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Program offered in collaboration with SCSU and local partners: WCSU offers master’s degree in Integrative Biological Diversity

DANBURY, CONN. — Western Connecticut State University has entered into a collaborative initiative through the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system to offer a new Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity degree.

Coordinated by Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Theodora Pinou, the program establishes a partnership between WCSU and Southern Connecticut State University to provide a 30-credit master’s degree curriculum with courses taught on both campuses. Faculty from the WCSU Biological and Environmental Sciences Department and the SCSU Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences Department participate as course instructors and research mentors. Future plans call for participation by faculty at Eastern Connecticut and Central Connecticut state universities.

The program mission statement sets the goal of bringing together graduate courses and faculty expertise across the CSCU system. Program objectives include the education of students in the use of molecular research methods to assess diversity among organisms and environmental health, and in the use of GIS, GPS and other technological tools to examine, quantify and describe biodiversity. “The Master of Science in Integrative Biological Diversity requires that all students engage in biodiversity monitoring as a component of stewardship, and learn to communicate the importance of diversity to human health and the conservation of resources,” the mission statement said.

An important aspect of the program is the opportunity for M.S. candidates to collaborate with a wide range of corporations, educational institutions, conservation and wildlife organizations and other partners where students can apply their skills and knowledge to real-world experiences in the exploration and monitoring of biodiversity. Among these partners are the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the Housatonic River Valley Association, the Candlewood Lake Authority, the Norwalk Aquarium, the Atlantic Marine Conservation Society, Connecticut Audubon, FirstLight Power Resources, the Cape Eleuthra Institute, and the Great Hollow Nature Preserve and Ecological Research Center. The program also maintains international collaborative relationships with the University of Guadalajara CUCBA and the University of Athens.

“This program will train the student’s eye to become more sensitive to the natural variations of the biological world,” Pinou remarked. “Biodiversity is important because most technological advances stem from solutions found in the natural world.”

The program mission statement observed that the curriculum, enriched by extensive collaborative research opportunities, will prepare students “for careers in ecosystem management and reclamation, policy and environmental consulting, sustainable business, education and non-government organizations.” The program is also appropriate for secondary education teachers interested in obtaining an advanced degree focusing on the ecological, physiological and natural history of biological organisms.

“For teachers in secondary education, it will help them to inspire their students,” Pinou said. “For biology majors who have focused mostly on the cellular and molecular level during their undergraduate studies, this program will teach them to see how these units, when they come together, can result in adaptability.”

Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and a GPA average of 3.0 or higher during undergraduate studies. Students currently enrolled in a graduate program in biological, environmental or related fields, as well as social science majors with background in biology or natural sciences, also are encouraged to apply. Detailed information about the M.S. in Integrative Biological Diversity may be obtained from the online WCSU 2018-19 graduate catalog at

For more information, contact the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.



Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.