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 Frequency of offering*
   BIOL 126 or 132, Organism Function and Diversity   4 Spring
   BIOL 210, Introduction to Ecology and Evolution   3 Fall & spring
   BIOL 260, Biostatistics and Research Design   3 Fall & spring
   BIOL 341, General Genetics   4 Spring
   BIOL 428, Conservation Biology   4 Fall
 One GIS course, from the following:  Credits  
   GISC 200, Introduction to GIS   4 Fall & spring
   GEOG 250, Introduction to Geographic Information Systems and Cartography   4 Fall & spring
   EESC 205, GIS Applications in Environmental Science and Geology with Lab   4 Fall
 Two Diversity courses, from the following:  Credits  
   BIOL 231, Plant Biology   4 Spring, even years
   BIOL 321, Invertebrate Zoology   4 Spring
   BIOL 323, Entomology   4 Fall
   BIOL 425, Vertebrate Zoology   4 Spring, odd years
   BIOL 426, Biology of Fishes   4 Spring, even years
   BIOL 427, Ornithology   4 Spring
   BIOL 372, Parasitology   4 Fall
 One upper-level ecology class, from the following:  Credits  
   BIOL 311, Plant Ecology   4 Fall
   BIOL 322, Animal Ecology   4 Fall
   BIOL 423, Ecology & Evolution in the Galapagos Islands   4 Spring, even years
   BIOL 424, Tropical Ecology   4 Spring, odd years
 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 Fall
  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 Fall
   CHEM 111, General Chemistry I   4
   CHEM 112, General Chemistry II   4

*Prevailing course availability. Exceptions may occur. Students should consult with their academic advisors when developing their degree completion plans.

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