Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens has joined a national partnership to bring a groundbreaking graduate degree program from Miami University to local students that combines web courses and study at the Zoo. The program is part of Project Dragonfly at Miami University.
The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) offers a ground-breaking online master's degree that combines web-based graduate courses through Miami University with face-to-face experiential learning and field study at some of the nation's premiere community learning institutions. AIP students are able to share ideas with peers and faculty nationally, while also working directly through their AIP Master Institution to improve local communities through shared investigation and action.
The AIP enables students to join an unprecedented national network of leading institutions committed to social and ecological change. Students learn to use inquiry not only as a method for integrated learning, but as a basic tool for co-creating a better and more sustainable future. AIP Master's candidates also have the option to integrate international field study into their coursework by choosing from Earth Expeditions courses in Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Americas (7 credits from Earth Expeditions courses can count toward the AIP Master's degree).
AIP Master’s students earn 35 total credit hours: 21 credit hours of AIP W+ courses that combine web-based instruction with experiential learning on-site at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens + 14 credit hours of AIP Core Courses that occur on the web. All AIP courses are delivered online by a Miami University instructor, and two-thirds of AIP courses also include up to five days (or equivalent) per course of experiential learning on Zoo grounds and in and around Jacksonville.
Miami University instructors interact with students via the web and oversee university requirements and grading. AIP Master Institution Advisers and Facilitators work with students face-to-face at AIP Master Institutions to guide place-based experiential learning and community engagement. AIP Master Institutions, by providing invaluable community connections, expertise, and environmental leadership, are at the heart of the AIP.
The AIP Core Courses are entirely web-based and promote learning interactions nationwide while providing a common foundation for all students across the degree program. The AIP Core Courses also support graduation requirements, including leadership challenges and writing for a professional audience.
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is one of nine AIP Master Institutions in the United States and is the first in the southeastern U.S. Learn more about the AIP at San Diego Zoo Global!
Applications for the Advanced Inquiry Program go live every September for the following cohort year, with classes starting in May. Part of the preliminary process includes filling out a short interest form which helps us gauge general interest in the program (filling it out does not mean you have to commit to applying). The open application period is September through the following February, with all application materials due to Miami University’s Graduate School by February 28 of each year.
While applications are accepted through February 28, we encourage you to complete the Miami University Graduate School application portion of your AIP application by February 18. Doing so will help ensure that all materials (e.g. undergraduate transcripts, professional recommendations, etc.) will be received and processed in a timely manner by the 28th deadline. Otherwise, a decision on your application may be delayed or disqualified.
Candidate screening will begin immediately following this February deadline, with acceptance decisions being made starting mid-March through mid-April. Applicants will be notified about their recommendation for admission to the program by April 15. Your admittance into the program is not final until you receive the official letter from the Graduate School of Miami University. For more information on the application process, please click here.
Bachelor's Degree: Enrollment is open to applicants with a bachelor’s degree, regardless of academic major. The AIP is designed for a broad range of environmental and education professionals, as well as those who have a vested, personal interest in our natural world. Our cohorts include teachers, informal educators, working professionals outside the sciences, retirees, stay-at-home parents, recent college graduates, and more! This graduate program was designed to be done on a part-time so those with full-time jobs, families, etc. are still able to participate as long as they can manage their time effectively.
GPA of good standing: For admission to Miami’s Graduate School as a degree candidate, you must have earned a grade point average (GPA) of at least 2.75 (4.0 scale) at the institution awarding your bachelor’s degree. Undergraduate coursework taken after the completion of your bachelor’s degree will not be considered in determining your grade point average. Please visit the Miami University Graduate School’s Admissions page for more details.
General university-level biology course: All MA/MAT students are required to have completed (receiving a final grade of B- or better) one university-level general biology course or its equivalent prior to completion of their MA/MAT degree. Students admitted to the program who have not previously met this requirement through their undergraduate studies can take such a course while pursuing their master’s, but will need to complete it in order to graduate. The Dragonfly Graduate Committee highly recommends that students complete this requirement within the first two years of the master’s program. More information may be found in the Biology Requirement FAQs.
To support involvement by a broad range of educators and conservation professionals nationally, Miami University offers significantly reduced tuition for AIP web-based classes.
Year 1 in the AIP master's program for students will take 6 hours of AIP core courses and 7 hours of AIP W+ courses (13 credit hours total - see recommended Course of Study).
*Prices are subject to change. Allow extra for costs such as textbooks, readers, and travel to the Zoo.
With reduced fees as part of Miami University's support for this program, each AIP course is already offered at a fraction of full actual Miami graduate course costs.
Applicants to the program should check with their employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs. Additional tips for grants can be found on the AIP Grant Tips page.
A limited number of small scholarship funds (in the range of $250-$500, varying by year) are available to current AIP students. Scholarship descriptions and application information is distributed by email to all students in late spring of each year.
If you have questions about financial aid, please visit Miami University’s Financial Aid website, as the Zoo does not disburse scholarships or handle the tuition portion of the graduate program.
Project Dragonfly's AIP Office
Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens' AIP Manager, Leanne White