Applying Course Credits to your Degree

Applying Smithsonian-Mason Semester Course Credits to your Degree:
Information for students and advisers at George Mason University and at other institutions

The following information will assist students and advisers as they determine how to apply credits from each Semester program of study to their specific degree requirements.

General Information for Students and Advisers

Students accepted into our program are enrolled in one of two 16-credit semester-long programs of study:

  • Conservation, Biodiversity and Society
  • Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

The structure of each semester is similar in that each has a course covering theory (3 credits), application (4 credits with lab), human dimensions (3 credits), synthesis (3 credits), and practice (3 credits).

Course information and recommendations for applying course credit from Conservation, Biodiversity and Society

CONS 401: Conservation Theory (3 credits)
Introduces the field of conservation biology and science-based management of threatened wildlife, habitats, and human landscapes. Provides theoretical background for understanding the importance of biodiversity conservation and sustainability.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division natural science course credit (ecology, natural resources management, environmental management, wildlife biology, biology, etc.).

CONS 402: Applied Conservation (4 credits with lab)
Students participate in inquiry-based field conservation exercises in a variety of settings, as well as endocrine and reproductive technology labs.  Students apply these experiences to understanding science’s connection to how conservation management decisions are made.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division natural science course credit (ecology, natural resources management, environmental management, wildlife biology, biology, etc.).

CONS 410: Human Dimensions in Conservation (3 credits)
Provides local and global perspectives on conservation issues using adaptive management, conflict resolution, environmental economics, sustainability, public policy and opinon, environmental values, and conservation ethics.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division humanities or social science course credit (communications, environmental policy, sustainability studies, conflict resolution, planning and policy, etc.)

CONS 490: Integrated Conservation Strategies (3 credits)
Integrates the semester’s course work through the study of current conservation issues. Students incorporate interdisciplinary aspects of conservation into a summative group case study on a chosen conservation issue and present formally before a panel of faculty and conservation professionals.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant to upper division synthesis credits, as well as credits for upper-division composition or communication. Throughout this course, students develop an in-depth research analysis that explores how science informs policy and management decisions in the context of a global conservation issue. Student work on this project may qualify for science or humanities credits, depending on the topic selected by the student.

CONS 320 – Conservation in Practice (3 credits)
Common to both semesters is CONS 320 – Conservation in Practice. This course focuses on students’ personal and professional development in the field of conservation. Elements of the course include a work experience (6-8 hour/week practicum) and professional writing (biographical sketch, resume, cover letter), as well as assignments that allow students the opportunity to reflect on the semester, their academic experience, and the experience working for a conservation professional during the practicum experience. These reflective assignments include reflective essays, a semester portfolio, a visual essay, written reflective essays and journaling.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant to internship credits, as well as credits for upper-division composition or communication. Student work on this project may qualify for science or humanities credits, depending on the practicum placement selected by the student. For students considering enrolling in both Semester experiences, many universities allow students to receive credits for more than one internship and they should check with their university to verify whether to use CONS 320 for internship credits more than once, or apply the second set of credits towards advanced composition or communication.

Course information and recommendations for applying course credit from Wildlife Ecology and Conservation

CONS 403: Ecology for Conservation Theory (3 credits)
An examination of factors that influence the distribution and abundance of organisms within landscapes across temporal and spatial scales. In individual and group activities, students review conservation case studies, interpret scientific data, and apply their analyses to conservation scenarios.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division natural science course credit (ecology, natural resources management, environmental management, wildlife biology, biology, etc.).

CONS 404: Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity (4 credits with lab)
In lab and field experiences, students learn practical techniques for the assessment, monitoring and conservation of species and habitats. Students practice and evaluate the effectiveness of species sampling techniques, and analyze data across temporal and spatial scales.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division natural science course credit (ecology, natural resources management, environmental management, wildlife biology, biology, etc.).

CONS 411: Science Communication for Conservation (3 credits)
Addresses the need for clear, direct and proactive communication in conservation science. Students design communication strategies for diverse audiences, acquire skills to engage stakeholders in dialogue and learn how messages affect public perspectives.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant for upper division humanities or social science course credit (communications, environmental policy, sustainability studies, conflict resolution, planning and policy, etc.)

CONS 491: Comprehensive Conservation Planning (3 credits)
Students develop a monitoring and assessment plan for a species or habitat of conservation concern. This plan includes a review of historic and current status, measurable objectives, sampling strategies, data analysis, discussion and recommendations as well as a communications and media plan.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant to upper division synthesis credits, as well as credits for upper-division composition or communication. Throughout this course, students work on an in-depth research analysis and develop a science-based monitoring plan for a species or habitat of conservation concern. In addition, they also develop a complementary communications plan to support community engagement. Student work on this project may qualify for science and humanities credits, depending on the topic selected by the student.

CONS 320: Conservation in Practice (3 credits)
Common to both semesters is CONS 320 – Conservation in Practice. This course focuses on students’ personal and professional development in the field of conservation. Elements of the course include a work experience (6-8 hour/week practicum) and professional writing (biographical sketch, resume, cover letter), as well as assignments that allow students the opportunity to reflect on the semester, their academic experience, and the experience working for a conservation professional during the practicum experience. These reflective assignments include reflective essays, a semester portfolio, a visual essay, written reflective essays and journaling.

General transfer recommendation: This course is relevant to internship credits, as well as credits for upper-division composition or communication. Student work on this project may qualify for science or humanities credits, depending on the practicum placement selected by the student. For students considering enrolling in both Semester experiences, many universities allow students to receive credits for more than one internship and they should check with their university to verify whether to use CONS 320 for internship credits more than once, or apply the second set of credits towards advanced composition or communication.

Information for students enrolled at George Mason University

Several departments have established guidelines for how course credit obtained through the Semesters may be applied to specific majors at Mason.

Bachelor of Applied Science, B.A.S.:

The Bachelor of Applied Science degree is useful for transferring students who already have an associates degree in a related field such as Veterinary Technician or who may be returning to school. All 16 credits of either program can be used by students in the Conservation Studies Concentration. Visit: bas.gmu.edu for more information.

Biology, B.S.:
A Concentration in Environmental and Conservation Biology (ESCB) within the BS in Biology is offered to students seeking a biology degree that focuses on ecology and organismal biology. Visit: biology.gmu.edu for more information.

CONS 320 (3 credits) may be used to satisfy a Biology Concentration Elective if the practicum involves a science based project (subject to Biology Undergraduate Director approval)

  • Specific to Wildlife Ecology and Conservation:
    CONS 403 (3 credits) can be substituted for BIOL 318
    CONS 404 (4 credits) can be substituted for BIOL 379
    CONS 491 (3 credits) will count as University Synthesis credit and is also designated Research & Scholarly Intensive Credit
  • Specific to Conservation, Biodiversity and Society:
    CONS 401 (3 credits) can be substituted for BIOL 318
    CONS 402 (4 credits) can be substituted for BIOL 472/473
    CONS 490 (3 credits) will count as University Synthesis credit and is also designated Research & Scholarly Intensive Credit
  • For both programs: Other CONS courses may be approved of by your advisor for BIOL elective credit

Environmental Science, B.S.:
The BS in Environmental Science provides students with rigorous training in the fundamental science of the environment. All 16 credits of either program can be used by students in the Conservation Concentration (CNSV). Visit: esp.gmu.edu for more information.

Environmental Studies & Sustainability, B.A.:

The BA in Environmental Studies & Sustainability takes a look at Environmental and Sustainability issues from a humanities perspective. All 16 credits of either program can be used by students in the Conservation and Sustainability (COSU) concentration. Visit: ess.gmu.edu for more information.

General Education:
Consult with your advisor to confirm that these may be used in your degree program.
CONS 410 (3 credits) can be used for the Social Science General Education requirement.
CONS 490 and 491 (3 credits) can be used for the Synthesis General Education requirement.

Global Affairs, B.A.:
Global Affairs is an interdisciplinary major that introduces students to the global processes affecting all societies. Twelve (non-lab) credits from either program of study can apply towards the Environment (EVT) concentration in Global Affairs. Visit: globalaffairs.gmu.edu for more information.

New Century College, B.S. Integrative Studies:
These programs are for students interested in graduate study in conservation-related fields or in careers as resource managers, educators, or government and private conservation workers. Students in the Applied Global Conservation Studies Concentration can use all 16 credits in either program of study. Visit: ncc.gmu.edu for more information.

Receiving a minor in Conservation Studies at George Mason University

Currently, the 16 credits of either program of study satisfies the requirement to achieve a minor in Applied Conservation Studies for degree-seeking students enrolled at George Mason University. Students must meet the university requirements for all minors and receive a minimum grade of 2.00 in each course of the Semester and have at least 8 credits that are unique to the minor.

See the catalog for details and university limitations on overlap between major and minors and between minors.  If you have any questions, please contact us at smconservation@gmu.edu to discuss application of credits to your program. If you would like to schedule an advising appointment at the Fairfax campus, please visit here: http://ess.gmu.edu/students/advising