Get Started on Your Master of Science in Conservation Education Degree Today!

This innovative and comprehensive program is designed to meet accreditation and industry standards. Conservation educators work in a variety of nonformal and formal settings to promote environmental stewardship and help create environmentally responsible citizens. You will acquire skills to become a leader in the field of conservation education.

Program highlights:

  • Any undergraduate degree is accepted, as long as you have completed Biology I and II or test out of the biology prerequisite by taking the Praxis exam.
  • Enjoy asynchronous weekly tasks that easily fit into your schedule.
  • You can complete your advanced degree 100% online.
What are some potential careers?

Education manager or director, outreach program coordinator, environmental educator, environmental specialist, instructional guide and naturalist are just a few of the careers that await.

Who should pursue this degree?

Students who wish to strengthen the educational, scientific and leadership skills necessary to gain a competitive edge in the field of conservation education should consider this degree.

Program Structure

Major Required Courses (21 credit hours)

Education and Leadership

Course Number Course Title Hours
WFA 8713 Program Development and Evaluation for Conservation Educators 3
WFA 8723 Conservation Education Outreach Techniques 3
WFA 8733 Conservation Leadership, Management, and Communication 3

Science Foundation

Course Number Course Title Hours
WFA 6623 Conservation Biology 3
WFA 8743 Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation 3
WFA 8753 Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation 3

Capstone Project Course

Course Number Course Title Hours
WFA 8763 Capstone Project for Conservation Education 3

Elective Courses (9 credit hours)

Course Number Course Title Hours
WFA 6223 Wildlife Plant Identification 3
WFA 6513 Current Topics in Human-Wildlife Interactions 3
WFA 6393 Urban Wildlife Ecology 3
WFA 8343 Concepts in Ecology and Natural Resource Management 3
WFA 8463 Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation 3
BIO 8053 Comprehensive Study of Animals (College of Arts & Sciences: Department of Biological Sciences) 3
Total Hours 30

Major required courses: Per Office of Graduate Studies policy, “A student who has taken a course at the 4000 level at MSU CANNOT enroll in the same course at the 6000 level without explicit permission.” Any Major Required Course completed while an undergraduate fulfills the requirement to have taken the course, but it must be replaced with another graduate level course, selected from Elective Courses, to satisfy the 30 credit hours; the minimum graduate level course credit hour requirement for the degree program.

Degree program requirements: At least 15 credit hours of GPA-graded coursework must be taken at the 8000-level or higher. In addition to coursework, all students will be required to take a final comprehensive exam.

Degree program prerequisites: BIO 1134 Biology I & BIO 1144 Biology II or equivalents. The perquisite courses, or their equivalent, must be completed before admission. A grade of C or better is required on all undergraduate prerequisite courses and must be completed at an accredited institution. A passing score on the Praxis II Biology exam would be accepted in lieu of the pre-requisite courses for admission requirements.

Students enrolled in a non-thesis degree program must complete a comprehensive exam (see Graduate catalog). The comprehensive exam for the non-thesis, Master of Science in Conservation Education degree program is based upon knowledge and skills obtained during the six major required courses for the degree program; education and leadership courses (WFA 8713, WFA 8723, WFA 8733) and science foundation courses (WFA 6623, WFA 8743, WFA 8753).

Because you must be enrolled in at least a 1-credit hour course the semester you take your final comprehensive exam, we recommend you schedule and take your final exam while enrolled in the capstone course, WFA 8763.

Course Rotation

Major Required Courses

Every Year

Fall Spring Summer
WFA 8713Program Development and Evaluation for Conservation Educators WFA 8723Conservation Education Outreach Techniques WFA 8763Capstone Project for Conservation Education
WFA 8743Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation WFA 8733Conservation Leadership, Management, and Communication  
WFA 8763Capstone Project for Conservation Education WFA 8753Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation  

Odd Years (end in 1,3,5,7,9)

Fall Spring Summer
WFA 6623Conservation Biology    

 

Elective Courses

Every Year

Fall Spring Summer
BIO 8053Comprehensive Study of Animals WFA 6513Current Topics in Human-Wildlife Interactions WFA 6223Wildlife Plant Identification

Odd Years (end in 1,3,5,7,9)

Fall Spring Summer
WFA 8463Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation WFA 8343Concepts in Ecology and Natural Resource Management  

Even Years (end in 0,2,4,6,8)

Fall Spring Summer
WFA 6393Urban Wildlife Ecology    

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive examination for the non-thesis, Master of Science in Conservation Education degree program must be scheduled by the student and taken at an approved testing center. The examination date must be scheduled within the one to two week time period prior to the deadline posted on the Graduate Academic Calendar for the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If the one to two week time period falls within a holiday week, then the comprehensive exam must be scheduled within the two to three week time period prior to the deadline posted on the Graduate Academic Calendar for the semester in which the student plans to graduate.

As noted in the Graduate Catalog, students must be within six hours of graduation or in their final semester of coursework to participate in the comprehensive exam. Please note: students who fail the initial attempt CANNOT apply to retake the exam until three months from the date of the original exam (see Graduate Catalog). Also, any student on probationary status cannot take comprehensive exams until the probationary status has been lifted. Hence, some students may need an additional semester to take the comprehensive exam.


Application Process

Proctor request form. This form MUST be submitted two weeks prior to the examination date. Please note, the examination date must be scheduled within the one to two week time period prior to the deadline posted on the Graduate Academic Calendar for the semester in which the student plans to graduate. If the one to two week time period falls within a holiday week, then the comprehensive exam must be scheduled within the two to three week time period prior to the deadline posted on the Graduate Academic Calendar for the semester in which the student plans to graduate.

In addition to the proctor request form, there are other Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department required forms that must be completed three weeks prior to the examination date. Department required forms can be obtained through the Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Kevin Hunt. Please email Dr. Hunt at kevin.hunt@msstate.edu to request the link to obtain these required forms. For more details, see Graduate catalog.

When you are filling out the forms, know that your department is “Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture”, your degree is a "Master of Science", and your major is "Conservation Education”.

Email the completed forms to the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Kevin Hunt for pre-approval. Dr. Hunt will review the forms and re-submit them to you for final signatures. Then, all completed and signed forms should be returned to Dr. Hunt. If you have any questions about the process or requirements, please email Dr. Hunt at kevin.hunt@msstate.edu

Capstone Course

The capstone project course (WFA 8763) is designed for students to apply their knowledge and skills gained from their successful completion of the major required courses in the M.S. in Conservation Education degree program. Students will seek out an organization that is involved with conservation education to develop a short-term partnership. During the partnership, students will evaluate the organization’s conservation education program, identify a need, and develop and deliver a tailored conservation education project to the conservation organization.

To aid in successful completion of the capstone project, the student and the conservation organization are supplied with Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture faculty developed rubrics. These rubrics are designed to provide guidance for the implementation of the project. Additionally, the rubrics uphold academic rigor and standardize evaluation across capstone projects.

Additionally, during the capstone project course, students will obtain further detailed information about the final comprehensive exam; a requirement for all non-thesis degrees (see Graduate catalog). To meet requirements, students are encouraged to schedule and complete their final comprehensive exam during the capstone project course.

Admissions Requirements

Applications for the degree programs are reviewed three times a year. The application deadlines for those semesters are as follows:

  • Fall Semester – August 1
  • Spring Semester – December 1
  • Summer Semester – May 15

Students seeking full admission into the Master of Science in Conservation Education program should apply as a classified student. Non-degree seeking students wishing to take classes offered through the program should apply as an Unclassified student.


An applicant for admission to graduate study must hold a bachelor's degree from a fully recognized four-year educational institution that has unconditional accreditation with appropriate regional accrediting agencies. They must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School and the Master of Science in Conservation Education program.

Regular admission to graduate study in the program requires a minimum grade point average (last four semesters of undergraduate work) of 3.00/4.00. When a student is deficient in one of the criteria cited, the student's application, nevertheless, may be considered for admission based on the strength of other materials contained in the student's application.

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) scores are NOT required for entry into this program.


Attention International Students

International students are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and score greater than 550. Detailed information regarding international applications can be found in the Graduate Catalog. Questions regarding international applications can be addressed to the Office of the Graduate School at gradapps@grad.msstate.edu.

  • ETS is providing home testing for the TOEFL iBT test, and MSU is encouraging students to take advantage of this testing option. For those students applying who have taken the TOEFL within five years of the semester they plan to enroll and are unable to access the TOEFL iBT test from home, we will accept your previous test scores.

Admission Options

Domestic/International Classified Admissions

  1. Submit online application. You will choose Master of Science in Conservation Education as your Program of Study and Online Education as your campus.
  2. Statement of Purpose
  3. Three letters of recommendation
    • You will be asked to submit three names and three email addresses of individuals you are using as references. Once you click submit, these individuals will be sent an email from MSU, which will provide a link to an online form for completing their recommendations.
  4. One official transcript showing bachelor’s degree or progress toward degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
  5. One official transcript showing ALL work after bachelor’s degree. (For international students, please submit a copy in native language along with translated copies, if appropriate.)
    • Electronic transcripts should be sent to: gradapps@grad.msstate.edu Mississippi State University, Graduate School. Only one copy of an electronic transcript is required.
    • Paper Transcripts Address (USPS):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      P.O. Box G
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
    • Physical Street Address (for DHL, Fed Ex, UPS, DHS, etc.):
      Mississippi State University
      The Office of the Graduate School
      175 President Circle
      116 Allen Hall
      Mississippi State, MS 39762
  6. Payment of $60 non-refundable application processing fee for domestic students.
    Payment of $80 non-refundable application processing fee for international students.
  7. Once you are admitted, you will receive an email with complete instructions on registering for classes and contacting your advisor

Courses

WFA 6223 Wildlife Plant Identification
(Prerequisite: BIO 1134 and BIO 1144 or equivalent). Two hours lecture. Four hours laboratory alternate weeks. Identification, taxonomy, ecology, and management of wildlife food and cover plants


WFA 6393 Urban Wildlife Ecology
(Prerequisites: Junior or higher standing, Grade C or better in WFA 3133, and/or Instructor Consent). Three hours lecture. Investigations of traditional wildlife conservation, ecology and management principles as they pertain to urban environments with an emphasis on species natural histories and urban ecosystem characteristics


WFA 6513 Current Topics in Human-Wildlife Interactions
(Prerequisites: Junior or higher standing, Grade of C or better in WFA 3133, and/or Instructor Consent). Three hours lecture. Investigations and related discussions regarding current topics and past trends in human-wildlife interactions emphasizing the role of wildlife damage management by wildlife biologists


WFA 6623 Conservation Biology
Three hours lecture. Theory and applications of conservation biology, measures of biodiversity, ecological geography, measures and treatments of decline


WFA 8343 Concepts in Ecology and Natural Resource Management
Three hours lecture. A forum to discuss current literature and theory that advances the study of community ecology and its application to natural resource management


WFA 8463 Human Dimensions of Wildlife and Fisheries Conservation
Three hours lecture: Theory, measurement and application of human dimensions in wildlife and fisheries conservation, with emphasis on how people value wildlife, how they want wildlife to be managed, and how they affect or are affected by wildlife and wildlife management decision making.


WFA 8713 Program Development and Evaluation for Conservation Educators
Three hours lecture. Development and evaluation of conservation education outreach programs and activities for varied audiences across; learning levels abilities, and cultural environments


WFA 8723 Conservation Education Outreach Techniques
Three hours lecture. Theory and practice for establishing effective conservation education and outreach programs


WFA 8733 Conservation Leadership, Management, and Communication
Three hours lecture. Theory, best practices, and enhancement of skills in leadership, management, and communication for conservation educators with an emphasis on volunteer management but applicable to management of all organizational employees


WFA 8743 Aquatic Biodiversity Conservation
Three hours lecture. Taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology, conservation and management matters of freshwater, tidal, and open ocean systems and application of knowledge to design and evaluate outreach educational materials related to aquatic systems


WFA 8753 Terrestrial Biodiversity Conservation
Three hours lecture. Taxonomy, biodiversity, ecology, evolutionary biology, conservation and management matters of terrestrial biomes and application of knowledge to design and evaluate outreach educational materials related to terrestrial systems


WFA 8763 Capstone Project for Conservation Education
Three hours lecture. Preparation for final comprehensive exam and establishment of a conservation education entity partnership for development, delivery, and evaluation of a conservation education project


BIO 8053 Comprehensive Study of Animals
(Prerequisites: BIO 6023 or consent of instructor). Three hours video and online. Study of invertebrate and vertebrate animals, including reproduction, development, physiology, behavior, ecology and evolution. (Intended for K-12 science teachers. Course cannot be used to satisfy degree requirements in a non-distance degree program)

See More

Academic Advising

After gaining admission to the university, you must contact one of your advisors to determine the courses that are most appropriate for you to take. Approximately two months prior to the upcoming semester, your advisor will send an email to your MSU email account, making course recommendations based on your program of study.

Mississippi State University uses email as its official means of communication with all MSU students. Please check your MSU email account (NetID@msstate.edu) daily. Information on setting up your MSU email can be found at the link for student services.

Photo of Dr. Stacy L. Hines

Dr. Stacy L. Hines

Conservation Education

  • Instructor, Program Advisor

Dr. Stacy L. Hines is an instructor in the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture at Mississippi State University. She currently has appointments in teaching and program coordination for the online Conservation Education program. Her background in non-formal and formal conservation education are central to her work. She currently serves as a board member for the Friends of the Noxubee Refuge and on the Mississippi Environmental Education Alliance.


Contact Information

Photo of Mindy Wolfe

Mindy Wolfe

Online Education

  • Recruiting Coordinator
Photo of Stacy L. Hines

Dr. Stacy L. Hines

Conservation Education

  • Instructor, Program Advisor
Kevin Hunt Headshot

Dr. Kevin M. Hunt

Conservation Education

  • Professor, Graduate Coordinator