About the Program

The foundation of any terrestrial ecosystem is the plants and soil that other organisms depend upon for food, shelter, and air to breathe. The biological world is currently confronted with rapid changes due to global climate change, increases in invasive species and diseases, and habitat fragmentation and these will all have significant impacts on the health, survival, diversity, and distribution of the biota as we know it. The Graduate Program in Plant Biology and Conservation was developed to train students to address these issues. 

The Program was launched in 2005 offering a thesis-based MS degree, and in 2009 was expanded to include a PhD program. A plant biology concentration is also available to undergraduate biology majors. A BA/MS degree option (2012) and MS internship program (2014) were also added. In all of the programs, students earn their degree from Northwestern University and work closely with faculty at both institutions. 

Graduates have a strong theoretical and methodological foundation within the fields of ecology, conservation, and evolutionary biology, together with the in-depth knowledge required to be able to identify and articulate the frontiers of scholarship and applied science within their area of specialization. As global environmental issues are complex and necessitate interdisciplinary expertise, the curriculum emphasizes a complex systems approach with the integration of multiple disciplines, and a breadth of approaches to basic and applied research as well as on local, national, and global issues. Students also have opportunities for civic engagement.