Employment of environmental scientists is expected to increase by 25 percent between 2006 and 2016, much faster than the average for all occupations. Source: "Occupation Outlook Handbook 2008-2009," U.S. Department of Labor 

The graduate major in Environmental Biologyprepares students to work as professional biologists with a strong environmental emphasis. The application of quantitative methods and the design of field and laboratory studies are major components of this exciting program. GSU is uniquely located where urban and rural areas meet, allowing students to explore a diverse range of complex environments. 

Outstanding Preparation

Program courses cover the spectrum of environmental biology from toxicology, physiology and ethology to population and community ecology, emphasizing the applied aspects of these disciplines. You are trained in the application of quantitative methods and the design of field and laboratory studies. Internships are available at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Forest Preserve District of Will County, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Brookfield Zoo and Argonne National Laboratory. 

Graduates work as naturalists at county, state and national parks. Others find employment in the private sector as waste management consultants or with planning agencies as habitat assessment experts or pursue advanced degrees.

Program Fact Sheet 

Required Preparation

Special Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting university admissions criteria, applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.75 or higher and maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher for any graduate work attempted. 

Required Preparation

Applicants must complete the following course work with a grade of C or better in each course: 8 hours of general biology with lab, 8 hours of general chemistry with lab, 3 hours of statistical methods (STAT 4219/6219), and 4 hours each of organic chemistry with lab, ecology with lab, microbiology with lab, animal physiology with lab and plant physiology with lab. A student may be provisionally admitted to the program pending completion of this list of courses or the re-taking of courses for which the original grade was less than C. Students are expected to be proficient in a Windows environment with file management, word processing, spreadsheet, graphing and Internet skills. Otherwise CPSC 2005 or equivalent will be required with a grade of C or better. A second course in organic chemistry is strongly recommended.

Degree Requirements

Thesis/Project Option

As part of this degree program, students must choose between a thesis or project option. In the thesis option, students develop a thesis proposal usually related to a faculty member's research, carry out a formal research study under the supervision of the faculty member and a degree committee, prepare a final manuscript that includes a thorough literature review chapter followed by a traditional manuscript chapter suitable for publication consideration and make a formal research presentation. The thesis option would be appropriate for students who have focused research interests or who intend to pursue doctoral study. In the project option, students develop a master's project proposal, complete the project in conjunction with a faculty member and prepare a final technical report and make a formal research presentation. 

Degree Requirements

Students must meet all university requirements for a master's degree. 

I.  Required Courses (14 Hours) 

    BIOL   6657   Ecological Methods: Populations (2)

    BIOL   6660   Ecological Methods: Communities (2)

    BIOL   8840   Microbial Ecology (2)

    BIOL   8841   Microbial Ecology Laboratory (1)

    BIOL   8860   Ecosystem Ecology (2)

    BIOL   8861   Ecosystem Ecology Lab (1)

    STAT   8820   Experimental Design for the Natural Sciences (4) 

    II.  Thesis/Project Option (3-7 Hours) Select one of the following options: 

      Thesis Option (7 Hours)

      BIOL    8990   Graduate Thesis (6)

      BIOL    8998   Research Presentation (1)


      Project Option (3 Hours)

      BIOL    8990    Graduate Project (2)

      BIOL    8998   Research Presentation (1) 

      III.  Selectives (11-21 Hours)    

      Students in the thesis option select a minimum of 11 hours. Students in the project option select a minimum of 21 hours. 

      IV.  Total for Thesis Option - 32 Hours

             Total for Project Option - 38 Hours

      Graduation Requirements

      Students must meet the university requirements for a master's degree found in the GSU Catalog. Please meet with your faculty advisor during the first semester to complete your study plan.

      Advisor Information

      Mary Carrington
      Associate Professor