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Environmental Biology, M.S.

Program Director: April Boulton, Ph.D. boulton@hood.edu;  (301) 696-3649

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology program is specifically designed to meet the needs of environmental professionals and educators who wish to pursue a graduate degree part time while working full time during the day. While the majority of our students attend on a part-time basis, a student may opt for a full-time course load. Hood’s program is the only part-time graduate program in the region that emphasizes a field and laboratory approach to learning and promotes hands-on research opportunities for students.

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology provides students with a comprehensive foundation in the principles and practices of environmental biology.

It is designed for:

  • Persons holding a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology or a closely related discipline and currently employed as environmental professionals who seek a graduate degree for professional development and career advancement;
  • Teachers holding a bachelor’s degree in science education who wish to obtain a graduate degree;
  • Environmental professionals with a graduate degree who are interested in updating their academic background and keeping abreast of new developments in the discipline; and
  • Persons holding a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than environmental biology who seek a graduate degree in order to gain the academic expertise necessary to make a job change to a career in environmental biology.

For admission information, see Graduate Admission and Program Specific Application Requirements.

Program Requirements

The program has two tracks, a research and non-research track—both requiring the completion of 33 credits. The research track includes either a 6-credit thesis or a 3-credit independent research project. The non-research track includes either a 3-credit internship at an approved agency or an intensive capstone course as the final programmatic experience. Both tracks are designed for students from a variety of academic backgrounds. All entering students must have completed at least one year of undergraduate course work in biology, one year of chemistry and one semester of mathematics.

A required core of courses provides students with a comprehensive background in all aspects of environmental biology. Students will be able to place environmental issues into a broad social, political and economic context; but the primary core course emphasis will be on using environmental biology principles to identify and solve environmental problems.

The elective courses provide each student with the opportunity to tailor her or his program to meet particular professional needs. Some electives are clearly rooted in natural science and mathematics and are the ones most students will choose in order to further their careers in environmental research, regulation, consulting and teaching. Other electives come from the social and political sciences and are well-suited for students planning to enter the realm of public policy. There are also 1-credit elective offerings that stress laboratory and field techniques. Three of these one-credit courses may be taken in lieu of one 3-credit elective for thesis students. All other students (project option or non-research track) must complete three of the 1-credit courses as part of their 33 credit minimum..

Required Courses

All students must complete the following:

  • ENV 501 Introduction to Environmental Biology
  • ENV 502 Principles of Ecology
  • ENV 503 Pollution Biology
  • ENV 505 Biostatistics
  • ENV 507 Natural Resource Management

All students must complete one of the following (3 credits each):

  • ENV 512 Insect Ecology
  • ENV 513 Marine Ecology
  • ENV 541 Behavioral Ecology
  • ENV 551 Plant Ecology
  • ENV 563 Freshwater Ecology
  • Thesis students must complete 6 elective credits, as well as ENV 515 and ENV 580 Thesis (6 credits), for a program total of 33 credits.

    After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to complete a degree candidacy form (DCF), which outlines the student’s remaining academic path. If the research track has been declared on a student’s DCF, he/she has the flexibility to switch between the two options under this track, but it is not possible to change from a research track to a non-research track.

    Research Track

    After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to complete a degree candidacy form (DCF), which outlines the student’s remaining academic path. If the research track has been declared on a student’s DCF, he/she has the flexibility to switch between the two options under this track, but it is not possible to change from a research track to a non-research track.

    Thesis Option

    Thesis students must complete 6 elective credits, as well as ENV 515 and ENV 580 Thesis (6 credits), for a program total of 33 credits.

    Independent Project Option

    Students choosing to complete an independent project must complete 12 elective credits, 3 of which must be designated as lab or field credits, as well as ENV 579 Independent Research Project (3 credits), for a program total of 33 credits. Lab and field courses include the following: ENV 522-528 and ENV 565.

    Non-research Track

    After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to complete a degree candidacy form (DCF), which outlines the student’s remaining academic path. If the non-research track has been declared on a student’s DCF, he/she has the flexibility to switch between the two options under this track, but it is not possible to change from a non-research track to a research track. Students in the non-research track are required to complete a program total of 33 credits, which includes 12 elective credits; three of the 12 elective credits must be designated as lab or field credits, such as ENV 522-528 and ENV 565.

    Internship Option

    As part of their 33 credits, internship students will complete a 3-credit internship (ENV 591) at an approved facility through the Campus Career Center.

    Capstone Option

    As part of their 33 credits, capstone students must successfully complete ENV 578, the Climate Change Capstone course (3 credits). Once a student enrolls in ENV 578, he/she is not permitted to change options within the non-research track.

    Elective Courses

    Electives include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • BMS 537 Introduction to Bioinformatics
    • CHEM 501 Environmental Chemistry
    • ECPS 514 Environmental Policy
    • ENV 506 Environmental Microbiology
    • ENV 511 Conservation Biology
    • ENV 512, 513, 541, 551, or 563 if not taken as part of core requirements
    • ENV 550 Current Topics in Environmental Biology
    • ENV 564 Environmental Toxicology
    • ENV 575 Independent Study
    • ENV 577 Climate Change
    • ENV 599 Special Topics
    • PSCI 500 Government in Contemporary Society