Typically offered as a specialization through an ecology, environment and/or natural resources program, restoration ecology degrees are available to students who are interested in learning how to conserve and restore ecosystems. Here we discuss these graduate-level degree programs and learn about some of the course and admissions requirements.
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Course Information for Graduate Degrees in Restoration Ecology
Restoration ecology programs are available at the master's and doctorate levels, and although they are usually offered on-campus due to the hands-on nature of the field, some master's degree programs may be available online. Below we look at some of the common coursework that is found in these programs, which can help prepare students for future careers as ecologists, researchers, natural resources managers and more.
Courses in environmental impact explore the effects that humans have had on the environment and may look at global impacts in addition to impacts in the United States. Many of these courses have students examine case studies and complete projects that allow them to analyze and evaluate environmental impact. Students may also study environmental laws and policies and how these policies have affected environmental impact.
Generally offered as a lecture course, courses in conservation biology may look at the field as a whole or be broken into courses for specific populations, such as aquatic populations, for students wishing to take classes that align with their research interests. Either way, these courses focus on current research and problems in the field of conservation and how it applies to various wildlife and plant populations. Students in these courses may also discuss topics like population genetics and population ecology.
Natural Resources Ecology
Courses in natural resources ecology vary greatly by school and may look at natural resources ecology as a whole or break it down into specific topics, like wetland ecology, plant ecology, wildlife ecology, etc. Many of these courses offer laboratory components that allow students to take field trips and explore different ecosystems and natural resources. Students in these courses cover topics in biogeochemistry, restoration, invasive species and current issues in the field.
Research in Natural Resources
Some programs use a course in research in natural resources to help graduate students begin to develop their thesis by exploring current issues. Students learn how to take natural resources inventories, determine sampling methods and how to monitor the health of various ecosystems. They also practice quantitative analysis and further develop their decision-making skills in regards to natural resources management based on data.
Natural Resources Management
Similar to other courses, courses in natural resources management may look at the subject as a whole or as courses for specific natural resources, such as forest ecosystem management, wildlife management or management of aquatic populations, to allow students to focus on their area of interest. These courses explore current management issues in the field and different conservation methods for various habitats and resources. They may discuss topics in biodiversity, management methods and the natural history of different ecosystems.
Common Entrance Requirements
Most graduate degree programs, including master's and doctoral programs in restoration ecology, require students to submit the proper applications, official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and/or resume. Many graduate programs in restoration ecology require students to have at least a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate studies, but may look for a GPA of 3.25 or even higher to be considered competitive. Some programs may also require undergraduate coursework in areas like biology, chemistry, ecology, statistics and/or calculus. Typically, students applying to these programs need to identify restoration ecology as their area of specialization in the application or statement of purpose and may also be required to have selected a faculty member who is willing to serve as their primary advisor throughout their studies.
Students may pursue a master's or doctorate degree program with a specialization in restoration ecology to learn how to improve and restore the environment and its valuable ecosystems. Coursework often includes lectures and laboratory components to train graduates for their future careers in the field.