Advanced Inquiry Program –  A Master’s Degree at the Phoenix Zoo

The Phoenix Zoo, in partnership with the fully accredited Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and Project Dragonfly, offers an innovative and unique Master’s degree program to Arizona. The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is an inquiry-driven learning experience allowing participants to take classes mostly online through Miami University with some courses delivered by the Phoenix Zoo. AIP is an exciting and affordable way to earn a Master’s degree while maintaining full-time work.

AIP Cohort 2015 800 px

The AIP curriculum provides real-world experiences to prepare students to make a conservation difference in their local community. AIP Master’s students use inquiry as a tool for integrated learning, as well as a powerful agent for ecological stewardship and public engagement. Students in the program learn science content combined with strategies for engaging broad audiences in learning about science and environmental stewardship. Some courses are also available for non-degree-seeking students.

How to Apply

Applications are available online through Project Dragonfly September 1 through February 28.

Click here for more application information.

Join us for an information session at the Zoo:

Dates available during the application period.


Enrollment and this program are open to applicants with a Bachelor’s degree regardless of academic major, background or profession.  This program appeals to educators and a broad range of professionals from non-profit, business, and government settings.


Applicants elect to enroll in either a Master of Arts in Biology (designed for all other professionals) or a Master of Arts in Teaching in Biological Sciences (MAT, designed for certified teachers) from Miami University. MA and MAT candidates go through the AIP together.

Note: The MAT program does not confer a teaching license or certification. Participants may choose to develop a Master’s portfolio adaptable to National Board Certification.


This 35-credit hour degree program offers 14 credit hours purely online and 21 credits delivered by the Phoenix Zoo consisting of both online and in person coursework. Students also complete a Master’s portfolio. Up to 7 credit hours from an Earth Expeditions global field course ( may count toward the degree. The AIP can be completed in 2.5 years taking classes part-time while working.


Successfully completed courses earn students graduate credit through the fully accredited Miami University.

View our current course descriptions. Includes notation of courses available to non-degree-seeking students.

View the Scope & Sequence.

The first course of the AIP, Foundations of Inquiry, begins in the summer semester, which starts mid-May with online coursework. This course meets in person at the Phoenix Zoo Monday through Friday the first full week in June from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Coursework continues online through the summer semester.

Estimated Costs

Miami University offers substantially reduced fees for AIP courses. Costs are roughly 80% less than full fees.

Miami University charges approximately $215 per credit hour plus a $25 administrative fee per course and $15 technology fee per credit. This fee applies to courses taken through the Phoenix Zoo and through Miami University. Additionally, the Phoenix Zoo will charge $160 per credit hour taken with the Phoenix Zoo.

Total estimated costs for the full degree are: $11,352*
Miami University online courses (14 credits) = $3,007
Phoenix Zoo courses (21 credits) = $3,360 to the Phoenix Zoo + $4,173 to Miami University = $7,534

*These costs are estimated and may vary per student based upon the specific courses chosen. Miami University and Phoenix Zoo charges are also subject to change.

More information on Miami University fees.
Separate fees apply for any Earth Expeditions courses.

Information from Miami University for non-degree-seeking students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should we expect for timing of the in person Course Meetings at the Zoo?
A: The first summer course, Foundations of Inquiry, meets in person at the Zoo during Monday through Friday June 6 – 10, 2016 from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. In person Course Meetings for later courses typically take place on Saturdays (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.) or during weekday evenings. Keep in mind that all courses have an online component in addition to the in person Course Meeting dates. Courses typically run for 12 – 16 weeks online.

Q: Which courses are required?
A: All of the Miami University online courses are required and you need to take them in the order that they are offered. For the Phoenix Zoo courses, the only required courses are Foundations of Inquiry during the first summer and Master Plan in Action during the second or third summer.

Q: What’s the minimum number of courses you can expect to take at one time?
A: With the exception of the first summer you can expect to take 5 – 10 credits each session, depending upon your individual timeline.  For the most part you will be taking a course from the Phoenix Zoo alongside at least one online course from Miami University.

Q: Do I always have to be in Phoenix to take the Phoenix Zoo courses?
A: The only time you are required to be in Phoenix is during the in person course dates. The rest of the online course time can be fulfilled from anywhere.

Q: Can I transfer to another AIP Institution if I move part way through my program?
A: This is definitely an option and will depend on the room available at the other institution. We would work with you to help allow you to continue the program as best we can.

Q: Does every course have an online portion?
A: Yes, every course has an online portion and each online portion is facilitated through the Project Dragonfly Workshop interface. Phoenix Zoo courses also include a short-term in person component.

Q: What if I took my undergraduate science course a long time ago?
A: Your course will still count for the purposes of the program.

Q: How is this program accredited?
A: Through Miami University

Q: What jobs can I qualify for after completing this program?
A: AIP will prepare you for a variety of positions that include education, community engagement, and/or a conservation focused mission.

Q: Will this program guarantee me a job at the Zoo?
A: AIP will prepare you for a variety of positions that include education, community engagement, and/or a conservation focused mission. A position with the Phoenix Zoo or any other zoo is not guaranteed and will depend upon your entire skill-set and background experience as well as available positions when you graduate.

Q: What financial aid options are available?
A: Visit: for some helpful grant tips. AIP qualifies for federal aid as long as you maintain part-time status (5 credits) during the Fall and Spring semesters. Summer is calculated separately. See for more details.

For additional questions and answers visit: