San Diego Zoo Global's (SDZG) Community Engagement team at the Institute for Conservation Research has joined a major national partnership to bring an innovation master's degree to Southern California. The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) from Miami University, Ohio, is an inquiry-driven learning experience that enables students to work directly with world-class SDZG scientists, experts and partners while completing web-based coursework through Miami University. The AIP is an exciting and affordable way to pursue your passion for conservation while earn a master’s degree and maintaining full-time work.

Students in this one-of-a-kind graduate program are part of an unprecedented national network of leading institutions committed to local, national, and global change. Project Dragonfly is based in the biology department of Miami University, a state university in Oxford, Ohio, established in 1809. Miami, listed as one of the eight original Public Ivies, has a long and distinguished record of excellence in research and teaching in science and education. Project Dragonfly reaches millions of people each year through inquiry-driven learning media, public exhibits, and graduate programs worldwide. AIP Master’s students join a growing alliance of education, environmental, and community leaders.


Applicants elect to enroll in either a Master of Arts in Teaching in Biological Sciences (MAT, designed for certified teachers) or a Master of Arts in Biology (MA, designed for all other professionals) from Miami University. The MAT program does not confer a teaching license or certification.

Program Requirements & Coursework

Participants take a total of 35 credit hours:

  • 21 hours of AIP W+ courses facilitated through Community Engagement at ICR include face-to-face experiential learning at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and other sites throughout the greater San Diego area
  • 14 hours of AIP core courses, including the Master's Capstone
  • Up to 7 credit hours from an Earth Expeditions global field course may count toward the degree.

As a culmination of their work in the program, students complete a master's portfolio. This portfolio represents a collection of course-based projects centered on a Master Plan theme that reflects each student's personalized goals and integrates the key tenets of Project Dragonfly (Inquiry, Environmental Stewardship, Community Participation & Voice, and Local & Regional Understanding) and San Diego Zoo Global's Mission and Vision. The AIP can be completed in 2.5 years taking classes part-time while working a full-time job. View a typical Course of Study for an AIP student based at the San Diego Zoo Global AIP Master Institution. 

Course descriptions and offerings

W+ Courses (web + face-to-face experiential learning) offered in partnership with San Diego Zoo Global. Details of each course vary by year.

Core Courses through Miami University


Enrollment is open to applicants with a bachelor’s degree regardless of academic major or profession. It is designed for teachers and other professionals interested in conservation, community engagement and environmental stewardship.

The AIP curriculum provides real-world experiences that also advance district, state, and national educational standards. AIP master’s candidates use inquiry not only as a tool for integrated learning, but also as a powerful agent for student achievement and public engagement. Participants may choose to develop a portfolio adaptable to national board certification.

More Information

Program Details

For information on current estimated program costs, please visit Project Dragonfly's Estimated Costs page. SDZG's fees are $175/credit hour for the May 2017 - April 2018 AIP academic year and are subject to increase annually.


​How to Apply

Upcoming Information Sessions

We hold two information sessions prior to each year's February 28th application deadline. Information sessions for the 2017 application round have passed. Please stay tuned regarding details for the December 2017 and January 2018 meetings.

Program Contact: Mackenzie Bergstrom, Graduate Programs Advisor,