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Conservation Masters Degree Program Overviews

If you are passionate about the environment, a master's degree program in conservation may fulfill your educational requirements. Learn more about the curriculum and future opportunities for graduates.

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Essential Information

Master of Science programs in Environmental Conservation involve studies of natural environments, wildlife populations, and environmental interactions between animals, plants, and humans. Specialization options include wildlife management and conservation ecology. Over the course of these programs, students can expect to take theoretical coursework, attend environmental seminars, and participate on field excursions. Most programs also require students to complete a thesis or independent research project prior to graduation. In order to apply to one of these two-year programs, students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit undergraduate transcripts and GRE scores.


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  • Environmental Sciences
  • Environmental Studies

Master's Degree in Conservation

In addition to broad studies of the natural environment, many programs offer elective courses that focus on environments like wetlands, forests, or deserts. Common courses include:

  • Wildlife management
  • Environmental populations
  • Animal-environment interaction
  • Conservation biology
  • Environmental analysis strategies

Employment Outlook and Career Information

With a Master's degree in conservation, students can seek careers as conservation scientists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), there were approximately 21,100 conservation scientist positions in 2014. The BLS expects this number to increase seven percent from 2014 to 2024, which is about average compared to all other occupations. Approximately 70% of conservation scientists in 2010 worked for governmental agencies at the local, state, or federal levels, including the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management, the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Forest Service.

The median annual salary for conservation scientists was $61,110 in May 2015, according to the BLS. The highest paying industries in 2015 were the scientific research and development sector and the federal executive branch, according to the BLS (www.bls.gov). A master's degree in conservation also qualifies students for careers as:

  • Environmental engineers
  • Foresters
  • Environmental scientists

Continuing Education Information

Conservation professionals interested in postsecondary teaching careers may consider a Ph.D. in environmental conservation, wildlife management, ecology, or related branches of science. With a Ph.D. in conservation, professionals can obtain teaching and research-intensive positions with universities or private research organizations.

Through advanced theoretical, practical, and research training in conservation, master's degree programs prepare students for career in the environmental field or doctoral studies in related subjects.

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