The College of Arts and Sciences offers a graduate major in Environmental Biology, Management and Policy that prepares students as professional biologists with a strong environmental emphasis. All students share core courses that train them in the practice of graduate-level scholarship and in the design and analysis of field and laboratory studies; and shared selective courses emphasize applied principles and methods in fields such as toxicology, GIS, hydrology and environmental chemistry.
Students may choose either the Environmental Biology or Environmental Management and Policy concentration that comprises the remainder of their required and selective courses. The Environmental Biology concentration emphasizes applied ecological research, and is designed for students interested in designing and conducting work in ecological research and data acquisition, entering a doctoral degree program, or teaching at the college level. The capstone experience in this concentration is independent research culminating in a graduate thesis or project. The Environmental Management and Policy concentration emphasizes application of sound principles in natural resource management, environmental policy and planning to natural resource policy and management decisions. The capstone experience in this concentration is a professional internship with a public land management or regulatory agency, a private consulting firm or a non-profit organization with an environmental conservation mission.
Graduates may obtain employment in biological and related fields or pursue advanced degrees. A number of graduates work as naturalists and natural resource managers at county, state, and national parks. Other employment opportunities include work in the public or private sector in environmental consulting, habitat assessment, environmental policy or as laboratory scientists. The curriculum also serves certified secondary school biology teachers who wish to develop an environmental focus.
Faculty research interests range widely and include topics such as microbial ecology, forest and prairie ecology, ecological restoration, small mammal population dynamics, conservation genetics, environmental toxicology and comparative physiology, plant physiology, ecosystem ecology, environmental policy, and curriculum develpment in biology education.
Special Admission Requirements
In addition to meeting university admissions criteria, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher and maintained a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher for any graduate work attempted.
Applicants for the Environmental Biology concentration must complete the following course work with a grade of “C” or better in each course: eight hours of general biology with lab, eight hours of general chemistry with lab, three hours of statistical methods (STAT-4219 /STAT-6219 ), and four hours each of organic chemistry with lab, ecology with lab, microbiology with lab, and either animal physiology with lab or plant physiology with lab. A second course in organic chemistry may be recommended in consultation with the graduate academic advisor.
Applicants for the Environmental Management and Policy concentration must complete the following course work with a grade of “C” or better in each course: eight hours of general biology with lab and three hours of statistical methods (STAT-4219 /STAT-6219 ).
A student may be provisionally admitted to the program in either concentration pending completion of required courses or the re-taking of courses for which the original grade was less than “C.” Students are expected to be proficient in a Windows environment with file management, word processing, spreadsheet, graphing, and Internet skills. Otherwise CPSC-2005 or equivalent will be required with a grade of “C” or better.
As part of the Environmental Biology concentration, students must choose between a thesis or project option.
In the thesis option, students develop a thesis proposal usually related to a faculty member’s research, carry out a formal research study under the supervision of the faculty member and a degree committee, prepare a final manuscript that includes a thorough literature review chapter followed by a traditional manuscript chapter suitable for publication consideration, and make a formal research presentation. The thesis option would be appropriate for students who have focused research interests or who intend to pursue doctoral study.
In the project option, students develop a master’s project proposal, complete the project in conjunction with a faculty member, and prepare a final technical report, and make a formal research presentation.
Admission to Candidacy
After admission as a degree-seeking student, a student also must be admitted to candidacy. To qualify for degree candidacy, a student must accomplish the following within three years of admission to the program:
- Required Preparation: Complete the required preparation course work listed above with a grade of “C” or better in each course.
- Degree Plan: Meet during the first term of enrollment with the program academic advisor and faculty to complete a degree plan for the student’s course of study in Environmental Biology. The degree plan must be approved by at least three faculty members, the program academic advisor, and the chair of the Science Division.
- Research Proposal: Identify a research advisor from among the full-time Biology faculty and prepare a formal research proposal. This proposal should be a comprehensive statement of the student’s intended thesis/project research and must be approved by a committee of the research advisor and a minimum of two other faculty members. Approved research proposals must be filed with the program academic advisor at least one year before the student’s expected date of graduation.
- Grade Point Average: Maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or better to sustain candidacy.
More detailed candidacy information is available through the division office or from the student’s advisor.