Advanced Inquiry Program

AIP: Course of Study

Master’s Coursework

Advanced Inquiry Program master’s students complete two types of graduate courses for their Miami University degree: Web+ Courses and Core Courses. All courses are taught online by Miami University instructors. Course topics include wildlife conservation, sustainability, urban ecology, pollinator biology, environmental education, zoology, botany, and more (see details below).

See our FAQ: Will it take a long time to complete my graduate degree?

Web+ Courses

AIP W+ Courses combine online course instruction from Miami University with the excitement of internships, field study, and experiential learning in person at one of nine AIP Master Institutions in Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Jacksonville, New York, San Diego, Seattle, and St. Louis.

Students in W+ Courses are uniquely supported both online by Miami University instructors and on-site by AIP Master Institution facilitators. Miami University instructors interact with students online and oversee university requirements and grading. AIP Master Institution facilitators work with students face-to-face at AIP Master Institutions to guide place-based experiential learning and community engagement. AIP Master Institutions, by providing invaluable community connections, expertise, and environmental leadership, are at the heart of the AIP.

Core Courses

The AIP Core Courses are entirely online and promote learning interactions nationwide while providing a common foundation for all students across the master’s degree program. The AIP Core Courses also support graduation requirements, including leadership challenges and writing for a professional audience.

All AIP courses are delivered online by a Miami University instructor, and two-thirds of AIP courses are Web+ courses, which also include up to five days (or equivalent) per course of experiential learning on grounds of a Master Institution.

AIP students in both the W+ Courses and Core Courses submit assignments through the Dragonfly Collaborative Web Platform. Developed at Miami University with support from the National Science Foundation, the Dragonfly Collaborative Web Platform fosters learning communities through collaborative inquiry and action.

Course of Study

The table below shows a typical course of study for an AIP student seeking to complete their Master’s in Biology in 2.5 years. Miami University’s Graduate School allows up to 5 years for degree completion. Details may vary based on a student’s specific timeline at different AIP Master Institutions.*

*Note that the Course of Study is under curricular review, and the number of credit hours of some Core Courses will change beginning Fall 2020. The time it takes to complete the Course of Study will remain the same; the degree can still be completed part-time in 2.5 to 5 years.

Year 1

SemesterAIP Courses# of Credits
Summer/Fall/Spring:W+ Courses (3, approximately)*
Course topics adapted to fit the mission of the AIP Master Institution and the community.
7 credits
Fall:Core Course
Conservation Science & Community
3 credits
Spring:Core Courses
Biology in the Age of Technology

3 credits
Total Credits Year 213 credits

Year 2

SemesterAIP Courses# of Credits
Summer/Fall/Spring:W+ Courses (3, approximately)*
Course topics adapted to fit the mission of the AIP Master Institution and the community.
7 credits
Fall:Core Course
Issues in Evolution (BIO 634)

3 credits
Spring:Core Courses
Science Leadership & Media Workshop (BIO 636)

3 credits
Total Credits Year 213 credits

Year 3

SemesterAIP Courses# of Credits
Summer/Fall:W+ Courses (3, approximately)*
Course topics adapted to fit the mission of the AIP Master Institution and the community.
7 credits
Fall:Core Course
Master’s Capstone (for MA candidates) or Master’s Capstone – MAT (for MAT candidates)

2 credits
Fall:GRADUATION
 
Total Credits Year 39 credits

Completing Your Master’s Degree

You will need to earn 35 credit hours total: 21 hours of AIP W+ courses and 14 hours of AIP Core Courses including the Master’s Capstone. MAT students develop a teaching portfolio adaptable for National Board Certification. MA students develop a work portfolio suitable for their professional environment.

Miami University’s Project Dragonfly is an official AZA Learning Partner. Some Earth Expeditions and AIP master’s courses count toward the AZA Professional Development Certificate Program. For more information, see Project Dragonfly – an AZA Learning Partner.

AIP Core Courses

BIO 631 Conservation Science & Community
3 credits – Fall Semester only

This course explores the theory and practice of conservation science, including discussion of threats to biodiversity as well as methods to collaboratively address social-ecological problems. Vital to this course is a project in which students work directly with their local community to better understand and address real ecological problems.

BIO 632 Biology in the Age of Technology (BAT)
3 credits – Spring Semester only

This course explores the beneficial and negative impacts of technology for conservation biology and environmental action. Topics include wildlife mapping via GPS and GIS, use of drones, satellite imagery, radio-collars, citizen/community science, social media, impacts of media on children including Nature Deficit Disorder. Through projects, students research a biological problem of interest and design a participatory media product to engage community members in that topic.

BIO 634 Issues in Evolution
3 credits – Fall Semester only

An understanding of evolution is critical for those seeking to better protect life on earth. In this course, students learn and discuss foundational evolutionary concepts as well as emerging topics. Students design a project that presents information on an evolutionary topic of choice in the form of a lesson plan, infographic or review paper.

BIO 636 Science Leadership & Media Workshop
3 credits – Spring Semester only

This course focuses on science writing for many purposes, including peer-reviewed literature, grants, and general community outreach. Students provide critical peer review of others’ work and are challenged to explore a leadership dimension within their professional careers.

BIO 637 Master’s Capstone
2 credits – Fall and Spring Semesters

The cornerstone exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Biology as part of the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree from Miami University. Students reflect on the projects and artifacts they have created throughout their master’s experience and how those projects have helped lead them to a deeper understanding of the master’s program core tenets of local, regional and global understanding; inquiry; environmental stewardship; and community participation/voice.

BIO 639 Master’s Capstone: MAT
2 credits – Fall and Spring Semesters

A required exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in the Biological Sciences as part of the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) master’s degree from Miami University. Students review, analyze, and synthesize their own work throughout the degree and create a master’s portfolio. They share their portfolio with peers and discuss their academic and personal progress through their master’s experience. Student portfolios must demonstrate relevance to learning and teaching in formal education settings in addition to the master’s program core tenets.

For summarized information on the topics, themes, and assignments in these courses, please also view the Overview and Details of Foundational Web-based Coursework.

AIP Web+ Courses (Partial List)

Not all courses below are offered through every Master Institution. Check with Miami’s Project Dragonfly and the local Master Institution for details.

BIO 654 Foundations of Inquiry
3 credits

This course engages students in exploring the scientific method and inquiry-based learning and teaching. Through devising investigations to answer questions and communicating results, participants experience the full process of inquiry and learn how to guide this process with their own students and in their own communities.

BIO 662 Animal Behavior and Conservation
3 credits

This course provides a foundation for understanding ethological research methods that can be applied to promote animal welfare and wildlife conservation. The course involves a community -based research project and direct observation of diverse animal species in a variety of settings such as zoos, botanical gardens, parks, and more.

BIO 694 Habitats, Adaptations and Evolution
3 credits

This course explores the biology and conservation of species and habitats. Students implement a research project and investigate how local environmental conditions shape species’ adaptations.

BIO 696 Primate Behavior & Conservation
3 credits

This course investigates primate behavior, research methods, and conservation. Through direct observations of prosimians, monkeys, and apes in zoological settings, students gain a comprehensive view of topics ranging from social structure to communication.

BIO 656 Environmental Stewardship in My Community
3 credits

Students in this course investigate environmental stewardship, research science, and conservation opportunities and solutions in their local communities, practice inquiry-based learning, develop a conservation project to be used in their classroom or community, and reflect on ecological and carbon footprints.

BIO 638 Climate Change
3 credits

In this course, participants study the science of climate change, the diverse causes of climate change, and the impact of climate change at local, regional, and global scales. Topics include global warming’s effect on weather and climate, ice caps, deforestation, and species conservation.

BIO 659 Great Lakes Ecosystems
3 credits

The focus of this course is the study of the biology of the Great Lakes watershed, combining classroom work with field science inquiry and research. In addition to exploring the general function of watersheds, students become familiar with historical and contemporary human influences on ecosystems within the watershed basin, and they discuss and understand negative human impacts including point and non-point source pollution, multiple-stressors, “urban stream syndrome,” and local sewage treatment and its relationship to the basin.

BIO 657 Regional Ecology
3 credits

Through both zoo-based and field-based experiences, this course explores regional wildlife conservation issues, as well as field investigation techniques that scientists and citizens can use to study and conserve local ecoregions and wildlife.

BIO 658 Ecophysiology
3 credits

Students in this course will explore the ways in which humans can (and do) emulate systems and designs found in nature to create materials, medicines, social systems, computers and so much more. Students will fine tune their observation skills and complete a design challenge using nature as their guide.

BIO 627 Global Biomes
3 credits

A bioclimatic zone, or biome, is a region broadly defined by the relationship between and among an area’s temperature patterns, annual precipitation and living organisms. This course will introduce the biomes of the world through explorations of the characteristic vegetation and wildlife of biomes represented at this Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) Master Institution (MI) and current conservation issues relevant to each.

BIO 667 Conservation Research at Living Collection Institutions
3 credits

This course provides students with an overview of conservation research conducted in zoological, reserve, aquaria and other ex situ settings. Students will explore key science concepts within the contexts of wildlife conservation, the imperative of in-situ conservation, the multi-disciplinary nature of science, and hands-on conservation research.

BIO 663 Project Design & Assessment
3 credits

This course addresses one of the most important scientific endeavors: evaluation to indicate whether their own work or the work of others is showing a trend and, thus, having an impact. The course is focused on two main sets of evaluation, natural science and social science studies. The course will review statistical thinking and discuss how to construct successful studies that will open students to accurate and effective evaluation.

BIO 623 Human Dimensions of Conservation
3 credits

Conserving wildlife is a complex endeavor that requires the integration of sound science from both the social and natural sciences. This course explores how social sciences can inform conservation. Students consider how current conservation issues can be addressed through an understanding of human thought and action.