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The MA in Conservation Biology is a 2-year program and it requires 2 full-time residence units (residence units are equal to 1 full-time semester). Part-time options are also available.

Students have the option of tailoring their course work following one of 3 tracks: the Academic Track, Professional Track, or Educational Track. In addition to the three tracks, students may opt between a thesis-based or course-based program (see explanations of thesis- and course-based options below).

Academic MA track

The Academic Track focuses on research and emphasizes the scientific aspects of conservation biology. This track is designed for students who may wish to pursue a PhD program at some point in their future or are interested in careers in conservation that are more research-oriented.

No additional courses required, but students must take:
  • 3 electives in Conservation science
  • 2 electives in Environmental policy

*Only electives in conservation science can be substituted with a directed reading or a directed research.

Note that a thesis is strongly recommended for anyone in the Academic Track who is considering pursuing a PhD.

Please read, Thesis Based Program, below for further information.

Professional MA Track

The Professional Track focuses on applied conservation and emphasizes the policy aspects of conservation biology. This track is for students who plan to enter the conservation profession after obtaining the MA degree.

No additional courses required, but students must take:

  • 3 electives in Conservation science
  • 3 electives in Environmental policy

* Electives in any of the above groups can be substituted with a directed reading or a directed research .

Educational MA Track

The Educational Track focuses on engaging the public in conservation issues. This track is designed for students who plan to enter the education field (e.g., teaching conservation in k-12 schools) or communication (e.g., exhibits at museums, zoos, botanical gardens aquaria, and parks). .

Students in the Educational track are required to take Teaching Conservation Biology (EEEB 4800) as one of their electives; plus they will need to enroll in:

  • 2 electives in Conservation science
  • 2 electives in Education and Communication
  • 1 elective in Environmental policy.

*Electives in any of the above groups can be substituted with a directed reading or a directed research.

Educational track students are encouraged to take training internships with one (or more) of our partner institutions, including:

  • CERC's Middle School 88 project
  • AMNH Network of Conservation Educators and Practitioners
  • WCS Exhibits, Graphics and Design Department
  • WCS Educational Department
  • AMNH Exhibition or Education departments
  • New York Botanical Garden Displays Department

Thesis-based program

The purpose of a thesis is to demonstrate professional skills in conducting research, writing, analyzing data, making oral presentations, preparing graphics, and producing publication quality papers.

Thesis research generally involves joining ongoing research programs. Because of the two-year time frame of the MA, theses generally involve research that is part of an ongoing, group project. Students interested in being considered for the thesis-based program will need to be accepted into a research group before the beginning of the second semester of their first year.

An independent research project is sometimes possible, but it can be difficult to identify field sites, obtain permits (where necessary), conduct background research, write a prospectus to be approved by the studentís committee, and collect sufficiently replicated data in just two years. The studentís adviser and/or the program advisor can provide assistance in determining if an independent project is feasible.

Theses need not be limited to field research and can be laboratory based, computer based, or based on samples and data collected by others.

Students who are planning for a thesis-based program can only do so if an E3B faculty member or adjunct researcher formally accepts to serve as their thesis adviser by the beginning of the second semester.

Ideally students interested in the thesis-based program should have contacted their potential advisor before entering the program. Students that enter the program without having identified an advisor and who are interested in pursuing a thesis should discuss their ideas with the MA Program Advisor, who will help them identify potential supervisors as soon as possible.

Students in the thesis-based program will register for directed research and will spend a considerable portion of their registered time working on a research project that leads to a final thesis

Total points required for thesis-based program: 49

*Please note that while it is rare that a thesis project cannot be found, it is important to understand that acceptance into the MA program does not guarantee that a student will be able to select any research project that s(he) desires. E3B faculty and adjunct researchers make available a number of research opportunities and many of our MA students have participated in these projects, however it is always at the discretion of the project’s Principal Investigator to determine if someone can or cannot join their research projects.

Course-based program

Students who choose this program will register for 2 additional required classes beyond those currently required for the MA either in conservation science or environmental policy). To complete their requirements, students write a take-home essay over a period of two weeks during the Spring semester of their second year.

Total points required for course-based program: 47

© Steffen Foerster