Biodiversity, Conservation,
 and Policy

Program Requirements

NOTE: This page is meant as an unofficial guide to course requirements for the program. Please contact the Program Director (George Robinson) or the Department of Biological Sciences Main Office for an official up-to-date requirements list.

Graduate Program Academic Requirements

The Biology, Conservation, and Policy Master's Program requires a total of 30 credits, 18 of which must be in Biology.

Biology (11 credits)
Class Title Credits
BIO 530A Biodiversity & Conservation Policy - Theoretical Issues 4
BIO 530B Biodiversity & Conservation Policy - Policy Issues 4
BIO 515A Responsible Conduct & Skills in Research 1
BIO 515B Responsible Conduct & Skills in Scientific Commmunication 1
BIO 630 Topics in Biodiversity, Conservation, & Policy 2

Research (4-6 credits)
Class Title Credits
BIO 669 Research in Biology 4-6

Supporting Courses
Class   Credits
At least one course in Biology not including BIO 699 1-4

Public Policy and Political Science Courses (6-8 credits)
Class Title Taught
PAD 522 Politics and Policy Fall semester
PAD 529 Law and Policy Fall semester
PAD 612 Nonprofits and Public Policy Fall semester
PAD 616 Nonprofits and Social Transformation Fall semester
PAD 613 Issues in Nonprofit Managament Fall semester
POS 618 Qualitative Methods Fall semester
POS 619 Spatial Analysis Fall semester
POS 534 Environmental Restoration Fall semester
POS 517 Empirical Data Analysis Spring semester
POS 540 Public Policy Analysis Spring semester
POS 604 Inequality and Public Policy Spring semester
PAD 607 Non-Profit Governance Spring semester

POS 513

Field Seminar in Public Policy (PAD 526) Spring semester

One Tool-Based (Analytical) Course. Suggested Courses:
Class Title Credits
GOG 502 / PLN 504 Statistical Methods 3
GOG 518 / BIO 518 / INF 508 Ecological Modeling 3
GOG 524 Landscape Ecology 3
GOG 584 Graduate Introduction to Remote Sensing of Environment 2
GOG 596
Geographic Information Systems
PUB 514 Economics for Public Affairs II 4


Satisfactory Completion of M.S. Core Examination:

  • Satisfactory completion of the Master's Core Examination at the end of year one for full time students, or following completion of 12 credits for part-time students. This is a comprehensive written examination prepared by participating faculty. It is administered in late May following each academic year, and requires selecting four questions from a list of choices, to be answered over a four-hour period. Prior to the exam, students will be provided with a reading list on which the exam is based.
  • Based on grading of student performance, faculty will recommend that each student: 1) passes, 2) is dismissed from the program; or 3) is be allowed to continue and retake the examination within six months. Failing on the second try will result in academic dismissal.


  • Intitial evlauation for undergraduate course deficits.
  • Students in the program are evaluated annually (typically at the end of the spring semester) by the program directors. Evaluation considers course-work and progress toward thesis design and completion.
  • All students have the right to file an academic complaint in response to perceived unfair treatment. The Department will maintain a record of all complaints and correspondence related to their resolution. Students with concerns can begin the process by consulting with the Graduate Student Ombuds Office.

BCP Seminar Requirement

  • Attendance in BIO 630, BIO 633. Attendance in BIO 630 (1 credit) is required each semester.
  • After registering for 2 semesters, students can attend without formal registration.
  • Students are also urged to attend Bio 633, Research Opportunities in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (0 credit).

Thesis Research:

  • An approved thesis must be transmitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies by: 5/1, 8/1 or 12/1 for Spring, Summer or Fall graduation, respectively. Students should file a thesis topic and organize a thesis committee (chair plus 1-2 other faculty) for approval by the Graduate Exam Committee by the beginning of the second year of full-time study. Committee members who are not UAlbany faculty or Adjunct Professors in Biological Sciences will need department approval.
  • Bio 699 (Thesis Research) credits are offered by the thesis committee chair. Up to six credits may be applied to the degree, but additional credits may be added, as needed. Note that an “I” grade (Incomplete) is assigned for successful completions of Bio 699 each semester, and a passing (“R”) grade is assigned for all earned credits when the thesis is submitted.
  • Several options are available for completing the thesis requirement:
    • A) Internship leading to a research project (requires a Chair plus one additional committee member)
      • An approved internship with an appropriate agency or organization may serve as the basis for planning and conducting research. (Topic examples: The role of ecological theory in formulating an agency's conservation policies; Assessing future management needs to preserve Biodiversity in parks and preserves).
    • B) Problem solving based on previously collected information (requires a Chair plus two additional committee members)
      • Information obtained by the student prior to admission, or by others who are willing to share data may be analyzed to answer novel questions relevant to Biodiversity Conservation and Public Policy. (Topic examples: Examining the effectiveness of ecological restoration projects; Assessing Biodiversity resources on public and private lands; Evaluating the ecological consequences of land use policies).
    • C) Original field or laboratory research in conjunction with a participating faculty mentor (requires a Chair plus two additional committee members)
      • Topic examples: Genetic diversity in rare species; Estimating extinction risks for natural populations; Invasive species management.

Relevant Course Links:

Course Descriptions from UAlbany Graduate Bulletin
Geography & Geographic Information Systems
Math and Statistics
Public Affairs
Public Administration