College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2020-2021

Department of Biological Sciences

Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Bachelor of Science

This degree is for students who are fascinated by questions of how life has evolved and how organisms function in the nature. Students will have the opportunity to apply knowledge of ecology and evolution to environmental and societal problems and to experience fieldwork among the diverse habitats of the Colorado Plateau. Opportunities to specialize include any of the diverse areas of expertise of our faculty from wildlife to plants to microbes and from evolutionary genetics to population ecology to ecosystem ecology.

This degree is offered by the Department of Biological Sciences, ensuring a well-rounded foundation in the understanding life of earth. In the course of this major, students will identify, describe, and apply the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in ecology and evolution. Students will master the theory of evolution; examine the genetic and environmental bases of variation in organisms; and describe how populations are regulated, species interact in communities, and the major nutrients cycle in natural ecosystems. These objectives are supported by a comprehensive set of courses addressing ecology, evolution, and genetics in the sophomore year and by research investments in faculty and facilities made by NAU. 

In their upper division coursework, students will apply this knowledge to scientific and societal problems by using quantitative reasoning, synthesizing, and effectively communicating theory and empirical findings in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students will connect this body of knowledge to specific organisms and how they function in nature though examining a group of organisms in depth and conducting field studies on the Colorado Plateau. Students will be poised to contribute to managing the increasing environmental impact of humans on the Colorado Plateau and beyond. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology degree will assist students in preparing for research and internship experiences to help make them competitive for positions in graduate and professional schools and for jobs in natural resources, public, non-profit, and educational sectors. 

Careers

What Can I Do with a Bachelor of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Science?

This major is a great foundation for many careers across diverse fields where expertise is required in genetics, evolution, natural history, ecology, organismal biology, natural history, agriculture, or environmental impacts and their mitigation. Career options with the BS degree include technicians in everything from molecular genetics laboratories to field survey for universities, non-profits, consulting firms, and government agencies. Positions in informal science education and interpretation are also available at a range of institutions from zoos to arboreta to parks. Environmental compliance professionals are in demand for environmental consulting firms and agencies.
 
Many students in this major will also go on to complete master’s degrees which open a range of higher-level job classifications with the further development of technical skills. This pathway is particularly applicable for skilled technical positions at agencies and consulting firms. An EEB degree at NAU also provides a strong background for continuing to professional school in veterinary, law, and public health arenas or to PhD programs in ecology, evolution, and related fields. With a PhD students may continue to become researchers, faculty, and science or natural history managers.    
 

Career opportunities that might be pursued:
  • Field/laboratory technician
  • Natural Resource Agencies
  • Environmental compliance professional
  • Environmental consulting
  • Zoos, Arboreta, Botanical Gardens, Natural History Museum
  • Informal Conservation and Science Education
  • Non-profit environmental/conservation organizations

With further education, one of these paths is possible:
  • Higher-level and supervisory agency positions
  • Researcher
  • College and University Faculty
  • K-12 Teacher
  • Proposal writer
  • Environmental Consulting
  • Environmental compliance


University Requirements

  • To receive a bachelor's degree at Northern Arizona University, you must complete at least 120 units of credit that minimally includes a major, the liberal studies requirements, and university requirements as listed below.

    • All of Northern Arizona University's liberal studies, diversity, junior-level writing, and capstone requirements.
    • All requirements for your specific academic plan(s).
    • At least 30 units of upper-division courses, which may include transfer work.
    • At least 30 units of coursework taken through Northern Arizona University, of which at least 18 must be upper-division courses (300-level or above). This requirement is not met by credit-by-exam, retro-credits, transfer coursework, etc.
    • A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.0 on all work attempted at Northern Arizona University.
    The full policy can be viewed here.

     

Overview

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

  • At least 69 units of major requirements

  • Up to 9 units of major prefix courses may be used to satisfy Liberal Studies requirements; these same courses may also be used to satisfy major requirements

Please note that you may be able to use some courses to meet more than one requirement. Contact your advisor for details.

  • Elective courses, if needed, to reach an overall total of at least 120 units

Minimum Units for Completion 120
Major GPA C
Highest Mathematics Required MAT 125
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Optional
Research Optional
University Honors Program Optional
Some online/blended coursework Required
Progression Plan Link View Progression Plan

Purpose Statement

This degree is for students who are fascinated by questions of how life has evolved and how organisms function in the nature. Students will have the opportunity to apply knowledge of ecology and evolution to environmental and societal problems and to experience fieldwork among the diverse habitats of the Colorado Plateau. Opportunities to specialize include any of the diverse areas of expertise of our faculty from wildlife to plants to microbes and from evolutionary genetics to population ecology to ecosystem ecology.

This degree is offered by the Department of Biological Sciences, ensuring a well-rounded foundation in the understanding life of earth. In the course of this major, students will identify, describe, and apply the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in ecology and evolution. Students will master the theory of evolution; examine the genetic and environmental bases of variation in organisms; and describe how populations are regulated, species interact in communities, and the major nutrients cycle in natural ecosystems. These objectives are supported by a comprehensive set of courses addressing ecology, evolution, and genetics in the sophomore year and by research investments in faculty and facilities made by NAU.

In their upper division coursework, students will apply this knowledge to scientific and societal problems by using quantitative reasoning, synthesizing, and effectively communicating theory and empirical findings in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students will connect this body of knowledge to specific organisms and how they function in nature though examining a group of organisms in depth and conducting field studies on the Colorado Plateau. Students will be poised to contribute to managing the increasing environmental impact of humans on the Colorado Plateau and beyond. The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology degree will assist students in preparing for research and internship experiences to help make them competitive for positions in graduate and professional schools and for jobs in natural resources, public, non-profit, and educational sectors.

This major is a great foundation for many careers across diverse fields where expertise is required in genetics, evolution, natural history, ecology, organismal biology, natural history, agriculture, or environmental impacts and their mitigation. Career options with the BS degree include technicians in everything from molecular genetics laboratories to field survey for universities, non-profits, consulting firms, and government agencies. Positions in informal science education and interpretation are also available at a range of institutions from zoos to arboreta to parks. Environmental compliance professionals are in demand for environmental consulting firms and agencies.

Many students in this major will also go on to complete master’s degrees which open a range of higher-level job classifications with the further development of technical skills. This pathway is particularly applicable for skilled technical positions at agencies and consulting firms. An EEB degree at NAU also provides a strong background for continuing to professional school in veterinary, law, and public health arenas or to PhD programs in ecology, evolution, and related fields.

Student Learning Outcomes

1. Identify, describe, and apply the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in ecology and evolution with a strong basis in the natural sciences including:

  • The basic molecular and cellular units of structure that define the function of all living things.
  • The limits and functions of biological systems as they operate through chemical transformations and are governed by the laws of thermodynamics.
  • Mastery of the theory of evolution; and how the diversity of life evolved and is evolving via population genetic mechanisms.
  • Examine the molecular genetic and environmental bases of variation and how the phenotype of an organism is controlled by its genotype and the environment.
  • Describe how populations are regulated, species interact in communities, and the major elements cycle in natural ecosystems.

2. Apply quantitative reasoning, mathematical, statistical and/or informatics tools in data analysis and interpretation.
  • Apply quantitative reasoning to chemistry, physics, population genetic and demographic models, and energy fluxes.
  • Interpret and apply basic statistical methods and graphical presentation of data.
  • Develop quantitative skills within the students’ area of interest, including mathematical modeling, statistics, computing and/or informatics, as appropriate.

3. Examine, synthesize, effectively communicate, and apply to other fields theory and empirical findings in ecology and evolutionary biology.
  • Interpret scientific data and papers in ecology and evolutionary biology, evaluate primary sources, the quality of information, and determine a source’s credibility.
  • Synthesize empirical findings related to ecology and evolutionary biology, and communicate the results of scientific research to a range of audiences from the public to managers to scientists.
  • Apply empirical findings in ecology and evolutionary biology to issues in conservation, climate change, natural resource management, forestry, agriculture, and/or human health (as determine by the interest of the student).

4.  Apply depth of ecological and evolutionary knowledge through application of concepts to a group (or groups) of organisms and how they function in nature, with an emphasis on the Colorado Plateau.

 

Details

Major Requirements
  • The Department of Biological Sciences does not allow dual majors withing the deparment. 

  • Additional coursework is required, if, after you have met the previously described requirements, you have not yet completed a total of 120 units of credit. 

    You may take these remaining courses from any academic areas, using these courses to pursue your specific interests and goals. We encourage you to consult with your advisor to select the courses that will be most advantageous to you. (Please note that you may also use prerequisites or transfer credits as electives if they weren't used to meet major, minor, or liberal studies requirements.)

  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
     

Campus Availability



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