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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Wildlife Conservation

Majors Overview December 25, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in wildlife conservation and their education requirements, coursework, job and wage outlook, and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Wildlife Conservation

Both the creatures who inhabit the wild ecosystems and the balance of said ecosystems are equally threatened by stress on the Earth’s environment, including disasters (both natural and man-made), and human development. Individuals keen on ensuring protection of wildlife and its development can benefit from enrolling in a master’s degree program in wildlife conservation that could lead to careers in teaching, research, and conservation consulting.

A wide array of conservation and environmental topic areas such as the effects of agriculture, wetlands ecology, wildlife biology and conservation policy are available through programs in wildlife conservation. Extension programs are available through several schools where students are allowed to participate in real-world wildlife conservation services.

Both non-thesis and thesis options are available. Those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. leading to a career in academia or research would benefit from a thesis option. Others interested in dealing with issues that affect natural habitats and wildlife and in helping make prudent decisions for the future would benefit from the non-thesis option.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold an undergraduate degree, preferably in a related environmental or natural science field. Often, applicants may also have to satisfy a GPA standard. Incoming students to some schools may have to submit GRE scores.


Apart from wildlife conservation topics, the program curriculum may include professional-level research, teaching, and internships. Program coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Advanced Wetland Ecology
•International Conservation
•Agriculture and Wildlife
•Wetland Wildlife
•Conservation Biology
•Environmental Policy

Job and Wage Outlook

Graduates may seek careers as foresters or conservation scientists, jobs that call for managing the use and development of natural resources including forests. Though these professionals are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a related area, employers prefer candidates with a master’s degree. In 2012, foresters and conservation scientists brought in respective average annual wages of $55,950 and $61,100 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Program graduates may also seek a career as a curator at an animal collection facility such as a zoo. A curator oversees and manages animal collections and is typically expected to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Although, a master’s degree in a wildlife management or an animal science area is preferable.

Research scientists with a master’s degree or Ph.D. in wildlife management or zoology may also find employment in aquariums and zoos. Their duties include studying how the animals are doing and enumerating ways of helping them in the wild.

Continuing Education Choices

Those keen on pursuing research in wildlife conservation can use a master’s degree in the field as a stepping stone to a doctorate that could also result in a major university- or college-level teaching position.

Prospective foresters may need to pursue registration or licensing in accordance with the requirements of the U.S. state in which they intend to pursue their career. Licensure norms typically require interested individuals to hold a bachelor’s degree and have many years of prior forestry work experience. Additionally, professionals with five years of work experience can seek certification offered through the Society of American Foresters by passing an exam.

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