Minor in Conservation Studies (CHSS)


The Minor in Conservation Studies is designed for undergraduate students who wish to augment their main academic program with conservation studies taught in an experiential manner.

All requirements for this minor can be fulfilled by successful completion (C or higher in all courses) of any one of the three, semester-long residential programs at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, VA.  Students choose between:

  • Conservation, Biodiversity and Society is offered both in the Spring and Fall and explores the ways that science, management and policy address current conservation issues in and out of the field.
  • Wildlife Ecology and Conservation is offered every Fall and helps students apply cutting-edge field techniques to survey species in the wild and investigate ecological patterns and processes from local to global scales.
  • Endangered Species Conservation is offered every Spring and enables students to evaluate vulnerabilities of small populations and develop successful conservation actions to save them from extinction.

The semesters are offered jointly by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the College of Science under the auspices of the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation and students are taught by GMU faculty, Smithsonian scientists and other practitioners.



The Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation: A Vision for Training the Next Generation from SMSC on Vimeo.


All students have opportunities to

  • conduct independent research
  • engage in globally-related activities through coursework and language study at Mason and abroad
  • participate in many forms of public service
  • prepare for their future careers through internships, career-focused minors and other college-to-career activities