Conservation Ecology

Conservation Ecology Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree Conservation Ecology Concentration

About Conservation Ecology

Be ready to meet the growing demand to help preserve and manage our biodiversity and natural resources.

There is a growing need to understand and manage the natural world and our impact on it, reports the Ecological Society of America. If this is your goal, choose the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Studies at PennWest California. The concentration in conservation ecology offers a broad core of courses in biology and ecology, supplemented with courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

The conservation ecology concentration in the environmental studies program at PennWest California allows you to develop a tailored program of study that prepares you for careers in the field and provides a foundation for graduate school. This concentration gives you the flexibility to add additional courses in botany or zoology that are content specific. You also are encouraged to participate in a field experience or internship to help strengthen your program of study.

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's access to internships and research.

Almost all courses include a laboratory portion where students study the practical application of the science, appropriate technology and various organisms. Degree concentrations are designed to delve into specific content areas in the environmental sector that can lead to a variety of post-baccalaureate opportunities.

The environmental studies curriculum provides essential field opportunities through internships and undergraduate research projects in the environmental sciences. This core content is enhanced by the breadth of the University's general education requirements. Students also have access to PennWest California's Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies (ICES) and the nearby Student Association Farm.


Skills: You'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to understand and solve environmental problems through the curriculum for the bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies. PennWest California's challenging and interdisciplinary programs foster your expertise in environmental studies, along with in-depth study of specific interests within Conservation Ecology.

Solid foundation: An interdisciplinary field, environmental studies applies knowledge from many fields to the study and management of the environment. The curriculum focuses on developing an understanding of the physical sciences, chemistry and physics, and a working knowledge of mathematics and statistics. Students study such topics as ecology, ecosystems and human impacts upon them, biodiversity, pollution, energy, and sustainability. You'll be equipped to design, analyze and interpret environmental information and data.

Learn more about applying

Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in environmental studies, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
Degree icon.

Degree Benefits

The conservation ecology concentration covers the emerging and multidisciplinary field of conservation biology. You'll learn about the impact of humans on biodiversity and how we are today seeking to conserve species, habitats and ecosystems. You'll also learn aspects of international law and policy as they affect our resources. The program provides you with the skills and knowledge necessary to handle problems effectively and make informed decisions in the area of conservation and sustainable development.


Cap icon.

Graduate Outcomes

There is a growing need for individuals with environmental and ecological backgrounds to identify, abate or eliminate sources of pollutants or hazards that affect the environment and the health of the population. Opportunities are diverse. For instance, employment of conservation scientists and foresters is projected to grow 7% through 2024. Heightened demand for American timber and wood pellets will help increase the overall job prospects for conservation scientists and foresters. Employment of environmental scientists and specialists is projected to growth 11% through 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Environmental studies graduates are prepared for graduate work in environmental science- and conservation-related fields, as well as for industrial and government research.


Conservation Ecology Curriculum and Related Programs

Through your curriculum, you'll develop intellectual and analytical skills to help understand and solve environmental problems, while developing expertise in conservation ecology.


Course Credits
General Education Courses 42
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
CDC 101  Public Speaking
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 181  College Algebra  OR  MAT 273  Applied Calculus  OR  MAT 281  Calculus I*
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
GIS 311  Geographic Information Systems
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
CHE 101  General Chemistry I
Social Sciences
Any Social Science Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 102  Composition II
  • CHE 102  General Chemistry II
  • MAT 215  Statistics
Required Major Courses 45
PHY 121  General Physics 4
BIO 120  General Zoology 4
BIO 125  General Botany 4
BIO 215  Cellular and Molecular Biology 4
BIO 218  Genetics 4
BIO 248  General Ecology 4
BIO 478  Evolution 3
ENS 399  Conservation Biology 3
ENS 435  Natural Resource Law and Policy 3
ENS 495  Design and Analysis 4
Select two of the following:
  • ENS 475  Wetlands Ecology
  • BIO 414  Plant Ecology 
  • BIO 442  Forest Ecology and Dendrology
Related Electives 15
Select two of the following:
  • BIO 305  Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
  • BIO 441  Ethology
  • ENS 492  Animal Population Dynamics
Select from any 300- or 400-level BIO or ENS courses with approval of major adviser or department chair 7
Free Electives 18
Total 120

* MAT 273 or 281 recommended for graduate studies.

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): Any two BIO or ENS Upper-Division Writing Component Courses
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): BIO 215 Cellular and Molecular Biology
  •  Environmental Studies


PennWest California professor takes students outside for field work in environmental studies.

Vital Resources

Students take classes in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, which is housed in a building equipped with a computer lab, , animal rooms, greenhouse, herbarium and vertebrate teaching museum. PennWest California students also benefit from various academic societies and clubs: Beta Beta Beta is the national honor society for biological sciences. The student chapter of the Wildlife Society connects students with the professional community to study, manage and conserve wildlife and their habitats worldwide. Open to all interested students, the Biology Club explores career opportunities, offers behind-the-scenes tours of zoos and museums

A student studies plant in environmental studies lab.

Professional Connections

PennWest California graduates in environmental studies hold positions at a wide range of employers, including Greene County (Pa.) Soil and Water Conservation District, National Park Service, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, JRJ Energy Services, Pittsburgh City Parks, Murray American Energy and U.S. Forest Service. Program alumni also are engaged in graduate studies at locations such as the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in California and Ohio University.

The SAI Framhouse is home to ICES.

Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies

PennWest California's Interdisciplinary Center for Environmental Studies (ICES) creates, builds, and facilitates environmental programs that result in synergies in teaching, research and service related to the environment. Through ICES PennWest California students are active in a number of community conservation outreach programs. At SAI Farm, not far from the main campus, ICES leads projects such as maintaining a food garden, fruit tree orchard and bee hives; using a well field for studies in geology and water quality; and creating a wetland and nature trail.