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Masters Program

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Masters Program at Gorongosa National Park

The Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program was created in 2017 by the Gorongosa Project with a grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) in order to prepare Mozambicans to advance conservation in their biodiverse nation. The program is the first and only M. Sc. in conservation biology in Mozambique, and it is the only master’s program in the world to be conducted entirely in a national park. It offers a truly unique educational experience in which students are fully immersed in conservation—interacting with biologists, rangers, and community outreach and ecotourism professionals. By studying, conducting research, and living in Mozambique’s flagship national park, students gain much more than an academic education – their entire lifestyle revolves around the practice of conservation in protected areas.
 
In this two-year program, students complete academic credit hours through intensive short-term courses taught by an invited faculty of professors from around the world. The scope of our courses is comparable to conservation biology M. Sc. programs at traditional universities, but the Gorongosa program emphasizes field work and practical knowledge, preparing students for future careers as scientists, natural resource managers, and community outreach specialists. 
 
Beyond formal courses, students also conduct independent research, advised by the invited faculty and Gorongosa scientists. They write and defend formal master’s theses, and are expected to publish their work in internationally recognized, peer-reviewed journals. Students’ research topics have ranged from natural forest regeneration under shade-grown coffee to the differential effects of mammals and insects on vegetation dynamics to population genetics of understudied species to the microbiome of soils under different fire regimes. This exciting variety of topics is made possible by living and working in an incredible environment—Gorongosa National Park.
 
The Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program functions as a consortium comprised of Gorongosa National Park and three Mozambican institutions, the Universidade Lúrio, Universidade Zambeze, and the Instituto Superior Politécnico de Manica. With our partners, we are ensuring excellence in academics and research.  We accept new cohorts of students every two years, so check the link above for application information as well.
 

Academics

We aim to become an internationally recognized M. Sc. program dedicated to training competent and capable biologists and conservation leaders in Mozambique. Our students acquire comprehensive knowledge of conservation science, which allows them to become successful researchers and managers of the country’s biological resources. We strive to impart dedication to conservation and sustainable development and teach our students to approach to conservation from a proactive, ethical perspective. 
 
If you are a Mozambican student with an undergraduate degree in the natural sciences, a love of fieldwork, and a passion for conservation, consider the Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program. An international faculty of professors will introduce you to the latest conservation science and support you in the classroom, field, and in the development of your own thesis research. The master’s program runs for two years and is divided between course work, and research and thesis writing. Your tenure as a master’s student will culminate with a public and private academic defense of your thesis work.
Because our courses are taught by invited faculty from institutions around the work, they run as short-term, intensive modules. Be prepared for an academic challenge as you stretch to learn new material, manage a demanding schedule, and generate high quality work. You will take 100 credits (30 hours of study per credit) of required courses and a minimum of 20 credits of optional courses.
 
 
List of courses commonly offered in the master’s program 
 
Required
Research and thesis I
Statistics and research design
Techniques in molecular biology
Plant biology and ecology
Introduction to conservation biology
GIS
Science communication
Integrated methods in conservation biology
Evolution
Bioinformatics
Politics of conservation and governance
Research and thesis II
 
Optional 
Bird Ecology and Conservation 
Mammal ecology and conservation
Culture, land-use, and the environment
Conservation genetics
Perspectives and methods in conservation social science research
Entomology:  Insect biodiversity, ecology, and conservation of African ecosystems
Ecology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles
Conflict and Conservation
Economics of natural resources
Conservation, ecotourism, and rural development
Applied pollination biology
 
Student Life
Students in the Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program have the rare privilege of calling Gorongosa National Park their home for two years. Through the generous support of HHMI, students have full scholarships which cover their academic credits, room and board, travel to the park, and most of their research needs. By living and working together, students form a close-knit cohort, and support each other academically and socially.  
 
Faculty
The Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology faculty consists of a talented, knowledgeable team of professors who generously donate their time to teach intensive courses in the master’s curriculum. Faculty members also act as thesis advisors to students, and help them in the design and development of their research. We are very grateful for our amazingly dedicated faculty from around the world! 
 
Information for Faculty
Our incredible guest faculty make the Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program possible. We are extremely grateful for your time and dedication to promoting conservation through education. Our courses are taught as intensive short-term modules, which typically involve 8-10 contact hours per day over 12 days. As a professor, please design your course as you see fit to best transfer knowledge and skills, but please keep in mind Gorongosa National Park and its buffer zone are your classroom—we would like to facilitate as many field activities as you see fit for your course. You can teach in English or Portuguese, and we request that you provide the students’ final grades within a week of completing your course.
 
For those of you who are acting as thesis advisors, please understand that our students benefit immensely from your guidance. Mentorship can be a challenge when professors live far from their students, so we recommend you have monthly Skype conversations with your student and their Gorongosa academic advisor in order to ensure students are on-track to produce high quality work. Because of the nature of long-distance advising, we ask our student advisors and students to sign a contract to ensure effective communication.
 
This is a link to the program’s curriculum. Please see the list of courses offered and communicate with the Gorongosa staff  - [email protected] - to know where your course fits in the current academic sequence. We strive to create a cohesive curriculum in which courses build-on and reinforce each other in spite of the distance between our faculty members.
 
Our Consortium Partners
The Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program is made possible through partnerships with three Mozambican institutions, the Universidade Lúrio, Universidade Zambeze, and the Instituto Superior Politécnico de Manica.  Our consortium partners help ensure our academic excellence and provide the institutional and administrative support necessary to run a master’s program housed in a national park.
 
Admission
Admission to the Gorongosa Master’s in Conservation Biology Program is highly competitive.  We are seeking highly motivated Mozambican students with a strong background in conservation, ecology, or a related science.  Our ideal student will enter the program with research experience and a love for working outdoors.  Students should be independent, hard-workers, and open to new experiences.  This is a very demanding program and requires students who look forward to challenges, both intellectually and in terms of personal growth. The due date for the next round of applications will be announced two months ahead of time.