About the Ph.D. in Integrative Conservation and Ecology

As global environmental change proceeds at an unprecedented pace, the practice of conservation is adapting to a complex set of new challenges. The conservation community has increasingly recognized that responding effectively to these challenges will require that the next generation of practitioners and scholars not only develop expertise in specific fields but also have the conceptual tools to work across disciplines.

The ICON program strives to move beyond the paradigm of interdisciplinary by reaching outside of academia to bring together academics and practitioners. Through mechanisms such as internships, collaborative research, and a practitioner-in-residence program, students will work with conservation practitioners as partners and colleagues. These experiences, along with training modules lead by communications experts, will ensure that students learn to communicate effectively and strategically with those from other backgrounds and disciplines as well as with lay audiences.

The ICON program is designed to meet the complex needs of conservation by ensuring that students gain disciplinary depth while also learning to collaborate across disciplines and fields of practice to seek integrative solutions to complex conservation challenges.

Admission to the ICON program is handled jointly by the Ecology Graduate Program Committee and the ICON Admissions Committee.  Successful candidates will have been embraced through reviews by both programs.

Disciplinary Focus in our Interdisciplinary Program

ICON students choose from one of five disciplinary foci, one of which is Ecology.  ICON-Ecology students gain a deep understanding of ecology alongside broad exposure to social science and other life science disciplines. They also gain practical experience in tackling real-world environmental problems alongside conservation practitioners.  The other emphases in the ICON program are Marine Sciences, Forestry and Natural Resources, Geography, and Anthropology, with students and faculty being engaged from those home units.

Watch our promotional video for the ICON program.


ICON-Ecology PhD students must participate in integrative activities, fulfill the requirements of the PhD in Ecology, and take:

  • 12 hours of ICON requirements (which can also fulfill the Ecology requirements

ICON 8001Integrative Conservation I3 hours
ICON 8110Field Planning and Preparation1 hour
ICON 8002Integrative Conservation II3 hours
ICON 8400Perspectives on CESD2 hours
ICON 8111 or EICON Internship3-8 hours (max 16)
  • 6 hours of graduate-level ICON electives (minimum 2 courses; which can also fulfill the Ecology requirements)