Undergraduate Program

The Department of Environmental and Forest Biology (EFB) offers seven undergraduate majors. Environmental biology is the broadest major and the degree program to which most students apply. The other six majors are specialized and are recommended only for students with strongly focused educational goals. They are aquatic and fisheries science, biotechnology, conservation biology, environmental education and interpretation, forest health, and wildlife science. For the first year or two the requirements of these programs are similar to those of environmental biology and internal transfer among them is simple.

Pre-health Professions

Degrees in environmental biology or biotechnology prepare students for a variety of professional schools in health-related areas, including human and veterinary medicine. For complete information about this opportunity, go to:

Internships and Research Opportunities

A variety of internships are available, either in the summer or academic year. These are arranged in cooperation with the student’s advisor and may carry course credits under EFB 420 Internship in Environmental and Forest Biology. Agencies actively involved with the internship program include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Upstate Freshwater Institute, The Nature Conservancy, the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey. Internships also are commonly associated with a local zoo. Field-based internships can, with approval, count toward the three-credit field experience elective required by most EFB degree programs.

Faculty and graduate students also frequently employ undergraduate students on hourly wage to help with research projects. Students who are inclined toward graduate school should talk to professors in their area of interest about opportunities for undergraduate research (EFB 498).

Field Experience

A hallmark of the EFB curriculum is its emphasis on field study and training. All majors offered by the Department of Environmental and Forest Biology are intended to be hands-on programs that emphasize laboratory and field experience in addition to classroom studies. To this end, every student in each major except Biotechnology is required to complete at least six credit-hours of approved field-based instruction in biology. Three of these six credits are associated with a required core course, EFB 202 (Ecological Monitoring and Biodiversity Assessment), which is offered twice each summer at the Cranberry Lake Biological Station (CLBS) in the Adirondack Mountains. We recommend students enroll in EFB 202 during the summer between freshman and sophomore years, or as early as possible if you are a transfer student.

The remaining credit hours of Field Experience are elective, and can be obtained in one of the following ways. The following lists identify recent course offerings that satisfy the EFB field elective requirement. Be aware that some of these courses may not be offered every year.

  • Courses offered at CLBS during summer session:
    • Field Ethnobotany (EFB337)
    • Forest Health (EFB345)
    • Field Herpetology (EFB384)
    • Adirondack Fishes (EFB388)
    • Fisheries Science Practicum (EFB488, 1-cr)
    • Wildlife Techniques (EFB496)
    • Ecology of Adirondack Aquatic Ecosystems (EFB496)
    • Wetland Plants and Communities of the Adirondacks (EFB496)
    • Ecology of Adirondack Insects (EFB496)
    • Please note that, although Philosophy and Environmental Writing (EFB496) is frequently offered at CLBS, this course does not fulfill the field elective requirement.
    • For more information about the CLBS program, visit:
  • Courses offered at the Adirondack Ecological Center:
    • Research Methods: Understanding the Adirondack Ecosystem (EFB411)
    • Mammalian Winter Ecology (EFB484)
  • Courses offered during Maymester at the Syracuse or regional campuses:
    • Interpreting Field Biology (EFB418)
    • Forest Health Monitoring (EFB439)
    • Field Ornithology (EFB496)
    • Flora of Central New York (EFB496)
  • Other courses offered by ESF faculty:
    • Restoring Ecosystems: Principles and Practice (EFB496)
    • Periodic field trips courses (EFB500) to locations such as Costa Rica, Ireland, Russia, New Zealand, Australia
    • Adirondack Forest Ecology and Management (EFB/FOR 513, 2-cr)
    • Tropical Ecology (EFB 523)
    • Ecological Engineering in the Tropics (ERE311)
  • Field courses, approved by petition, from another accredited university, including but not limited to the following affiliated programs. Acceptable biology field courses will have at least 50% of instruction conducted in the field (out-of-classroom, out-of-laboratory, out-of-clinic, out-of-captivity); and include content that focuses on organismal biology, ecology theory, and/or training in field methodologies for studying populations, ecological communities or ecosystem processes:
    • SEA Semester (through Boston University)
    • The School for Field Studies (through University of Minnesota)
    • Wildlands Studies (through California State University Monterey Bay)
  • An independent research project (EFB 498) or internship (EFB 420) that has received prior departmental approval via petition, and that meets the following departmental criteria.
    • At least 50% of student effort (including contact time with instructor and self-directed study) must be conducted in the field (out-of-classroom, out-of-laboratory, out-of-clinic, out-of-captivity).
    • Student must demonstrate learning gains in organismal biology, ecological theory, and/or application of field methodologies to study populations, ecological communities or ecosystem processes.
    • Students must complete a research or professional product for evaluation.
    • 40 hours of effort will garner 1 academic credit-hour.


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