Major Requirements

Conservation Biology has as its central tenet the protection of the world’s biodiversity. Biodiversity, the sum total of all living things, represents the immense variation and richness found in the natural world.

Details of the major are detailed below, and you can also use this downloadable PDF Major Planning Form to help plan your major.

Objectives of the major are that students 1) gain knowledge about fundamental principles important to the conservation of global biodiversity, 2) learn the particular methods associated with biodiversity conservation, 3) develop an appreciation for conservation needs at both local and global levels, 4) participate in a meaningful conservation-oriented research project or internship and 5) prepare for careers in conservation biology.

Note that students majoring in Conservation Biology may not also double-major or minor in Biology or in the Biology - Environmental Studies combined major. First-year students considering a Conservation Biology major should seek early advisement from a participating faculty member and should begin the introductory courses required for the major in the first year.  Further, there are a number of Global Studies requirements for the Conservation Biology major; students may wish to consider a minor in Global Studies.

Honors To graduate with honors in Conservation Biology, a student must have a minimum 3.5 GPA in all courses required for the major at the time of graduation and must satisfactorily complete a year-long honors research project, supervised by an honors committee comprised of the project advisor and two other faculty members. Students wishing to conduct and honors project should consult with potential project advisors by the end of the junior year.

Major requirements Conservation Biology majors must complete a predetermined set of courses (outlined below) and are encouraged to complete a significant period of study outside of northeastern North America through study abroad, study at a biological field station, or through participation on certain courses with a travel component. 

Required Courses
 for the Conservation Biology Major

I. Specific Courses

Students must take all of the following 6 courses:
Biology 101 and 102, General Biology

Global Studies 101, Introduction to Global Studies I: Political Economy

Economics 100, Introduction to Economics, or Economics 108, Economics for Environmentalists

Biology 221, Ecology
Biology 440, Conservation Biology (SYE; senior majors only)

II. Allied Science or Math Courses

Students take one of the following options:

A) Geology 103, Dynamic Earth, and Geology 104, Evolving Earth

B) Chemistry 103, 104 – General Chemistry

C) Any two of the following four Math courses: 113, Applied Statistics, 213, Applied Regression Analysis, 135, Calculus I, 136, Calculus II
D) Math 113, Applied Statistics and Global Studies 233, GIS with lab

III. Electives

Students completing the major must take 7 electives: 

One Advanced Ecology course
One Genetics/Evolution course
One Global Perspectives course
One Advanced Global Studies course



Three Biodiversity courses


Two Biodiversity courses and One Conservation Science course.   

Approved courses are listed below. In addition, students may petition the major coordinator to have other courses fulfill these electives. This option may be particularly relevant for students traveling abroad.  Students may count up to two courses taken while abroad toward the requirements for the major.

The following courses fulfill the Advanced Ecology elective:

Biology 330, Ecology of Lakes and Rivers

Biology  Microbial Ecology
Biology 357, Behavioral Ecology

Biology 335 Winter Ecology
Biology 360, Marine Ecology

Biology 380, Tropical Ecology

Biology 347, Population Biology
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor

The following courses fulfill the Genetics/Evolution elective:

Biology 245 Genetics
Biology 343 Evolution
Biology 347 Population Biology
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor.

The following are Biodiversity courses.  Only one Biodiversity course on vertebrates will count toward the biodiversity requirement.

Biology 209, Vertebrate Natural History

Biology 215, Fundamentals of Animal Biology

Biology 218, Ornithology
Biology 224, Biology of Vascular Plants

Biology 227, Mammalogy
Biology 231, Microbiology

Biology 248, Exotic Species
Biology 258, Ethnobotany
Biology 319, Plant Systematics

Biology 325, Mycology
Biology 247, Medicinal Plants
Biology 347, Bryology
Biology 247, Comparative Animal Physiology
Invertebrate Paleontology (Geology Department) may also fulfill a diversity elective.
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor.

The following are approved Conservation Science courses:

Environmental Security
Exotic Species
Forest Ecology of Asia
Food from the Sea
Global Amphibian Decline (ENVS)
Mist Nets and Museum Skins
Restoration Ecology (ENVS)
Landscape Ecology (ENVS)
Sustainable Forestry - Offered on the Sustainability Semester
Ecology and Conservation in Costa Rica - Offered some summers in Costa Rica
Biodiversity Conservation in East Africa - Offered on the Kenya Semester Program
Pastoralist Nomads and Wildlife Conservation - Offered some summers in Kenya
Engaging Rwanda: Conservation, Development and Reconciliation - Offered some summers in Rwanda
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor

The following courses fulfill the Advanced Global Studies Elective:

Global Studies 301, Theories of Global Political Economy,  
Global Studies 333, Ethics of Global Citizenship
Global Studies 365, Rethinking Population and Environment

The following courses fulfill the Global Perspectives Elective:

Anthropology 102, Cultural Anthropology  

Anthropology 225, Environmental Perception and Indigenous Knowledge

Anthropology 210, Environmental Archaeology
Anthropology 240, Environment and Resource Use in Kenya
Economics 228, African Economies
Economics 234, Comparative Economic Institutions
Economics 236, Globalization Issues: Equity, the Environment and Economic Growth

Economics 308, Environmental Economics

Economics 336, Economic Development

Economics 384, Natural Resource Economics

Environmental Studies 261, Sustainable Agricultural Systems

Environmental Studies 263, Sustainable Development

Environmental Studies 335, Foundations of Environmental Thought
Environmental Studies 363, Ecotourism: Panacea or Viable Sustainable Development

Government 312, Environmental Law and Politics

Government 327, Politics of Development and Underdevelopment

Global Studies 215, World Regional Geography

Global Studies 280, Culture and Ecology

Philosophy 310, Philosophy of the Environment

Philosophy 335, Environmental Ethics and Global Relations

Sociology 253, Race, Class and Environmental Justice

Sociology 375, Environmental Movements

Sociology 465, Environmental Sociology

Sociology 476, Globalization and Sustainability
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor

NOTE: Some courses fall into multiple categories.  Students may not "double-count" courses.  In other words, each course taken in the major can fulfill only one of the major requirements.

Students are encouraged to consider taking at least 1 semester of independent research with a faculty member (or members) but doing so is not required for the major.  Students are also encouraged to study a foreign language, but doing so is not required for the major.