This interdisciplinary professional master’s program in environmental conservation aims to empower graduates with the knowledge, experience, and practical training necessary to take on professional leadership positions that promote effective and equitable strategies to global challenges in conservation and sustainability. Students complete courses that integrate the study of conservation biology and ecology with social sciences and professional development tools courses. Through this program students will understand:

  1. foundational and state-of-the-art knowledge in conservation science, including the dynamic environments and processes that contribute to biodiversity and ecosystem services;
  2. the interconnections between biodiversity conservation and human well-being, and the social, economic and institutional conditions that favor sustainability;
  3. innovative problem-solving and planning strategies to complex conservation challenges;
  4. diverse practical tools for promoting effective conservation research, practice and organizational outcomes.

The program leads to an M.S. degree in environmental conservation. The curriculum requires a total of 32 credits over 15 months, with the first seven months on campus and the remaining eight months through distance learning. The curriculum consists of 6 or 9 credits of a biology or ecology unit, 3 or 6 credits in social systems and sustainability courses, 4 credits in conservation planning, 3 credits in environmental policy, 9 credits in professional development and conservation tools, and 4 credits of independent practice.

No prerequisites are required for entry into the program beyond an accredited bachelor’s degree. GRE scores are not required but will be considered if applicants wish to submit them. Students must also complete a professional leadership experience (independent practice) of at least eight weeks, followed by a substantial written report or deliverable for their host organization, and an exit seminar presentation.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master’s Degrees

M.S.

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of degree coursework (16 out of 32 total credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

No credits from another institution are allowed to count toward the program.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

Courses ENVIR ST/​BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology and ENVIR ST/​ECON/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources taken as a UW–Madison undergraduate may count toward the program in place of the ENVIR ST 951 Conservation of Biodiversity and ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 Land Use Policy and Planning curriculum requirements, respectively. Coursework completed five or more years prior to admission to the program is not allowed to satisfy graduate residency or graduate degree requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, courses ENVIR ST/​BOTANY/​F&W ECOL/​ZOOLOGY  651 Conservation Biology and ENVIR ST/​ECON/​POLI SCI/​URB R PL  449 Government and Natural Resources  taken as a UW–Madison Special student may count toward the program in place of the ENVIR ST 951 Conservation of Biodiversity and ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 Land Use Policy and Planning curriculum requirements, respectively. If ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 has been taken already as a UW–Madison University Special student, the ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 curriculum requirement would be satisfied. Coursework completed five or more years prior to admission to the program is not allowed to satisfy graduate residency, graduate degree, or graduate coursework requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

ENVIR ST/​URB R PL  843 Land Use Policy and Planning3
ENVIR ST 951 Conservation of Biodiversity3
ENVIR ST 972 Conservation Planning4
ENVIR ST 974 Environmental Conservation Cohort Seminar1
ENVIR ST 975 Environmental Conservation Leadership Seminar1
ENVIR ST 976 The Practice of Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development1
ENVIR ST 978 Environmental Conservation Tools Modules1
ENVIR ST 979 Environmental Conservation Professional Practice3
ENVIR ST 999 Advanced Independent Study1-3

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

Students must earn a B or above in all core curriculum coursework.

Probation Policy

The status of a student falls into one of the following three categories:

  1. Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
  2. Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
  3. Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to have an academic advisor.  Program staff will work with the student to identify an advisor during the fall semester.

Assessments and Examinations

All students must submit a leadership placement plan by April 1. They must then present an exit seminar as well as submit a final comprehensive report by August 15.

Time Constraints

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Deadlines

Generally, all application materials must be received by December 1 for admission to the program that begins the following June.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Apply the principles of conservation science and sustainability to real world environmental problems.
  • Explain the interconnections between environmental conservation and human well-being, and identify social, economic and institutional conditions that favor sustainability.
  • Conceptualize, strategize, design, and implement innovative environmental problem-solving techniques.
  • Demonstrate competence in core professional skills related to conservation practice, including: written, verbal, and visual communication; conflict resolution; interdisciplinary team building and problem definition; conservation planning; and program evaluation.

Professional Conduct

  • Recognize and apply principles of ethical and professional conduct in environmental conservation.