Environmental Conservation Degrees: Bachelor's, Master's & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in an environmental conservation bachelor's or master's degree program? Read about environmental conservation degree program requirements, the pros and cons of a bachelor's and master's degree program and potential careers.
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Studying Environmental Conservation: Degrees at a Glance

A bachelor's or master's degree in environmental conservation or in a relevant field with a concentration in environmental conservation can prepare you for a career working for conservation organizations in the public or private sector, government agencies, schools, or consulting firms. As a student, you will learn about the current resource and environmental issues, as well as possible solutions. You will also become familiar with the ecology of different ecosystems, as well as field methods, information management systems, and statistics.

The demand for environmental scientists and specialists is projected to grow by 19% from 2010-2020, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment growth is expected to be primarily in private consulting firms that assist clients in handling environmental issues and meeting regulation standards.

Who is this Degree for?Individuals who want to become environmental scientists or specialists Individuals who want to advance in the field of environmental science
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary)- Environmental scientists and specialists ($63,000)*
- Foresters ($55,000)*
- Environmental scientists and specialists ($63,000)*
- Conservation scientists ($60,000)*
Time to Completion4 years, full time1-3 years, full time
Common Graduation Requirements - General education courses
- Possible completion of a concentration area in conservation or an area of conservation
- Courses in subjects like wildlife conservation, natural resources, forestry and ecology
- A master's thesis or practicum
- Core coursework in subjects like environmental policies, statistics and environmental science
- Courses in research concepts
Prerequisites High school diploma Bachelor's degree, work experience may be recommended
Online Availability Yes No, but coursework and related programs are available

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Environmental Conservation Bachelor's Degree

Although bachelor's degrees in environmental conservation exist, it is more common to find bachelor's degrees in areas such as natural resource conservation with a concentration in environmental conservation. In these bachelor's degree programs, you will learn about the management of ecosystems for the purpose of conservation. You will develop an understanding of how humans and the environment are interdependent, and you will study a wide range of environmental conservation topics, including ecology, environmental law and climatology. In addition, you will learn how to manage human activities in a sustainable manner and be able to apply your knowledge to the real world.

Pros and Cons


  • You can learn new skills while doing field work in an internship
  • You can develop an understanding of basic resource management strategies
  • A bachelor's degree will qualify you for a professional position in this field


  • The work done by environmental scientists or specialists may require a lot of physical stamina
  • You may have to work in all kinds of weather conditions as an environmental scientist or specialist
  • Coursework with a focus on science may be challenging

Courses and Requirements

Most bachelor's programs require students to take a mixture general education courses in math, science and the humanities, as well as courses concentrated in the major. These requirements may be split fairly equally, or the school may weigh environmental conservation courses more heavily. Students in environmental conservation learn about a wide range of environmental issues such as water resource management, air pollution, and forest management. Some courses you might take include:

  • Ecology
  • Soil science
  • Wildlife ecology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Sustainable living

Online Course Info

Bachelor's degree programs online with a concentration in environmental conservation do exist, but they are not very common. It is possible to find a variety of environmental conservation courses online if you are interested in learning about environmental issues and need flexibility in your schedule because of professional and personal commitments.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You can have a competitive advantage in the job market if you get experience with computer modeling, geographic information systems, and data analysis in your coursework or through internships. You can also stand out if you have strong interpersonal skills, since environmental scientists and specialists usually work together with team members, including engineers, technicians, and scientists.

Environmental Conservation Master's Degree

You can find master's degree programs in environmental conservation or in areas such as natural resources with a concentration in environmental conservation. In a master's degree program, students may focus on studying science, quantitative methods, and environmental policies and economics. You will study courses in the management of our environment to create a more sustainable way of living. In a master's degree program in environmental conservation, you may be able to choose an area of concentration such as building systems or wildlife, fish, and conservation biology. You will also be able to conduct more in-depth research in environmental conservation as you work on a thesis project or engage in a practicum experience.

Pros and Cons


  • You can advance as an environmental scientist or specialist
  • Your coursework and thesis will help prepare you for a PhD program
  • You will have the opportunity to specialize in an area of environmental conservation


  • You may be in competition for jobs with individuals who hold bachelor's degrees
  • Environmental scientists or specialists might need to work long days while doing work assignments in the field
  • You may have to work odd hours as an environmental scientist or specialist

Courses and requirements

In a master's degree program, students focus on more advanced studies in environmental conservation topics, as well as research, and a master's thesis or practicum may be required. Some courses students might take include:

  • Conservation biology
  • Sustainability
  • Ecological ethics
  • International environmental affairs
  • Research methods

Online Course Info

While an entire master's degree program in environmental conservation may not be available online, it is possible to find graduate-level courses in different areas of environmental conservation online. Additionally, related programs in areas like natural resources or environmental management are available online, though entire programs may be rare.

Getting Ahead with this Degree

You can get ahead if you develop your public speaking skills. If you work as an environmental scientist or specialist, you will need to speak to groups of people to explain what you find in your research and then persuade others to agree to follow your suggestions. Developing your writing skills can also help you in your career as an environmental scientist or specialist, since you will need to write reports to summarize your recommendations, as well as your research methodology and data.