Environmental Biology, M.S.

Program Director: Susan Carney, Ph.D.; carney@hood.edu; 301-696-3648

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology program is specifically designed to meet the needs of environmental professionals and educators who wish to pursue a graduate degree part time while working full time during the day. Hood’s program is the only part-time graduate program in the region that emphasizes a field and laboratory approach to learning and promotes hands-on research opportunities for students.

The Master of Science in Environmental Biology provides students with a comprehensive foundation in the principles and practices of environmental biology.

It is designed for:

  • Persons holding a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology or a closely related discipline and currently employed as environmental professionals who seek a graduate degree for professional development and career advancement;
  • Teachers holding a bachelor’s degree in science education who wish to obtain a graduate degree;
  • Environmental professionals with a graduate degree who are interested in updating their academic background and keeping abreast of new developments in the discipline; and
  • Persons holding a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than environmental biology who seek a graduate degree in order to gain the academic expertise necessary to make a job change to a career in environmental biology.

Application Requirements

Students applying for the Environmental Biology program must complete an essay (550 words or less) that includes background experience and future goals. All official transcripts must be submitted. Two letters of recommendation are suggested but not required. A minimum 2.75 cumulative GPA is required for admission to the Graduate School and to the Environmental Biology program, however a GPA of 3.0 or higher is preferred.

For additional admission information, see Graduate Admission.

Program Requirements

The program has two tracks, a research and non-research track—both requiring the completion of 33 credits. The research track includes either a 6-credit thesis (invitation only) or a 3-credit independent research project. The non-research track includes either a 3-credit internship at an approved agency or an intensive capstone course as the final programmatic experience. Both tracks are designed for students from a variety of academic backgrounds.

A required core of courses provides students with a comprehensive background in all aspects of environmental biology. Students will be able to place environmental issues into a broad social, political and economic context; but the primary core course emphasis will be on using environmental biology principles to identify and solve environmental problems.

The elective courses provide each student with the opportunity to tailor her or his program to meet particular professional needs. Some electives are clearly rooted in natural science and mathematics and are the ones most students will choose in order to further their careers in environmental research, regulation, consulting and teaching. Other electives come from the social and political sciences and are well-suited for students planning to enter the realm of public policy. There are also 1-credit elective offerings that stress laboratory and field techniques. Three of these one-credit courses may be taken in lieu of one 3-credit elective for thesis students. All other students (project option or non-research track) must complete three of the 1-credit courses as part of their 33 credit minimum.

Required Courses

All students must complete the following:

ENV 501Introduction to Environmental Biology

3.0

ENV 502Principles of Ecology

3.0

ENV 503/ENSP 403Pollution Biology

3.0

ENV 505Biostatistics

3.0

ENV 507/ENSP 407Natural Resource Management

3.0

All students must complete one of the following (3 credits each):

ENV 512Insect Ecology

3.0

ENV 513Marine Ecology

3.0

ENV 541Behavioral Ecology

3.0

ENV 551/BIOL 451Plant Ecology

3.0

ENV 563Freshwater Ecology

3.0

Research Track - 33 credits:

After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to meet with their adviser to discuss the student’s remaining academic path. Once the research track is chosen, a student may not switch from this track to the non-research track. 

Thesis Option:

Upon the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, ENV faculty will invite a limited number of exceptional students to complete a comprehensive thesis project. If the student accepts, he/she is responsible for securing a thesis advisor and committee. Thesis students must complete 6 elective credits, as well as ENV 515 and ENV 580 Thesis (6 credits), for a program total of 33 credits.

Independent Project Option:

Students choosing to complete an independent project must complete ENV 515 and ENV 579 Project (3 credits), and 9 elective credits for a program total of 33 credits. Of the 9 elective credits, 3 must be designated as lab or field credits (ENV 522-528 and ENV 565).

Alternative Track - 33 credits:

After the successful completion of 12 ENV credits, students are required to meet with their adviser to discuss the student’s remaining academic path. If the alternative track is chosen, he/she has the flexibility to switch between the two options under this track, but it is not possible to change from the alternative track to the research track.

Internship Option:

As part of their 33 credits, internship students will complete a 3-credit internship (ENV 591) at an approved facility through the ENV program director. Students are required to complete ENV 515 and 9 elective credits for a program total of 33 credits; three of 9 elective credits must be designated as lab or field credits, such as ENV 522, ENV 526, ENV 528 and ENV 565.

ENV 591Internship in Environmental Biology

3.0

Capstone Option:

Students, who choose the capstone option, are required to complete a program total of 33 credits, which includes 12 elective credits; three of the 12 elective credits must be designated as lab or field credits, such as ENV 522, ENV 526, ENV 528 and ENV 565.

As part of their 33 credits, capstone students must successfully complete:

ENV 578Climate Change Capstone

3.0

Once a student enrolls in ENV 578, he/she is not permitted to change options within the alternate track.

Elective Courses

Electives include, but are not limited to, the following:

BMS 537/BIOL 437Introduction to Bioinformatics

3.0

CHEM 501/CHEM 401Environmental Chemistry

3.0

ECPS 514/ECPS 414Environmental Policy

3.0

ENV 506Environmental Microbiology

3.0

ENV 511/ENSP 411Conservation Biology

3.0

ENV 550Current Topics in Environmental Biology

3.0

ENV 564Environmental Toxicology

3.0

ENV 575Independent Study

1.0 - 3.0

ENV 577Climate Change

3.0

ENV 599Special Topics

6.0

PSCI 500Government in Contemporary Society

3.0

If not taken as part of core requirements:

ENV 512Insect Ecology

3.0

ENV 513Marine Ecology

3.0

ENV 541Behavioral Ecology

3.0

ENV 551/BIOL 451Plant Ecology

3.0

ENV 563Freshwater Ecology

3.0