Environmental Conservation (M.S., Ph.D.)

Welcome to the graduate program in the Department of Environmental Conservation (ECo) within the College of Natural Sciences (CNS) at the University of Massachusetts.


Anthropogenically induced changes to the global climate and unrelenting increase in demand for commodities and services from ecosystems is raising urgent questions about ecological processes and the sustainable use of natural resources. This ecosystem crisis has stimulated a great deal of interest in environmental conservation.

The Eco Graduate Program is recognized internationally among scientists and professionals and attracts the highest caliber students interested in addressing global environmental issues. Faculty in the program bring expertise in a wide range of environmental conservation issues, ranging from wildlife and fish to forests, to hydrological systems to sustainable building, to environmental policy and human dimensions. Students work directly with a faculty advisor in the program who mentors them as they pursue either a research-focused PhD or MS degree (thesis) degree, or a professional MS (non-thesis) degree in one of five concentrations:

Students are admitted on one of three different tracks:  The PhD degree has a modest coursework expectation and centers around a substantial independent research project, overseen by an academic committee and with the expectation of three publications in peer reviewed scientific journals.  The MS thesis/dissertation degree leads to the MS degree and centers around a research project leading to two publications, supported by coursework in the core areas and in the concentration. The professional degree leads to the MS degree with more substantial coursework requirements, and most faculty also require a professional paper based on an internship/practicum.

Most students completing the program are highly competitive for a wide range of conservation positions in government or private sectors, with a professional degree leading directly into conservation roles in the public and private sectors.  Students doing research also have the option to continue to more advanced roles in academia.  Faculty and students jointly share their work with a broad stakeholder network and frequently publish their research findings in leading scientific journals.

The Program has a strong sense of community, both socially and scholarly. Students cherish their time here and become strong advocates of the program after finishing their degree. Often students can be supported by their advisors through extramural-funding for student research assistantships and others gain financial support and teaching experience through teaching assistantships.  There are also opportunities for students to apply for fellowships.



The Graduate Program in Environmental Conservation (ECo) strongly supports and is committed to being a diverse, equitable and inclusive community and we welcome all applicants regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, ethnicity, national origin, socio-economic status, political views, physical abilities, and age. See more about our commitment to diversity and equality in our program here https://eco.umass.edu/dei/.

The basic admission policies are as follows:

  • First, you must meet the UMass Graduate School admissions requirements to be considered for admission to the ECo Graduate Program. See the UMass Graduate School for more information regarding admission.
  • Second, and importantly, admission to the ECo Graduate Program is driven entirely by individual faculty. In other words, individual faculty members (not an admissions committee) have the sole authority to accept students into the program. No student is admitted without a designated faculty major advisor.

We recommend the following steps when seeking admission to the Eco Grad Program:

  1. FIND A FACULTY MEMBER — This is the critical first step! It’s in your best interest to proactively contact faculty members whose work interests you. To learn more about individual faculty, view the faculty research profiles on the departmental website. The more you know about the prospective faculty member the better off you are going to be in convincing them of your sincere interest in working with them. We strongly suggest initiating contact with prospective faculty advisors via email to see if they are accepting new students and interested in someone with your background and aspirations. It is advisable to attach your current CV or resume to the message. Also, note that faculty are extremely busy and sometimes get behind in responding to emails. We encourage you to follow-up with another message or whatever it takes to establish a line of communication.
  2. CONTACT THE ADMISSIONS OFFICE AT THE GRADUATE SCHOOL — Apply online: https://www.umass.edu/graduate/apply/how-apply, or call for an application (413-545-0721 or -0722). Deadlines are February 1 for Fall admission and October 1 for Spring admission (although late applications are accepted on a case by case basis).
  3. SEND LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION — Arrange to have at least two (three is better) letters of recommendation sent to the Graduate School (there are forms in the Graduate Application that can be used).
  4. SEND TRANSCRIPT — Have one official transcripts sent to the Graduate School from any undergraduate and graduate institutions that you have attended.
  5. GRE – The GRE is not required.


If you have questions about applying to the ECo Graduate Program, you can contact the Graduate Program Director or appropriate Graduate Concentration Coordinator

To request a Graduate Program Travel Grant, please use this file: Travel Grants