Major Requirements | St. Lawrence University Conservation Biology

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.

Requirements of the major for students matriculating Fall 2018 or later 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 an 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. Core Courses

Students must take all of the following courses:
BIOL 101 and 102, General Biology w/Lab
GS 101, Introduction to Global Studies I: Political Economy
BIOL 221, Ecology w/Lab
BIOL 440, Conservation Biology w/Lab (seniors only)

II. Allied Science or Math Courses

Students must take one of the following options:
A) GEOL 103, Dynamic Earth, and GEOL 104, Historical Geology
B) CHEM 103 and CHEM 104, General Chemistry w/Lab
C) Any two of the following six Math, Statistics or Computer Science courses: STAT 113, Applied Statistics, STAT 213, Applied Regression Analysis, MATH 135, Calculus I, MATH 136, Calculus II, CS 140, Introduction to Computer Programming, CS 219, Techniques of Computer Science
D) STAT 113, Applied Statistics and GS 233, GIS with lab

III. Electives

Students completing the major must take: 

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


fulfill a biodiversity requirement by taking five courses from Ecology and Organismal Diversity offerings.

Biodiversity requirements Two Organismal Diversity courses and any three courses that are either Advanced Ecology, Organismal Biology, upper level electives or 1 unit of SYE independent research approved by the Con Bio Faculty.  

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 (BIOL 221, General Ecology is a prerequisite):

BIOL 330, Ecology of Lakes and Rivers w/Lab
BIOL 335 Winter Ecology w/Lab
BIOL 360, Marine Ecology
BIOL 380, Tropical Ecology
 BIOL 4018, Forest Ecology w/Lab
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
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor.

The following are Organismal Diversity courses.  Students must take a minimum of two.  Only one course on vertebrates will count toward the biodiversity requirement.

BIOL 209, Vertebrate Natural History w/Lab
BIOL 215, Fundamentals of Animal Biodiversity w/Lab
BIOL 218, Ornithology w/Lab
BIOL 224, Biology of Plants w/Lab
BIOL 227, Mammalogy w/Lab
BIOL 231, Microbiology w/Lab

BIOL 258, Ethnobotany
BIOL 319, Plant Systematics
BIOL 325, Mycology w/Lab BIOL 3081, Herpetology w/Lab BIOL 4027, Insect Biology w/Lab
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor.

The following are approved upper-level elective courses:

BIOL 226, Comparative Animal Physiology w/Lab
BIOL 230, Food from the Sea w/Lab
BIOL 242, Biodiversity, Conservation and Management in East Africa (Kenya Semester Program)
BIOL 3023, Mist Nets and Museum Skins
ENVS 369, Ecological Restoration
ENVS 370, Global Amphibian Decline
ENVS 371, Landscape Ecology
GEOL 206, Paleontology w/Lab
GEOL 217, Dinosaurs GEOL 304, Conservation Paleontology
Other courses not on this list may count; consult with your advisor

The following courses fulfill the Advanced Global Studies Elective:

GS 301, Theories of Global Political Economy,  
GS 324, Global Public Goods: Exploring Solutions for the 21st Century
GS 365, Rethinking Population, Health and Environment

The following courses fulfill the Global Perspectives Elective:

AFS 337; Culture, Ecology and Development in East Africa (Kenya Program)
ANTH 102, Cultural Anthropology ANTH 251, Humans and Other Animals
ANTH 425, Environmental Conservation in Africa
ECON 234, Comparative Economics/div> ECON 236, Globalization Issues: Equity, the Environment and Economic Growth          
ECON 308, Environmental Economics
ECON 336, Economic Development
ECON 384, Natural Resources Economics
ENG 293, Literary Harvest
ENG 346, American Literature and Environment
ENG 352, Contemporary Literature and Environment
ENVS 263, Global Change and Sustainability w/Lab
ENVS 360, Sustainable Agricultural Systems w/Lab
ENVS 363, Tourism and Environment
GOVT 327, Politics of Development and Underdevelopment
GOVT 343, Ecology and Political Thought
HIST 213, Global Environmental History
PHIL 310, Environmental Philosophy
REL 103, Religion and Ecology
SOC 187, Environement and Society
SOC 253, Race, Class and Environmental Justice
SOC 264, Environmental Movements
SOC 269, Population and Natural Resources
SOC 465, Environmental Sociology
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.

Revised 8/7/19.  These requirements pertain to students matriculating on or after August 2018.