environmental biology

Environmental Biology (M.S.)

  • 4PLUS (bachelor's + master's)
  • Major

About this Program

Students in Hood's environmental biology master's program seek to understand and address pressing environmental issues. They envision finding ways to alter the course of climate change, the effects of invasive species and unsustainable uses of natural resources. They have a compelling desire to transform the future through leadership, education and example. For them, keeping the air, water, land and its resources clean and sustainable is more than a career path. It’s a passion.

Program Overview

Tuition & Fees 
Funding Opportunities
Download Environmental Biology Brochure

Hood’s Master of Science in Environmental Biology provides a strong foundation in ecology, pollution biology, resource management and biostatistics. The program, with its subsequent 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 for individuals interested in obtaining the essential background knowledge necessary to transition into an environmental career.

Our Mission

The environmental biology (ENV) program strives to educate students in processes that keep our air, water, land and their respective resources clean and sustainable. ENV students become well-versed in the latest research and methods to understand and address the most pressing environmental issues, with an emphasis on climate change. Our program values close partnerships between students and faculty by maintaining moderate enrollment and a low student-to-faculty ratio.

Our program’s ultimate goal is to have graduates emerge with the expertise in environmental biology that will enable them to assume key positions in the public and private sectors charged with protecting our environmental future.

Program Learning Goals

Upon graduation from the environmental biology master’s program, our students will be able to:

  • Problem solve and apply the scientific method to the field and literature of environmental biology.
  • Collect, analyze, interpret and display scientific data using appropriate, current methods and software.
  • Effectively communicate scientific information to diverse audiences through writing and oral presentation.
  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of environmental biology and ecology.

Real-World Connection

The ENV program’s curriculum bridges the sciences to real-world socioeconomics and politics. Multiple research and non-research tracks permit students to customize a path that is best-suited for their career needs and goals. Learning key techniques, such as remote sensing, GIS, and field identification and sampling, opens new windows to understanding and protecting natural resources.

Flexible Schedule from the Lab to the Field

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology 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. Hood’s ENV program is ideal for working professionals who want to take their commitment and their careers to the next level. Hands-on experiences and small class sizes keep instruction focused and learning interactive. Evening classes with some weekend and hybrid offerings, along with summer sessions, fit busy lives.

Students enrolled in the environmental biology M.S. program have the option of earning a GIS certificate with the completion of nine core credits and nine elective credits of GIS courses.

View March 2021 recorded virtual lecture given by entomologist Dr. Doug Tallamy. He discusses simple steps that each of us can and must take to reverse declining biodiversity. He explains why we ourselves are nature’s best hope.

Degrees Offered

  • MS

Department Offering

Program Requirements and Course Listings

Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher are preferred. At minimum, all applications must have completed and earned a B or better in the following:

  • Two college-level biology courses (with lab)
  • Two college-level chemistry courses (with lab)
  • One college-level math course (e.g., statistics, algebra, pre-calculus, calculus)

To apply to the environmental biology master's program, please:

  • Complete and submit the online application, including an essay of 550 words or less describing background experience and future goals.
  • Request an official transcript be submitted by each institution attended

Applicants who have an undergraduate GPA below 3.0, must also submit the following:

Transfer credit policy for admitted students

Students may transfer a maximum of 6 graduate credits from an external, accredited institution, or another Hood graduate program prior to the first semester of study in the current program. Please review the full graduate transfer credit policy in the College catalog.

The program has two tracks, a research and non-research track—both require the completion of 33 credits. The research track includes either a 6-credit thesis (invitation only) 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.

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; however, 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 their program to meet particular professional needs. Some electives are clearly rooted in natural science and mathematics. These 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 1-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.

All students must complete the following:

ENV 501Introduction to Environmental Biology


ENV 502Principles of Ecology


ENV 503/ENSP 403Pollution Biology


ENV 505Biostatistics


ENV 507/ENSP 407Natural Resource Management


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

ENV 511

Conservation Biology

ENV 512Insect Ecology


ENV 513Marine Ecology


ENV 551/BIOL 451Plant Ecology


ENV 563Freshwater Ecology


Research Track - 33 credits:

After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to meet with their adviser to discuss the student’s remaining academic path. Once the research track is chosen, a student may not switch from this track to the non-research track. 

Thesis Option:

Upon the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, ENV faculty will invite a limited number of exceptional students to complete a comprehensive thesis project. If the student accepts, they are responsible for securing a thesis adviser and committee. 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 ENV 515 and ENV 579 Project (3 credits), and 9 elective credits for a program total of 33 credits. Of the 9 elective credits, 3 must be designated as lab or field credits (ENV 522-528 and ENV 565).

Alternative Track - 33 credits:

After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to meet with their adviser to discuss the student’s remaining academic path. If the alternative track is chosen, they have the flexibility to switch between the two options under this track, but it is not possible to change from the alternative track to the research track.

Internship Option:

As part of their 33 credits, internship students will complete a 3-credit internship (ENV 591) at an approved facility through the ENV program director. Students are required to complete ENV 515 and 9 elective credits for a program total of 33 credits; 3 of 9 elective credits must be designated as lab or field credits, such as ENV 522ENV 526ENV 528 and ENV 565.

ENV 591Internship in Environmental Biology


Capstone Option:

Students, who choose the capstone option, 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 522ENV 526ENV 528 and ENV 565.

As part of their 33 credits, capstone students must successfully complete:

ENV 578Climate Change Capstone


Once a student enrolls in ENV 578, they are not permitted to change options within the alternate track.

Elective Courses

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

BMS 537/BIOL 437Introduction to Bioinformatics


CHEM 501/CHEM 401Environmental Chemistry


ECPS 514/ECPS 414Environmental Policy


ENV 506Environmental Microbiology


ENV 511/ENSP 411Conservation Biology


ENV 515Research Design & Data Analysis


ENV 516Watershed Hydrology


ENV 522Ecological Sampling


ENV 524Taxonomy


ENV 526Analytical Techniques


ENV 528Specialty Courses


ENV 550Current Topics in Environmental Biology


ENV 565Environmental Toxicology Laboratory


ENV 564Environmental Toxicology


ENV 575Independent Study

1 - 3

ENV 577Climate Change


ENV 599Special Topics


If not taken as part of core requirements:

ENV 512Insect Ecology


ENV 513Marine Ecology


ENV 541Behavioral Ecology


ENV 551/BIOL 451Plant Ecology


ENV 563Freshwater Ecology


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 wastewater in marine aquaculture
  • Morphological systematics of the Crystal Darter
  • Nonnative plant invasion following hurricane damage
  • Chemical interactions between competing mosquito species

Please refer to the following web links:

Graduate Forms & Guidelines

Environmental Biology Master’s Independent Research Project ENV 579/ENV 579G
ENV 579 guidelines_june2020_1.pdf

Environmental Biology Master’s Thesis ENV 580/ENV 580G
ENV 580 guidelines_june2020.pdf

Environmental Biology Master’s Internship ENV 591/ENV 591G
ENV 591 guidelines june2020_1.pdf

The 4PLUS program is designed for highly motivated students who have the desire to build career options into their undergraduate curriculum and earn a master's degree in environmental biology.

Hood College students who are majoring in environmental science and policy are eligible to participate in a 4PLUS program that allows for a combined, and in some cases accelerated, master’s degree in environmental biology after the completion of their undergraduate studies.

Program Contact

Eric Annis

Program Director

Nick Masucci

Assistant Director of Graduate Admission & Data Management

Office: 301-696-3601 Cell/WhatsApp: 240-651-4015

Our faculty...

provides support and assistance in the development of new programs, serves as ambassadors for our program and identifies best practice standards.

All Faculty
Eric Annis

Eric Annis

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • Program Director, Environmental Biology
Boulton photo_2020

April Boulton

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • Dean of the Graduate School
Drew Ferrier

Drew Ferrier

  • Professor of Biology
  • Co-Chair, Department of Biology
  • Director, Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies
  • Director, Sustainability Studies
Eric Kindahl

Eric Kindahl

  • Associate Professor of Biology
  • Program Director, Environmental Science & Policy
Emma Bowers

Graduate Alumni Spotlight | Emma Bowers, M.S.'12

Q&A with Emma Bowers, M.S.'12, Ph.D. Alumni Graduate School Graduate Student

“Going into a Ph.D. program after completing the master’s degree at Hood made me feel like I was at a real advantage compared to my classmates. The training and knowledge that I acquired in the program served me well throughout my career.”

  • Academics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Alumni Relations

Kevin Stanfield – The new age of environmental research and drones

Kevin Stanfield

Aug. 22, 2018 - Kevin Stanfield just graduated from Hood, with a master of science in Environmental Biology, and a certificate in Global Information Systems, and his thesis related to environmental science and the use of drones and computational/remote sensing techniques​.