Advanced Inquiry Program


Advanced Inquiry Program

Ignite ecological and social change while earning your master's degree.

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Pursue your passion with Brookfield Zoo Chicago while you earn your master’s degree online from Miami University through the Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP). Created for working professionals, the AIP is a one-of-a-kind master’s program that immerses students in collaborative inquiry and action as they champion change. Through web-based coursework from Miami University and face-to-face experiential learning and field study at Brookfield Zoo Chicago, you will connect with classmates, Miami University faculty, zoo experts, and community leaders locally, nationally, and globally.

The AIP is designed for students from a range of backgrounds and career stages. With professional and academic mentoring and self-designed Master Plans, students adapt their degree path to fit their interests in fields such as community-engaged conservation, inquiry-driven education, environmental justice, learning across K-12 and informal settings, animal care and welfare, green business innovation, climate change, urban ecology, human-nature relationships, environmental stewardship and restoration, and public engagement in science.

An unprecedented network of premier public zoos and botanical gardens across the United States and conservation organizations worldwide have joined together to support the AIP. This extraordinary learning collaborative, the largest of its kind, fosters groundbreaking ideas, collaborations, professional connections, and study opportunities. AIP students have the option of integrating an Earth Expeditions field course at a global field site into their degree path. The AIP is overseen by Project Dragonfly, an education reform initiative located within the department of biology at Miami University.

We look forward to supporting you through the AIP. 


Requirements & Eligibility

Enrollment is open to applicants who hold any bachelor's degree, regardless of academic major or profession. Students should have reliable internet access and be able to attend in-person experiential learning days at Brookfield Zoo Chicago. For more information, visit Miami University's AIP overview page.

AIP Master’s students earn 35 total credit hours: 21 credit hours come from Web+ Courses that combine web-based instruction with experiential learning onsite at Brookfield Zoo Chicago plus14 credit hours that come from AIP Core Courses that occur on the web. The experiential learning at Brookfield Zoo Chicago takes place during 3 or 4 face-to-face class meeting days per course.

Students must be available for in-person experiential learning days that may take place on weekdays or Saturdays during the summer and Saturdays during the fall. Dates for all in-person experiential learning days are provided well in advance.

  Frequently Asked QuestionS  


Curriculum & Program Details

Students can enroll in either a Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.) in the biological sciences for formal K-12 teachers or a Master of Arts (M.A.) in biology for all other professionals. The M.A.T. does not confer a teaching license. All courses are delivered online by a Miami University instructor. Two-thirds of AIP courses also include experiential learning on grounds at Brookfield Zoo Chicago and in and around the Chicagoland area. Miami University is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Students earn 35 credit hours; 7 of those credits may come from an Earth Expeditions global field course. Students also complete a Master’s portfolio in their final course.  The AIP can be completed in as little as 2.5 years or as long as 5 years. The program is designed to be part-time, with working professionals in mind.

The AIP curriculum provides real-world experiences that also advance educational standards. M.A.T. students may choose to develop a portfolio adaptable to National Board Certification. AIP Master’s candidates use inquiry not only as a tool for integrated learning, but as a powerful agent for achievement, public engagement, and ecological stewardship.

Download a copy of the Scope and Sequence to view course offerings in the Advanced Inquiry Program or read more about each course below.

 View Course DescriptionS 
Cost & Financial Considerations

Estimated Costs
The AIP is designed to be as affordable as possible for all participants. To support involvement by a broad range of educators and other professionals nationally, Miami University offers substantially reduced tuition for AIP courses. Please see Miami University’s AIP Costs page for the most up to date information.

Offsetting Costs
Supplemental funds can help reduce some of the financial burden so students focus on their coursework and in achieving their student goals. Applicants to the program should check with their school district or employer to see if professional development and/or tuition reimbursement funds are available to further offset costs. Click the below for grant and scholarship tips and resources.

 Grant & Scholarship Tips 



Success stories

Building on the courses taken online from Miami University, AIP students at Brookfield Zoo Chicago are provided exceptional learning experiences and field study as they lead collaborative change in their own communities:
• Learning Specialist at a major Chicagoland institution of higher learning
• Education Manager at a major Chicagoland institution of higher learning
• Facility Manager at a notable Chicagoland nature center
• Teaching Fellow at National Geographic
• Assistant Curator at The National Zoo
• Begun work on their Ph.D. programs
• Started their own businesses


Ready to Dive in? 

Applications are accepted mid-September through February 28. Join our mailing list to receive updates.   


Program Contacts 

at Miami University
Connie Malone

Project Dragonfly, Department of Biology

Email Connie
at Brookfield Zoo Chicago

Agnes Kovacs 

Senior Manager, Graduate Programs and Partnerships

Email Agnes
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Project Dragonfly is based in the biology department at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Established as a state university in 1809, Miami is one of the eight original Public Ivies and has a distinguished record of excellence in research and teaching in science and science education.