Conservation Biology Major

The Conservation Biology Major leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  The Conservation Biology major is designed for students interested in public or private-sector careers in fields such as endangered species protection and recovery, habitat conservation, conservation biology education, and fisheries and wildlife management. Additionally, it prepares students for graduate study in conservation biology in cases where graduate degrees are required for particular careers.  Students have the option to spend a semester in residence at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute with the Smithsonian – Mason School of Conservation (SMSC).  Earn transferable course credit, while working side-by-side with world-class conservation biologists. Students who complete all requirements earn the degree of Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Biology with a major in Conservation Biology.

For complete description of all courses offered by the Department of Biological Sciences, please see UMW Course Catalog, Biology

Course Requirements

Forty (40) credits. These must include the following required and elective courses:

 Required Core  (18 credits)  Credits
   BIOL 126 or 132, Organism Function and Diversity   4
   BIOL 210, Introduction to Ecology and Evolution   3
   BIOL 260, Biostatistics and Research Design   3
   BIOL 341, General Genetics   4
   BIOL 428, Conservation Biology   4
 One GIS course, from the following:  Credits
   GISC 200, Introduction to GIS   4
   GEOG 250, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Cartography   4
   EESC 205, GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Geology with Lab   4
 Two Diversity courses, from the following:  Credits
   BIOL 231, Plant Biology   4
   BIOL 321, Invertebrate Zoology   4
   BIOL 323, Entomology   4
   BIOL 425, Vertebrate Zoology   4
   BIOL 426, Biology of Fishes   4
   BIOL 427, Ornithology   4
 One upper-level ecology class, from the following:  Credits
   BIOL 311, Plant Ecology   4
   BIOL 322, Animal Ecology   4
   BIOL 424, Tropical Ecology   4
 One public policy, economic, and cultural perspectives course:  Credits
   ANTH 365, Environmental and Development Narratives   3
   ECON 331A, Environmental and Resource Economics   3
   EESC 230, Global Environmental Problems   3
   EESC 330, Environmental Regulations Compliance   3
   GEOG 245 Environment and Society   3
   HIST 322, US Environmental History   3
   PHIL 330, Environmental Ethics   3
 Capstone – one course (Approved in advance by Chair of Department)  Credits
   BIOL 491 or RI (Individual Research or RI Course)   1 – 4
   BIOL 499, Internship   1 – 3
 Other Electives Counted Toward the Major  Credits
  BIOL 401, Animal Behavior   3
  BIOL 412, Endocrinology   4
  EESC 121, Oceanography   4
  GEOG 241, Biogeography   3
  BIOL 471, Topics in Biology (approved by Department)   3 – 4
  BIOL 472, Research-Intensive Topics in Biology (approved by  Department)   4
Pre-requisites  Credits
   BIOL 121, Biological Concepts   4
   CHEM 111, General Chemistry I   4
   CHEM 112, General Chemistry II   4


Undergraduate Research

Outstanding students have the opportunity to participate in undergraduate research projects. Working with a faculty mentor, each student explores the literature, defines an original research problem, and utilizes the appropriate research and analytical techniques to investigate the problem.  On many occasions this work results in presentations at state, regional, and national scientific meetings.

Research students who meet minimum requirements (3.0 overall GPA and a 3.25 average in biology) may pursue Honors in Biology by writing and defending a thesis on their research project. Students can also gain focused research experience via participation in the UMW Summer Science Institute. Financial support for student research is available. Additionally, biology faculty offer research opportunities through the university’s undergraduate research (URES 197 Undergraduate Research) program.

Internships and Service Learning

Majors can gain career experience and define career goals through the University’s internship program. The biology service learning option (BIOL 000) requires students to apply knowledge and skills acquired in their formal courses and to reflect upon how such application has augmented their education.

Students will complete a service-learning contract in which they will:

  1. identify the agencies for which they will conduct their service,

  2. indicate the biology faculty members who will evaluate the academic component of their activities, and

  3. describe the duties that they will carry out for these agencies.

Students must complete 40 hours of service within 12 months of submitting their contracts. Students completing their community service during their last semester must complete all requirements by March 1 (November 1 for those finishing in December). Contact the biology department chair for additional details.

See Dr. Griffith for questions about the major and about applying for SMSC.

See Conservation Biology Major Curriculum

See the UMW Course Catalog Description of the Conservation Biology Major