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The Field :: Career Opportunities :: The Major Curriculum

Contact an Advisor

The Field

The profession of natural resource management is in need of people who are educated to provide a variety of skills that can be used to solve a growing list of problems and issues. Some of those problems are addressed by pre-professional and professional programs offered in this and others departments of the College of Natural Resources and the Environment. However, other problems require the professional ability to integrate science, technical management, and social organization in effective programs and actions. Such problems include, for example, planning and managing coastal zone, rural areas, wetlands, and other water resources. In Natural Resource Studies (NAREST), conserving and managing resources is considered an interdisciplinary effort; thus, individuals with differing strengths may develop course specialties in environmental fields such as aquatic resources, ecology, human dimensions, natural areas management, and impact assessment. These fields and others may be approached with an emphasis on science, technical management, administration, social policy and action, law, and communications. Individual curriculum planning based on personal career goals, talent, and interest is a special characteristic of the NAREST program. Further, the program is designed for maximum flexibility within the 120 credits required for graduation. A minimum of 47 course credits are selected by the student. In this way, students "design" their personal major. Students who wish to prepare for entry to graduate school from this curriculum should make the decision early and work closely with their adviser. Specifically, students should identify their professional goal and determine requirements for entry into a specific graduate program. Students must define their own objectives. Some potential graduate programs for which this major is an effective base are: regional planning, law, conservation education, journalism, resource planning, and public administration.

News from this program: Student surveys rank us second on campus in student satisfaction!

Career Opportunities

NAREST graduates find employment in diverse fields. There is an increasing role for people interested in conserving, managing and restoring our natural environment. Some graduates pursue employment directly in natural resources and other graduates use their strong academic training to pursue other fields. With a specific objective in mind, a NAREST major could also elect to build an individualized and flexible combination of courses in order to qualify for a wide variety of graduate school programs. Some students pursue graduate school to strengthen their specialized knowledge in a particular discipline. Students may also qualify to take federal civil service exams for entering positions in fields such as botany, fisheries, forestry, soil science, wildlife and zoology. Students should be aware that many federal agencies now require an advanced degree. Students may incorporate their natural resource interests in careers such as:

  • Environmental Policy
  • Natural Resource Planning
  • Environmental Pre-Law
  • Environmental Law Enforcement
  • Natural Resource Recreation Management
  • Natural Resource Journalism
  • Environmental Interpretation
  • Conservation Education
  • International Aspects of Natural Resource Management
  • Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management
  • Natural Resource Photography and Filmmaking
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Secondary Education

The Major

The NAREST major offers a pre-professional program for students who have specific career goals not met by other natural resource or environmental majors, and who are ready to take personal responsibility for developing their own course of study. The program offers curriculum opportunities for students interested in generalist approaches to resource conservation and management, as well as opportunities for unique, focused, and specialized curriculum plans. Students may, in consultation with their adviser, plan to enter certain pre-professional specialties or prepare for graduate school. Natural Resources Studies program mission, goals, and objectives: When students graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Studies, they will be able to help guide the stewardship of healthy and sustainable ecosystems that provide important human and community benefits. In particular, they will know how to:

  • Acquire and analyze data describing the biological and social aspects of the environment.
  • Make management decisions about land and water that integrate relevant ecological, physical, and social information.
  • Appreciate the natural complexity of ecosystems, and the interdisciplinary nature of their conservation.
  • Understand the multiple values of ecosystems and the environment across the spectrum of circumstances, from urban to rural and from developed to wild. Communicate to the public that natural resource conservation is essential to long-term sustainability.
  • Behave professionally and ethically in the management of the environment for the benefit of society.



  • POLISCI 101 American Politics
  • NRC 100 Environment and Society
  • NRC 197A Conservation in the United States
  • BIOLOGY 100 and 101 Introduction to Biology
  • MATH 104 Algebra, Analytic Geometry and Trigonometry
  • ANTHRO 208 Human Ecology


  • NRC 212 Forest Botany
  • NRC 211 Animal Sampling and Identification
  • BIOLOGY 287 Intro. Ecology
  • CHEM 111 General Chemistry
  • CHEM 112 General Chemistry or PHYSICS 139 Introduction to Physics
  • GEO-SCI 101 The Earth and 131 Experiencing Geology
  • RES-ECON 211 Introductory Statistics for the Life Sciences
  • RES-ECON 263 Natural Resource Economics
  • NAT-RESR 391A Seminar: Curriculum Planning
  • NRC 297S Introduction to Spatial Information Technologies

Juniors and Seniors

Requirements are met by individualized, student-designed curricula with adviser approval. All majors must take NRC 409 Natural Resources Policy and Administration, NRC 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management, and NRC 549 Ecosystem Management, and fulfill the Junior Year Writing requirement. Restrictions Courses to be counted in the NAREST program must be taken on a graded basis.

Contact an Advisor

Todd Fuller Program Director Office: 128 Holdsworth Phone: 413-545-4723 Email: tkfuller "at" eco.umass.edu You can contact these advisors using the NRC contact form