Education and Training

Degree Programs and Internships

The Chicago Botanic Garden's efforts to save the world's plants begin with learning. With knowledge, we are able to take action and make changes that support healthy ecosystems. Critical to future success is training the next generation of conservationists. From accredited graduate and undergraduate degree programs to internships, workshops and seminars, the Garden is providing exceptional training for future conservation leaders.

Master's Program in Plant Biology and Conservation

In the research thesis track master's degree in science program, students receive a strong foundation in plant ecology, evolution, and conservation. They can choose to specialize in a variety of areas. Students typically take 2 to 2½ years to complete the degree, with course work completed in year one and research emphasized in year two. Scholarships are available for full-time students; students wishing to be considered for them should indicate this on their application. Students wishing to attend part-time are also welcome.

Doctoral Program in Plant Biology and Conservation

The Ph.D. program aims to foster an academic and research environment that allows students to gain experience, skills, and knowledge to become scholars, leaders, or practitioners in plant biology and conservation. Graduates of the program will have a strong theoretical and methodological foundation within the field. In addition, they will develop the in-depth knowledge required to be able to identify and articulate the frontiers of scholarship and applied science within their area of specialization. The curriculum emphasizes a complex systems approach while integrating multiple disciplines. In line with the complex nature of global environmental issues, the program offers a breadth of approaches to basic and applied research in addition to local, national, and global issues.

Research Experiences for Undergraduates

A ten-week summer science-based program under the supervision of a Garden research scientist. This program offers undergraduate participants an opportunity to explore a diverse array of scientific fields related to plant biology and conservation. Travel, room and board, and research costs are covered by the program. Participants also receive a stipend.

Conservation and Land Management (CLM) Internship

This internship places graduates from colleges and universities across the country in five-month paid internships to assist biologists and other professional staff at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and other federal agencies. Internships are primarily located in one of the 12 western states, including Alaska.

CLM internships provide hands-on opportunities in botany and/or wildlife-related fields that may include monitoring or assessing threatened and endangered species and habitats.

Science Career Continuum

The Science Career Continuum allows the Garden to connect its own programs for middle- and high-school students with those offering internships and mentoring for college and graduate students. The goal is to prepare a new generation of scientists who have the education and training needed to address the environmental and conservation challenges of our time.

The continuum begins with the Garden’s Science First and College First programs that annually recruit up to 60 middleschool and high-school students from Chicago Public Schools. A free summer science immersion program—combined with paid internships and mentoring for high school students—improves these students’ overall academic performance and puts them on a path to college. More than 98 percent of College First graduates attend two- or four-year colleges.