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

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

Why get a master’s degree in natural resources with an environmental conservation and sustainability option?

The M.S. in natural resources with an environmental conservation and sustainability option allows you to combine your interest in the natural sciences, sustainability and the social sciences to affect change in natural resource conservation outreach, planning, policy and management. You’ll help research today’s urgent environmental conservation and sustainability challenges, such as biodiversity conservation and environmental protection. This option within the master’s program focuses on natural resource policy, conservation biology, sustainability, ecological ethics and values, international environmental affairs and spatial data analysis (remote sensing and GIS). Embark on a career path allowing you to make fundamental and significant contributions toward local, regional and global resource conservation.

Why choose UNH for your degree? 

At UNH, you’ll find yourself supported by a productive, internationally recognized faculty as well as outstanding laboratory facilities. Our main campus is located near the White Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean, with access to a diverse array of terrestrial, marine and freshwater field sites, including our own woodlots, ponds, fields and farms. UNH, which earned a Carnegie Classification R1, is ranked among the nation’s highest-performing research universities. The university’s research portfolio brings in more than $110 million in competitive external funding each year.  

Potential career areas

  • Conservation awareness and outreach 
  • Environmental consulting 
  • Extension agencies
  • Government policy analyst 
  • Land-use planning
  • Natural resource manager
  • Natural resources education
  • Sustainability stewardship

Academic Program Manager
Phone: (603) 862-3933
Office: Natural Resources & the Environment, James Hall Rm 114, Durham, NH 03824

Request Information

We use text messages to communicate important event and application information (msg and data rates may apply).

  • UNH master's student Natalie Lord
    A Rising Tide? The role of social networks for women oyster farmers in Maine and New Hampshire
    Natalie Lord is pursuing her master’s degree in environmental conservation and sustainability and plans to apply her skills and knowledge to a career in marine science management.
    Learn More
  • UNH grad student Simone Chapman '20G
    With fellowship, graduate student makes policy contributions
    Simone Chapman ’20G, a master’s student in environmental conservation at UNH, has received a Science Policy Fellowship from the Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
    Learn More
  • UNH graduate student Nick Anderson
    2021 Knauss Fellowship Finalist
    Nick Anderson, who earned his bachelor's degree in 2011 from UNH and has returned to campus to pursue his master's in natural resources and the environment, has been named a finalist for the 2021 class of the National Sea Grant College Program’s prestigious John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship.
    Learn More
  • Henry Herndon at energy rally
    UNH grad brings sustainable energy to New Hampshire towns.
    Learn More

Curriculum & Requirements


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
NR 905
Grant Writing
BIOL 902
Writing and Publishing Science
BIOL 950
Scientific Communication
GRAD 834
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
ANFS 933
Design, Analysis, and Interpretation of Experiments
BIOL 811
Experimental Design & Analysis
DATA 800
Introduction to Applied Analytic Statistics
ECON 926
Econometrics I
EDUC 904
Qualitative Inquiry in Research
ESCI 801
Quantitative Methods in Earth Sciences
MATH 835
Statistical Methods for Research
MATH 839
Applied Regression Analysis
MATH 840
Design of Experiments I
NR 909
Analysis of Ecological Communities and Complex Data
NR 913
Hierarchical Modeling in Ecology
PPOL 908
Quantitative Methods for Policy Research
PSYC 805
Research Methodology and Statistics I
PSYC 907
Research Methods and Statistics III
SOC 901
Sociological Methods I: Intermediate Social Statistics
SOC 903
Sociological Methods III: Advanced Social Statistics
SOC 904
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
NR 806
Soil Ecology
NR 830
Terrestrial Ecosystems
NR 834
Tropical Ecology
NR 851
Aquatic Ecosystems
NR 857
Remote Sensing of the Environment
NR 947
Ecosystem Science: Theory, Practice, and Management Applications for Sustainability
NR 965
Community Ecology
MEFB 825
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.

Apply now


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: February 15
  • Spring: December 1
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: CT

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

Applicants should visit the Natural Resources program website and review the list of faculty in their area of interest. The applicant should contact potential faculty advisors to discuss their interests and determine whether the faculty member(s) may be willing and able to serve as the student’s advisor before applying to the program. See the Natural Resources Faculty List for a current list of faculty.

GRE Optional

The GRE scores are optional, if you wish to provide scores please email the scores directly to the department once you have submitted your application online.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

Our graduate advising faculty and their research interests are listed here.

Take the Next Step

Undergraduate student on campus
A view of T-Hall on the UNH campus.
A female student at UNH gets help on her resume