Natural Resources Conservation
Conserving Earth’s biological diversity and safeguarding the benefits or “ecosystem services” that functioning ecosystems provide humans are two major objectives of natural resources conservation. As human populations increase and natural resources and habitats become more limited, there is a critical need for trained conservation professionals in natural resources conservation. This major provides students with the academic background and professional training to pursue careers in the rapidly growing field of natural resources and environmental conservation. Natural Resources Conservation is a multi-disciplinary field that integrates rigorous academic training in the natural, conservation, and social sciences with hands-on field skills; and field experiences from summer jobs, internships, and cooperative education positions with conservation organizations and the green industry. Students learn about the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and how these systems can be managed to conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem functions while providing sustainable benefits to society.
Broad academic training in the sciences and math in combination with specialized training within the NRC concentrations prepare students for professional employment in state, federal, and non-profit conservation organizations, as well as environmental consulting firms and the green industry, or if students choose, to continue to graduate training. There are a wide variety of careers in natural resources conservation, including:
professional foresters and plant ecologists; wildlife and fisheries technicians and biologists; park managers and rangers;
naturalists, environmental educators and outdoor recreation specialists; watershed scientists; water and landuse planners; environmental lawyers, policy-makers and conservation law enforcement officers.
An education in natural resources conservation also provides students with the tools and knowledge to live a more sustainable life and to be a strong advocate for sound environmental stewardship.
For internships, jobs, and career opportunities, go to the following link:
For Current Students – Career Opportunities
The Natural Resources Conservation (NRC) major provides students with rigorous academic training in the natural, conservation, and social sciences with hands-on field skills and field experiences. Students in the Natural Resources Conservation major focus on one of the following six concentrations:
Students learn about the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and how these systems can be managed to conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem functions while providing sustainable benefits to society.
Students then take specialized courses designed to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary for entry-level employment, graduate training, and professional certification in a conservation concentration. Hands-on field skills integrated into the coursework and field experiences from summer jobs, internships, and cooperative education positions are essential components of the professional training in natural resources conservation.
Natural Resource Conservation program mission, goals, and objectives: Students who graduate from UMass Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Conservation will:
1. have a strong core knowledge of ecological processes and systems, along with associated understanding of related best practices in natural resource management.
2. understand the complex socio-ecological global challenges associated with natural resource extraction, management, and conservation.
3. be skilled at working collaboratively with others in a team to address the multifaceted environmental challenges facing our society.
4. be effective communicators; they will be able to successfully convey to the public the complexity and urgency of complex environmental challenges.
5. be engaged environmental citizens; they will understand the importance of civic engagement, and will also be leaders for change toward a more sustainable world.
The NRC Curriculum
In addition to the University General Education requirements, the Natural Resources major requires completion of the courses below. For more curriculum details select the links for each concentration.
Required Science and Math Courses:
Biology – 2 semesters – BIOLOGY 151 and 152 or STOCKSCH 108 and BIOL 110
Chemistry – 1 semester of general chemistry (CHEM 110 or 111)
- Ecology elective – 1 semester
- Physical Science elective – 1 semester
Math – 1 semester – at least MATH 104 Algebra, Analytic Geometry, and Trigonometry (~pre-calculus)
Statistics elective – 1 semester
RES-ECON 262 Environmental Economics or RES-ECON 263 Natural Resource Economics – 1 semester
Earth Science elective – 1 semester
Required Department Courses:
- Introduction to the Environment elective (NRC 100 Environment and Society, NRC 185 Sustainable Living, or ENVIRSCI 101)
- BCT 150 The Built Environment
- NRC 225 Forests and People
- NRC 260 Fisheries Conservation
- NRC 261 Wildlife Conservation
- NRC 211 Animal, NRC 212 Forest Tree and Shrub, and/or NRC 214 Fish Sampling and Identification
- NRC 409 Natural Resources Policy and Administration
- NRC 585 Intro to GIS – spatial data elective
- An Integrated Experience elective
- NATSCI 387 Junior Writing Course
Note: additional courses are required for each concentration. See concentration below.
Conserving Earth’s biological diversity and safeguarding the benefits or “ecosystem services” that functioning ecosystems provide to humans are two major objectives of natural resources conservation. In this minor, students learn about the ecology of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, and how these systems can be managed to conserve biodiversity and protect ecosystem functions while providing sustainable benefits to society. The minor is designed to introduce students from a variety of other disciplines related to global conservation issues, and to provide them with the knowledge and tools essential for wise stewardship of natural resources. This minor may aid students in developing their own personal commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainability, making career choices, and broadening their options for graduate school and future employment. A minimum of 15 credits is required.
To see the course requirements for the minor:
Minor Curriculum Sheet
(All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise noted.)
- 100 Environment and Society (SI)
(1st sem, 4 cr)
- 102 Arboriculture Field Techniques I (1st sem) 2 cr
- 120 Basic Scuba 2 cr
- 121 Advanced Scuba — Warm Water 2 cr – does not count toward minor
- 122 Advanced Scuba — Cold Water 2 cr – does not count toward minor
- 185 Sustainable Living: Solutions for the 21st Century (4 cr, I)
- 191 Seminar in Arboriculture and Park Management (2 cr)
- 197FF Forest Fire Control (2nd sem) 1 cr
- 197FL Forest Fire Control lab (2nd sem) 1 cr
- 210 Arboriculture Field Techniques II (2nd sem) 2 cr
- 211 Animal Sampling and Identification(1st sem) 1 cr
- 212 Forest Tree and Shrub Identification(1st sem) 2 cr
- 214 Fish Sampling and Identification (1st sem) 1 cr
- 225 Forests and People (2nd sem)
- 260 Fisheries Conservation (1st sem)
- 261 Wildlife Conservation (2nd sem)
- 270 Forest Ecology and Conservation (2nd sem)
- 305 Commercial Arboriculture (1st sem)
- 310 Community Forest Management (2nd sem)
- 332 Principles of Arboriculture (1st sem)
- 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (1st sem) 4 cr
- 390E Evolution and Conservation (2nd sem)
- 391A Career and Curriculum Planning (1st sem) 1 cr
- 409 Natural Resource Policy and Administration (2nd sem)
- 470 Ecology of Fish (2nd sem even yrs) 4 cr
- 492 Verbal Communication Skills (1st sem) 2 cr
- 521 Timber Harvesting (2nd sem odd yrs)
- 526 Silviculture (1st sem even yrs) 4 cr
- 528 Forest and Wetland Hydrology (1st sem)
- 534 Forest Measurements (1st sem odd yrs) 4 cr
- 540 Forest Resources Management (2nd sem) 4 cr
- 541 Urban Forest Management (1st sem)
- 563 Wildlife Ecology and Management (2nd sem even yrs)
- 564 Wildlife Habitat Management (1st sem) 4 cr
- 565 Dynamics and Management of Wildlife Populations (1st sem) 4 cr
- 571 Fisheries Science and Management (1st sem even yrs) 4 cr
- 575 Case Studies in Land Conservation (2nd sem)
- 576 Water Resource Management 3 cr
- 577 Ecosystem Modeling and Simulation (2nd sem)
- 578 Watershed Science and Management (2nd sem) 3cr
- 585 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (both semesters) 4 cr
- 587 Introduction to Digital Remote Sensing (2nd sem)
- 590A Advanced Arboriculture (2nd sem)
- 590TP Adapting to Climate Change: Theories, Policy & Action (2nd sem odd yrs)
- 590WS Wetland Soils (2nd sem)
- 597AB Global Change Ecology
- 597CC Cree Culture, Natural Resources and Sustainability
- 597E Endangered Species Management (2nd sem) 2 cr
- 597F Conservation Genetics (1st sem)
- 597NV Invasion Ecology
- 597RE Restoration Ecology (2nd sem)
- 597W Wetlands Assessment and Field Techniques (2nd sem odd yrs) 2 cr
- 597WP ST-Wetland Plant ID & Ecology 2cr
Follow the links below to view information about the concentrations and find advisor contacts:
- Environmental Conservation
- Fisheries Ecology & Conservation
- Forest Ecology & Conservation
- Urban Forestry & Arboriculture
- Water Resources
- Wildlife Ecology & Conservation
Contact an advisor using our form.