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Master's Programs in Ecology

Ecology is the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment. Explore the common courses taught in a master's program in ecology and the admission requirements to the program.

Master's in Ecology: General Information

Ecology master's programs are usually offered as Master of Science programs. The typical length of these programs is two years over which courses like evolution, mammalogy, forest ecology, ornithology, entomology, fishery biology, and conservation biology are taught.


A course on evolution deals with the development of diverse life forms, and the evolution of organisms across the centuries. The course could discuss the concepts of natural selection, adaptation, extinction, genetic variations, analytical biogeography, evolutionary thought, and speciation. It might also talk about fields like resource management, medicine, agriculture, and biotechnology from the viewpoint of evolution.


Entomology is the scientific study of insects that deals with the morphology and physiology of various aquatic and land insects. The course might also explore the interactions among various insect populations and between the insects and the environment. The course could also include the methods of classification and nomenclature of the insect population. Entomology courses might incorporate field visits where students get an opportunity to observe, identify, and understand these life forms better.

Forest Ecology

A forest ecology might focus on the ecosystem of forests, including the landscape and wild flora and fauna. It could also deal with topics like the physiology of trees, climate change, types of forests, wildlife relationships, and forest conservation. The course might also discuss the consequences of human interventions in the forest ecosystem. The course might consist of field visits to forests where students can collect samples to study.

Conservation Biology

A conservation biology course typically concentrates on the loss of biodiversity and the methods for ecological conservation. The course will address the impact of biodiversity reduction and discuss the theories and concepts related to it. The course might introduce various conservation techniques and methods like sustainable farming, seed banks, ecology recovery, and protection of natural resources. The course could provide an analytical approach to conservation biology and its related fields like evolutionary biology, wildlife management, botany, and genetics.


Ornithology is the scientific study of birds. A course in ornithology primarily deals with morphology, anatomy, and physiology of birds, their habitats and adaptational behaviors, evolution, and conservation of their ecosystem. This course could include field trips to different natural habitats of birds where students can go bird watching to identify and observe birds. The course could give students a better understanding of the diversity of bird species.


Mammalogy is the scientific study of mammals and courses on this topic could cover evolution, protection, classification, and nomenclature of mammals. As a part of the course, students could learn about diverse species and families among mammals. A mammalogy course usually focuses on the unique characteristics and behavioral patterns of each mammal, such as migration, communication, and their adaptation techniques and habitat formation. Like other ecology courses, mammalogy also might include field visits to study mammals in detail.

Fishery Biology and Management

A course in fishery biology and management deals with the scientific study of fish and the operation of fishery resources. The study of fish could include their morphology, anatomy, behavior, and their niches. The course might also explain the conservation and management of different types of fisheries, such as marine fisheries and freshwater fisheries, and the scientific approaches used in fisheries.

Master's in Ecology: Admission Requirements

A bachelor's degree in ecology or subjects related to ecology such as biology, wildlife, geology, and natural resources is usually the minimum requirement for admission to the master's program. However, some schools will let you enter an ecology master's program if you have an undergraduate degree in another field. Some schools also specify a minimum GPA such as a 3.0. Many schools consider GRE scores at the time of admission. When you apply, you might be asked to submit academic transcripts of your undergraduate program and letters of recommendation. Some schools also mandate the submission of a resume that outlines your experiences in the fields of research, management, or volunteering; and a statement of purpose that explains your academic goals and passion for ecology.

A two-year Master of Science in Ecology program entails courses such as evolution, conservation biology, mammalogy, entomology, forest ecology, and ornithology, which give a deeper understanding of the environment. The minimum requirement for admission to these programs is usually a bachelor's degree in fields related to ecology.