Plant Biology and Conservation, MS

Plant biologists are needed for critical research and conservation roles in several industries. This unique program has three areas of focus to help meet the demands of conserving plant resources in a rapidly changing world: plant sciences, quantitative skills and human dimensions.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: Plant Biology and Conservation, MS

The MS program in plant biology and conservation provides students with advanced training in plant ecology, evolution and floristics as well as in theory and practice of conservation biology.

Students have the opportunity to work with faculty and researchers from ASU and the Desert Botanical Garden, located in Phoenix near ASU's Tempe campus.

This master's degree program is offered in collaboration with the Desert Botanical Garden.

Courses and electives

Note: Undergraduate classes at 300 and 400 levels are taken for graduate credit along with extra graduate assignments as BIO 598.

  • BIO 303 Plant Diversity and Evolution
  • BIO 304 Plant Anatomy (spring 2019)
  • BIO 313 Arizona Flora* (taught even-numbered spring semesters)
  • BIO 331 Animal Behavior
  • BIO 423 Population and Community Ecology (spring semester)
  • BIO 471 Ornithology
  • BIO 494 Topic: Art and Science
  • BIO 498 Grasses of Arizona (fall semesters, occasionally)
  • BIO 498 Lichenology (spring 2019)
  • BIO 516 Foundations of Bioethics
  • BIO 519 Physiological Plant Ecology (alternate springs 2018, 2020, etc.)
  • BIO 521 Landscape Ecology
  • BIO 522 Populations: Evolutionary Ecology
  • BIO 527 Environmental Ethics and Policy Goals
  • BIO 549 Phylogenetic Biology & Analysis (offered occasionally)
  • BIO 591 Drylands in a changing earth
  • BIO 591 Parasites and their relatives (offered spring)
  • BIO 592 Human impact on ecosystem functioning
  • BIO 598 Seminar: Topics in Plant Biology
  • BIO 614 Biometry
  • BIO General Entomology
  • BIO/PLB 498/598 Botany Seminar
  • ESL 501 Environmental Grand Challenges
  • PLB 591 Perspectives in Plant Biology
  • PLB 598 Sonoran Desert Field Botany (spring even-numbered years)

At a Glance: program details

Degree Requirements

Required Core (3 credit hours)
PLB 502 Perspectives in Plant Biology (3)

Research (3 credit hours)
PLB 592 Research (3)

Electives (17 credit hours)

Other Requirements (1 credit hour)
BIO 591 Seminar (1)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
PLB 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
Students should see the academic unit for a complete list of approved electives.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree in biology, botany or a closely related field from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Career Opportunities

The conservation field demonstrates a growing need for botanists and conservation biologists in academic institutions, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations.

A master's degree in plant biology and conservation provides strong preparation for academic careers. The skills and knowledge obtained in this program are also valuable for government careers in federal and state agencies responsible for management and conservation and for careers in industry and nongovernmental organizations.

Career examples include:

  • conservation scientists at parks and natural resource centers, museums and national forests
  • food and agriculture scientists in academic, private and industrial labs
  • instructors at community colleges
  • researchers and technicians in government labs and nonprofit organizations
  • science teachers in elementary and high schools

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Program Contact Information

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