Wildlife and Conservation Biology

Welcome to Wildlife and Conservation Biology! 

The goal of the Wildlife and Conservation Biology program at Murray State University is to provide you with knowledge and skills required to become effective natural resource professionals.Pictures from lab trips students have taken in the WCB program. We aim for you to use the knowledge and skills you acquire  to aide in the management and conservation of natural resources, particularly wildlife, for current and future generations. Obtaining your B.S. in Wildlife and Conservation Biology from Murray State University will prepare you for careers including:

  • Managing wildlife on federal, state, and private lands as a wildlife biologist

  • Working with non-profit organizations or zoos to conserve wildlife

  • Conducting research on wildlife to inform management and conservation efforts

  • Working as a conservation officer to protect wildlife and natural resources

  • Educating the public about wildlife conservation.

Based on your career interests, you can choose from 5 tracks within the Wildlife and Conservation Biology major. Students who complete any of these tracks are well qualified to compete for positions with federal, state, private, or non-profit organizations and admission to graduate programs. Your first course at Murray State University, Introduction to Wildlife Conservation and Biology (BIO 149), will help you decide your career interests and what track you should choose.

Once you finish your degree, you can apply for certification as an Associate Wildlife Biologist (AWB®) through The Wildlife Society, the national organization for wildlife professionals. AWB® certification indicates your completion of rigorous academic standards and that you represent the wildlife profession by following its code of ethics. This certification will help you be competitive for wildlife positions.

Get acquainted with the program below and see why you should join the Wildlife and Conservation Biology program at Murray State University. 

The core courses you will take when you pursue your Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree are designed to provide you with a solid foundation in biology, with an emphasis on advanced courses in wildlife biology and conservation. These courses, in combination with additional courses specific to the track you choose, will allow you to apply for Associate Wildlife Biologist (AWB®) certification through the Wildlife Society. The suggested curriculum is below, though the order you take your courses in will vary depending on the year and semester you start at Murray State University.

Suggested Curriculum Outline

Fall Year 1 (16 total hours)

  • BIO 100T Transitions (1 credit hour)

  • BIO 149 Intro. to Wildlife and Conservation Biology (1 credit hour)

  • BIO 115 The Cellular Basis of Life (3 credit hours)

  • ENG 105 Critical Reading, Writing, & Inquiry (4 credit hours)

  • CHE 105 Introductory Chemistry (4 credit hours)

  • COM 161 Public Speaking (3 credit hours)

Spring Year 1 (16 total hours)

  • BIO 216 Biological Inquiry & Analysis (4 credit hours)

  • BIO 221 Zoology: Animal Form & Function (4 credit hours)

  • ENG 224 Writing in the Professions (3 credit hours)

  • MAT 150 Algebra & Trigonometry or MAT 140 Algebra and MAT 145 (5 credit hours)

Fall Year 2 (15 total hours)

  • BIO 222 Botany: Plant Form & Function (4 credit hours)

  • BIO 333 Genetics (4 credit hours)

  • Restricted track course (4 credit hours)

  • Social science course** (3 credit hours)

Spring Year 2 (15 total hours)

  • BIO 330 Principles of Ecology (4 credit hours)

  • STA 135 Intro. to Probability & Statistics (4 credit hours)

  • AGR 345 Soil Science (3 credit hours)

  • BIO 310 Vertebrate Natural History (4 credit hours)

Fall Year 3 (14 total hours)

  • BIO 380 Wildlife Techniques (4 credit hours)

  • BIO 554 Dendrology & Forest Conservation (4 credit hours)

  • BIO 382 Scientific Communication for the Biologist (2 credit hours)

  • Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* (4 credit hours)

Spring Year 3 (15 total hours)

  • BIO 580 Principles of Wildlife Management (4 credit hours)

  • Physical science course*** (4 credit hours)

  • Global awareness course** (3 credit hours)

  • Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* (4 credit hours)

Fall Year 4 (15 total hours)

  • BIO 499 Senior Biology Seminar (1 credit hour)

  • BIO 350 Systematic Botany (4 credit hours)

  • CIV 201/202 World Civilization I or II (3 credit hours)

  • BIO 578 Conservation Biology (4 credit hours)

  • Ethics course requirement** (3 credit hours)

Spring Year 4 (16 total hours)

  • BIO 584 Wildlife Policy & Administration (3 credit hours)

  • Restricted track course (3 credit hours)

  • Restricted track course (3 credit hours)

  • HUM 211 Western Humanities Traditions (3 credit hours)

  • Restricted track or Zoology subfield course* (4 credit hours)

Wildlife biology is an important field where scientists attempt to understand wildlife populations, minimize human-animal conflicts, and manage populations.  The Wildlife Biology Track is designed primarily for students who aim to be wildlife managers and biologists for state agencies, federal agencies, and private firms.  The curriculum provides specialized experience for understanding, studying, and working with wildlife in their natural environment. Possible career opportunities for graduates include:

  • Wildlife Biologist

  • Wildlife Manager

  • Endangered Species Manager

  • Wildlife Technician

  • Research scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Wildlife Biology track:

  • Required Courses (12 total hours)

    • ECO 231  Principles of Microeconomics (Social Science) (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographic Information Science (4 credit hours)

  • Electives (13 total hours)
    Choose from the following courses:

    • AGR 240 Crop Science (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 320 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy (5 credit hours)

    • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 570 Ichthyology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 572 Herpetology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 573 Ornithology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 574 Mammalogy (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 582 Fisheries Management (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 635 Biogeography (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 312 Introduction to Remote Sensing (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 507 Land Use Planning (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 512 Remote Sensing (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems (4 credit hours)

    • MAT 554 Statistical Methods (3 credit hours)

    • REC 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources (3 credit hours)

Total Requirements: 25 credit hours

The Conservation Biology Track is for perspective students interested in working with wildlife at broader scales.  Wildlife biologists typically study wildlife on a local to regional scale, whereas the conservation biologist works at national and global levels and emphasizes linking research with policy changes.  The coursework for the Conservation Biology Track reflects this by having students take additional coursework in policy and international relations. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Conservation biologist

  • Biological technician

  • Zoo conservation scientist

  • Consultant

  • Conservation advocate

  • Research scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Biology track:

  • Required Courses (15 total hours)

    • ECO 231 Principles of Microeconomics (Social Science Requirement) (3 credit hours)

    • POL 250 Introduction to International Relations (Global Awareness Requirement) (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographic Information Science (4 credit hours)

    • Choose one of the following courses:

      • ECO 310 Issues in the Global Economy (3 credit hours)

      • ECO 345 Environmental Economics (3 credit hours)

  • Electives (10 total hours)
    Choose from the following courses: 

    • ANT 320 Human Ecology (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 300 Introductory Microbiology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 308 Ethics in Biology (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 570 Ichthyology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 572 Herpetology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 573 Ornithology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 574 Mammalogy (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 590 Disturbance Ecology (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 635 Biogeography (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 312 Introduction to Remote Sensing (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 350 Field Techniques in Geosciences (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 507 Land Use Planning (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 512 Remote Sensing (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems (4 credit hours)

    • SOC 455 Environmental Sociology (3 credit hours)

Total Requirements: 25 credit hours

The Zoological Conservation Track is for perspective students who desire to work with wildlife, but in a captive setting.  Graduates from the Zoological Conservation Track receive the coursework necessary to assist zoo veterinarians in caring for captive wildlife and to manage and study wildlife in captive situations. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Zookeeper / Aquarist

  • Zoo / Aquarium / Natural History Museum Curator

  • Zoo / Aquarium / Natural History Museum Administrator

  • Zoo Veterinary Technician

  • Research Scientist

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Zoological Conservation track:

  • Required Courses (9 total hours)

    • AGR 300 Principles of Animal Nutrition (3 credit hours)

    • AGR 310 Applications in Animal Technology (3 credit hours)

    • AGR 322 Veterinary Laboratory Principles (3 credit hours)

  • Electives (7 total hours)
    Choose from the following courses:

    • AGR 324 Veterinary Diagnostic Imaging (3 credit hours)

    • AGR 329 Veterinary Hematology and Microbiology (4 credit hours)

    • AGR 332 Veterinary Nursing (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 300 Introductory Microbiology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 322 Animal Physiology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 467 General Parasitology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 538 Animal Behavior (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 539 Animal Behavior Laboratory (1 credit hour)

    • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 570 Ichthyology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 572 Herpetology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 573 Ornithology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 574 Mammalogy (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 577 Population and Conservation Genetics (3 credit hours)

    • REC 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources (3 credit hours)

Total Requirements: 16 credit hours

The Conservation Law Enforcement Track is for perspective students who desire to be law enforcement officers for state and federal agencies that enforce wildlife regulations.  If you choose this track, you will take courses from the Criminal Justice Department to increase your knowledge and skills in these areas. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Game warden

  • Conservation officer

  • Law enforcement park ranger

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Law Enforcement track:

  • Required Courses (12 total hours)

    • CRJ 140 Introduction to Criminal Justice (Ethics Requirement) (3 credit hours)

    • CRJ 220 Law Enforcement (3 credit hours)

    • CRJ 300 Crime and Criminals (3 credit hours)

    • PSY 180 General Psychology (Social Science Requirement) (3 credit hours)

  • Electives (11 total hours)
    Choose from the following courses:

    • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 548 Principles of Managing Diseases in Wildlife (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 570 Ichthyology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 572 Herpetology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 573 Ornithology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 574 Mammalogy (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 581 Applied Wildlife Economics, Policy, and Administration (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 582 Fisheries Management (4 credit hours)

    • CRJ 240 Corrections (3 credit hours)

    • CRJ 346 Crime Investigation (3 credit hours)

    • CRJ 365 Interviewing and Interrogation (3 credit hours)

    • CRJ 445 Criminal Justice Diversity (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographical Information Science (4 credit hours)

    • REC 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources (3 credit hours)

Total Requirements: 23 credit hours

The success of conservation relies on the ability of educators to inform the public about its importance.  The Conservation Education Track is for students interested in teaching children or adults about the natural world and the importance of conserving it. The curriculum includes courses that provide students with skills in recreation planning and conservation education. Possible career opportunities for graduates from this track include:

  • Park interpreter at city, state, or national parks

  • Educator / outreach coordinators with non-profit, city, state, and federal organizations

  • K-12 Wildlife Educator

  • Educator / interpreter at nature Centers, natural history museums, residential environmental education centers, and zoos

In addition to the core courses you will take, the following are courses you are required to take, or you can choose from, to meet the requirements of the Conservation Education track:

  • Required Courses (10 hours total)

    • EDP 260 PSychology of Human Development (Social Science Requirement) (3 credit hours)

    • EDU 404 Teaching Environmental Education (K-12) (1 credit hour)

    • NLS 350 Program Development in Nonprofit Organizations (3 credit hours)

    • Choose one of the following courses:

      • HIS 221 American Experience to 1865 (Ethics Requirement) (3 credit hours)

      • HIS 222 American Experience Since 1865 (Ethics Requirement) (3 credit hours)

  • Electives (13 total hours)
    Choose from the following courses:

    • BIO 240 Biological Applications in GIS (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 542 Watershed Ecology (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 546 Stream Ecology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 561 Freshwater Invertebrates (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 563 Aquatic Entomology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 564 Field Entomology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 568 Wetland Ecology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 570 Ichthyology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 572 Herpetology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 573 Ornithology (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 574 Mammalogy (4 credit hours)

    • BIO 590 Disturbance Ecology (3 credit hours)

    • BIO 635 Biogeography (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 202 Introduction to Geographical Information Systems (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 306 Landscapes of the National Parks (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 350 Field Techniques in Geosciences (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 507 Land Use Planning (3 credit hours)

    • GSC 512 Remote Sensing (4 credit hours)

    • GSC 521 Geographic Information Systems (4 credit hours)

    • REC 411 Curriculum Development in Adventure Education (3 credit hours)

    • REC 450 Recreational Use of Natural Resources (3 credit hours)

    • REC 465 Interpretation of Cultural and Natural Resources (3 credit hours)

Total Requirements: 23 credit hours

While you are here at Murray State University, we hope you will get to know your fellow students who share your same passion. The following organizations are associated with your major and will provide you with the opportunity to grow professionally while you are here:

Take a look at their Facebook pages to see some of the activities you have the opportunity to become involved in while you are here!

All of the faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences want to see you succeed. We strive to provide students with meaningful experiential learning activities in the classroom and research opportunities. There are a variety of faculty in the Biological Sciences department at Murray State University who can mentor you while completing undergraduate research. Check out the faculty and their research interests

Gaining field experience, via internships (paid or unpaid) and volunteer opportunities, is the only way you will be competitive for careers in wildlife. Our unique location (see facilities below) and faculty research provide many opportunities for volunteering/working during the school year and we have a specific course aimed at providing students the opportunity to gain course credit for internships and undergraduate research experiences.  Faculty advisors communicate internships they learn about to students, and students are directed to online resources to find internships, such as the Texas A&M University wildlife job board.  Additionally, students  in the Zoological Conservation and Conservation Education tracks have the opportunity to be an intern with the Murray State Amphibian and Reptile Collection (MSU ARC) to gain valuable skills in animal husbandry and outreach. 

Watch the following video to see what one Murray State University Wildlife and Conservation Biology student did during her internship at the Clarks River National Wildlife Refuge (Video by Madeline Heredia)

When you decide to attend Murray State University for your Wildlife and Conservation Biology degree, you will be surrounded by opportunities to recreate and learn in the outdoors. Check out the following websites to give you an idea of some of the facilities / areas you may have the opportunity to visit while you are here:

There are several faculty in the department completing wildlife related research you can reach out to regarding opportunities for graduate studies in their lab. Check out the faculty and their interests. Also, take a look at the requirements for our thesis and non-thesis track M.S. Degrees and learn how to apply:

For More Information Please Contact:

Dr. Andrea Darracq

Assistant Professor, Program Coordinator for Wildlife Biology
Department of Biological Sciences

2301 Engineering & Physics

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