Degree Options

Students may pursue a Master or a Doctoral degree in one of the three tracks in the Conservation Sciences program. Track name will appear in the diploma and transcript. There is also an option for a joint degree in Conservation Sciences and Law, Science & Technology. Individual tracks may have additional course requirements in addition to programs core requirements.

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Master of Science Degree

Two types of master's degrees are offered: Plan A, involving a thesis, and Plan B, with more emphasis on coursework and one or more independent projects.

Plan A requires a minimum of 20 graduate-level course semester credits and 10 master's thesis credits. Plan A Master's students must complete a research thesis, following all requirements designated by the Graduate School. Examples of Master's thesis topics are listed on the Conservation Sciences program website. Thesis credits may be taken for the master’s Plan A at any time during degree program.

Plan B course requirements include a minimum of 20 graduate-level course semester credits; plus an additional 10 elective credits, chosen in consultation with the adviser. Plan B Master's students must demonstrate familiarity with the tools of research or scholarship in their major field, the ability to work independently, and the ability to present the results of their investigation effectively, by completing at least one Plan B project. The Plan B project should involve a combined total of approximately 120 hours (the equivalent of three full-time weeks) of work. The advisory committee specifies both the nature and extent of the options available to satisfy this requirement, subject to approval by the DGS. The Plan B project must be satisfied independent of the courses in the student's program.

MS students have the option of completing a minor in another field, e.g., statistics or ecology; see the DGS of those programs for requirements. 

All students must pass a comprehensive final oral examination which is administered by a committee appointed by the Graduate School, including at least two faculty from the major field and one from the minor or supporting field. Typically, the Master's program takes from 2-3 years.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The PhD program requires a minimum of 48 credits: a minimum of 24 graduate-level course credits and a minimum of 24 thesis credits. Course credits are intended to provide doctoral students the necessary intellectual and professional foundation for their thesis projects, future career and professional activities. All students must pass a preliminary written exam, a preliminary oral exam and a final oral exam (the thesis defense). The written preliminary examination should be taken in the spring semester of the second year. Students taking the written preliminary exam must enroll in CONS 8095 the semester they plan to submit their exam. A student may submit their exam with the next year's cohort with written permission of the student's advisor and committee. If the written preliminary exam has not been passed 4 years after beginning the program, the student will be dismissed from the program. The preliminary oral examination should be taken within the first semester after passing the written examination. Preliminary examinations should be taken before significant time has been spent on thesis research. PhD students are required to take the core courses which amount to 7 credits (includes 3 CS seminars and 1 prelim seminar).

The heart of graduate education for the PhD in CS is extensive research under the supervision of one or more members of the graduate faculty. This research will be guided to promote submission of manuscripts to peer reviewed journals. Examples of PhD dissertation topics are on the CS program website. A thesis defense is required for completion of the degree. Generally a PhD should be completed in 3-5 years. 

Joint Degree in Conservation Sciences and Law, Science & Technology

Students may enter the Joint Degree Program in two different ways. They may apply simultaneously to both the Law School and the CS Program, or they may begin one program and apply for the second degree during their first or second year. The Law School and the Graduate School each accept 12 semester credits transferred from classes taken in the other School, thereby reducing the total number of required credits by 24. In addition, the MS thesis or PhD dissertation satisfies the third-year writing requirement for the Law School. 

Minor in Conservation Sciences

A minor for Master’s Plan A and Plan B students in other programs may be earned by completing FW 8452, one semester of the CS seminar (CONS 8001) and three credits of electives.

A PhD minor for students in other graduate programs may be obtained by completing the core course (FW 8452), participating in two semesters of the CS seminar (CONS 8001), and taking seven credits of electives approved by the Conservation Sciences DGS.