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What You'll Study
  • Environmental and human causes of conservation problems
  • Factors that lead to species declines, including habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade
  • Role of zoos in conservation
  • Land-use and agricultural impacts on watersheds
  • Climate change research, communications, public perspectives, and action in the local community​​​​​​​
  • Practicum experience with a professional in a conservation-related field
Week-by-Week Topics
Program Details
Semesters offered

Fall and Spring | Mason’s academic calendar


16 | Courses and transfer credits


Tuition | Mason’s tuition and fees

Semester Fee | $2048 per semester

Mandatory Room and Board | Pricing Structure

Scholarships & financial aid

Who is eligible?

2nd- through 4th-year undergraduates with at least 45 credit hours from any accredited college or university. Previous coursework should include some natural or social sciences and show interest in conservation-related disciplines.

Meet the Faculty

Joshua Davis
Associate Professor of Conservation Biology
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
Josh is an ecosystem ecologist whose research explores the effects of disturbance and human influences on ecological processes. His professional background focuses on citizen science research, curriculum development, and assessment design.
Anneke DeLuycker
Anneke DeLuycker
Associate Professor of Conservation Studies
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
Anneke is a biological anthropologist specializing in the ecology, behavior, and conservation of primates, particularly in the Neotropics. Her research concerns how ecological and evolutionary processes influence behavioral patterns.
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon
Associate Professor of Conservation Studies
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
Stephanie Lessard-Pilon has worked in a wide range of ecological systems, from East Coast forests and streams to deep sea environments. She is particularly interested in the role of species interactions, including biologically-mediated disturbance and facilitation, on the structure and function of ecosystems. Stephanie is passionate about improving conservation education, engaging with diverse audiences about conservation-related issues, and empowering the public to take conservation action.
Jim McNeil
Associate Professor of Conservation Studies
Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation
As an entomologist, Jim is interested in expanding awareness of issues related to monitoring and conservation of insect species. He is particularly interested in invasive insect species biology, especially invasive forest pests and how they can be controlled.

Living and Learning at SMSC

Each cohort (20 or fewer students) lives and studies together on site at the SMSC campus. Students follow an intensive, structured schedule to get the most out of this conservation-focused experience.

  • Classroom, lab, or field work 9:30 am – 3 pm, 4 days per week
  • Practicum work experience 1 day per week with a conservation professional.
  • Semester-long independent study of a global conservation issue and associated strategies
  • Additional research seminars from guest instructors and visiting conservation practitioners
Two young women collect water samples with pipettes by a river

Integrating Science and Policy

Our students learn to protect species in the Shenandoah watershed by combining two important sides of conservation. They research agriculture and development impacts on local streams and rivers, and they advocate for policy change by interacting with policy makers and farmers.

Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity