Bascom Hall atop Bascom Hill is pictured in a fisheye-lens aerial view of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus during an autumn sunset on Oct. 5, 2011. Other majority campus facilities include, clockwise from lower left, South Hall, Birge Hall, Van Vleck Hall, the Medical Sciences Center, Ingraham Hall, Van Hise Hall and Observatory Drive. In the background at upper right is Lake Mendota and Picnic Point. The photograph was made from a helicopter looking west. (Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)


To declare, make an appointment with the undergraduate student services coordinator, Ginny Jackson on Starfish.

If students are not currently in the College of Letters & Science (L&S), you must transfer into L&S before declaring. However, students are welcome to meet with the Conservation Biology student services coordinator to discuss the major before transferring.

Conservation Biology Majors must take at least 50 credits in the major. Students must complete all core requirements (I), 12 credits of Field/Species Biology (II), and an elective Social Science course plus additional elective coursework (III) to get to the required 50 credits.  In addition, students must also satisfy all University requirements and the L&S B.A. or B.S. requirements.

Because the Conservation Biology major has many elective courses and because career and professional goals vary widely among students, pursuing advice and guidance is important. For this reason, students are encouraged to meet with their faculty advisor and student services coordinator regularly to discuss their academic plans.  In addition, students considering graduate study must choose courses that will provide a strong foundation. In addition, such students should seek out advanced courses in their chosen field if possible as well as a research experience.

The Conservation Biology Personal Statement is a writing assignment completed your senior year.  It allows you to work with your faculty advisor and connect your UW-Madison experiences to your future goals.  Some examples include a personal plan for graduate school, a cover letter for a job or internship or your own personal statement that reviews your educational, and professional history while also looking towards your career direction.

How does it work?

  1. Set up an appointment with your faculty advisor in your final year and indicate the meeting is regarding the personal statement requirement.
  2. Send to your faculty advisor, in advance of the meeting, your choice of a cover letter for a job or internship position of interest, a personal plan for graduate school, or your own two-page personal statement that reviews your educational and professional history, while also looking towards career goals.
  3. This Personal Statement Faculty Evaluation Form  is to be completed and signed off by your faculty advisor and then submit evaluation to Ginny Jackson, Student Services Coordinator-141 Birge Hall.  Talk to Ginny if you’re interested in learning more about an affiliate review option.

Conservation Biology Course Requirements

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I. Core Required Courses

Introductory Biology (must complete Intro Sequence):

Biology/Botany 130: General Botany and Biology/Zoology: 101-102: Animal Biology, 10 cr (recommended)
or Biology/Botany/Zoology 151-152: Introductory Biology, 10 cr
or at least 10 cr from Biocore: 381, 382, 383, 384, 485, or 486

Chemistry (must complete 1 course):

Chem 103: General Chemistry, 4 cr (for those who might take more chemistry)
or Chem 108: General Chemistry, 5 cr
or Chem 109: Advanced General Chemistry, 5 cr (for those who might take more chemistry)

Physical Environment (must complete 1 course):

Atm Ocn/Geosci 105: Survey of Oceanography, 3-4 cr
or Envir St/Geosci 106: Environmental Geology, 3 cr
or Envir St/Geog 120: Introduction to the Earth System, 3 cr
or Envir St/Geog 127: Physical Systems of the Environment, 5 cr
or Geosci 100: General Geology, 3 cr
or Geosci 202: Introduction to Geologic Structures, 4 cr
or Geosci 204: Geologic Evolution of the Earth, 4 cr

Ecology & Evolution:

Students are required to take courses from at least two of the following three areas and are encouraged to take courses in all three areas:

Ecology: Botany/F&W Ecol/Zoology 460: General Ecology, 4 cr
Evolution: Geosci 110: Evolution & Extinction, 3 cr or Anthro/Botany/Zoology 410: Evolutionary Biology, 3 cr
Extinction: Envir St/F&W Ecol/Zoology 360: Extinction of Species, 3 cr

Statistics (must complete 1 course):

Stats 301: Introduction to Statistics Methods, 3 cr
or Stats 371: Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences, 3 cr

II. Species & Field Biology Courses

Choose at least 12 credits from among the following courses:

AGRONOMY/BOTANY/ SOIL SCI 370 Grassland Ecology, 3 cr
ENTOM/ ZOOLOGY 371 Medical Entomology, 3 cr
AN SCI/F&W ECOL/ZOOLOGY 520 Ornithology, 3 cr
AN SCI/F&W ECOL/ZOOLOGY 521 Birds of Southern Wisconsin, 3 cr
ANTHRO 391 Bones for the Archaeologist, 3 cr
ANTRO 420 Introduction to Primatological Research, 3 cr
ANTHRO 458 Primate Behavioral Ecology, 3 cr
ANTHRO 668 Primate Conservation, 3 cr
BOTANY 330  Algae, 3 cr
BOTANY/ PL PATH 332  Fungi, 4 cr
BOTANY 400 Plant Systematics, 4 cr
BOTANY 401 Vascular Flora of Wisconsin, 4 cr
BOTANY/ F&W Ecol 402  Dendrology, 2 cr
BOTANY 403  Field Collections and Identification, 1-4 cr
BOTANY 422 Plant Geography, 3 cr
BOTANY/ F&W Ecol 455  Vegetation of Wisconsin, 4 cr
BOTANY/ ENTOM/ ZOOLOGY 473  Plant-Insect Interactions, 3 cr
ENTOM/ ZOOLOGY 302  Introduction to Entomology, 4 cr
ENTOM 331  Taxonomy of Mature Insects, 4 cr
ENTOM 432  Taxonomy & Bionomics of Immature Insects, 4 cr
ENTOM 468  Studies in Field Entomology, 3 cr
ENTOM/ ZOOLOGY 530  Insect Behavior, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ ZOOLOGY 315  Limnology: Conservation of Aquatic Resources, 2 cr
ENVIR ST 375  Field Ecology Workshop, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ ZOOLOGY 510  Ecology of Fishes, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ ZOOLOGY 511  Ecology of Fishes Laboratory, 2 cr
F&W ECOL 306  Terrestrial Vertebrates: Life History & Ecology, 3 cr
F&W ECOL 401  Physiological Animal Ecology, 3 cr
F&W ECOL 548  Diseases of Wildlife, 3 cr
F&W ECOL 655  Animal Population Dynamics, 3 cr
GEOSCI 333  The Age of Dinosaurs, 3 cr
GEOSCI/ZOOLOGY 541  Paleobiology, 3 cr
GEOSCI/ZOOLOGY 542  Invertebrate Paleontology, 3 cr
Land Arc 375 Fire: Ecology & Implementation, 3 cr
MICROBIO 303  Biology of Microorganisms, 3 cr
MICROBIO 304  Biology of Microorganisms Laboratory, 2 cr
MM&I/PATH-BIO/ ZOOLOGY 350  Parasitology, 3 cr
PSYCH  449*  Animal Behavior, 3 cr
PSYCH 450 Animal Behavior- The Primates, 3 cr
ZOOLOGY 300 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution, 3 cr
ZOOLOGY 301 Invertebrate Biology and Evolution Lab, 3 cr
ZOOLOGY 304 Marine Biology, 2 cr
ZOOLOGY 315 Limnology-Conservation of Aquatic Resources, 2 cr
ZOOLOGY 316 Limnology Lab: Conservation of Aquatic Resources, 2 cr
ZOOLOGY 425*  Behavioral Ecology, 3 cr
ZOOLOGY 430  Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates, 5 cr

*Students may not receive credit for both Zoology 425 and Psych 449 in the Conservation Biology program.

III. Elective Courses

At least one 3 credit course from Social Science elective list:

Social Science Electives:
AAE 215 Introduction to Agricultural and Applied Economics, 3 cr
AAE/ ENVIR ST 244 The Environment and Global Economy, 3 cr
C&E SOC/ SOC 140 Introduction to Community and Environmental Sociology, 3 cr
C&E SOC/F&W Ecol/SOC 248  Environment, Natural Resources, and Society, 3 cr
ECON 101  Principles of Microeconomics, 4 cr
ECON/ENVIR ST/ POLI SCI/ URB R PL 449  Government and Natural Resources, 3-4 cr
ENVIR ST/ AMER IND 306, Indigenous Peoples and the Environment, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG 139  Resources and People, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG 339  Environmental Conservation, 3-4 cr
ENVIR ST/M&ENVTOX/ PL PATH 368  Environmental Law, Toxic Substances and Conservation, 2 cr
ENVIR ST/ PHILOS 441  Environmental Ethics, 3-4 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG/ HISTORY 460  American Environmental History, 4 cr
ENVIRST/GEOG/HISTORY 469, The Making of the American Landscape 4 cr
GEOG 344  The American West, 3 cr
GEOG 359 Australia: Environment and Society, 3 cr
GEOG 538  The Humid Tropics: Ecology, Subsistence, & Development, 4 cr

To fulfill the 50 credit requirement, students may take additional courses from other categories or choose any of the additional courses listed here.

Additional Electives
AGRON/ ENTOM/ F&W ECO/ M&E TOX 632, 633, and/or 634  Ecotoxicology, 1 cr each
ATM OCN 100  Weather and Climate, 3 cr
ATM OCN 101  Weather and Climate, 4 cr
ATM OCN/ ENVIR ST/ GEOG 121  Atmospheric Environment and Society, 2 cr
ATM OCN/ ENVIR ST 171  Global Change: Atmospheric Issues and Problems, 2-3 cr
ATM OCN/ ENVIR ST/ PHYSICS 472  Scientific Background to Global Environmental Problems, 3 cr
BOTANY/ PL PATH 123  Plants, Parasites, People, 3 cr
BOTANY/ ZOOLOGY 260  Introductory Ecology, 3 cr
BOTANY 300  Plant Anatomy, 4 cr
BOTANY 305  Plant Morphology and Evolution, 4 cr
BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 450  Midwest Ecological Issues: A Case Study Approach, 2 cr
BOTANY/AMER IND/ANTHRO 474 Ethnobotany, 3 cr -Ethnic Studies Breadth
BOTANY/ ENTOM/ PL PATH 505  Plant-Microbe Interactions: Molecular and Ecological Aspects, 3 cr
BOTANY/ ENVIR ST/ F&W ECOL/ ZOOLOGY 651  Conservation Biology, 3 cr
C&E SOC/ ENVIR ST/ GEOG 434  People, Wildlife and Landscapes, 3 cr
ENTOM/ENVIR ST 201 Insects and Human Culture-A Survey Course in Entomology, 3 cr
ENTOM/ ZOOLOGY 540  Theoretical Ecology, 3 cr
ENTOM 699  Special Problems, 1-4 cr
ENVIR ST 126  Principles of Environmental Science, 4 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG/ SOIL SCI 230  Soil: Ecosystem and Resource, 3 cr
ENVIR ST 307  Literature of the Environment: Speaking for Nature, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ SOIL SCI 324  Soils and Environmental Quality, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ LAND ARC 361  Wetlands Ecology, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG 377  Introduction to Geographic Information Systems, 4 cr
ENVIR ST/ POP HLTH 471  Introduction to Environmental Health, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ F&W ECOL 515  Renewable Resources Policy, 3 cr
ENVIR ST/ GEOG 537  Culture and Environment, 4 cr
ENVIR ST/ SOIL SCI 575  Assessment of Environmental Impact, 3 cr
F&W Ecol/ ZOOLOGY 335  Human/Animal Relationships: Biological & Philosophical Issues, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 375, Freshwater Conservation, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 379  Principles of Wildlife Management, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 410  Principles of Silviculture, 3-4 cr
F&W Ecol 450  Communities and Forests, 3 cr
F&W Ecol 550  Forest Ecology, 3-4 cr
F&W Ecol 551 Forest Ecology Lab, 1 cr
F&W Ecol 561  Wildlife Management Techniques, 3 cr
F&W Ecol/ LAND ARC/ ZOOLOGY 565  Principles of Landscape Ecology, 2 cr
F&W Ecol/ HORT/ STAT 571  Statistical Methods for Bioscience I, 4 cr
F&W Ecol 699 1-4 Special Problems
GENETICS 466  General Genetics, 3 cr
GEOG/ GEOLSCI 420  Glacial and Pleistocene Geology, 3 cr
GEOSCI/ GLE 627  Hydrogeology, 3-4 cr
LAND ARC 262  Landscape Inventory & Eval Methods, 4 cr
MICROBIO 101  General Microbiology, 3 cr
MICROBIO 102  General Microbiology Laboratory, 2 cr
SOIL SCI 301  General Soil Science, 4 cr
STAT 572  Statistical Methods for Bioscience II, 4 cr
ZOOLOGY 535  Ecosystem Analysis, 3 cr

*If you’d like to inquire about counting a directed study, independent study, internship, or senior thesis course towards the major, please contact your faculty advisor or BAC student services coordinator.

**When planning ahead, be sure to check course pre-requisites and the term(s) in which courses are typically offered.