10 min

Ecology: where to study

Ecology is the branch of biology which studies interactions between animals, plants, and the living and non-living environments.

It also addresses related issues such as environmental preservation, animal and plant biodiversity, genetic variety, agriculture, water purification, and climate change.

Within this field, there are plenty of specializations, including aquatic ecology, biodiversity, taxonomy, and conservation biology. Ecologists involved in research and preparing reports on environmental situations work in public, private, or non-profit organizations. Nowadays environmental and ecological issues are on the global agenda, therefore, more "green jobs" are available. Researcher, consultant, biologist, zoologist, conservation officer, and many others are among the possible career directions.

Ecology is mostly a descriptive and experimental science that employs methods from various fields like arithmetic, statistics, physiology, and geology. Usually, students learn through lectures, fieldwork, and lab research. A lot of attention is paid to dealing with real-world management challenges, notably in the field of conservation and assessing the human effect on the environment.

А lot of universities offer programs with the environment- or climate-focused academic disciplines such as Climate studies, Environmental management, Environmental sciences, and many others that include ecological perspectives. Many schools have master’s programs in a certain field of natural science (Groundwater Hydrology, Forestry, Marine Biology, and many others) with some sort of ecological component in them. Recently, universities have started introducing programs that take an interdisciplinary approach combining ecology and engineering (Environmental and Ecological Engineering), ecology and social science (for example, Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion; Politics of Population, Migration, and Ecology), or ecology and art/design (Design and Urban Ecology).

Many top universities around the world host researchers investigating environmental issues. They offer great opportunities for graduates to advance their knowledge in this field, yet they don’t have master’s programs focused on ecology, but rather include environmental issues within other majors. Among such schools are, for example, the University of California–Berkeley’s Department of Environmental science, Policy, and Management that has ranked #1 in Environmental Sciences by the QS World University Rankings by Subject four years in a row, or The Harvard University Center for the Environment ranked by U.S. News Ranking on the first place for Environment/Ecology.

For this list, we’ve picked Master’s programs for Ecology around the world.

MS in Ecology

Peking University, China

The MS degree program in Ecology at Peking University (=16th at THE Global Ranking) is offered by the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences as one of eight Master’s degree programs. The program focuses on regional and global vegetation and its relation to global climate change, carbon and water cycle, biodiversity, and ecosystem functions.

MA in Biology with Specialization in Ecology and Evolution

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, Switzerland

The Master’s degree program in Biology at ETH Zurich (15th at THE Global Ranking) with specialization in Ecology and Evolution aims to convey the biological concepts and practical skills necessary for working in the ecology sphere, with an emphasis on experimental research. Within the program, students complete two research projects and a Master’s thesis.  

MRes in Ecology and Environmental Biology

University of Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The Master of Research (MRes) program in Ecology and Environmental Biology gives specialized research training for those who prepare for a Ph.D. program or a career in ecological science. The program comprises a taught component and working in a laboratory or on a field-based research project.

MA in Biological Sciences: Ecology and Evolution

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Master's program Biological Sciences, Ecology and Evolution track, aims to give students an understanding of the relationships between living organisms, the evolution of species, and the function of ecosystems. This program builds on the internationally renowned research of the Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED).

MSc in the Evolution Ecology and Systematics (EESlmu)

Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) Munich, Germany

EESLMU offers many innovative elements, such as a mentoring program, integrated skills courses, and individual research training. This program includes modern field experiments, the use of natural history collections, mathematical modeling, data management, and modern genetic/genomic methods. 

MSc Biology (Ecology and Evolutionary)

Yale University

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology graduate program, designed for those who plan to proceed with Ph.D., includes an integrated training program with coursework, teaching, and research components. It aims to help students develop their understanding of study systems and scientific approaches.

MA in Biology with specialization in Biodiversity, Evolution, and Ecology

University of Bergen

The Master’s program with this specialization introduces students to ecology, evolution, or systematic research. Through choosing their own subjects and working independently, students acquire scientific competence. 

MSc Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Imperial College London, UK

The Master’s program in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation provides broad research training in these fields focusing on fundamental concepts and theory, and their application to conservation and biodiversity science. Based at Silwood Park Campus, an internationally renowned center of excellence for ecological research, this graduate course covers a range of topics, each taught by a leading researcher in that field. 

MA in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology

Columbia University, USA

The Master’s program in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology offers academic excellence in these fields. Evolution, systematics, genetics, behavioral ecology, public health, business, economics, political science, anthropology, and public and international policy are just a few of the natural and social scientific disciplines that are closely connected to biodiversity protection.

MS in Ecology

Cornell University, USA

The Master’s program in Ecology is designed to give students wide exposure to ideas and research techniques in ecology and evolution (mainly through seminars and formal course work), as well as in-depth study in one or more subdisciplines (usually led by the student's Special Committee).

MSc in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

University of Toronto, Canada

The Master’s program in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology offers a variety of views on biological systems. Anatomy/physiology, behavior, behavior genetics, bioinformatics, conservation biology, developmental biology, genetics/genomics, microbiology, molecular evolution, plant biology, taxonomy/systematics, theoretical biology, and many more topics are among the study options.

MA in Biology - Ecology and Conservation

University of Uppsala, Sweden

Master’s program in Biology with specialization on Ecology and Conservation provides courses related to plants, animals, microorganisms, and their interactions. It also provides practical training that is intended to expedite future work within the field of nature conservation with companies, authorities, or organizations.