Conservation Biology Courses and Degree Programs

A conservation biology degree can prepare you for a career preserving, managing and restoring biological diversity to areas affected by humans. Continue reading to learn more about undergraduate and graduate conservation biology degree programs and related career information. Schools offering Biology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What You Need to Know

As a conservation biologist, you may work to protect endangered species, ecosystems, forests and other natural resources. Your studies in this discipline will include classroom instruction on various biological and environmental science topics as well as fieldwork experiences.

Degrees Bachelor's degrees in fisheries, wildlife and conservation biology; ecology and organismal biology, master's degrees in plant biology and conservation; fish, wildlife and conservation biology, Ph.D. degrees in fish, wildlife and conservation biology; ecology, evolution and environmental biology
Certificates Undergraduate Certificate in Environmental Studies, Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation
Courses Wildlife ecology and conservation, conservation in the management of large mammals, managing human-wildlife conflicts, wildlife habitat, wildlife management, sustainable watersheds land, restoration ecology, land use and water quality

What Type of Undergraduate Degrees are Available?

Conservation biology degrees are available at the bachelor's level and as certificates. These programs are typically not available online; however, you can find standalone undergraduate and graduate courses in conservation biology offered via distance learning. Bachelor's degree programs focus on the effects of human behavior and environmental policies on plants and animals. The curriculum typically offers a broad education in the biological, physical and social sciences. A Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology and Ecology) degree program may be available.

What Courses Will I Take in a Bachelor's Program?

Bachelor's degree programs are typically a combination of lecture courses and hands-on learning experiences. You will experience working in animal conservation and habitat management through fieldwork, internships, research projects and summer camp opportunities. Your curriculum may include courses in environmental ethics, ecology, zoology, biology and wildlife management. These courses may also be covered in a bachelor's degree program:

  • Principles of animal biology
  • Plant biology
  • Chemistry fundamentals
  • Physics
  • Organic chemistry
  • Population and evolutionary genetics
  • Statistical methods
  • Global and cultural awareness
  • Aquatic insects
  • Herpetology

What Graduate Degree Programs are Available?

Master's degree programs often allow you to choose a track that reflects your career goals, whether you plan to continue graduate study, work in conservation policy or go into public education. Doctoral programs are interdisciplinary and provide extensive lab, classroom and fieldwork experiences. A Master of Science in Conservation Science or Conservation Ecology might be available. A Ph.D. in Fish, Wildlife and Conservation Biology is also available.

What Courses Will I Take in a Master or Doctoral Program?

Your master's degree courses will depend on your specialization and career goals. Your coursework may include an in-depth study of topics, such as ecological risk assessment, natural resources conflict management, environmental policy and landscape conservation. Completion of a thesis or independent project may also be required, and some programs also require you to successfully pass a comprehensive exam.

Your Ph.D. curriculum and research areas may cover endangered species conservation, behavioral ecology, ecosystem restoration or species response to climate change. You can specialize in topics, such as fire ecology, plant-animal interactions or invasive species recovery. Other courses may include topics like social and economic aspects of conservation biology, issues in evolution and ecology, and controversial issues in conservation biology. Some programs require you to teach undergraduate classes for at least two semesters. Comprehensive written and oral examinations, as well as a dissertation, are typically required for graduation.

What Can I Do With My Degree?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), most conservation scientists work for government agencies at the federal, state and local levels ( These agencies include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Forest Service, among others. Conservation biologists not working for the government may work for consulting companies, non-profit organizations or private companies involved in natural resource exploration or land development.

As a graduate of a conservation biology program, you may seek such positions as wetlands ecologist, field technician, fishery biologist, game warden, restoration project manager or educator. Experience and advanced education can lead to positions with more responsibility. Specialists, educators, managers and researchers typically have earned graduate degrees.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
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  • Purdue University Global

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    • Anywhere: Burnaby, Richmond, Surrey
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