Skip to main content
What You'll Study
  • Develop field skills in surveying plants, insects, birds, fish, herpetofauna, and mammals
  • Examine ecological processes and species distributions
  • Analyze patterns of global environmental change
  • Synthesize theoretical concepts and current issues in conservation
  • Evaluate animal movement and presence using radio-telemetry, acoustic monitoring, and camera traps
  • Assess disease presence through non-invasive genetic techniques
  • Quantify landscape patterns related to fragmentation and loss, and the impacts of land use
Week-by-Week Topics
Program Details
Semesters offered

Fall | 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?

3rd- and 4th-year undergraduates with at least 60 credit hours from any accredited college or university and post-baccalaureate students. Previous coursework should include at least one upper-level course in the biological sciences or related discipline, a previous semester at SMSC, or permission from the instructor

Meet the Faculty

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.
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.
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.
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.

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 10:00 am – 3 pm, 5 days per week
  • A 5-week independent research project working with a conservation mentor to design a study and present your findings to the professional conservation community
  • Field experiences at Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute or nearby sites
  • Additional seminars and instruction from guests or visiting conservation practitioners

Surveying Wood Turtles

Wood turtles are severely endangered in Virginia and a frequent subject of field study in our classes. We teach students survey methods to monitor their populations to help ensure that the species will survive.

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