Natural Resources: Environmental Conservation and Sustainability (M.S.)


Students in the Environmental Conservation and Sustainability option typically have a BS/BA degree or strong background in environmental and natural resource sciences with a keen interest in combining the natural sciences with the social sciences. Those without this background may be accepted upon completion of some additional fundamental courses. Areas of interest include natural resource policy, conservation biology, sustainability, ecological ethics and values, international environmental affairs, and spatial data analysis (remote sensing and GIS).

Degree Requirements

An M.S. degree is conferred upon successful completion of a program of not less than 30 credits for natural resources and the environment options: forestry, environmental conservation and sustainability, environmental economics, ecosystem science, and wildlife and conservation biology.

Course Requirements or Equivalents

NR 903Approach to Research2
Choose one of the following additional research methods classes:2-3
Grant Writing
Writing and Publishing Science
Scientific Communication
Fundamentals of Citizen and Community Science
Or an alternative with approval from the Graduate Coordinator
NR 993Natural and Environmental Resources Seminar2
NR 996Natural Resource Education 12
or NR 900 Teaching Assistantship Practicum
Select one of the following Data Analysis courses: 23-4
Design, Analysis, and Interpretation of Experiments
Experimental Design & Analysis
Introduction to Applied Analytic Statistics
Econometrics I
Qualitative Inquiry in Research
Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences
Statistical Methods for Research
Applied Regression Analysis
Design of Experiments I
Analysis of Ecological Communities and Complex Data
Hierarchical Modeling in Ecology
Quantitative Methods for Policy Research
Research Methodology and Statistics I
Research Methods and Statistics III
Sociological Methods I: Intermediate Social Statistics
Sociological Methods III: Advanced Social Statistics
Sociological Methods IV: Qualitative and Historical Research Methods
Select one of the following:
NR 899Master's Thesis 36
NR 998Directed Research 44

If you are supported on a Teaching Assistantship, you are required to take NR 900 Teaching Assistantship Practicum, during your first semester.


Or other alternative with approval from the Graduate Coordinator.


The thesis option will provide a research-based thesis that is the foundation for a peer-reviewed publication.


The directed research option is a professionally oriented body of work, most often geared to meet the needs of the stakeholder. The project, designed and conducted by the student, will culminate in a scholarly paper or report that is suitable for publication in the respective field of scholarship. 

An approved program of study plan is required during the first semester.

Environmental Conservation Option Requirements

Select one of the following Ecology courses:4
Soil Ecology
Terrestrial Ecosystems
Tropical Ecology
Aquatic Ecosystems
Remote Sensing of the Environment
Ecosystem Science: Theory, Practice, and Management Applications for Sustainability
Community Ecology
Marine Ecology

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Knowledge and skills outcomes to ensure graduates of the MS program have mastered their discipline: demonstrate knowledge of theory and practice, as well as critical thinking skills and creativity, in conducting ecological, economic, and policy assessment of natural resource and environmental issues and developing solutions to environmental problems;
  • successfully employ the field, laboratory, data analysis, and social science skills necessary to perform research concerning natural resources and their management;
  • design, propose, and execute research addressing fundamental or critical issues in natural resources;
  • contribute to scholarship through publication and presentation of research findings using diverse media.

Professional outcomes to ensure graduates of the MS program successfully compete for jobs in the public and private sectors:

  • demonstrate mastery of theory and empirical knowledge in their research concentration and, more generally, in the relevant natural and/or social;
  • use written and oral skills to communicate effectively with colleagues, stakeholders, and the public;
  • integrate theory and practice to analyze, assess, and solve environmental and social problems and answer questions across diverse scales from local to global;
  • develop and employ interdisciplinary relationships and approaches to addressing environmental issues;
  • interact with professional peers honestly and ethically, and in ways that show cultural sensitivity, inquisitiveness, and propensity for teamwork.