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Program Overview

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology 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. The program’s courses are offered in the evenings with some supplementary field and laboratory activities on Saturdays to meet the needs of working professionals. We also offer some courses in alternative hybrid formats whereby a portion of class meetings occur online and do not require campus attendance.

Studies within this master’s degree provide a strong foundation in ecology, pollution biology, resource management and biostatistics. The program, with its wide array of electives and specialized research opportunities, provides excellent preparation for environmental professionals and educators who seek to update their knowledge and skill sets, as well as those individuals who are interested in obtaining the essential background knowledge necessary to transition into an environmental career. Students enrolled in the master’s degree in Environmental Biology also have the option of earning a GIS certificate with the completion of 9 core credits and 9 elective credits.

Program mission statement

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology program at Hood College strives to educate its students in processes that keep air, water, land and their respective resources clean and sustainable. Students become well-versed in the latest research on environmental biology’s most pressing issues, which include global warming, sustainable ecosystems and invasive ecology. Students learn current and effective techniques for analyzing these issues, including hands-on training in Geographic Information Systems. The program continues to value close partnerships between its students and faculty by maintaining moderate enrollment and a low student-to-faculty ratio. The program’s ultimate goal is to have graduates emerge with an expertise in environmental biology that will enable them to assume key positions in the public and private sectors charged with protecting the future of global environments.

Entrance requirements

Complete and submit the graduate school application available at

Request one copy of official transcripts from each institution of higher education attended. Transcripts should be sent directly from each institution to the graduate school.

Grade-point average
A minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA is required for admission to the graduate school and to the M.S. in Environmental Biology program, however, a GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred.

Essay and references
Students applying for the environmental biology program must complete an essay of 550 words or less that includes background experience and future goals. Two letters of recommendation are suggested, but not required.

Prerequisites for admission
All entering students must have completed undergraduate course work in the following:

  • Biology (2 semesters)
  • Chemistry (2 semesters)
  • Mathematics (1 semester)

Program requirements

A required core of courses provides students with a comprehensive background in all aspects of environmental biology. Completing the core requirements will enable students 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 program has two tracks from which to choose, both require the completion of 33 credits. The research track includes either a 6-credit thesis or a 3-credit independent research project. The alternative 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.

Research track (choose one)

Thesis (6 credits)
Core Courses (18 credits)
Elective courses (6 credits)
ENV 515 (3 credits)
ENV 580 Thesis (6 credits)
Independent research project (3 credits)
Core Courses (18 credits)
Elective Courses (9 credits)
ENV 515 (3 credits)
ENV 579 Project (3 credits)

Alternative track (choose one)

Internship (3 credits)
Core Courses (18 credits)
Elective courses (12 credits)
ENV 591 Internship (3 credits)
Climate Change Capstone (3 credits)
Core Courses (18 credits)
Elective Courses (12 credits)
ENV 578 Capstone (3 credits)

Core courses

All five courses required: (3 credits each)
Introduction to Environmental Biology Principles of Ecology
Principles of Ecology
Pollution Biology
Natural Resource Management
Plus one of the following:(3 credits each)
Insect Ecology
Marine Ecology
Behavioral Ecology
Plant Ecology
Freshwater Ecology

Elective courses (3 credits each)
Electives include, but are not limited to the following: Computer Applications in Biology; Environmental Chemistry; Environmental Policy; Topics in Elementary and Middle School Field Biology; Environmental Microbiology; Conservation Biology; and ENV 512, 513, 541, 551 or 563 if not taken as part of the core course requirement.

Laboratory and field courses (1 credit each)
There are 1-credit course offerings that stress laboratory and field techniques. Three of these courses may be taken in lieu of one 3-credit elective. Students enrolled in Independent Research or alternative tracks must complete three of the 1-credit courses as part of their 33 credits.

Examples of the 1-credit courses include, but are not limited to the following: Sampling Methods in Animal Ecology, Algal Systematics and Experimental Methods, Sampling Methods in Terrestrial Insects and Genetic Methods for Studying Individuals in Populations.

Examples of research topics

  • Native insect pollinators in sustainable agriculture
  • Amino acid metabolism in corals and anemones
  • Restoration ecology of the regal fritillary butterfly
  • The effect of atrazine on earthworm reproduction
  • The effects of crayfish on headwater stream communities
  • Nitrogen mineralization and phosphorus availability in composted poultry litter
  • Antibiotic resistance patterns in fecal streptococcus from environmental samples
  • Environmental stresses causing DNA damage and it subsequent repair in sea anemones
  • An evaluation of membrane bioreactors to treatment saline wastewaters in marine aquaculture
  • Morphological systematics of the Crystal Darter
  • Nonnative plant invasion following hurricane damage
  • Chemical interactions between competing mosquito species

Meet the faculty

Eric R. Annis, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology
Professor Annis studies the science and policy of fisheries.

Michael C. R. Alavanja, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology
Professor Alavanja is a research epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute.

April M. Boulton, Ph.D., Director of the Master of Science in Environmental Biology program
Professor Boulton is an insect ecologist.

Sue Carney, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology
Professor Carney is a molecular ecologist of aquatic organisms.

Drew Ferrier, Ph.D., Professor of Biology
Professor Ferrier’s research involves symbioses and physiology of aquatic organisms.

Eric C. Kindahl, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Biology
Professor Kindahl is a conservation biologist who studies biomonitors in terrestrial settings.

View the brochure.