Master of Arts (M.A.) in Biology
For a Wide Range of Professionals
All students in the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) and the Global Field Program (GFP) choose to earn either the M.A.T. in the Biological Sciences (a nonlicensure degree for teachers) or the M.A. in Biology. The M.A. in Biology is designed for anyone with a Bachelor’s degree with a professional or life interest in ecological and social change, professional leadership, global understanding, conservation, community engagement, and related fields.
Like the M.A.T., the M.A. is offered part-time, enabling working professionals to continue working while earning their master’s degree. M.A. students can complete their degree while residing anywhere in the U.S. (for the GFP) or residing near an AIP Institution (for the AIP). Professionals working abroad are also encouraged to apply, with enrollment contingent on the admission policies of Miami University’s Graduate School for international students. The Master of Arts in Biology is a fully accredited graduate degree from Miami University.
Purpose: Whether enrolled in the more locally focused AIP or the more globally focused GFP, the M.A. in Biology provides a wide range of working professionals with the knowledge, skills, professional networks, and inspiration to open new frontiers of community-engaged learning and shared action for a better planet. To expand learning beyond the classroom, M.A. students take courses alongside diverse leaders across nonprofit, business, education, informal science, government, and other sectors. This cross-cutting feature of Project Dragonfly’s graduate programs enables students to share ideas and co-create change as they develop invaluable learning partnerships and create exciting new approaches to inquiry-driven learning and shared action across diverse communities.
Details: The M.A. requires 35 credit hours that can be completed in two-and-a-half years while working full-time. M.A. students typically take three to six credit hours per semester in the summer, fall, and spring terms. The degree does not require a master’s thesis. Instead, all M.A. students, with faculty and professional guidance, develop an individualized Master Plan to advance their personal, academic, and professional goals. M.A. students also complete a professional Portfolio that showcases their individualized degree and achievements. The M.A. degree itself additionally benefits many professionals through promotions and salary increases from their workplace.
Whether developing a public campaign to restore a threatened habitat, greening your workplace, forming a partnership with one of Project Dragonfly’s global conservation partners, drafting a national campaign strategy for a non-profit organization, M.A. students lead collaborative change and blaze new paths to a better future. All M.A. students complete an authorship challenge as part of their degree, with many publishing research in professional journals and presenting at professional conferences.
We asked our alumni what they share most about the program. Here is what they said...
The thing I share most about my time with Project Dragonfly is seeing sea turtle conservation in Costa Rica.
Salena Ausonio of San Diego, California, is a support teacher and an AIP graduate affiliated with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
The thing I share most about my time with Project Dragonfly is the trips taken and connections made during these trips.
Édouard Beardsley of Charlottesville, Virginia, is a sustainability engineer and GFP graduate.
At times I was ... pushed out of my comfort zone in talking to leaders in my community. Looking back I'm really thankful. I gained so many valuable connections and skills...
Alexi Guddal of Lynden, Washington, is an education and outreach specialist and AIP graduate affiliated with Woodland Park Zoo.
I'm just pleased to have gotten my master's at such a reasonable price.
Jessica Jedvaj of San Diego, California, is a realtor, an AIP facilitator and AIP graduate affiliated with San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.
I talk a lot with young professionals about what a positive experience this was for me ... it helped me to grow in ways that I never would have imagined. The opportunity to participate in Earth Expeditions is what attracted me to the program, but the coursework and studies have helped me immensely in my ability to lead a conservation organization.
Rob Schultz of Fridley, Minnesota, is the vice president of a conservation organization and a GFP graduate.
It opened my life up to inquiry and gave me access to a career I love that I never would have felt comfortable entering because I thought I had to "know everything". It's not about the answers, it's about the questions is what I say I'd share most often ... the connections of AIP were directly what lead to my current position of employment...
Jenny Hanson of North Aurora, Illinois, is a naturalist and an AIP graduate affiliated with Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.
I speak most about the opportunity to learn from conservationists from around the world. ... By far, the team of staff and faculty at Project Dragonfly are among the most passionate and genuinely supportive I have met in academia...
Randy Evans of Oxford, Ohio, is the executive director of a conservation organization and a GFP graduate.
I learned that scientists have known since the '80s about animal agriculture's impact on the Amazon from the textbook assigned for first trip to Costa Rica. And understanding how to write and analyze peer-reviewed content is a skill that I will benefit from indefinitely!
Anna Pepper of Orlando, Florida, is an engineering associate and a GFP graduate.
The thing I share most about my time with Project Dragonfly is the trips- Baja, Borneo, and Galapagos. The people I went with, people I met, and wildlife experiences I had.
Lauren Asquith of Mason, Ohio, is a stay-at-home mom and a GFP graduate.
I think it was formative for me ... gave me a better perspective on global conservation problems. I think as this world begins to grapple with the effects of climate change on a global scale, these types of experiences will become even more imperative so we have our minds open to community solutions that work around the world.
Drew Heyward of Charleston, South Carolina, is a senior visitor engagement manager and GFP graduate.
The thing I share most about my time with Project Dragonfly is being able to pursue my passions and turn it into something that impacts my community.
Leanne Sarkisian of Hebron, Kentucky, is a zoo director and an AIP graduate affiliated with Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The amazing connections with fellow students I gained through Earth Expeditions have allowed me to meet some of the most inspiring, incredible people I've ever imagined.
Michelle Hanenburg of Seward, Alaska, is a curator of mammals and GFP graduate.
Project Dragonfly offered me a passport to the world. The once in a lifetime experiences were beyond extraordinary. ... My passion to become an ambassador and steward of the ocean blossomed with every opportunity Project Dragonfly provided.
Marsha Sisney of Chicago, Illinois, is a treasurer and an AIP graduate affiliated with Brookfield Zoo in Chicago.
I was a busy career and family focused woman that rarely spent time doing something solely for myself. Project Dragonfly gave me the opportunity to be selfish - to learn and grow and expand on the topics that I chose to investigate but for the most unselfish of reasons including my community's well being, the local environment, and the creatures in my backyard. I got to do something for me that made a positive impact on the world around me.
Alisha Singleton of Cincinnati, Ohio, is a project manager and instructor and an AIP graduate affiliated with Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.
I think the most valuable take away that I share with my students is the idea that they should be lifelong learners. That they should constantly be curious about the world and their surroundings and do their own inquiry every day. I certainly share my experiences and different phenomena, but the overlying message is one of curiosity and wonder.
Haley Metcalf of Salem, Illinois, is a classroom teacher and GFP graduate.
2015 GFP graduate
Other Degree Options
M.A.T. in Biology. The M.A. is the preferred choice for most professionals. Classroom teachers who already have a teaching license should instead consider the M.A.T. in the Biological Sciences More information on Project Dragonfly’s M.A. in Biology can be found here.
M.S. degree. While Project Dragonfly does not offer an M.S. degree, we recommend that students interested in a research-intensive career explore M.S. programs, at Miami University or elsewhere. M.S. programs in Biology are typically offered as full-time degrees that require the completion of master’s thesis.
Ph.D. degree. Some Dragonfly M.A. and M.A.T. graduates decide to pursue a Ph.D. While Project Dragonfly does not currently offer a Ph.D., Dragonfly graduates have successfully enrolled in Ph.D. programs, including at Kansas State University, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa), University of Washington, Texas Tech, University of Rhode Island, and others. These students have cited their Dragonfly graduate work as critical in preparing them for a doctoral program, preparing them to work across diverse social and ecological settings, co-develop community relevant issues, and lead social and ecological change, all skills relevant to many Ph.D. programs (as well as to many professions). Keep in mind, however, that Ph.D. programs in the sciences, particularly those without interdisciplinary tracts, may prefer or require a research-intensive M.S. degree and completion of a master’s thesis.
Funding your Degree
Please see our “Helping Fund Your Degree” page scholarships. In a recent survey of Dragonfly graduates, most students indicated that reduced tuition and the part-time basis of their coursework enabled them to self-finance their degree. Many students cited workplace and other reimbursement programs and scholarships as additional support.