Global Field Program

GFP: Course of Study

Master’s Coursework

This table shows a typical course of study for a master’s student in the Global Field Program seeking to complete the required 35 credit hours in 2.5 years. Through this part-time program, students can earn a Master’s in Biology from any location in the world while continuing to work. All spring and fall courses occur completely online and can be taken from any location with an internet connection. Earth Expeditions courses are hybrid courses, combining ~10 days in the field in the summer with additional coursework online.

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

Year 1

SemesterCourse# of Credits
Summer/Fall:Earth Expeditions Course I5 credits (summer) + 2 credits (fall)
FallConservation Science & Community (BIO 631)3 credits
Spring:Biology in the Age of Technology (BIO 632)3 credits
Total Credits Year 113 credits

Year 2

SemesterCourse# of Credits
Summer/Fall:Earth Expeditions Course II5 credits (summer) + 2 credits (fall)
Fall:Issues in Evolution (BIO 634)3 credits
Spring:Science Leadership & Media Workshop (BIO 636)3 credits
Total Credits Year 213 credits

Year 3

SemesterCourse# of Credits
Summer/Fall:Earth Expeditions Course III5 credits (summer) + 2 credits (fall)
Fall:Master’s Capstone (BIO 637 for MA candidates; BIO 639 for MAT candidates)2 credits
GRADUATION
Total Credits Year 39 credits

* Both the summer and fall semesters of each Earth Expeditions course must be taken together

Course Types


Students take two types of courses: hybrid field courses that are online with summer travel to international wildlife conservation hot spots (Earth Expeditions field courses) and core online courses that occur in the fall and spring terms. Course topics include wildlife conservation, sustainability, urban ecology, pollinator biology, environmental education, zoology, botany, and more (see details below).

Completing Your Master’s Degree

You will need to earn 35 credit hours total: 21 hours of Earth Expeditions field courses and 14 hours of Core Online 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.

Earth Expeditions Field Courses

These courses–the heart of the GFP–are offered every summer through fall.  For current field courses see Earth Expeditions.  All new GFP students begin the program by taking a GFP foundational field course (in Brazil, Belize or Baja, Mexico) designed to provide a solid introduction to the GFP master’s degree, support the development of Master Plans, and build interactions among master’s candidates in a GFP cohort. (Note: up to 7 credits of a past Earth Expeditions course can be transferred towards the GFP master’s degree.)

First-year field courses:

Core Online Courses

Core online courses occur within the Dragonfly Workshops Web platform and cover a range of topics, such as conservation science, social change, and action research. These courses include:

BIO 631  Conservation Science and Community
3 credits • Fall semester only (online)

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 (online)

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 (online)

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 (online)

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 (online)

The cornerstone exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Biology as part of the Global Field Program (GFP) 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 (online)

A required exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in the Biological Sciences as part of the Global Field Program (GFP) 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.