Ecological Studies

The program offers students an opportunity to explore the science of ecology and the environment within the tradition of the liberal arts major.

Bachelor of Arts in Ecological Studies

The Ecological Studies program is part of the Natural Sciences Department that is housed in the Jeffords Science Center. The multidisciplinary curriculum cultivates a broad understanding of the interconnectedness of living organisms and environmental systems, including the interactions between humans and the natural world.


The Ecological Studies program includes core courses in biology and ecology. Along with fundamental chemistry, GIS and geology sequences and a course each in biostatistics and environmental ethics, students gain a well- rounded scientific framework in which to solve environmental problems. After your second semester you will have the opportunity to participate in Science Colloquium, which introduces students to guest scientists in academia, government and industry in order to expose students to the numerous opportunities available beyond Castleton. Our department also offers study abroad opportunities with our own faculty to explore the Mohave Desert, Costa Rican rainforests, near shore reefs off of St. John U.S.V.I. and thermal springs in Iceland.


Small class sizes and the laboratory components of our courses ensure a hands-on, experiential learning environment. As a small institution, we are able to provide all students access to a variety of state-of-the-art instrumentation in both our teaching and research labs.  From microbes to ecosystems, students acquire and practice fundamental skills required to solve problems both local and global in nature. The multidisciplinary aspect of our department enables students to explore the connections of ecology to other areas of natural science. While the interdisciplinary aspect of the major allows students to connect with fields outside of the sciences.

Research and Internships

Ecological Studies majors are encouraged to participate in either internships or independent research in their field of study during their time at Castleton. Our faculty have diverse research interests. Some of this research is funded externally through grants awarded to our faculty where students have the opportunity to work intensively with faculty over the summer months and get paid a stipend. It is strongly recommended that students who wish to pursue graduate studies work with our faculty on independent projects. Some of the recent student research related to ecology include: using mark-recapture techniques to assess salamander populations, analyzing microhabitat use by sidewinder rattlesnakes, monitoring nutrient export in the Castleton River, and determination of the indirect photochemical decay of BPA. Nearly all of our students that participate in research present their work at the Annual Castleton Scholars Celebration and at various regional and national conferences. Internships are also a great way to make contacts and get experience. Working with the Fish and Wildlife Service mist netting local bat populations, as an animal care and exhibit specialists at Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center and as an interpretative naturalist at Vermont State Parks are just some of the internships in which our students have participated.


Ecological Studies Graduates will be prepared for careers in government and non-government environmental organizations as park naturalists, research/field technicians, wildlife specialists, environmental advocacy staff, nature writers, and outdoor educators. Additionally, some students may pursue graduate programs in science education, natural resource management, and environmental law/policy.

Further, students completing the degree requirements for the B.A. in Ecological Studies will have all necessary coursework required for professional certification through the Ecological Society of America.