AIP Master's Advanced Inquiry Program


First-of-its-Kind Master's Program

As part of a national partnership, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo supports an exciting Master's degree program from Miami University that continues to be offered in the Cleveland area.

The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is an inquiry-driven learning experience allowing participants to take web-based graduate courses from Miami University faculty with face-to-face experiential and field study with experts at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. The opportunity to earn seven credits from international travel is another exciting part of the program. And the best news of all — it's affordable!


Enrollment is open to applicants with a Bachelor's degree regardless of academic major or profession. 


Applicants elect to enroll in either a Master of Arts in Teaching in Biological Sciences (MAT, designed for certified teachers) or a Master of Arts in Biology (designed for all other professionals) from Miami University. MA and MAT candidates go through the AIP together. Note: The MAT program does not confer a teaching license or certification. Non-degree Seeking Students


Participants earn 35 total credit hours in this web-based Master's program: 21 credit hours of AIP W+ courses that combine web-based instruction with experiential learning on-site at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo plus 14 credit hours of AIP Core Courses that occur on the web. 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.


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


Year 1

Summer Fall Spring
Foundations of Inquiry(3 cr.) Environmental Stewardship in Northeast Ohio (3 cr.) Book Discussion(1 cr.)
  Conservation Science & Community (2 cr.) Biology in the Age of Technology (2 cr.) and Issues in Bio-diversity (2 cr.)

Year 2

Summer Fall Spring
 Zoo Expeditions - Primate Behavior and Conservation (3 cr.) Master Plan in Action (2 cr.) and Graduate Research (1 cr.) Book Discussion II (1 cr.)
  Issues in Evolution (2 cr.) Professional Media Workshop (2 cr.) and Leadership in Science Inquiry (LSI) (2 cr.)

Year 3

Summer Fall Spring
Biomimicry (3 cr), Independent Study Book Discussion III (1cr.) Project Design and Assessment
 (3 cr.)
  Master Capstone CAP (2 cr.)  



Application Deadline for all degree seeking applicants: February 28

Applications will be accepted at any time; however applicants who apply after February 28, if accepted, may need to wait until the following year to begin their program of study.


If you are interested in taking any of these classes without enrolling in the AIP Master's program, you can still register and earn graduate credit through Miami University. Non-degree seeking students: Graduate Courses Offered for Non-degree Seeking Students

  • Summer Semester Registration: March 1 - 31
  • Fall Semestser Registration: June 1 - 28
  • Spring Semester Registration: November 1 - 30

Course Information


Foundations of Inquiry 
June 17-21, 2019

Discover the world around you by making observations, asking questions and putting your predictions to the test. This class explores the use of inquiry and inquiry based learning. Participants will not only learn the art of creating comparative questions and designing simple tests to find answers, but will learn how to apply these skills for use in their classrooms or communities to create change and become local leaders. This class is composed of 5 days spent at the Zoo as well as continued online coursework through a web-based community.

AIP: Year 1
Required as first course in AIP
3 credit hours
Summer; 5 day class with continued coursework online
Cost: $1,425 total (Includes all tuition and fees for both the University and the Zoo

Course Themes:

  • Conduct a simple inquiry in small groups to review the importance of observation
  • Assess audiences before beginning an inquiry as step one in the inquiry cycle
  • Conduct an inquiry that focuses on critical thinking skills and how an instructor's language promotes critical thinking
  • Understand the importance of interdisciplinary teaching and learning in science, math, literacy, and the arts
  • Facilitate the steps of the inquiry process in their classroom or community, leading to the final step: forming new questions for investigation

Zoo Expeditions: Primate Behavior and Conservation 
June 12-14 and July 11-12, 2019

Participants investigate conservation and behavior through direct observation of primates at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Opportunities for comparative study range from exploring social structure to communication or exhibit design. This course will provide a foundation for understanding research methods and conservation issues. We will also examine how course topics can be applied and adapted to teaching in local educational settings.

AIP: Year 2
3 credit hours
Fall Semester: This course will meet for 5 days during the summer and continued coursework will continue throughout the summer via web-based community
$1,425 total (Includes all tuition and fees for both the University and the Zoo)

Course Themes:

  • Classification of natural history of primates
  • Primate conservation
  • Design and methods of behavioral studies
  • Curricular development and educational leadership
  • Inquiry-based learning

June 10-11 and July 8-10, 2019

How could a butterfly inspire your next design? Humans and wildlife both face the same environmental challenges, but nature adapts to its situations in sustainable ways. Participants in this course will explore the ways in which humans can (and do) emulate systems and designs found in nature. Students will fine tune their observation skills and complete a design challenge using nature as their guide.

AIP Year 3
3 credit hours
Summer Semester; 5 day class with continued online coursework until August 16
Cost: $1,425 total (Includes all tuition and fees for both the University and the Zoo)

Course Themes:

  • Inquiry-based learning
  • Conduct an inquiry-driven design challenge based on the use of biomimetics
  • Further develop observation skills
  • Think critically and scientifically about the ways in which nature can offer sustainable solutions to environmental problems

Master Plan in Action 
September 14 and November 2, 2019

*This course is available only to full AIP Master's students.

In this course, participants will perform a large body of work towards their Master Plan. Although the course is self-directed, students will meet four times for morning peer review sessions to discuss their progress and offer advice and assistance with each other’s design and data analysis.

AIP: Year 2
2 credit hours
Fall semester: this class will meet 2 Saturdays during the fall and will have continued course work throughout the fall semester. Participants complete projects via web based learning.
$950 total (Includes all tuition and fees for both the University and the Zoo)

Course Themes:

  • Develop a timeline for completion of the Master Plan, including inquiry projects, Leadership Challenges and e-Portfolio.
  • Begin developing a cohesive body of work for inclusion in e-Portfolio, potentially design and implement side projects to enhance the overall quality of their Master Plan project(s).
  • Apply an understanding of experimental design and data analysis
  • Critical peer review
  • Critical examination of research methodologies from published studies

Environmental Stewardship in My Community
September 21-22 and October 5-6, 2019

Learn about sustainable practices from area leaders in the field. Travel to local sites as we explore the latest developments in sustainability. Participants will investigate conservation opportunities and solutions in their local communities, practice inquiry-based learning, develop a conservation project to be used in their classroom or community, and reflect on their own ecological footprints. This class is composed of 5 days spent at the Zoo as well as continued online coursework through a web-based community.

AIP: Year 1
3 credit hours
Fall semester: course will meet 4 days (2 weekends) in the fall with additional coursework online
Cost: $1,425 total (Includes all tuition and fees for both the University and the Zoo)

Course Themes:

  • Investigate local and global conservation issues to understand causes and impacts; analyze solutions to these issues
  • Strategies for engaging students or community members in conservation action of local organizations
  • Explore principles of sustainability
  • Investigate conservation practices and programs conducted by Northeast Ohio organizations


Estimated Costs

Miami offers substantially reduced tuition for AIP courses. Cost for this Master's is about $4,100 per year, roughly 75% less than full Miami tuition. AIP Master Institutions may also charge individual course costs, which vary by course and by institution. Click here for more information.  Prices are subject to annual budget approval and are subject to change.

Annual Cost Estimate

The following table shows an estimate of costs for Year 1 in the AIP Master's Program and for students taking approximately 12 credit hours during their first year. Prices are subject to annual budget approval and are subject to change.

Miami University Tuition and Fees Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Costs Estimated Total (Year 1)
~$3,093 ~$1,050 ~$4,143

Current costs are applicable through Spring 2018. For information about tuition after Spring 2018, please see Miami’s AIP Costs page or call 216 - 635 - 3391. 


Under the current financial model, candidates who enroll this year will save more than $12,000 (in-state)/$24,000 (out-of-state) in tuition for the degree.

Offsetting Costs

With tuition reduced as part of Miami University's support for this program, each AIP course is offered at a fraction of actual costs. Applicants to the program should check with their school district or employer to see if professional development funds are available to further offset costs. Additional tips for grants can be found on the AIP grant tips page.


FAQ categories:


Must I have had a long and outstanding career to be considered?

No. The selection committee is looking for a wide cross-section of people -- different levels of experience, different ages, different backgrounds.

When will I be notified if I'm accepted?

Candidates will be notified by April 15 of our recommendation for admittance.

Do I need a computer or Internet Connection?

In addition to the face-to-face component abroad, all students interact via an easy-to-use Web platform. So, all students need a valid email address and at least occasional access to the web, either from a computer at home, at work, a local library, or some other location. Previous computer experience is not needed. If you are accepted to the AIP, we can help you establish a free email address. Don't let the technological requirements bar you from applying. But remember that you'll need to have access to a computer with Internet capability from one to three hours a week.

Does it matter where I live?

Yes. Participants will be required to attend courses at nearest AIP Master's Institution. Currently, institutions are located in Cleveland (Cleveland Metroparks Zoo), Cincinnati (Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden), Chicago (Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo), Seattle (Woodland Park Zoo), San Diego (San Diego Zoo), Denver (Denver Zoo), Phoenix (Phoenix Zoo), and New York (Bronx Zoo/Wildlife Conservation Society).

Do I have to have taken classes at Miami University to apply?


Will age be a factor in the selection process? 

No. Miami University does not discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, or veterans' status in its education programs, activities, admissions, or employment policies. All AIP applicants will be considered based on their application materials.


Can I transfer courses from another university/institution?


Transferring an Earth Expeditions Field Course or past Master’s Institution course into the AIP. 
Only one previous Earth Expeditions field course (7 credit hours) or past Master's Institution courses totaling up to 7 credit hours may be transferred towards your master's. These credits may only be used to replace a portion of the 21 credit hours facilitated by your local AIP Master's Institution. For these credits to be considered towards 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 field course
  4. taken the course within 5 years of the projected graduation date for the master's
  5. completed the Dragonfly Master's Course Credit Transfer application form (available year-round; notice of acceptance or transfer requests will be given December 1 and April 1 of each year)

Transferring an iDiscovery course into the AIP.
Only one previous iDiscovery course (up to 3 credit hours) may be transferred towards your master's. This course will replace one of the two advanced seminars in the program (i.e., Issues in Biodiversity or Issues in Evolution). Also, for these credits to be considered towards 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. taken the course within 5 years of the projected graduation date for the master's
  5. completed the Dragonfly Master's Course Credit Transfer application form (available year-round; notice of acceptance or transfer requests will be given December 1 and April 1 of each year)

Note: If you'd like to transfer a Zoo Expedition (3 credits) and a Field Course (7 credits) only a maximum of 7 credits total will be applicable towards your master's program.

What if I cannot finish in 2.5 years?

Though students will ideally complete the degree in 2.5 years, they are not limited to this timeframe. However, the AIP should be completed within 5 years, consistent with Miami University Graduate School regulations.

Are there physical requirements?

Field Courses require a moderate amount of walking and similar (not excessive) activity.

Application to the Program

When should I submit my AIP master's application?

The sooner you get your application in the better. As soon as you know you want to apply to the AIP, go ahead and APPLY! The application deadline is February 28.

What is involved in the application process? How many steps for applying to the AIP master's?

There are three simple steps. All three must be completed to become an eligible candidate for the AIP master's.

Grade point average (GPA) and applying for admission to the AIP.

For admission to the Graduate School as a degree candidate with regular standing, you must have earned a grade point average (GPA.) of at least 2.75 (4.0 scale) at the institution awarding your bachelor's degree or a 3.0 GPA for the last four semesters (or equivalent) of study for your bachelor's degree. You must have at least a 3.0 GPA for all graduate work attempted. Undergraduate course work taken after the completion of your bachelor's degree will not be considered in determining your grade point average.

How do I fill out the Miami University Graduate School Application Form?

  1. Degree Program
    • In the degree program section, select either MAT or MA.
  2. Program of Study
    • In the program of study section if you select MAT, your program of study is in Biological Sciences, if you select MA, it is Biology.
  3. Enrollment
    • All participants enrolled in the AIP are Part-time study students.
  4. Admission Request
    • You should mark summer and add the appropriate year.
  5. Have you previously attended Miami as a student?
    • If you have taken any graduate class at Miami University - Earth Expeditions, Zoo Expeditions, and iDiscovery, are considered Miami graduate classes - check the YES box.
  6. Taking a course for Teaching Certification
    • If you have selected the MAT as your degree program, please be aware that our MAT does NOT confer a Teaching Certification or a Licensure. Neither does the MA.
  7. Medical History Form
    • Because you will not be physically coming to Miami University's to take a course this requirement is not needed.

Acceptance to the Program

How difficult is it to be accepted to the AIP masters?

Acceptance to the program is based on each applicant's dossier and the merit of his or her application. The dossier includes:

  1. AIP Application Form which includes two essays related to the master's degree and an applicants's CV/Resume
  2. The Miami University graduate application form and transcripts
  3. Two electronic letters of recommendation

Transcripts tend to take longer to arrive since it requires your undergraduate/ graduate institution to send formal transcripts via regular mail to our graduate school office. Please make sure that your institution sends all the required transcripts. You will need a transcript for each degree and/or stand alone course you claim you have taken and completed in your graduate application form. Failure to receive your transcripts on time might affect your application to the program. Follow up with your institution to make sure they have submitted your transcripts on time.


Do I need to take the GRE?

No. You don't need to take the GRE.

Do I need letters of recommendation?

Yes. There are two letters of recommendation required. They should be completed online (online e-recommendation forms).

I have not taken any biology courses to date, will this affect my application?

No. It is okay if you have not taken an undergraduate biology course (or equivalent). This will not affect your application/acceptance to our AIP master's. All applicants, regardless of their academic background will be considered. However, one college-level science course (e.g., general biology, general ecology, etc.) is required to complete the AIP master's. If accepted, you could enroll in a life science course before or during your AIP master's and fulfill this requirement. Read more information about this requirement from Project Dragonfly.


With tuition reduced as part of Miami University's support for this program, each AIP course is offered at a fraction of actual costs

Will costs remain the same throughout my AIP master's experience?

Costs are subject to change, but we endeavor to keep costs down for all participants. 

How will costs vary if I am an out-of-state or international participant?

The AIP carries the same tuition rate for out-of-state and international participants as it does for in-state participants.


What is a "Web-based Learning Community"?

As a feature of this program, students join the MA/MAT team and instructors in Project Dragonfly's Web-based learning platform. For an overview of the Web platform, visit

Does the MAT degree also include a teaching licensure?

No. The MAT in Biological Science degree is designed for teachers who are already licensed to teach - the MAT does not confer teaching licensure.

Who teaches the MA/MAT courses?

Miami University faculty as well as expert mentors and facilitators from premier institutions in the U.S. and abroad support AIP students throughout their coursework and the development of their Master Plans.  

What are the major differences between AIP and GFP?

Both the AIP and GFP seek to create an alliance of professionals who use inquiry and other forms of participatory education to improve human and ecological communities. Both programs support collaborative engagement. Both are based on the premise that "making a difference" should be woven into the fabric of education--through practice. This practice (which is astonishingly rare in conventional educational settings) requires expanding learning beyond the classroom, tackling real-world issues, and supporting shared knowledge creation and shared action. So, in terms of their approach, both programs have much in common.

However, the AIP and GFP differ fundamentally in their focus. The GFP is clearly globally focused and includes primary and intensive learning experiences abroad. The AIP is locally focused with primary and intensive learning experiences in communities where AIP Master Institutions are located.

The distinction goes deeper, however, because it is not based on academic content alone: the fundamental delivery system, settings, partnerships, and social networks differ as well. It is the AIP Master Institutions themselves, the learning experiences and the community connections they create, that distinguish the AIP from the GFP. The AIP degree is a multi-institutional construct that will be shaped in ways that are not possible through the GFP, shaped by the unique mission, history, social value, resources, and people of each AIP Master Institution. The AIP degree creates a national network of AIP Master Institutions, allowing for direct cross-fertilization of ideas and practices. The AIP not only provides a "local curriculum," it is a uniquely co-owned national experiment, one with considerable potential to create partnerships and cross-training, and to evolve as more successful pedagogical variations are assessed and communicated across participating institutions over time.