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Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP)

Get Your Master’s Degree at Denver Zoo

Graduate Students

Denver Zoo and Miami University in Ohio are excited to bring an opportunity for working professionals who are passionate about conservation to earn their master’s degree in the zoo and conservation setting. AIP Master's students practice the skills of investigation, critical reflection, leadership, and collaboration required to effectively address vital issues.

For more information, contact  


Do you have a passion for conservation?  Do you have a desire to make an impact on your community? Denver Zoo is excited to offer the opportunity for adults to further their higher education as well as become catalysts for global conservation and active stewards for Denver Zoo's mission. Denver Zoo has partnered with Miami University in Ohio to offer this unique academic opportunity for education professionals to earn a Master's degree in the zoo and conservation setting. AIP is based on the principle that education should extend beyond the classroom, and that students should make a difference--not just after graduation, but now, as a basic function of education itself. AIP Master's students practice the skills of investigation, critical reflection, leadership, and collaboration required to effectively address vital issues. AIP Master's candidates use inquiry and the power of investigation not only as a tool for integrated learning, but as a powerful agent for student achievement, public engagement in science, and ecological stewardship.

What is AIP?

The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a one-of-a-kind Master's Degree program for working professionals who want to develop their inquiry-based skills while striving to affect positive social change in their local community. Co-delivered by Denver Zoo and Miami University's ProjectDragonfly, AIP combines graduate courses at the Zoo with web-based learning communities that connect you to a broad network of educators, conservationists and community leaders.


Enrollment is open to applicants with a Bachelor's degree regardless of academic major or profession. It is designed for all adults looking to pursue a degree in higher education and who have a passion to conservation and community. 


Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in the Biological Sciences*, designed for licensed K-12 teachers

Master of Arts (MA) in Biology, for all non-licensed, informal educators or other professionals

* The MAT degree does not confer a teaching certificate

Estimated Yearly Cost: 

Year 1= $3,100; Year 2= $3,400; Year 3= $2,750

*Costs are estimates and subject to change based on your specific schedule and increased course costs. These estimates include both Denver Zoo and Miami University's costs.

What Makes the AIP Program so unique?

• By using Denver Zoo as your classroom, you will earn 21 credit hours at Denver Zoo or field sites around the Rocky Mountain region and 14 credit hours taken online through Miami University.
• This program is ideal for working adults who want to further their professional and personal growth but cannot commit to a full time academic schedule.
• This program is an affordable Master's degree with yearly expenses being approximately $3,000 per year for basic tuition and fees, much less than other Colorado institutions offering Master's programs. That cost savings represents an 85 percent reduction in costs compared to a typical Miami University degree for students who reside outside Ohio.


Brief Sample of Graduate Courses

Online Courses

Courses at the Zoo

Conservation, Science, & Communities

Foundations of Inquiry (Required, week-long course in Mid-June)

Biology in the Age of Technology

Global Biomes (Saturdays in Fall)

Issues in Biodiversity

Human Dimensions in Conservation​ (Saturdays in Spring)

Issues in Evolution

Animal Behavior and Conservation (Saturdays in Summer)

Leadership in Scientific Inquiry

Impact of Environmental and Informal Education (Saturdays in Fall)


Advanced Inquiry Program


Apply for the AIP Program

Applications are closed.

For more details, please contact Molly Maloy,


Summer Registration - March 1 


Foundations of Inquiry

Credits: 3
Term: 1st Summer
Fees: $435


Course Description: The course will provide participants with the tools needed to make science a fun, enjoyable learning experience while further increasing competence and confidence in science. The course will include pre- and post-inquiry assessment tools, individual inquiry investigations, interdisciplinary learning and inquiry techniques, and critical thinking skills. Participants will carry out and evaluate their own original inquiry investigations.

In person dates: June 6-10



Master Plan in Action

Credits: 2
Term: 2nd Summer
Course Fees: $290


Course Description: In this course, participants will perform the largest body of work towards their master plan. Although the course is self-led, students will meet four times for morning peer review sessions to discuss their progress and offer advice and assistance with each other’s design and data analysis. Participants will draw upon content and methods from previous coursework to develop and execute their master plan.

In person dates:  June 4th and July 23rd



Regional Ecology: Rocky Mountain Field Investigations

Credits: 3
Term: 3rd Summer
Course Fees: $435

Course Description: Investigate current local ecological and wildlife issues, such as invasive species, habitat fragmentation, climate change, pollution and water quality, and analyze solutions. Participants will travel to Denver Zoo’s local research site to conduct science based research on a variety of Rocky Mountain indigenous mammals, birds, herps and vegetation.  Participants will apply authentic research methods and examine the conservation issues facing these species and engage in discussions of solutions. 

TRAVEL DATES: June 19th-24th

Regional Ecology: Rocky Mountain Field Investigations

Lab Fee: $300 
*Can be paid by June 1st



Animal Behavior and Conservation

Credits: 3
Term: 2nd Summer
Course Fees: $435

Course Description: Participants investigate conservation and behavior through direct observation of various animal groups at Denver Zoo. Participants will also have opportunities for comparative studies on topics ranging from social structure to communication. This course will provide a foundation for understanding research methods and conservation issues. We will also examine how course topics can be applied and adapted to teaching in local educational settings.  Participants will investigate and examine the behaviors of Denver Zoo’s animal residents and reflect on how the behavior of their wild counterparts is impacted and influenced by the conservation issues surrounding these species.

In person dates: May 21st, June 11th, July 16th, Aug 6th



Independent Study/Internship

Credits: 1-3
Term: 2nd or 3rd Summer
Course fees: $145 per credit hour
Advisor Approval

* Must Call to Register in Person




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