The principal objective of the CONS Program is to provide graduate training in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology. CONS is an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to the problems of biological conservation in relation to economic development necessary to meet human needs.
The primary goals of the CONS program are: 1)to provide students with the knowledge and problem-solving skills necessary to research and communicate solutions to global environmental issues; 2) to expand the reach of biodiversity conservation and increasing sustainability; 3)to produce leaders and decision-makers in conservation science that are employed by academia, in government, or non-governmental agencies (NGOs); and 4) to provide a service role to the state of Maryland, the nation, local communities, and national and international NGOs and government agencies.
Specifically the program's objectives are to: provide broad, multidisciplinary training in the core areas of biological conservation, resource economics, and policy analysis; and explicitly link the conflicting topics of sound conservation of natural resources with sustainable development to meet human needs.
CONS graduates are well-prepared to address conservation issues for employers in the private sector and in local, state and national government posts; and to enter Ph.D. programs for further, specialized training.
CONS offers a dual-degree program (PPCN) with the School of Public Policy, wherein students receive both Master of Science and Master of Public Policy degrees. For more information on our degree programs and acaeic requirements, please see our website at http://cons.umd.edu/cons
Admission to the CONS Program is competitive, and applicants tend to be a self-selecting group of high achievers. Applicants must have an undergraduate degree and comply with all Graduate School guidelines to be considered for admission, with the most competitive applicants demonstrating preparedness for graduate coursework in ecology, resource economics, and public policy.
CONS has no formal course prerequisites for admission, but admission is highly competitive. CONS students have an established record of excellence in their academic (e.g., high GRE and GPA scores, prestigious honors and awards) and professional careers (e.g., relevant, real-world employment experience at NGOs, government agencies, research labs, Peace Corps, internships). CONS students have leadership abilities, and evidence of research experience (e.g., publications, presentations, internships), and are good communicators. Successful applicants typically have a strong background in biology, and are expected to have sufficient academic preparation to enroll in the required graduate level courses in Ecology, Natural Resource Economics, and Environmental Policy. It is encouraged that incoming students have taken one or more courses in statistics, other quantitative skills, mathematics, GIS analysis, economics, and/or have foreign language skills. Many prospective applicants take one or more post-baccalaureate courses in preparation.
Type of Applicant Fall Spring
Domestic Applicants; US Citizens and Permanent Residents with foreign credentials; International Applicants seeking admissions under A, E, G, H, I and L visas and immigrants
Deadline: January 15
Preferred: January 1
International Applicants seeking admission under F (student) or J (exchange visitor) visas
Deadline: January 15
- UM Graduate School Online Application Form
- A brief (1,000-2,000 words) statement addressing two major themes:
1. The applicant's reasons and motivation for pursuing a graduate degree in CONS (e.g., future academic or career goals)
2. Experiences that have helped prepare the applicant for graduate work in CONS (e.g., coursework, research, employment, internships; academic, professional, leadership, communication skills, knowledge, &/or preparedness)
- Three (3) Letters of Recommendation
- Transcripts: undergraduate, post-graduate programs
- GRE General Test scores sent from ETS (institution code: 5814)
- Curriculum Vitae
- International academic credentials (for international applicants): evidence of English proficiency, financial certification, visa documentation (see the University's International Education Services website for further details)
Master of Science (M.S.)
This Master of Science Program was initiated in 1991 to provide new training and educational emphasis in the areas of sustainable development and conservation biology. The program applies an interdisciplinary and experiential approach to the challenges of biological conservation in relation to the economic development necessary to meet human needs. It includes four components: (1) core courses in the areas of ecology and conservation biology, resource economics, public policy, and multi-disciplinary problem solving; (2) elective courses from a wide array of disciplines; (3) an internship experience relevant to the student's career interests; (4) a Scholarly Paper - a rigorous, quantitative analysis of an Environmental Problem that synthesizes the student's coursework, internship experience, and career interests. Course requirements for the program total 39 credits. This is intended to be a two-year program.
Dual Degree CONS and Public Policy Program (M.S./M.P.P)
In cooperation with the Maryland School of Public Policy, CONS offers the option of a 60-credit, dual-degree program. Upon completion, graduates receive both a Master of Public Policy (with a specialization in Environmental Policy) and a Master of Science in Sustainable Development and Conservation Biology. As environmental problems become more scientifically and politically complex, employers and researchers in the environmental analysis and policy fields are increasingly looking to hire graduates who are well-grounded in the natural and life sciences, the workings of the public, private and non-government sectors, and the key policy analysis tools and concepts. In recognition of this demand, we have established this dual degree program.This program benefits from the unique strengths of faculty in CONS by bringing together expertise in policy and the life sciences, ecological economics, international development, and conservation biology. The program will increase the number of top-notch students in classes offered within existing master's programs, help promote interdisciplinary education by providing advanced knowledge of life sciences to policy students and advanced knowledge of public policy to students in the life sciences, and expand opportunity for recruitment into Ph.D. programs in Public Affairs and Biology, and re-affirm the university's leadership position in environmental education and research. For example, CONS graduates have gone on to Ph.D. programs at UM in PUAF, AREC, MEES, and GEOG, as well as BIOL, and to a similar array of programs at other universities. Course requirements for the program total 60 credits. This is intended to be a three-year program.
The program is housed within the Department of Biology but is campus-wide in scope. We have strong connections with the School of Public Policy because ~30% of CONS students are enrolled in the dual degree PPCN program. We have strong connections with AREC because CONS students take a required course in natural resource economics. All CONS students complete an internship - either in a research lab, with an NGO, or with an agency - either in the DC area or further abroad. All CONS students select a faculty advisor relevant to the topic of their scholarly paper, which results in many interactions with environmental faculty in Anthropology, Entomology, Environmental Science & Technology, Latin American Studies, MEES, Public Policy, Plant Sciences and Landscape Architecture, and other departments.
Students applying to the Program may be nominated for graduate fellowships or may be supported by teaching or graduate assistantships. Fellowship and assistantship offers are made on the basis of past academic performance, financial need, and potential to contribute to the program.
If you would like additional information on this program, please contact:
Dr. Karen Lips, Director
1201 Biology-Psychology Bldg. Department of Biology University of Maryland College Park
Telephone: (301) 405-7409
Fax: (301) 314-9358