Master of Science in Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development

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  • Course description
    The Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Program (CBSD) empowers its graduates with the knowledge, skills, and experience to advance effective and equitable strategies for conserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable living.

    CBSD's unique curriculum combines studies of the nature and value of diversity with studies of the economic and social dimensions of development. The program leads to a master of science (M.S.) degree in conservation biology and sustainable development.
    Master's-level students may combine CBSD with graduate or professional study in other fields through certificate or joint, double , or dual degree programs. In addition, doctoral students in related UW-Madison programs may complete CBSD as a Ph.D. minor.

    Alumni find careers with a wide range of employers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.  CBSD is administered by the Nelson Institute in cooperation with the College of Letters and Science and the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at UW-Madison.

    The CBSD curriculum is composed of three major units: a biology unit that provides background in natural science; a sustainable development unit that provides a background in social science; and an individual concentration unit that allows students to expand upon their area of interest and pursue either a research (thesis) option or a professional (internship and report) option.

    • one course in statistics
    • one course in economics
    • one course of basic biology (with a lab component)
    • one course in genetics or evolution
    • one course in general ecology
    • one course on social or humanities based environmental conservation
    REQUIRED COURSES, 30 credits
    Biology Unit , 9 credits
    • one course in natural history/field biology
    • one course in ecology, biogeography, behavior, population biology, or population genetics
    • one course in conservation biology (Botany/Wl Ecol/Zoology/Envir St 651)
    Sustainable Development Unit , 9 credits
    • one course in sustainable development
    • one course in environmental policy and institutions
    • one course in environmental economics
    If applicable, students may use up to 9 credits of undergraduate or other course work toward their biology and/or sustainable development units. Any prerequisite courses completed at UW-Madison while a student is enrolled in CBSD may potentially be double-counted toward the program's other requirements.

    Individual Concentration , 12 credits minimum
    Conservation Biology and Sustainable Development Seminars, Envir St 975 and 976

    Research Track
    • two courses in methodology/tools/design
    • upper division course or seminar in area of interest
    • four credits of research (Envir St 990 or your advisor's home department research course)
    Professional Track
    • two courses in professional skills or research methods/tools
    • upper division course or seminar in area of interest
    • four credits of internship (Envir St 999 or your advisor's home department advanced independent study course)

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