Advanced Inquiry Program

Applications for 2016 enrollment are no longer being accepted.  If you would like to be notified when 2017 cohort applications are open (in the fall), please register here to be on our AIP Email List.

The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a one-of-a-kind master’s degree program for formal and informal educators, as well as professionals with a heart for the environment, who want to develop their inquiry-based teaching skills inside and outside the classroom while striving to affect positive social change in their local community.

Co-delivered by the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Miami University’s Project Dragonfly, AIP combines graduate courses at the Zoo with web-based learning communities that connect you to a broad network of educators and community leaders.

Not too sure about a full master’s program yet?  Need college credit for professional development?  Try out a standalone graduate course with us!



Earn your master’s degree at the Cincinnati Zoo through this one-of-a-kind, inquiry-driven program focused on local conservation and social change. 



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

*The MAT degree does not confer a teaching certificate

aipAIP Master’s candidates use inquiry not only as a tool for integrated learning, but as a powerful agent for student achievement, public engagement in science, and ecological stewardship. AIP students join a network of local and national leaders, working together to improve their professions, institutions, neighborhoods, and environments.

Who is Eligible?

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.  This graduate program was designed to be done as a part-time student so those with full-time jobs, families, etc. are still able to participate.


21 credit hours at the Zoo + 14 credit hours taken with AIP Master’s students nationwide via web-based learning communities. All 35 hours have a web component. Students also complete a Master’s portfolio (our equivalent of a master’s thesis) and have the opportunity to participate in Earth Expedition courses to learn first-hand about community conservation efforts across the globe.

Your first course as an AIP student requires a week-long session at the Zoo for your Foundations of Inquiry class in early June.  For 2016, this week is June 6-10 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. each day.  This in-person week is a required and integral part of the program, so full attendance is expected.

Online courses Courses Taught at the Zoo
Conservation, Science, & Communities Foundations of Inquiry – June 6-10, 2016
Biology in the Age of Technology Animal Behavior & Conservation (Online & Saturdays in the fall)
Issues in Biodiversity Plants & People (Online & Saturdays in the fall)
Issues in Evolution Habitats, Evolution, & Adaptations (Online & Saturdays in the fall)
Leadership in Scientific Inquiry Issues in Cincinnati Conservation (Online & Saturdays in the summer)
Professional Media Workshop AND you have the option of including an Earth Expedition Course!

Cost for this master’s is about $3,585 per year, roughly 50% less than full Miami tuition.  The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden also charges individual course costs, which varies by course and number of credit hours.  For the 2016-2017 academic year, Miami’s tuition charge averages at $206/credit hour and CZBG’s tuition charge is estimated at $130/credit hour.

Estimated yearly costs*- Year 1  ~$3,924;  Year 2 ~ $4,607; Year 3 ~ $2218; Total = $10,749 + graduation fees.

*costs are estimates and subject to change based on your specific schedule and increased course costs.



aip21. Will AIP help me get a job? Potentially. Although AIP will certainly make you appealing to agencies interested in candidates with experience in inquiry-based teaching methods, we can’t predict if you will secure employment after graduation.

2. Can I get a job as a Zoo Keeper after I graduate? Not with this degree alone. Keeper positions require extensive experience in animal husbandry and animal science. These qualifications often include graduate course work, but relies more on hands-on, practical work experience in animal husbandry and veterinary medicine. Without this experience, there is simply no standalone degree that will get you a keeper position.

3. Can I apply before I graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree? Yes. You will need to submit a final transcript after your acceptance into AIP, but you can certainly apply during the final year of your bachelor’s degree program.

4. Can I hold animals and volunteer to work with the animals? Potentially, but it will take time.  The AIP journey does not include animal care or public demonstrations with animals as a part of the degree. However, there is a variety of volunteer positions available at the Zoo, and many of these include working with animals!  Check out this website for information about becoming a Zoo Volunteer.

5. I want to become a conservation biologist and help protect wildlife. Will AIP help me achieve this? In part.  The AIP, being a Master of Arts program, leans more towards those in the education realm, whether they are formal classroom teachers, or informal educators working in parks or wildlife preserves. Being able to communicate conservation plans to the public requires you to know how to engage people in conservation issues. So, AIP will certainly enhance your career as a conservation biologist, but you’ll need more pure conservation research experience before you’ll be ready to find a job as a conservation biologist.

6. Will AIP help me “get my foot in the door” at the Zoo so that I can get a job there when I’m done? Yes and no. You’ll definitely have a foot in the door, but jobs at the Zoo are hard to come by. Because it’s an internationally-recognized Zoo and center of wildlife conservation, job openings at the Zoo are promoted far and wide so that the very best candidate can be found. So, even though you may hear about a job opening as soon as it opens up, you’ll be considered along with the rest of the candidates that apply.


Each year, more than one million people visit the world-famous Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s award-winning exhibits, featuring more than 500 animal and 3,000 plant species. A leading informal and formal education facility, the Zoo provides a unique and ideal learning environment in which to gain an appreciation and understanding of science and nature. Education programs for all ages foster a sense of wonder, share knowledge, and advocate active involvement with wildlife and wild places. The Zoo’s Education Department co-founded Earth Expeditions, a professional development program for educators, upon which the AIP is founded.  Being a CZBG student, you are a part of the founding Zoo family!

The application period for the 2016 graduate cohort has closed.  Please check back later this fall (or register here to be notified) when applications go online again!

For more information, contact:
Jerran Orwig, AIP Manager,  [email protected]

Global Field Program

Want to learn about the AIP’s sister program? Click here for more information!