements will include a planned program of coursework, comprehensive examinations, and a dissertation. Specific courses may include field ecology, management of imperiled species, and quantitative biology. The ability to read a foreign language or demonstrate knowledge of statistics will be required for graduation as well. Students can engage in research opportunities at the Colorado Plateau Biodiversity Center.

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF), in Orlando, provides an opportunity to earn the Ph.D. in Conservation Biology. The UCF program focuses on training students both in the principles of biological research, as well as the policy and planning concerns that may undergird conservation efforts. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree, and submit transcripts, GRE results, three recommendations, a resume, and a written statement. An minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 will be most competitive. Fellowships may be available for highly qualified candidates.

To complete the Ph.D., students should expect to take courses, a qualifying examination, a candidacy exam, and prepare a dissertation. Coursework may include conservation biology theory and restoration ecology. Students may use facilities including secured experimental ponds and the Caretta House for sea turtle research.

Other Ph.D. Conservation Biology Programs

  • University of Connecticut At UConn, Ph.D. students in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology can expect full financial support. The department maintains a worldwide biodiversity research collection.
  • University of Idaho The University of Idaho offers a Ph.D. in Natural Resources with various areas of study available such as endangered species. The program can be completed on campus or online.
  • University of Maryland College Park At the University of Maryland, students can earn an interdisciplinary Ph.D. through the Biological Sciences Graduate Program (BISI).
  • University of Minnesota The University of Minnesota offers a Ph.D. in Conservation Science. The program offers a conservation sciences seminar series with speakers from various disciplines and organizations to promote the interconnections of ecosystems and conservation.
  • University of New Orleans The University of New Orleans is engaged in an innovate partnership with the Audubon Nature Institute to focus on conservation challenges in coastal ecosystems.
  • Harvard University Ph.D. students at Harvard can utilize research facilities including the Harvard Forest and the Museum of Comparative Zoology.
  • Stanford University The Stanford Center for Conservation Biology is bringing together natural scientists and social scientists for the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior project.

Earning a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology can allow students to become teachers, researchers, and policy makers in this critical field of environmental protection. The programs listed above may all provide opportunities towards these goals.

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