Graduate Credit Courses


Zoo Expeditions (ZE) combine web-based graduate coursework through Miami University (Oxford, OH) with unique experiences at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, connecting you to a broad network of like-minded individuals and community leaders. With Project Dragonfly, we proudly bring you exciting, inquiry-driven topics ranging from animal behavior and plant ecology to habitats and evolution.

This suite of “Web+” courses merge the academic expertise of Miami University instructors with the world-class wildlife conservation expertise of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden.  Classes offer participants the opportunity to develop inquiry-based learning skills and provide them with exciting course content in a variety of subject areas. These courses are designed for both certified K-12 teachers and non-traditional educators or professionals working in the natural sciences.

Did you know we support a full master’s degree program at the Zoo?  Check out the Advanced Inquiry Program!

Current courses include:

Summer Term – Register March 1 – 30

  • Environmental Stewardship: Issues in Cincinnati Conservation – This course focuses on conservation issues currently facing the Cincinnati Tri-State area, and will allow participants to design their own conservation behavior-focused “Life Change” projects. Zoo Expedition students will also get the opportunity to interact with professional conservation biologists working on Zoo grounds!  (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)

Fall Term – Register June 1 – 28

  • Plants & People – Students in this course examine the deep human connection to plants, the importance of nature and natural places to child development, and plant ecology & conservation – all while surrounded by thousands of species of plants.  Students will design and execute a related Inquiry Action Project (IAP) throughout the semester.  (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)
  • Animal Behavior & Conservation – This course provides students with a wealth of content on animal behavior and conservation while giving them the opportunity to study the Zoo’s diversity of animal species.  Students will design and execute a related Inquiry Action Project (IAP) throughout the semester.  (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)
  • Habitats, Evolution, & Adaptations – In this course, Zoo Expedition participants learn about the relationships of plants and animals to their surroundings, and the adaptations they have evolved to survive and flourish.  Students will design and execute a related Inquiry Action Project (IAP) throughout the semester.  (3 credits – online work & four Saturdays in-person)

Spring Term – Register November 1 – 30

  • Barrows Conservation Lecture Series Seminar – Our spring graduate seminar centers around the Zoo’s popular Barrows Conservation Lecture Series. This course gives you the chance to learn about global conservation efforts and attend 4-5 lectures led by world famous researchers, conservationists, explorers, and teachers.  Students will create a Synthesis Project to tie the course speakers and themes together at the end of the semester.  (1 credit – online work & four to five lectures in-person, typically on Wednesday evenings) 

aipRegistration is a multi-step process (note the above “open” enrollment dates):

  1. Non-matriculated students must first apply to Miami’s Graduate School for “Continuing Graduate Status” (CGS) admission.
  1. The Graduate School will review the application and, upon approval, will send the applicant a letter of CGS admission. Please note that CGS admission does not confer or imply admission to the AIP; this approval simply allows the student to enroll in graduate-level courses without pursuing a graduate degree.
  1. Once a student has received their CGS admission letter from the Graduate School, contact Project Dragonfly at [email protected]. This office will share the appropriate course registration link with them and will also copy the Zoo.
  1. Zoo staff will then email you with an additional CZBG registration link that is also required in order to secure your spot in the course.  Space in courses are limited and are closed once they reach capacity, so the earlier you register, the better.

Your placement is not confirmed until you have completed Miami CGS admission, as well as both Dragonfly and Zoo course-specific registrations.

NOTE:  Foundations of Inquiry, Master Plan in Action, Internship, and Independent Study courses (which you may see listed during the Zoo registration step) are only open to AIP graduate students.

  • What is the nature of these courses and their associated projects?  At the heart of this program is making an environmental and social change in your community, whatever “community” means to you (your neighborhood, school district, workplace, zoo, nature center, Metropark, city, faith family, etc.).  We encourage a lot of inquiry-based learning and our courses revolve around environmental topics and how to communicate and share those issues.  In large part, students drive their own experience through projects they design, so what a student ends up focusing on depends on where he or she wants to go.  Students also develop specific content knowledge and skills in the realms of biodiversity threats and conservation, evolution, community engagement, inquiry-based education, science writing and publishing, and leadership, among many others.
  • I have a full-time job and/or a family and other life commitments I’m responsible for.  Is it still possible to take a graduate course concurrently?  These courses were designed to be accomplished at a part-time pace for working or busy individuals, and many of our AIP students and non-matriculated students successfully complete courses while juggling all of the above as well.  It is important to note, as with all graduate credit endeavors, that it will definitely be a significant commitment that will require your time and attention, so take stock of your availability.
  • I’m not ready right now to jump into a full master’s program, but I’m intrigued to learn more about how it works and would be interested in taking a class.  Can I transfer any of the above graduate credit courses into the AIP at a later time?  Yes, this is a possibility.  Up to 7 credit hours of previously taken W+ courses at an AIP Master Institution affiliate may be transferred toward your master’s. These credits may only be used to replace a portion of the 21 credit hours of AIP W+ courses required for the degree. For these credits to be considered toward your degree, you must have:   1) Been accepted to the master’s program; 2) participated in the AIP for at least one semester; 3) received a grade of “B” or better in your transferred course; 4) registered for the course through Miami University; 5) taken the course within 5 years of your projected graduation date for the master’s; and 6) completed the Request to Dragonfly Graduate Committee form once in the program.  Please note that no more than 7 credit hours can be transferred into the AIP and “categories” may not be combined (i.e. Core Courses and Web+ Courses).  For more information on the Advanced Inquiry Program, please click here.

There are two tuition charges assessed per course:  Miami University’s portion of tuition and the Cincinnati Zoo’s portion for course fees.

Your tuition for Miami will be due to the Miami Bursar, typically required in full by the time of the course start date.  Information about Miami’s fee payment can be located on their website after you have received your login information for your myMiami online account.

You will be asked for immediate payment information (credit card) for the Zoo’s portion of the fees during registration.

Miami Tuition  Cincinnati Zoo Tuition
2017 – 18 Academic Year $270/credit hr (flat rate) $135/credit hour

For information about tuition changes effective Summer 2018, please see Miami’s AIP Costs page.

Tuition costs are estimates and subject to change based on your specific schedule and university fluctuations in course fees.

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By getting involved with Zoo Expeditions, you will find yourself surrounded by interesting questions that you are excited to answer! Together with their own students, previous Zoo Expedition participants have compared the activity of wild cats and house cats. They’ve wondered who plays more: gorillas or first graders. They’ve even explored whether caring for a plant can change how students care for their school, and more! These courses provide current content in each of the course areas while providing students with the skills they need to reach their respective audiences through scientific inquiry.

With experts onsite at the Zoo and Miami University instructors on the web, Zoo Expedition courses enable students to interact with peers, program alumni, and community leaders and explore new frontiers in community-engaged learning.  In addition to the face-to-face experiences at the Zoo, participants also engage weekly throughout the semester with instructors and course peers in an easy-to-use, web-based learning community to discuss assignments, course readings, and semester-long research projects.  Each course includes web instruction, discussion seminars, group work, on-site experiences, and direct investigation of the Zoo’s wealth of animal and plant life.

More Info?

If your question is not answered above or on the Advanced Inquiry Program page, please contact Dragonfly’s AIP office or the Zoo’s AIP Manager.