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Environmental Biology, M.S.

Program Director: April Boulton, Ph.D.;  (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. 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. The first is a 33-credit option, including a 6-credit thesis. The second is a 33-credit option, including a 3-credit independent research project. 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 courses may be taken in lieu of one 3-credit elective.

Every student must complete a 3-credit independent research project or a 6-credit thesis. These research projects are designed to promote critical thinking, hypothesis testing and the use of descriptive and inferential quantitative techniques.

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 Track 

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

    Nonthesis Track 

    Students in this track must complete 12 elective credits, as well as ENV 579 Independent Research Project (3 credits), for a program total of 33 credits.

    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 599 Special Topics
    • PSCI 500 Government in Contemporary Society
    • PSCI 508 Regulatory Politics and the Law