Conservation Biology Master's Programs

Nov 19, 2018

There are a number of master's degree programs available around the country in the field of conservation biology. This article highlights details about these programs, like course requirements and admission requirements.

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Students who would like to conduct research or work in the field of conservation biology may be interested in enrolling in a master's degree program in conservation biology. Below, we will explore these degrees in greater detail by covering some courses that are commonly found in these programs, as well as admissions standards.

Information About Master's Programs in Conservation Biology

Generally, master's degrees in conservation biology require that students complete between 30 and 36 hours of coursework with the option of also completing a master's research thesis. These programs sometimes allow students to select a specialization within the field of conservation biology, while others allow students to be completely flexible in the selection of their elective courses. Below, we will look at five courses that are commonly found in master's degree programs in conservation biology.

Conservation Biology

Master's programs in conservation biology often include a course near the beginning of the program that covers foundations and general principles of conservation biology. In this course, students will take a broad look at the field of conservation biology by focusing on topics like ecology, genetics, and biodiversity. In addition, students will learn about various ways of implementing conservation policies and systems in the field.

Stream Ecology

In a course that focuses on stream ecology, students will learn about stream ecosystems. This course will cover topics like hydrology, geomorphology, and biological processes in streams. In addition, students will learn about how stream ecosystems are structured and how they function.

Population and Community Ecology

It is also common for students to take a course in population and community ecology in a master's degree program in conservation biology. In this course, students will learn about topics like metapopulation, demographics, competition, and how various species interact with one another in the same environment. In addition, this course may include a theoretical component that focuses on different theories of conservation.


These programs also will generally include at least one course that focuses on genetics, either from a broad perspective or from a more specific aspect of genetics. Some courses may focus on behavioral genetics, in which students will learn about how certain genes contribute to different human behaviors. This course may also cover topics like gene expression, detection of various genes, and medical genetics.


A course on biostatistics helps prepare future conservation researchers to apply statistical techniques to the data they gather. Some of the concepts covered may include inferential statistics, central tendency, correlation/linear regression and the correct interpretation of biological data. This course may include a lab portion, and both introductory and advanced biostatistics courses may be available.

Admission Standards for Master's Degree Programs in Conservation Biology

In order to gain admission to a master's degree program in conservation biology, it is generally expected that applicants have a background in biology or one of the natural sciences. When submitting an application, students will need to fill out an application form and compile a number of documents. This includes a personal statement, a resume, transcripts from all undergraduate institutions that the student has attended, and letters of recommendation. In addition, GRE scores are typically required.

In summary, students who enroll in master's degree programs in conservation biology will take core courses and elective courses in conservation biology and related areas. In addition, students can often elect to write a master's thesis.

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