Skip Navigation

Southern Oregon University

Environmental Education banner

Science Prerequisites 

To enter the program, applicants need at least 18 quarter credits (12 semester credits) in the natural sciences, as approved by the Director of the Environmental Education program.  This ensures students are prepared to take graduate level biology courses and succeed. Typically pre-requisite course work includes a year of introductory biology and three additional courses such as ecology, and plant or animal natural history courses.

Community Involvement

The Environmental Education Program is an integral part of the southern Oregon community.  Graduate students regularly volunteer, intern, or work with local organizations to gain a wider breadth of experience.  The EE program maintains strong partnerships with groups such as Southern Oregon Regional Environmental Education Leaders (SOREEL), Bear Creek Watershed Educational Program (BCWEP), and Friends of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, often encouraging graduate students to represent Southern Oregon University.  The time invested in these programs occurs outside of curriculum requirements.  

Program Length 

We recommend that students begin the program with the second Summer Session, taking ED 557 and EE 528.  This permits successful completion of the program at the end of fall term the following academic year.  However, it is possible to enter the program at other points.  The curriculum consists of 52 graduate credits, 34 of which are core credits, distributed as follows:

Potential Schedule for EE Graduate students
Schedule Summary Sheet (pdf)

Environmental Core Curriculum

Environmental Education Courses:

EE 507 Selected Topics in Environmental Education (1 credit)

Seminar explores current topics in EE.  Presented at Deer Creek Center, and offered in conjunction with EE 594 (Leadership in Environmental Education) and EE 595 (Teaching in Environmental Education).

EE 524 Concepts in Environmental Education (3 credits)

The field is explored from its beginnings to the present.  The course considers the diversity of goals and practices in environmental education including place-based education.  Students will visit, research, and evaluate EE programs and curricula including both local and national programs.  Field trips to local programs.

EE 525 Special Methods in Environmental Education (2 credits)
Designed to compliment ED 557 (Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment), this course considers current educational methods for the classroom and adapts them for environmental educators in diverse settings, especially the field.  Additional topics include the creation of field-based activities and interpretive signage.  Co-requisite: ED 557 (Fall offering)

EE 526 Trends in Environmental Education (2 credits)
Focuses on environmental education as a profession.  Current literature is analyzed to evaluate trends with the field.  The course focuses on how professional environmental educators contribute to the development of the field, including research and publications.

EE 527 Place-based Curriculum Development (3 credits)
This field course studies the biological and physical environment at Deer Creek Center or another site in the Klamath-Siskiyou bioregion.  Students investigate patterns of natural resource use by the community, and generate a place-based curriculum for implementation at the field station.  Overnight field trips required.

EE 528 Environmental Issues (4 credits)
Relevant environmental issues important to today’s environmental educators will be investigated.  The course prepares environmental educators to address a wide range of local, regional, and global issues facing society.  Areas of study include the loss of biodiversity and strategies for preservation and recovery of threatened species, sustainable management of natural resources, and global issues affecting the welfare of the human population and the biosphere.

EE 593 Practical Applications of Environmental Education (a total of 2 credits are required)
Internship focuses on using the field as a classroom.  Students work closely with environmental educators in either a non-profit organization or local, state, or federal government agency to develop and present activities and curricula.

EE 594 Leadership in Environmental Education (a total of 4 credits are required)
Students manage an educational program at Deer Creek Center.  Includes marketing, communication with participants, coordinating and scheduling programs, and developing resources for future classes.  Participation at Deer Creek Center requires part-time residence at the field station.  Pre-requisites:  EE 525, EE 527.

EE 595 Teaching in Environmental Education (a total of 4 credits are required)
Students present and assess an educational program at Deer Creek Center involving a variety of audiences.  Teaching will be supervised by qualified faculty members from Southern Oregon University.  Participation at Deer Creek Center requires part-time residence at the field station.  Pre-requisites:  EE 525, EE 527.

Education Courses:

ED 557A Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment I (3 credits)
ED 557B Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment II (3 credits)
Studies classroom teaching processes to help the beginning teacher develop a repertoire of strategies for instruction planning and assessment in diverse elementary, middle, and secondary settings.  Emphasizes effective strategies for standards-based education and the implementation of the Oregon Education Act for the Twenty-First Century.  Addresses issues related to exceptionality, including mainstreaming and inclusion.  Explores material related to the characteristics and needs of at-risk youth and considers how schools can respond to these needs. 

ED 562 Human Development, Cognition and Learning (3 credits)
Facilitates an understanding of human development from conception to age twenty-one.  Includes learning theories and language; cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development of children; and neurological research.  Makes connections between research and learning theories and experiences in a child’s school life to build stronger bonds between teaching and learning.  Includes a practicum in which teacher education students develop effective ways of addressing learning differences and gain a better understanding of children with unique needs.  (Environmental Education graduate students do not participate in the practicum.)   

Biology Electives

Students must take 5 graduate level biology electives in addition to their core curriculum.  Classes offered may include Ornithology, Herpetology, Natural History of the Pacific Northwest, Conservation Biology, Animal Behavior, Plant Ecology, and Fish and Fisheries.  

Program Additions

Program Additions

Students in the program may wish to pursue one of these options to broaden their range of skills and prepare for a particular career within the field environmental education.

Middle/High School Teaching Licensure (Additional authorization levels and endorsements are possible.)

The program gives students the option of adding an Oregon State Teaching Licensure for middle and high school level science with endorsements in biology or integrated science. Other endorsements and certifications with earlier grade levels are available on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Linda Hilligoss <> or visit the Teaching Licensure Option page for more information.

Certificate in Non-Profit Management

Alternatively, students have the option of adding a Certificate in Non-profit management to their program. Please contact the Program Coordinator, Jane Picknell or see the Non-Profit Management Certificate brochure for more information. 

Project or Thesis

Environmental Education Masters students may choose to complete the program with a thesis or project.  A student must apply for this completion option by the end of their second quarter of course work at SOU. An advisor must be secured before you apply for this option.  Students conducting research in the field of Environmental Education complete a thesis, while those producing a product should complete a project. The thesis will be data-collection based while the project is a tangible product that furthers the field of environmental education. An academic document will result from either option. The thesis or project substitutes for one of the science electives, and the student does not take the written examination. 

Requirements for Program Completion

Requirements for Program Completion:

Course work

Completion of the required course work including five graduate electives in the sciences (one non-science elective may be substituted) with a grade of “B” or higher in all courses.  SOU permits up to 15 credits of graduate level courses to be transferred into the program with advisor approval.


Exit Interviews

Upon completion of the Fall in the Field educational program each student meets with program faculty to assess both teaching and leadership skills and accommplishments. 

And one of the two following options:

Thesis or Project and Oral Examination

Upon completion of the thesis or project, the Masters student completes an oral exam that is attended by the student’s Evaluation Committee and a Graduate Council representative.  The role of the Graduate Council representative is to assure the student is treated fairly and that the standards of SOU are upheld.  In the oral exam, the student defends his or her thesis or project, and also answers general questions related to the field of environmental education.  The exam typically lasts one-and-a-half to two hours and is scheduled between Thursday of the last week of classes and the end of Finals week in the student’s final quarter.  It is the student’s responsibility to coordinate a time and place for the oral examination. 


Presentation and Oral Examination

Each student prepares and delivers a 20-minute lesson to program faculty and other interested people with a focus on natural history and teaching effectiveness.  The presentation is followed by questions from the attending faculty to further explore a student's knowledge of ecology and natural history.

 Mushroom snow