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Master's in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

A master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology can lead to a variety of career opportunities. In this article you will learn about the program's academic requirements, admission prerequisites, and other valuable information.

Master's in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

A master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology is a good fit for individuals with interests in animal behavior, conservation biology, evolutionary biology, population genetics, and other such areas of study. Students who successfully graduate with this degree can explore a wide range of career avenues, such as conservation, natural resource management, private industry, academic, and government jobs, among others. The chart below provides some useful information on these programs.

Degree Master of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Program Length Typically two years, but possibly more in some cases
Course Requirements Around 30 credit hours of coursework that includes topics such as animal behavior, conservation biology, aquatic and plant ecology, and more
Prerequisites/Admission Requirements Prior coursework in the natural sciences (especially biology) and mathematics, GPA, GRE, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, goal statement
Careers Biotechnology, environmental consulting, forensic science, environmental research, conservation science

Program and Course Requirements for a Master's in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

To earn a master's degree in ecology and evolutionary biology, prospective graduates must typically complete a two-year program that requires coursework of about 30 credit hours. These programs involve an extensive amount of field work and often culminate in a thesis. The following section highlights some of the courses you may encounter in the master's program.

Fundamentals of Evolution

This course enables students to learn about basic theories required to understand the science of evolution. Prospective students may have to review historical elements, models and empirical findings in order to gain in-depth insights into the topic.

Conservation Biology

Students will acquire knowledge about the hazards affecting biodiversity and the role of science in conservation practice. They will also learn to critically evaluate the various elements responsible for the decline in plant and animal life and the strategies for addressing them.

Animal Behavior

In this course, students will learn about the development, mechanisms and evolution of animal behavioral systems. The course may focus on topics such as communications in animals, behavioral genetics, animal society, territoriality, and mating behavior.

Plant Ecology

This course provides a broad overview of the basic concepts and techniques in areas such as plants' interactions with the climate and the environment around them, and the different ecosystem processes. It is geared towards providing students with a good understanding of field techniques in plant ecology and how to write and interpret ecological literature.

Aquatic Ecology

This course focuses on the biological, chemical and physical elements of water bodies such as seas, lakes and rivers, and how pollution through human activities is endangering the biodiversity in them. The course also offers training on how to make use of the wide data available towards conservation in aquatic ecology.

Environmental Toxicology

A course in environmental toxicology typically delves into the adverse effects of chemicals in the environment. It teaches about how chemicals in the environment interact with living and non-living elements to influence individuals as well as their ecosystems. Students will learn about the different toxic chemicals in the ecosystem, including plant and animal toxins and also those that are a result of human activity.

Restoration Ecology

A course in restoration ecology offers students the opportunity to understand the theory and practice of restoring plant and animal life and disturbed ecosystems. To help comprehend the topic better, students may be required to learn case studies of previously restored forests and lands.

Application Requirements for a Master's in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Admission into a master's in ecology and evolutionary biology program typically necessitates undergraduate coursework in biology, while some colleges may seek additional coursework in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Also, it is common for these programs to seek a minimum grade point average (GPA) of about 3.0 while graduate record examinations (GRE) may or may not be needed. Further, candidates must furnish letters of recommendation, a goal statement or statement of purpose, curriculum vitae, and official transcripts.

You can find master's degree programs in ecology and evolutionary biology that are standalone or those that lead to a Ph.D. degree. To gain admittance, interested individuals are commonly required to have completed prior coursework in biology. The master's program involves the study of a range of topics related to plants, animals and the ecosystem.