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Course of Study

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).

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. Both M.A. and M.A.T. students develop a portfolio suitable for their professional environment.

Earth Expeditions Field Courses

Giraffe walking in front a group of students.Small houses in the waterThese 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. The course is designed to provide a solid introduction to the GFP master’s degree, to support the development of students' Master Plans, and to build interactions among GFP master’s students in an online cohort. (Note: up to seven credits of a past Earth Expeditions course can be transferred toward the GFP master’s degree.)

First-year field courses:

Core Online Courses

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

BIO 631 Conservation Science & Community

3 credits – Fall Semester every year; a single section is sometimes offered in the Spring Semester

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

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 every year; a single section is sometimes offered in the Spring Semester

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

The cornerstone exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Biology. 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: M.A.T.

2 credits – Fall and Spring Semesters 

A required exit course for students earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in the Biological Sciences. 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.

Courses and Estimated Costs (Year 1 Example)

The following table shows an estimate of costs for Year 1 in the GFP master’s degree program for students taking a five-credit hour Earth Expeditions summer field course and eight credit hours of online/Core courses (13 hours total, including the fall two-credit online portion of the Earth Expeditions course). From summer 2024 through spring 2027 the per-credit hour tuition for Earth Expeditions field courses and Core Courses will be $455.

Semester Course # of Credits Estimated Tuition Estimated Program Fee Total
Summer: Earth Expeditions Course I* (5 credits) 5 $2,275 $1,250 $3,525
Fall: Conservation Science & Community (BIO 631; 3 credits) + Inquiry & Action* (BIO 675; 2 credits) 5 $2,275 -- $2,275
Spring: Biology in the Age of Technology (BIO 632; 3 credits) 3 $1,365 -- $1365
Total Credits Year 1 13  $7,190 $1,250 $8,440
Total Credits for Degree and Estimated Degree Cost 35 $15,925 $3,750 $19,675

Prices are approved on a three-year cycle. The estimates above do not include airfare. Allow extra for miscellaneous costs associated with travel to your Earth Expeditions field course site.

* The summer Earth Expeditions and fall Inquiry & Action courses must be taken in sequence. GFP students take a total of three Earth Expeditions and three Inquiry & Action courses. 

Earth Expeditions Field Course Costs

Project Dragonfly class doing research in Belize

In addition to covering the price for 5 graduate credits of Miami University tuition, Earth Expeditions field course costs cover all basic expenses in-country, including:

  • Meals (incidental snacks and drinks not included)
  • Lodging
  • Field station fees
  • Field equipment (as needed)
  • Ground transportation (van, boat, train, etc., as needed)
  • Park entrance and guide fees

Course costs do not cover personal expenses, such as gifts, or some ancillary costs, such as passport fees, entry fees, required course readers, and any additional course texts. Certain courses also carry with them an additional cost for in-country travel and course support fees; where applicable, this is noted on the individual course webpage.

Miami University also requires all international workshop participants to purchase travel health insurance for about $40. (Successful applicants will receive more details in their Web-Based Learning Community course workshop.) In some classes an additional textbook is required. In some countries, you may have to pay entrance and departure taxes/fees at the airport.

Offsetting Graduate Program Costs

With the above substantially reduced fees as part of Miami University’s support for this program, the GFP is designed to be as affordable as possible for all participants. Applicants to the program should check with their employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs.

How have students funded their participation? What kinds of funding sources are available?

With reduced fees as part of Miami University’s support for this program, each master’s course is offered at a fraction of actual costs. But we know students sometimes need additional help! Check out our Helping Fund Your Degree and Dragonfly Scholarships page. Below are some quotes from Dragonfly students on how they funded their degree.

“Check to see if your employer offers tuition reimbursement. I was lucky in that my employer offered $3,500 per year for graduate school. That was more than enough to cover each year of the AIP program.”
– Amy T., AIP graduate from Goshen, Ohio

“I was able to pay as I went. I charged the tuition, which I found reasonable, and then worked hard to pay it off before the next semester. The cost is drastically reduced. I did not have a single loan. Also, I was able to write it off on my taxes.”
– Perky S., GFP graduate from Dover, Idaho

“Believe it or not, I have been ‘pay-as-I-go.’ ”
– Jennifer H., GFP student from Longwood, Fla.

Will I be able to apply for student loans while I am a Dragonfly master’s student? Can I defer my existing student loans?

To qualify for federal student loans and to defer federal student loans, a degree-seeking student must be enrolled half-time (at least five credit hours at the graduate level) in an academic term. Under the current Course of Study/credit hour configuration, this means that many, but not all, semesters’ registration and enrollment can be managed in order to hit this mark.

During terms in which master’s students are enrolled for 5 or more credit hours, they can apply for a federal student loan by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It is possible that they may be granted a federal loan in an amount that would cover most expenses for the 2.5- to 3-year program. Also, at any time during the master’s experience, any student may apply for loans from private financial institutions. More information can be found at Miami University One Stop for Student Success for Graduate Students.

All students who take out federal student loans qualify for only one six-month deferment for each particular loan. Students who have not previously used their one-time, six-month deferment are able to defer federal loans beginning in the term in which they are enrolled half-time. Students who have already used their six-month grace period would only be eligible for another six-month grace period on any new loans that have been borrowed.

Please see Project Dragonfly Financial Aid Information for additional details.


Project Dragonfly, along with key donor partners, offers several partial scholarships each year (ranging from $250-$1000) as individual awards to current graduate students in our Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) programs. These funds can be used to cover tuition and other course-related costs.


The GFP is developing a Global Conservation Fellowship Fund, which will initially target international participants from our global field sites.

Apply to the Global Field Program

Contact Project Dragonfly

111 Upham Hall
Oxford, Ohio
Est. 1994