Natural Resources Conservation
In the Natural Resources Conservation program (NRC) we are committed to fostering a diverse, positive, and welcoming community. We are working to provide a safe, equitable, and inclusive environment through intentional and ongoing action, to celebrate and connect across differences, to respect individual needs, styles, and career goals, and to support, advise, and mentor students accordingly. Addressing historical imbalances and the harms of colonialism and white supremacy, specifically in the environmental conservation field, but also more broadly, is a moral responsibility that we all share. For more information on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the department please visit our DEI page.
Use the links below to explore various aspects of the NRC program.
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 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 309 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
Follow the links below to view information about the concentrations and find advisor contacts:
(All courses carry 3 credits unless otherwise noted. These courses are not always offered.)
- 100 Environment and Society (SI)
(1st sem, 4 cr)
- 102 Arboriculture Field Techniques I – 2 cr
- 120 Basic Scuba 2 cr – does not count toward minor
- 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 – 1 cr
- 197FL Forest Fire Control lab – 1 cr
- 210 Arboriculture Field Techniques II – 2 cr
- 211 Animal Sampling and Identification – 2 cr
- 212 Forest Tree and Shrub Identification – 2 cr
- 214 Fish Sampling and Identification – 2 cr
- 225 Forests and People
- 260 Fisheries Conservation
- 261 Wildlife Conservation
- 270 Forest Ecology and Conservation
- 305 Commercial Arboriculture
- 310 Community Forest Management
- 332 Principles of Arboriculture
- 382 Human Dimensions of Natural Resource Management (IE) – 4 cr
- 390E Evolution and Conservation
- 391A Career and Curriculum Planning – 1 cr
- 309 Natural Resource Policy and Administration
- 570 Ecology of Fish – offered every other year – 4 cr
- 492 Verbal Communication Skills (1st sem) 2 cr
- 526 Silviculture – offered every other year – 4 cr
- 528 Forest and Wetland Hydrology
- 534 Forest Measurements – offered every other year – 4 cr
- 540 Forest Resources Management – 4 cr
- 541 Urban Forest Management
- 563 Wildlife Ecology and Management – 4 cr
- 564 Wildlife Habitat Management – 4 cr
- 565 Dynamics and Management of Wildlife Populations – 4 cr
- 571 Fisheries Science and Management – 4 cr
- 575 Case Studies in Land Conservation
- 576 Water Resource Management
- 577 Ecosystem Modeling and Simulation
- 578 Watershed Science and Management
- 585 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems (offered both semesters) 4 cr
- 587 Introduction to Digital Remote Sensing
- 590A Advanced Arboriculture
- 590TP Adapting to Climate Change: Theories, Policy & Action (odd yrs)
- 590WS Wetland Soils
- 597AB Global Change Ecology
- 597CC Cree Culture, Natural Resources and Sustainability
- 597E Endangered Species Management – 2 cr
- 597F Conservation Genetics
- 597NV Invasion Ecology
- 597RE Restoration Ecology
- 597W Wetlands Assessment and Field Techniques (2nd sem odd yrs) 2 cr
- 597WP ST-Wetland Plant ID & Ecology 2cr
Contact an advisor using our form.