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A closer look at 5 online degrees in conservation and natural sciences

Oregon State Ecampus programs can help you cultivate and protect our natural world

By Tyler Hansen

Knowing how to take care of the planet and the animals who live here is just one of our areas of expertise at Oregon State University. Another one is producing skilled professionals who can carry out that environmentally conscious work.

That’s where you come in.

To get there in your career, you can choose from a variety of Oregon State bachelor’s degree programs that align with your passion for conservation and natural sciences — and they’re all delivered online.

While these various programs have certain similarities, they’re defined by their unique features and areas of focus. In order to help you pinpoint which is the ideal program for you, we’re here to break down five that are geared toward animal biology and conservation as well as the earth and its natural resources.

It’s possible for each of these conservation and natural sciences bachelor’s programs to lead to the same job — like resource or habitat management, for instance — but the level of preparation for that job may vary.

Environmental sciences

The lowdown

Gain a rigorous education in basic sciences, applied sciences, quantitative analysis and policy as you train to become a scientist focused on addressing pressing environmental problems such as climate change, conservation and resource management.

Your student experience will involve predicting environmental change, participating in responsible management of the environment and examining the critical relationship between humans and their surroundings. You’ll also learn to supplement your scientific foundation with perspectives in environmental ethics, economics and policy.

They said it

“This is an exciting program that offers interdisciplinary training in the natural sciences and social sciences, and the knowledge you gain will prepare you to act as a bridge between those two worlds.” — Dawn Marie Gaid, Ecampus environmental sciences academic advisor

Learn more about environmental sciences »

Fisheries, wildlife, and conservation sciences

The lowdown

If you want to pursue a hands-on career working directly with animal populations around the world — including management and conservation of terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats — this program will help you move in that direction.

Gain practical skills in applied sciences that focus on conserving biodiversity, restoring ecological systems and maintaining sustainable use of animal populations. Best of all, you’ll work with an advisor to refine your career goals and create a 24-credit specialization that is tailored to your interests.

They said it

“As an Ecampus student, I wasn’t tied to my computer. I did birding field trips with a professional birder and on my own. The program provided the flexibility I wanted without sacrificing active and experiential learning.” — Jordan Levi, ’18, B.S. in Fisheries, Wildlife and Conservation Sciences

Learn more about fisheries, wildlife, and conservation sciences »

Natural resources

The lowdown

Our natural resources are finite, but the influences weighing on them — social, ecological, political and economic — seem endless. As an online student in this major, you’ll come to understand how these various factors impact resource use and environmental policy — all while working to balance the needs of each.

Learn how to draw on a broad skill set in natural and social sciences that you can apply to natural resource management, research, education, policymaking or law enforcement.

They said it

“Nobody in my department has such a broad education to account for things like fire management and soil science that I can draw from. The degree content makes me a more useful colleague in future research objectives.” — Eric Feltz, ’18, B.S. in Natural Resources

Learn more about natural resources »

Rangeland science

The lowdown

Nearly half of the world is classified as rangeland, and the need for sustainable land management on public and private lands is sizable. This program will equip you with the skills to help manage and conserve vast rangelands by understanding how human and natural ecosystems are linked. Take part in experiential learning in topics like sustainable ranching management, wildland restoration, technology innovations and ecohydrology.

They said it

“If someone wants to make a difference in regards to natural resources, the ecological health of our planet or environmental issues, it likely involves rangelands. Rangelands provide us a wealth of ecosystem services in really cool ways.” — Yvette Gibson, rangeland science instructor

Learn more about rangeland science »


The lowdown

If you’re passionate about animals and looking to apply a deep understanding of their biology to professional work in conservation, research, education, consulting or field work, this rigorous program could be just what you’re looking for. From abomasa to zygodactyly, it offers students scientific training across major areas of life sciences, including genetics, cell biology, ecology, evolution, physiology and conservation biology.

They said it

“The zoology bachelor’s online program will teach you all about the ecology, evolution and diversity of animals as well as how to apply important scientific principles to social and policy issues. Most importantly, the major will help you develop skills applicable to real-life situations in the workforce.” — Brock McLeod, coordinator of undergraduate success and engagement for OSU’s Department of Integrative Biology

Learn more about zoology »

You can compare these programs in even greater detail with our degree comparison tool, which enables you to explore how they vary in their math and science requirements, specialization options and more.

And you can gather more information about all of Oregon State’s online bachelor’s programs in conservation and natural sciences.

Learn more

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