Conservation Biology Major Requirements

Conservation Biology majors must complete a predetermined set of courses (outlined below) and are strongly 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. Students should consult with a Conservation Biology faculty member in planning how to complete this expectation.

Required Courses

Full course descriptions can be found by visiting the Catalog section for the sponsoring department.

I. Core Courses

Students must take all of the following courses:

  • BIOL 101 and 102. General Biology
  • GS 101. Introduction to Global Studies I: Political Economy
  • BIOL 221. General Ecology
  • BIOL 245. Genetics


  • BIOL 343. Evolution
  • BIOL. 440. Conservation Biology (seniors only)

II. Allied Science or Math Courses

Students must take one of the following options:

  1. GEOL 103. Dynamic Earth (with lab) and GEOL 104. Historical Earth.–––
  2. CHEM 103 and CHEM 104. General Chemistry (both with lab)
  3. Any two of the following four:
  • STAT 113. Applied Statistics
  • STAT 213. Applied Regression Analysis
  • MATH 135. Calculus I
  • MATH 136. Calculus II
  1. STAT 113. Applied Statistics and GS 233. GIS (with lab)
  2. CS 140. Intro to Computer Programming and CS 219. Techniques of Computer Science

III. Electives

Students completing the major must take at least one advanced ecology elective, one advanced global studies elective, and one global perspectives elective. In addition, students must fulfill a biodiversity requirement by taking five courses from offerings in ecology and organismal diversity.  To fulfill the biodiversity requirement, students should take a minimum of two organismal diversity courses.  The other courses can be any courses from the Advanced Ecology or Organismal Diversity categories, or an Upper Level elective in Biology Department. Only one organismal diversity course focusing on vertebrate animals may be counted toward completing requirements for the major. Approved courses are listed below. Students may petition the major coordinator to have other courses fulfill these electives. Students may count up to two courses taken while abroad toward the requirements for the major.

The following fulfill the Advanced Ecology elective:

  • BIOL 330. Ecology of Lakes and Rivers (with lab)
  • BIOL 335. Winter Ecology (with lab)
  • BIOL 360. Marine Ecology
  • BIOL 380. Tropical Ecology
  • And certain special topics courses.

The following 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

Organismal Diversity courses (only one about vertebrates will count toward the major requirement):

  • BIOL 209. Vertebrate Natural History (with lab)
  • BIOL 215. Fundamentals of Animal Diversity (with lab)
  • BIOL 218. Ornithology (with lab)
  • BIOL 224. Biology of Plants (with lab)
  • BIOL 227. Mammalogy (with lab)
  • BIOL 231. Microbiology (with lab)
  • BIOL 258. Ethnobotany (with lab)
  • BIOL 319. Plant Systematics (with lab)
  • BIOL 325. Mycology (with lab)
  • GEOL 206. Paleontology
  • GEOL 217. Dinosaurs

Other Upper Level electives:

  • BIOL 230. Food from the Sea (with lab)
  • BIOL 242. Biodiversity Conservation and Management  in East Africa (Kenya Semester Program)
  • ENVS 369. Ecological Restoration
  • ENVS 370. Global Amphibian Decline
  • ENVS 371. Landscape Ecology
  • GEOL 340. Conservation Paleobiology
  • And certain special topics courses.

The following fulfill the Global Perspectives elective. Students must take one:

  • AFS 337. Cultural, Environment and Development in East Africa (Kenya Semester Program)
  • ANTH 102. Cultural Anthropology
  • ANTH 251. Humans and Other Animals
  • ANTH 425. Environmental Conservation in Africa
  • ECON 228. African Economies
  • ECON 234. Comparative Economics
  • ECON 236. Globalization Issues: Equity, the Environment and Economic Growth
  • ECON 308. Environmental Economics
  • ECON 336. Economic Development
  • ECON 384. Natural Resource Economics
  • ENVS 261. Sustainable Agriculture
  • ENVS 263. Global Change and Sustainability
  • GS 259. Global-local Environmentalisms
  • PHIL 310. Philosophy of the Environment
  • SOC 253. Race, Class and Environmental Justice
  • SOC 465. Environmental Sociology

Please see the Conservation Biology website for additional courses that will fulfill the Global Perspectives elective. Students may also work with their advisor to petition for other courses to fulfill the global perspectives this elective.

Students are encouraged to consider taking at least one semester of independent research with a faculty member and to study a foreign language, but doing so is not a requirement of the major.