Master's in Behavioral Ecology

Students interested in behavioral ecology may choose to earn master's degrees related to evolution, behavior and ecology. Learn about the different courses involved in earning these degrees and general admission requirements. Schools offering Applied Behavioral Science degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

How to Earn a Master's Degree Related to Behavioral Ecology

Students wanting to earn a master's degree in the area of behavioral ecology may pursue a variety of different degree programs in areas like ecology, evolution and behavior; wildlife ecology; or biology with a specialization in ecology, behavior, and evolution. These master's degrees typically take approximately two years to complete and require about 30 credits of coursework from classes like ecology, biostatistics, forest ecology, and many more.


An ecology course will most likely cover the ecology of a variety of different organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, and even the biosphere. Students in an ecology class often learn how organisms interact with the environment and with one another. Additionally, students might learn how the topic of ecology can be applied to human populations and types of human diseases. Some of the other topics that could be covered in this course include habitat fragmentation, global dynamics of the planet, and biodiversity.


Biostatistics often covers a variety of different topics such as descriptive statistics, probability, confidence intervals, and linear regression. Students could learn the different applications of a variety of statistical packages and gain practice using them. Other topics that may be covered in addition to those listed above include types of hypothesis testing including t, chi-square, and nonparametric tests.

Forest Ecology

Students who choose to attend a forest ecology course will usually study the biotic and abiotic factors that can influence ecosystems, specifically the forest ecosystems. Students could also learn about the structure of these ecosystems and also the function of the forest ecosystems. This class will often discuss the role that things like hydrology, succession, solar radiation, soils, and ecosystem management have in forest ecosystems. Forest ecology courses are typically comprised of lecture based sessions that may including case studies, but students may also be required to complete a laboratory portion as well depending on the specific requirements of the institution that they attend.

Behavioral Ecology

Behavioral ecology courses tend to emphasize hypothesis testing as students take a look at the different principles of evolution that are behind topics like aggressive competition, cooperation among individuals, the choosing of a mate, and parental investment. Other topics that can be covered in a course like this include the evolution of sex, dispersal of organisms, and also sexual selection. Lastly, students enrolled in this course may study things like the relationship between predators and prey, foraging strategies commonly used by animals, and territoriality.

Topics in Wildlife Ecology and Entomology

The main focus of a class that covers topics in wildlife ecology and entomology may be the different factors in the environment that can affect wildlife. Students might explore topics of both entomology and general wildlife studies. They can learn about wildlife populations, including the behaviors and the structures within these populations, along with the different regional communities of wildlife. By the conclusion of the course, students should have a general understanding of wildlife conservation.

Common Admission Requirements for a Master's Program Related to Behavioral Ecology

Before a student can enter into a master's degree program in behavioral ecology, they will typically need to hold a bachelor's degree in biology or a closely related field from an accredited university or college, or to have completed certain prerequisite classes. Applicants will usually need to take the GRE exam and have their scores sent to the school. Some schools require a minimum of a 3.0 GPA in a student's previous undergraduate coursework as well. Applicants may also need to submit other documentation like letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, or a personal statement.

Students who want to earn a master's degree in behavioral ecology or a closely related area will need to meet common admission requirements, such as holding a bachelor's degree in a related field or having completed prerequisite courses. The master's degree programs in behavioral ecology and related areas can take about two years to complete, and some of the classes that students may take over the course of their education include biostatistics, behavioral ecology, ecology, and topics in wildlife ecology and entomology.

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