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Master in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation

Never before has the face of our planet – evolved over millions of years – changed as rapidly as it does today. Recent scientific findings from ecology and evolutionary research help to address this ongoing change constructively, to protect the unique biological diversity of habitats, and to preserve the livelihood and quality of life for human communities. If you have a strong interest in research-related and practice-oriented questions from ecology, evolution and nature conservation, you are in the right place with our master's program.

A wide range of different teaching programs with many elective modules and specialization options characterizes the master's program in Ecology, Evolution and Nature Conservation. This enables individual study design and focus. Excellent teaching and research capacities guarantee sufficient places in practical courses and individual support in small learning groups in Potsdam. Lecturers of a large number of internationally leading and research-intensive working groups of the University and neighboring research institutes (e.g. the Leibniz Center for Agricultural Landscape Research ZALF, the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries IGB, the Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research IZW, and the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research PIK) offer a unique wealth of methods, research topics and job opportunities. A vast variety of free-time and sports activities in stunningly beautiful, historic surroundings embedded in a network of lakes and forests complete the profile of Potsdam as a highly attractive location to pursue your master's degree with us.

The University of Potsdam is a central science location in German biodiversity research with high international visibility. As a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Institute for Biodiversity Research, the University of Potsdam is part of an international network of other universities and non-university institutions in biodiversity research. There are close cooperations with the German Research Foundation's Research Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research iDiv in Halle-Jena-Leipzip and the Leibniz Association's Research Alliance for Biodiversity in Berlin.

To apply, see our admission information.

Our main topics

In addition to conveying the current state of knowledge in the various specialist areas of ecology, evolutionary research and science-based nature conservation, a wide range of state-of-the-art research methods are at the center of our education. Emphasis will be placed on quantifying methods (such as experiments, analyzes, computer modeling) that allow a better understanding of causal relationships and predictions based on such methods. The attractive science location of Potsdam offers innovative research infrastructures and teaching concepts, tailored to the needs of our students. For instance, we offer specific courses in statistics, mathematical modeling and computer simulation, making it easier for our future graduates to deal efficiently with the increasing amounts of data in ecology which accumulate in ever-shorter periods of time. In doing so, we always directly reference knowledge about species, animal and plant communities and the evaluation of ecosystems. In this way, our students acquire the relevant methodological and professional competences for later use in a variety of professional occupations.

The master's program is open to graduates from various science-oriented bachelor's programs. For graduates of engineering courses, however, this master's program is not suitable. Suitable candidates hold bachelor's degrees in the life sciences, but after examining the admission requirements, we also accept applicants, e.g., from geoecology, environmental sciences, agronomy and forestry, physics and mathematics in our master's degree program.

Reasons for studying in Potsdam

Unlike many other German universities, the University of Potsdam offers a very broad and well-founded offer in biological teaching, which deals with "whole" organisms, their mutual interactions and their relationship to the abiotic environment. We train critically thinking and responsible junior researchers in the three main areas of ecology, evolution and nature conservation. This leading principle corresponds to the fact that our students can select from a broad range of electives modules building upon a few compulsory modules. In this way, students realize individual specialization directions, e.g. in aquatic ecology, in terrestrial vegetation ecology, or molecular evolutionary biology. Depending on the needs of each individual student, further strategically meaningful modules from the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences can be chosen, e.g. in geosciences or bioinformatics. Through individual student counseling and personal contact with the teachers, we achieve a tailor-made study focus in Potsdam. Our entire range of courses is strongly research-related and ranges from the formation of ecological theory to its applications, such as topics of sustainability research or science-based nature conservation. We stand for innovative research and teaching on burning ecological issues - become part of our community and learn with us to plan and implement your own fascinating research projects!

Diverse opportunities in the job market

A wide range of opportunities awaits you in the job market through the wide and modern range of methods learned. Well over 100 scientific facilities in the Berlin-Brandenburg area alone will provide you with excellent opportunities to continue your career after graduation. But also internationally, numerous paths to professional success will be open to you. About 45% of our graduates continue to earn their doctorate in PhD programs or work in research institutions. The University of Potsdam offers excellent development opportunities through the integration of its PhD students into subject-specific graduate schools and a series of mentoring programs. The other half of our graduates is relatively evenly distributed among other occupational fields. Less than 15% each work in non-governmental organizations, e.g. in nature conservation, in public authorities (such as the Federal Environment Agency) or public administration, and other scientific institutions (such as planning offices or scientific management). Less than 5% work as freelance biologists. The chart shows the current job sectors of the graduates on the basis of 195 responses (about 70%) from the years 2011-2017.

Research team in a Namibian grassland
Photo: AG Jeltsch
Research team in a Namibian grassland