SMSC Academic Programs

Another Option to Study Science in the Field

A heron on a pier near the Potomac Science Center

Mason's Potomac Science Center, along Belmont Bay near the mouth of the Occoquan River, ​focuses on environmental science research along the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

Talk About A Classroom With a View ...

Lectures are an important part of learning, but you want more. Experiential learning, research, and field work partner with classroom studies to give you real-world experience while earningacademic or continuing educationcredit at the (SMSC).

Classes are limited to a maximum of 20 students, so you'll be part of a tight-knit team, working withconservationists, researchers, and educators conducting lab and fieldresearch. You'll feel as if you'rea working scientist— ​because you will be.

Andyou'll live in the mountains alongside. They don't call it the great outdoors for nothing.

Smithsonian Ƶ students walk through the mountains on the grounds of the Smithsonian Biology Conservation Institute
Even if you aren't a Mason Patriot, you can still study at SMSC. Once you're admitted to the program, apply to Mason as a non-degree student (the application fee will be waived). Soon, you, too, could be walking through the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute grounds.


First-year students can apply to the , which offers:

  • ​A merit scholarship to attend the program.
  • A tour of SMSC and SCBI.
  • Priority registration to aone-week summer field course.
  • Access to seminars by internationally known researchers and scientists.

Sophomores, juniors, and seniorshave a choice of three semester-long programs:

  • (16 credits)exploreshowscience, management and policyaffectconservation.
  • (16 credits)usescutting-edge field techniques to survey species in the wild,and to spot and recordlocal, national, and globalecological patterns.
  • (16 credits)findsand measure howshrinkingpopulationsare vulnerable, anddevelopsstrategies to halt their path toextinction.

SMSCoffers to students who meet certain qualifications.

Post-Graduate and Professional Studies

study with researchers and practitioners working in the field around the world. SMSC’s advanced and highly specialized courses are offered as intensive one or two-week sessions. They’re crafted and scheduled based on:

  • New and existing threats to biodiversity.
  • New and existing conservation opportunities.
  • Workforce and employer needs and requirements.
  • Requests from students.

Students' coursework can be applied to Mason’s in the Conservation Science and Policy MS or to programs at a student’s home university. Professionals will earncontinuing education units (CEUs).

In-depth study of a specialized area of biodiversity could include such topics as:

  • Animal surveys.
  • Genetics.
  • Climate modeling.
  • Species monitoring.